It’s the new buzzword making its way around the internet: wanderlust. Sometimes it’s used for people who like to travel for a week or two each year on vacation. If you have true wanderlust, though, you know it’s much more than that. You want to make travel a focus in your life. You need to travel, to feel whole, to feel alive, to grow and learn. With most traditional jobs, that’s hard to do. So if you want to plan your job around traveling, rather than the other way around, check out these awesome careers for people with wanderlust.
Being an archaeologist isn’t all Indiana Jones digs, treasure hunting, and cannibal-whipping. I know. Bummer. In fact, for most of the year, the Indies of the real world catalogue artifacts, write reports, and care for their finds. But if you love history and learning about new places within a historical context, this might be the perfect wanderlust-quenching career. As archaeologists, meticulous, detail-oriented people get to cut loose a bit and explore for a few months per year on archaeological digs. Plus, as you develop a niche or specialty, you can keep heading back to your favorite areas in the world. After all, there are artifacts to be found just about everywhere. If adventuring out to remote regions of the world, immersing yourself in dirt and ancient cultures, and coming back home to a life where everything fits back into its proper place is appealing, archaeology may be for you.
Historically, one of the best careers for people with wanderlust has been sailing. And for those with questionable moral compasses, piracy. While these careers still certainly exist – a la Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi – there’s a more modern career for travelers who also enjoy the sciences. Oceanography isn’t just a cool general education class. It’s a career where you spend months at a time out on the open sea, sleeping in hammocks, battling storms, and collecting data to investigate plummeting catch rates for deep-sea fishermen (and many other projects!). Oceanographers are the modern-day Jacks of all trades. They do it all, from sailing, to research, to grant writing, to presentation giving. If you’re flexible, like to rough it, and love going where the wind blows, check out this awesome career for travel-lovers.
11. Athletic Recruiter
People with wanderlust often want to lead physically active lifestyles as well. Hiking, sailing, swimming, running, yoga, and skiing are all common favorites among travelers. If you’re more interested in marrying your wanderlust with a career in a team sport like baseball, basketball, football, or soccer, however, athletic recruiting might be just right for you. Athletic recruiters for colleges travel all over their country in search of players with natural talent and a drive for top performance. Recruiters for pro sports teams often make world trips as well to follow leads about international talent. Either way, building great relationships with local coaches, a solid background in playing the sport yourself, and a bit of sports management or kinesiology knowledge go a long way in this career, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to keep one foot in the sports world while you travel the rest of the world. Score!
10. Business Consultant
In business, there are as many challenges as there are businesses. Sometimes it’s hard to see the solution from inside the problem, which is why companies hire consultants to help. Consultants usually have business or entrepreneurial experience under their belt to share, as well as great leadership, communication, and strategic talents. The best part? Business consulting often requires you to travel to meet with clients and get a feel for their business from the inside. Depending on the scale and kind of business, a consultant could have international clients who depend on their favorite consultant to help keep things running smoothly, implement company-wide changes, and advise them on all matters related to business. For an entrepreneur or executive touched by wanderlust, that’s a pretty sweet gig. Make sure to build up a stable of clients in your favorite destinations, as well as leave room in your schedule for new clients in unexplored locales.
9. Import/Export or Retail Buyer
Globalization has done wonders for the businesses of retail and import/export. For travelers who are good at sussing out great deals or new and innovative products, this might be the perfect career. Many companies hire professional retail buyers to scour the world for items to stock in their stores at bargain prices. Buyers can specialize in any number of industries, like fashion, furniture, art, or electronics, but they’ll have to be sharks when it comes to negotiating merchandise deals. The independent or freelance version of the retail buyer is an import/export buyer. Going freelance in this realm is incredibly difficult and requires a whole host of entrepreneurial skills, like negotiating, accounting, planning, management, and economics. Those who are successful, however, have the opportunity to explore undiscovered markets, trade centers, and factories around the world, from the largest cities to the smallest towns – depending on their niche.
While bartending isn’t a “get paid to travel” gig per se, these jobs are everywhere. Where ever you go in the world, people drink. The same could be said for table-waiting, cooking, and other service industry jobs, but most of these don’t enable you to get to know your customers as intimately as bartending. As a bartender, you are confidant, wingman, psychologist, cheerleader, and general life expert to bar patrons. When you travel abroad, you’ll attract other expats. They’ll chat you up and you’ll get to know each other. Inevitably, invitations to join them on their volcano hike the next day, stay at their place next time you’re in their hometown, or join them on the Italian leg of their trip next week will roll in. Sometimes the best thing you can do to further your own travels is to get to know others who travel, too, and bartending is one of the best ways to do that.
7. Au Pair
People who love traveling and children can combine the two by becoming an au pair. In simple terms, an au pair is like a nanny who comes from another country. The reality is a bit different. Au pair was originally a French concept, meaning “equal to.” The idea is that these people live with their employers as an equal family member. As an au pair, a traveler can listen to the pulls of wanderlust and choose from plenty of destinations. Many of these destinations are in Europe, but families in Australia and China have been known to employ au pairs as well. In exchange for caring for the children, helping with homework, some housework, etc., au pairs often receive free room and board as one of the family, plus a small salary. And, they have the opportunity to be completely immersed in their family’s culture and language from an entirely unique perspective.
6. Travel Agent
Is the age of the travel agent dead? While labor bureaus predict a decline in available jobs in this career due to available information on the internet, many travelers still choose to employ assistance when making plans. After all, most agents take a commission from the hotelier, not their traveling clients. Offering individualized, truly helpful advice to your fellow travelers is easy when you’ve been to the destination yourself. This is one career where the more time you spend traveling, the more successful you are. The benefits go beyond merely encouraging wanderlust, however. Tourism boards and resorts love it when travel agents visit them. Travel agents bring them business, so many are happy to offer discounts and even paid trips spoiling you rotten the whole time. Like a restaurant will give a food critic the 6-star treatment, tourism and hospitality companies will make it easy for a travel agent to enjoy a visit.
Artists, free spirits, hippies, and bohemians make some of the best travelers. Long-term travel takes a certain inner peace and openness that allows you to handle the unexpected with grace, calm, and even joy. Busking, or street performing, is probably one of the gutsiest ways to make a living, but there are plenty of places in the world where creative types thrive on the streets. If you can play an instrument, sing, dance, pantomime, do magic, write flash poetry on demand, or you just like to ham it up with a few party tricks, head to the world’s great parks, walking streets, markets, and festivals to peddle your talents. Many artists swear by the art they’ve created while busking, despite the uncertainty of making ends meet. Pair busking with another awesome wanderlust-enabling career like bartending or teaching English, and you just might have yourself the best of both worlds.
4. Cruise Line Worker or Flight Attendant
Working in the hospitality and travel industries are always best for people with wanderlust. Flight attendants and cruise line workers spend most of their days (and often nights) in the air or on the water. Not only that, but they get to interact with other travelers each and every day. Cruise line workers are particularly rich in this way because most cruise lines try to hire a diverse staff from all over the world, so even your colleagues will have wanderlust. While most of these careers require little to no schooling, jobs are highly sought-after. Nomads who do score a job with a cruise line or airline, though, will probably receive some pretty awesome perks that will feed their wanderlust. Flight attendants usually get free or discounted flights for themselves and their families, and cruise line workers get free food and accommodations. All-in-all, it’s not a bad way to see the world.
3. Website Design, Coding, and Copywriting
A laptop, an internet connection, and a Skype or Google Hangout account are the most important tools for these careers. While these jobs aren’t specifically related to travel, they can be accomplished effectively from just about anywhere in the world. Build a website on a sandy beach in Tahiti, create an app atop a glacier in Alaska, or write a product description amid the sights, smells, and sounds of a Moroccan bazaar. In today’s digital professional landscape, more and more companies allow telecommuting. The thriving shared economy also makes it easy to freelance in these careers. Great financial success can be had by catering to clients in high-wage countries while living in or traveling to inexpensive destinations. The only downside is that these jobs tether nomads to the internet, so they need to make sure the services at their destination can handle the bandwidth they need.
2. Teach English Abroad
Natives of countries like Canada, England, The United States, and Australia all have at least one incredible opportunity for a travel-minded career: teaching English abroad. While many countries have immersion programs for other languages, English is the most sought-after second language in the world. For nomads lucky enough to be native speakers, there are tons of teaching opportunities around the world. Asian and European cultures place high importance on learning English as children, so look to these places first. Not only do teachers reap the rewards of helping their students, but they have the option to travel abroad to many destinations, live with fellow expats, and experience new cultures in-depth because most assignments last at least a few months, many longer. Teaching positions often require ESL or TEFL training, which can cost several thousand dollars. Once you’re certified, however, you are paid better than teachers without this certification.
1. Travel Writer or Photographer
Not many people literally get paid to travel, but those who create the words and images in travel publications do. There are tons of opportunities for travel writers and photographers, especially if you can do both reasonably well. After all, there are travel blogs, magazines, guides, tourism ads, and books, all with enthusiastic readers who can’t wait to share in your adventures. Success as a travel writer and/or photographer can be found on any of these platforms. Travel writers and photographers can work as employees at specific publications, or they can freelance. Often, editors will ask them to visit certain places, and at other times they choose their own destinations to cover. These careers reward people who like to travel off the beaten path and find innovative destinations and ways to travel, but be prepared to spend several years or more breaking into the industry.