5 Travel Jobs

Maybe you caught the travel bug while studying abroad or traveling with friends. If you love the idea of life on the go, you may want to consider a job that allows for a lot of travel.

First, think about the reality of working on the road vs. vacationing. Many of us romanticize travel jobs—we think about staying in great hotels, expensing meals and maybe doing a little work by the pool.

But, typical business travel isn’t the same as vacation. You’re often taking early flights to save your company money and visiting cities you never get to see—aside from an office, conference center or your hotel room. Additionally, you may be traveling for important client meetings, tradeshows or presentations—which are often stressful to begin with. When you add dealing with airports and being away from home, it’s easy to lose your wanderlust.

However, travel-centric careers are very different than jobs that require travel—and they can be much more exciting.

5 Jobs for Travel Lovers

English as a Second Language Teacher (ESL): If you want a wide range of countries to choose from and you’re looking to embed yourself in another culture for an extended period of time, teaching ESL can help you see the world. Once you get certified, you can target your job search in a particular country. Those who excel can sometimes choose their own placement after a few years. One ESL teacher-turned-journalist offers insights from his own experience teaching in China and shares great advice for how to make the most of travel jobs.

Humanitarian or NGO worker: If you want to pursue cause-related work, and combine your passion for giving back with your desire to travel, there are numerous organizations to choose from. You might consider joining the Peace Corps or Habitat for Humanity. If you are a medical professional, Doctors Without Borders is a fantastic way to use your skills—and often the organization has projects that are open to dental professionals, speech language pathologists and other non-MDs. Check out Transitions Abroad for more information about opportunities for different types of humanitarian work, as well as opportunities to work on farms or as an au pair.

Hospitality jobs: Whether you are a concierge, a hotel manager, or a chef on a cruise ship, the hospitality industry has tons of travel jobs to choose from. A good way to get started is to work locally with an international company and build experience. Once you have proven yourself within a company, it’s easier to move around within the organization. Think about the international hotel chains in your area and check out hospitality jobs on HCareers for a taste of what is out there.

Translator or interpreter: If you speak another language, there are a number of ways to use that skill to build a career in the travel industry. There is high demand for translators and interpreters, and the field is growing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The language you speak will determine where you can work. Opportunities may be available with the State Department, tourism offices, hotels and national attractions like museums.

Freelance work: If you love to travel, there are many jobs that can be accomplished remotely. This option works best if you work in a project-based field or as a web designer, graphic designer, photographer, consultant or writer. Freelancing requires you to be autonomous and comfortable with a lack of stability—when a project is over, you may have lag time before the next one kicks off. Digital nomads (primarily tech workers; the term grew out of the increase in global internet access) are becoming more common. Luckily, more companies are embracing remote work, and one survey found that digital nomads report a 92% increase in happiness.

Internet access has changed the playing field for people who want to work remotely, opening up possibilities in a wide variety of industries. But before you dive in, research the realities of the careers you are considering, and do a gut check about your reasons for wanting to travel because, at the end of the day—though they might be amazing ones—travel jobs are still jobs.

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Jody Michael Associates

Jody Michael is CEO and founder of Jody Michael Associates, a Chicago-based company that specializes in career coaching, executive coaching and organizational consulting. She is a Master Certified Coach, Board Certified Coach, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and University of Chicago-trained psychotherapist with over 15 years of corporate experience in the finance industry and more than 20 years of experience coaching high school and college students, career professionals, teams and organizations. She has been featured on National Public Radio (WBEZ Chicago), MSNBC Primetime, PBS, CNN and Discovery Channel. In addition, she has taught, lectured, given workshops and participated in panel discussions at The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and School of Social Service Administration, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Southern Illinois University and Chicago Public Schools on a wide range of topics including neuroscience, the brain and change, linguistics and accountability, and successful entrepreneurship. Read more from Jody.