Money is often thought of as the only means to travel, and the equation is simple: if one needs days off to travel the world, one needs x amount of dollars per day, and therefore needs to work a proportional amount of years to save for the journey of her life. To a great extent it is true that a traveler will have an easier time with a budget to cover all basic costs for a while, but there is another perspective to the very same matter: if one has time while traveling, why not to invest this time in the travel itself. It is really possible to work and travel at the same time.
Whether one is wandering the world on her own or with a travel buddy, working on the way is not just a way to healthy finances, but also a chance to meet people and get to know layers of a destination that are otherwise veiled to the traveler. There are a million ways to travel the world and not all of them involve having a large bunch of dollars in the bank.
The kind of job one may look for depends on several factors, namely the traveler’s skills and experience, the amount of time one is willing to spare and the amount of money one needs to realize her dreams.
We often hear of English teachers being sought for in South Korea, China or Vietnam, and the truth is that language teaching (not just English) is one of the most widespread but also more useful traveler’s professions, provided one has the qualifications and experience needed. But for those for whom languages are not their piece of cake, we shall remember that the world is not just made of teachers and that any profession can actually take you abroad.
There are certainly lawyers, managers and even nurses that travel the world thanks to their profession, but also travelers who are yoga or scuba-diving instructors, masseurs, hair-dressers, tattoo artists, cooks or bar-tenders… there is no limit to what one can do while in movement. If you are thinking, for example, of a way to travel and work in Asia, checking for jobs needed around tourist hubs and resorts might be a way to start.
There are plenty of ways to digitalize a profession, offering any services on the net: from Skype language lessons, to translation, design, SEO…you name it. Many professionals choose to build their own business and offer their services online. Other options are freelancing platforms, like Upwork, where one can work on short contracts or per-hour, from anywhere in the world, as long as there is good Wi-Fi. To sort the connection problem, digital nomads can often be found in special sort of “hostels” like nomad-bases and co-living spaces while they work and travel.
We might be used to thinking of musicians, jugglers or street artists as the lucky ones who can go around busking, but actually selling crafts on donation (or for a set price), drawing portraits or taking people’s photographs are very good options for those who are not gifted with the guitar or cannot keep three balls in the air. In tourist hotspots, for example, there is a new practice that might be interesting to travelling photographers: CD photo collections of couples on a holiday that they hire you to make as a memory of their journey.
Whatever you can offer can bring you some extra cash along the way. And it does not even need to be always in the form of street art, many bars and hostels will welcome your artistic skills or with a bit of luck you may get a chance to act in a film.
This can be a dream job for those who love words. One may not jump straight into the team of Lonely Planet after just a few months traveling, but there are plenty of writing jobs around. Tourism websites, hotels, blogs as well as magazines and newspapers often search for good stories or useful pieces of advice for their audiences. To start with one can try contacting the local newspapers in his home-town. Usually the text is better paid if accompanied with photographs, so if your travel buddy is good with the camera (and is not into taking photographs of couples at sunset) it might be a good option for both.
You may not get rich with this sort of job, but it can help cover the evening drinks. Another popular option chosen by those who love writing is travel blogging, but it must be said that the journey to a financially fruitful blog might be longer than one can anticipate, and keeping a good blog is a job itself.
Guiding people to your favorite destinations might be a good way to come once and again to a place you love. Guides usually need to be well trained and have a decent knowledge of the region, so it might be an option for those wishing to stay longer at their destination. Contacting companies from one’s own country is a smart way to start, as the groups generally want guides fluent in their mother-tongues.
Also, for those who do not want to be tied up by pre-organized journeys, local tourism companies may welcome the temporary help of a traveler, and whether paid or in exchange for food or lodging, it can be a chance to find a dream opportunity for treks or activities that would be out of one’s budget. Asking around is often the best way to go about it, and experience of outdoor sports is pretty useful while looking for work in this direction.
Hostels, hotels, holiday resorts or even cruises, are places to look for work while traveling. Staff with different language skills is usually needed, especially over the high season. One can search online for jobs beforehand and always prepare a nice CV and an enthusiastic letter to the possible employer. Depending on the sort of place and job, just walking in with the smartest clothes you have at hand, and asking if they have any vacancies can also land you somewhere nice.
Strawberries in Finland, grapes in France or Kiwis in Australia, fruit-picking is a very popular job amongst travelers. If the work is done in a high-income country, with the salary of one season one can easily travel for a few months. To find opportunities it is possible to look in traveler’s forums, or farm contacts online or simply go from farm to farm if already in the area where one wishes to work. The only issue with this sort of job is arranging visas and permits in advance. Well, that and the fact that it is hard physical work under the sun.
Not everything in life is about money, and the journey might be a good time to try doing something new in exchange for a room and food. There are networks like Workaway where one can find opportunities for unpaid work or volunteering almost anywhere in the world and in any kind of imaginable job. Woofing offers placements in organic farms and homesteads, and there are quite a few other sites where one can find House and Pet-sitting opportunities, like Trustedhousesitters or Mindmyhouse. Usually there is an annual fee to access these sites, which is worth paying if one is searching for a way to stay longer in places and a connection to them.
Whether the journey allows you to expand the horizons of your profession, to pursue your childhood dreams or to discover jobs you did not even know existed; whether you get to act in a Bollywood film, to cross the steppe by jeep, to teach kids in a mountain village or clean toilets in a run-down hostel, apart from the cash what matters is the experience, remember that travelling is a gift in itself and enjoy every bit of whatever job you do on your way.
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