The best travel jobs are those that let you live a life of travel and get paid at the same time. Here are some of the best ways to make money traveling.
Are you a travel addict? Do you plan your life around travel? Is travel your #1 priority?
If you find yourself always daydreaming about your next trip, it is time to find a job that allows you to travel. Working in travel isn’t some untouchable dream. It is a reality for many people, including myself, and there’s no reason why you can’t make the leap as well. Sure, it takes a lot of determination and endurance, but it is possible as long as you work hard to achieve it.
But first, let me share a bit about myself. I’m a professional traveler and I have been living abroad and traveling for over 15 years now. Before becoming a travel blogger, I did all kinds of jobs that allowed me to live abroad and save up and travel as much as possible. From teaching English in Spain to working as a scheduler in London, I managed to work travel jobs that gave me the chance to explore and see the world.
As long as you’re willing to word hard and hustle, there are actually plenty of ways to make money traveling! However, you need to prepare for the fact that you’re probably not going to be rich. You are, however, going to be able to live a life of travel, and that alone is a dream come true for many. If you’re not willing to sacrifice the pay cut or the stability of a permanent job, then I recommend finding a job in your field and specialty but in an overseas location.
I’ve rounded up a list of the best travel jobs that are either seasonal work or freelance work that allows you to technically work from anywhere in the world.
1. Flight Attendant
Fly around the world for free and get paid at the same time: that sounds like a dream job for travelers, doesn’t it? While it can be an amazing opportunity to work and travel, it’s not easy to get hired as a flight attendant and even harder to maintain the challenging lifestyle.
You’ll be spending a lot of time flying and very little time exploring new destinations. Most flight attendants I know are so tired when they land that they’d rather relax in the hotel than go sightseeing. New flight attendants also spend at least one year, and possibly up to seven years, being on call. That means they always keep an overnight bag packed since they have to report to work at a moments notice.
How to Start:
Most airlines require flight attendants to have a minimum of a high school or equivalency (GED) diploma. You’ll have an advantage if you have a diploma or degree in hospitality, communication, or tourism, and if you have work experience in a hotel or resort, or a restaurant. Once you get hired, your training will then start. During three to six weeks, you will receive classroom instruction on flight regulations, job duties, and company operations. Read more about how to become a flight attendant.
2. Travel Agent
Starting a travel agency is the dream for many travel lovers. Since you’ve got years of travel experience navigating different continents, why not make full use of your skills and help others plan their adventure of a lifetime? What’s best about being a travel agent is that you’ll get to go on familiarisation trips where you’ll travel for free, as well as receiving heavy discounts for your own holidays.
Competition is tough, so you’ll need to think carefully about your target market and niche. For instance, are you all about island getaways and beach retreats? Maybe you can’t get enough of trekking and mountain adventures. Whichever sector you go for one thing is for sure. You have to love it, you have to live it, and most importantly of all: You have to know it inside out.
How to Start:
It’s important to understand the market and provide what people are looking for. Whether you’re opening a travel agency in Ireland, South Africa or Hong Kong, conduct proper market research to find out what type of travel people like and create unique trips that will sell. Next, you’ll need to establish partnerships with local agencies or even scout out guides and accommodation providers on your own. Here’s an excellent article on how to start a travel agency.
3. Tour Guide or Leader
For those with years of travel experience, working as a tour guide could be a great way to travel more and show people your favorite parts of the world. It doesn’t mean you need to be holding a big flag and leading big groups of senior citizens around boring tourist attractions.
You could choose to be a tour leader for small-group adventure tour companies and show young travelers local life and exciting places. I used to think tours were boring until my first trip with G Adventures to Southern Africa, where I made lifelong friends and had the time of my life. If you’ve got people skills, love helping people and have traveled extensively or know a lot about a certain destination, consider finding work as a tour leader.
I’m leading my own tours these days to unconventional and hard-to-reach places like Tibet, Bhutan and Tajikistan. It’s not an easy job for sure as you need to be always available to help and answer questions. You also need to be very well-organized, can multi-task and stay calm in stressful situations.
How to Start:
Most tour operators don’t require tour leaders to have any formal education in tourism; you got to have the right personality as well as local knowledge to lead tours. Tour guides on the other hand do need to have a license and proper training in order to give informative tours and answer questions from guests. Click to learn more about how to become a tour leader.
4. Cruise Ship Crew
There are few travel jobs that let you work AND live with over 50 nationalities at the same time! Working as a crew member, you spend 24/7 at your ‘office’ and you exist in a microcosm of the entire world. It can be difficult getting used to the overwhelming environment at first, but most people who have worked on cruises cherish the camaraderie and bond that they developed with fellow crew members on the cruise.
Similar to a being flight attendant, working on a cruise ship involves long hours, harsh conditions and being on the road for months on end. It’s important to be honest with yourself about the possible hardships you may experience and whether or not you see yourself excelling in such an environment.
One of the best things about working on a cruise is that you save nearly ALL of your earnings. Your living expenses are pretty much zero, as your lodging, food, etc are all taken care of. There are many roles you can take as a crew member and you might have the chance to do something you’re absolutely passionate about, such as dancing, cooking, entertaining, bartending, or hosting. Or apply for a job on a polar expedition cruise instead of a normal cruise and you’ll be in for the biggest adventure of your life!
How to Start:
The requirements of the job depend on which role you’re applying for. For customer service roles, they usually require a diploma in hospitality or work experience in the hospitality or tourism industry. Technical positions will require post-secondary training at a certified Marine School. You may also want to consider some additional cruise specific training via a Tourism/Hospitality School and/or an online Cruise Ship Program. This is a great resource for those interested to find work on a cruise ship.
5. Hostel Staff
Working in a hostel is another job that is really easy to find especially if you’re an out-going person who loves backpacking and meeting new people. It’s a great way to make money, get free lodging, stay in a destination for a few months and get to know it really well, before hitting the road again.
Most hostels look for volunteers, so this basically means that you’ll work in exchange for free accommodation and some extras like: breakfast, meals, free usage of the hostel facilities. If you do want a permanent, paid job, then you’ll need to commit for more than just a few months and you also must have a work permit that allows you to work in the country.
You’ll need to be outgoing, have a lot of initiative and help out in whichever area they need help in. Having language skills and customer service experience would be a plus. Reception work usually involves checking guests in, updating the booking system, answering the phone and dealing with guests if they have problems, want information, etc. Sometimes they’ll also need you to work in housekeeping, gardening, cooking, entertaining, painting etc. It all depends from the need of the hostel and your skills.
How to Start:
There are many ‘middle men’ websites that can help you find hostel placements, such as Worldpackers, but it’s usually easier to get hostel work either through email or just turning up. Two other popular sites to find work in hostels are hosteljobs.net and hosteltraveljobs.com, which list all kinds of positions; not just desk workers or cleaners, but more specialised positions like tour guide or events manager. Here’s a good resource on how to find work in hostels.
6. English Teacher
Teaching English is probably the easiest and most popular travel job to get. As long as English is your native language and you have a Bachelor’s Degree, it’s really easy to find English teaching jobs in many parts of the world. You don’t even need TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certification to get a job as an English teacher, although that would put you at an advantage.
Teaching jobs in South Korea and Japan pay really well and many of them even pay for your housing, airfare and insurance. You’ll also get income tax exemption sometimes. Of course job opportunities and pay depend on where you go, but places with the highest demand for English teachers are Spain, South Korea, China and Japan.
How to Start:
The Go Overseas Teaching Job Board is a great place to start. You’ll find new jobs posted regularly, and consistent opportunities to apply for teaching jobs in different parts of the world. Japan English Teacher also has many job listings for English teaching jobs in Japan and has a few listings for teaching jobs in Spain. Here’s a useful article on how to get a job teaching English abroad.
7. Au Pair
Working as an au pair means you’ll be living with a family and looking after the children part-time in exchange for a private room, meals and an often very modest stipend. Au pair is a French term, which translates to “on equal terms,” indicating that au pairs are not servants or nannies, but rather young people looking to learn a new language and experience a new culture.
Au pairing sounds like a bargain—trading in a few hours of childcare for a chance to live in another country. But in reality, it can be trying to live and work in the same space, sacrificing some independence and comfort. You’ll have the time to explore and hang out with friends when the kids are at school, but don’t expect to bring friends over, have a party or come home late.
How to Start:
Au Pair World is a website that allows families and hopeful au pairs to post and browse profiles for free. When checking out profiles, do a bit of Google research and background check of the family would not hurt either. Talk to the family a couple of times on the phone and develop an in-depth email correspondence before you commit to anything.
8. Travel Writer
It’s a dream job for many: going on assignments to exotic parts of the world, finding unique stories and writing for big-name publications like National Geographic. I’d dreamt of being a travel writer my whole life — and I’ve been lucky enough to fulfil that dream with some determination and hard work. Since getting my first byline in a Singaporean travel magazine almost 10 years ago, I’ve written for BBC Travel, CNN Go, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and many other renown publications. Check out my portfolio here.
While the life of a travel writer really isn’t as glamorous as it looks, it is extremely rewarding for those who truly love travel. The feeling that you get when you see your byline in a well-known magazine or newspaper makes all the hard work worthwhile. Be prepared for long and tedious pitching processes, working with difficult editors, and hours and hours of typing away at your laptop. Don’t expect to be a modern-day Indiana Jones — if you want any level of success in travel writing, you’ll need to spend more time writing than actually traveling.
How to Start:
It isn’t enough to have just a love for words or travel. You need to sign up for a writing course and work on your craft — whether that’s writing, pitching or connecting with editors. In 2008, I did a guidebook writing bootcamp in Guatemala, which taught me all the basics in writing, and I also went on to pursue a diploma in travel writing at the London School of Journalism (long-distance, part-time). They currently offer a freelance travel writing course as well.
These days, the industry is so saturated that it can be difficult to get a foot into the world of travel writing, but start small and focus on pitching your local magazine. Keep writing and concentrate on finding your voice before reaching out to bigger publications. This site has great resources for aspiring travel writers and the book offers some great advice and tips too.
9. Travel Blogger
As a full-time travel blogger, I’ll definitely say this is my favorite travel job on the list. What I love about being a travel blogger is the freedom of having my own platform to write the stories I want (rather than being dictated by an editor) and doing what I love on my own terms. But running a travel blog can definitely isn’t easy and involves a lot of hard work and determination. There’s a lot more to blogging than just writing — you’ll need to know how to take photos, edit, proofread, market your content on social media and more.
When I first started this travel blog in 2008, I didn’t know you could actually make money from it. It was a passion project for me and I wanted to use it as a channel to express myself and possibly get my foot into travel writing. I spent the next two years building an audience, working on the craft of storytelling, gaining a following on social media, and mastering all the other aspects of blogging before becoming a full-time travel blogger.
Because of this blog, I get paid to travel to far-flung places around the world — from Antarctica to the Arctic, the Galapagos Islands to Madagascar, Iran to North Korea. I get to do cool stuff like skydiving, paragliding ice-climbing, and zorbing. I’ve been to 100+ countries on all seven continents, many of which I wouldn’t have been able to afford on my own money — all thanks to this travel blog.
How to Start:
My number one advice is to stop procrastinating and just start a blog as soon as you can. Here’s my detailed guide on how to start a travel blog. Once you’ve got the technicalities sorted, sign up for an online blogging course, join Facebook groups to meet other travel bloggers, and start cracking! You’ll need to patient and keep grinding for a few months before you see some results. I recommend giving yourself at least six months to starting earning.
10. Photographer and Videographer
For those who have an eye for photography and videography, this could be an ideal way to make a living from your passion. I have many friends who transitioned from being wedding photographers and nightlife photographers to travel photographers so they can merge both passions.
Most of them generate an income the same way as I do, through marketing campaigns, ad revenue and other partnerships with brands and tourism boards. Some also lead photography tours, run workshops, teach photography and sell stock images.
These days, videos are becoming the most popular form of media and many people are jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve met several high profile Youtubers who are all self-taught videographers and presenters. Technically anyone can do this as long as you are comfortable in front of the camera, you know how to edit videos and you’re prepared to work hard and hustle!
How to Start:
To be a good photographer/videographer, you’ll need to work on your craft and make sure your images and videos are up to standards before you can start selling. First, you need to create a photography website and find a niche based on your skill set. Even the most professional photographer needs to find out what they are good at. Leverage that skill and excel in it! Here’s a useful article on how to make money as a travel photographer.
11. Web Designer
If you know a thing or two about web design and are interested in it, it might be worth investing in some form of education to pursue this career. Several friends who started out as bloggers have eventually taken the path of web design and development, especially having made many contacts in the blogosphere. The best thing about being a web designer is that you get paid rather well and you can work from anywhere in the world as long as you have reliable internet.
My best friend Bing was an UX (User Experience) engineer with 10+ years of experience in the IT industry before she decided to branch out and start her own business in web development and design. She actually created this new design for my blog from scratch and I’m absolutely happy with it.
How to Start:
One of the best ways to showcase talents is to build an online portfolio to highlight your skills and strengths. Branding one’s self is important as well. Here are some great tips on how to become a web designer.
12. Digital Marketing Specialist or Consultant
The world is becoming increasingly digitised. With that, there is an increasing demand for digital marketing experts to help brands get their names out there and promote their products through the internet. In the past, marketing experts adopted traditional methods like print advertising or campaigns to reach out to the public, but these days, companies are looking to expand their businesses by growing their website traffic and online presence. The best thing is that most of these digital marketing agencies are online businesses and don’t have a physical office, which means you’ll be able to work from anywhere.
Digital marketing specialists are responsible for executing marketing campaigns on digital channels such as email, website, mobile, and social media to build awareness, provide information to prospects, and drive lead conversion. If you have a marketing degree or basic knowledge in digital marketing, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a remote job at a digital marketing agency that allows you to work from anywhere in the world.
Many bloggers including myself have also branched out to do some digital marketing work for travel startups and brands. I have launched influencer marketing campaigns and also provided social media management for small companies. Learn about what I do here.
How to Start:
If you don’t have any knowledge in digital marketing, then your first step is to take a course and get certified. You’ll need to learn more about things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Website Conversion Rate Optimization, Web Analytics, Content Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Email Marketing, and Digital Marketing Strategy. Read this article to learn how you can get a job in digital marketing.
But don’t limit yourself to the jobs I’ve listed above — there are plenty of fields in which you can freelance these days. In the digital age we live in, it is becoming increasingly common to start up a small company, and freelance on the road. Whether you’re a lawyer, accountant or programmer, you can take your work on the road and become a freelancer in your area of expertise as long as you have the skill set and determination to make it work.
How to Start:
To start working as a freelancer, I recommend starting a company and contacting your old clients to let them know about your new venture. Many freelancers choose to start a company or a virtual office in Singapore to benefit from competitive services at low expenses. Always over deliver to make sure you maintain a long-term relationship with your clients. Check out this list of websites that are great for remote freelance work. Upwork is by far the best website to find work as a freelancer. Here’s a good resource to find freelance work as an accountant.
Have you tried any of these travel jobs? Which travel job interests you most?
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