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Nine Jobs That Let You Travel the World for Free
Travel can be a life-changing experience, but it can also be a costly one. Whether you want to travel full-time or be able to afford the occasional vacation, it’s crucial to save enough to cover your trips without having to sacrifice other goals.
But what if you could travel while you work — and get paid to do it? Believe it or not, certain jobs require you to travel and some even let you plan out where you go.
If you’re seeking a job that will help you see more of the world, consider these nine interesting careers and where they could take you:
#1: High-End Event Photographer
While not all photographers have to travel to do their work, some absolutely do. This is especially true of upscale photographers in fashion since they may be flown to new destinations to get the perfect shot.
Imagine being a photographer for Sports Illustrated, for example. You wouldn’t take cover-worthy photos in your employer’s basement. Nope, you’d crisscross the U.S. documenting college or pro sporting events, and maybe even travel to exotic destinations like Thailand and St. Barts to capture models frolicking in front of Insta-worthy scenery.
Wedding and portrait photographers who work with high-end clients may also have necessary travel covered in addition to being paid for their work. Photographer Johanna Jacobson of Ambientimage says she’s traveled to spectacular international destinations such as France and Florence, Italy, to capture couples’ celebrations or families on vacation in luxury destinations. She’s been hired to capture food and travel writers’ branding portraits, as well as a family traveling in their yacht across the Mediterranean, she says.
Being a traveling photographer is an awesome job, but you have to love travel and be willing to put up with sometimes grueling schedules. “You must also be a talented photographer and willing to spend your free time scouting new photography locations, learning the light at each new destination, and improving your craft,” says Jacobson.
#2: Airline Employee
There are numerous airline jobs that can help you travel for free, including becoming a flight attendant, an airline pilot, or an administrator. Many of these positions allow you to fly standby for free, while others offer free flights for your entire family.
Travel blogger Jamie Harper of Fly by the Seat of Our Pants says her husband works as an HR analytics manager for an airline, which means her family of six is able to travel around the U.S. for free. They’re also able to travel internationally if they pay nominal taxes and fees, she says.
Harper says she’s taken over 300 flights and her family has used up 1,000 seats collectively on American Airlines. If they actually paid for their airfare every year, Harper notes the retail value would be approximately $35,000.
#3: Fashion Executive
Working in fashion may require you to travel to new destinations to find out what’s hot or work with manufacturers and suppliers who produce clothing or fabric. You may need to travel for fashion shows or to meet with buyers, but your travel will depend a lot on your area of expertise and the company you work for.
Melanie DiSalvo, a former director of product development for a fashion brand who now owns Virtue and Vice apparel, says her old job took her through countries including China, the Philippines, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, and the Dominican Republic.
“After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in textile development and marketing, I started my career in product development designing and engineering fabrics for U.S. retailers,” she says.
Since the mills she worked with were overseas, part of her job involved going to visit these mills to work on products with them. While not all of the destinations she visited were glamorous, DiSalvo still made time for day trips. For example, when she was hired to visit a factory in the Philippines, she would leave the small mill towns for weekends away in destinations like Batangas and Boracay.
#4: Performing Artist
Some professional musicians, actors, and comedians travel closer to home, while others travel the entire U.S. or all over the world. Generally speaking, your travel schedule as a performing artist will depend on your specific market and how successful you become.
Dan Nainan is a comedian that used to work as a senior engineer for the Intel Corporation. His old job required him to travel the world with the company’s senior executives while conducting technical demonstrations on stage at events. Since he was incredibly nervous about speaking on stage, he took a comedy class to get over the fear. Once he completed the class, his life was changed and his career as a comedian was born.
Since leaving Intel to pursue comedy full-time, Nainan says he’s performed at two Democratic National Conventions, at a TED conference, and for Presidents Obama and Trump, among other celebrities. He’s also done voice-over work for the animated series Family Guy.
Over the years, Nainan has been able to perform in almost every state and in 27 foreign countries. While his travel schedule is hardly typical of every performer — especially those just starting out or grinding out a career in small night clubs — it’s definitely a goal to shoot for if you want to see the world while entertaining people or making them laugh.
#5: Wilderness Guide
Steve Silberberg runs a business called Fitpacking that takes people on backpacking adventures with the goal of helping them get fit and lose weight. He says the job is particularly enjoyable because he gets to help people and travel for free.
Silberberg says a wilderness backpacking guide is generally flown to a city somewhat near a remote destination, such as a National Park or National Forest. From there, the guides will lead groups of backpackers through the wilderness without cell phones, Wi-Fi, plumbing, or electricity.
“Guides cook for participants, tend to blisters and other infirmities, assure the group’s safety, build campfires and bring a sense of fun and enjoyment to the participants,” he says. Guides may also carry heavy loads on their backs in order to make the customer’s experience more positive or carefree.
To qualify for this type of job, you should really love being in the outdoors, says Silberberg. It also helps to take an interest in people, because teaching them new skills is part of the gig.
#6: Event Organizer
While some event organizers focus on planning events and conferences locally, others need to travel for the job.
Catherine Jones is a conference and incentive planner whose job has taken her all over the world. She’s worked on events such as the Super Bowl, World Cup Soccer, and the Olympics, and managed events in Australia, Portugal, and France. Currently, she is overseeing a group of 200 heading to Rome for an event in December, she says.
In her career, she holds professional certifications such as the CMP (Certified Meeting Planner), CMM (Certified Meeting Manager) and CITE (Certified Incentive Travel Planner).
#7: Travel Nanny or Au Pair
Travel nannies and au pairs get to travel to new destinations to take care of children. Some are hired for specific trips, while others work for families full-time.
There are numerous websites that can help you search for nanny jobs around the world, including Adventure Nannies, Care.com and Household Staffing International. Jobs requirements vary and may require pet care, household chores, and other work in addition to child care.
Make sure to browse options and look for jobs that allow travel or exist in a destination you already want to visit. A love of children is required for this career, as is some freedom and flexibility in your schedule since long hours, weekends, and holidays may be required.
#8: Travel Company Executive
If you want to explore new destinations and conceptualize trips consumers want to take, consider working toward a role as a travel company executive. Contiki, a global social travel company for consumers ages 18 to 35, offers some pretty sweet jobs that allow you to travel and discover the world for free.
Travel professional Kelly Camps heads up operations for the Americas at Contiki. From British Columbia to Buenos Aires, Kelly scouts and maps out the ultimate travel itineraries that will resonate with young adults in North and South America.
From revamping existing itineraries to incorporating the ‘must-see’ attractions for a new destination, Camps does it all. On any given day, she could be hiking Costa Rican volcanoes, exploring chocolate plantations with locals, or scoping out new hotels or eco-lodges tucked in the Amazon rainforest. Obviously, all work-related travel is covered for Contiki executives in this role, making it an ideal job for someone who wants to get paid to explore.
#9: Travel Writer
Last but not least, don’t forget about the prospect of becoming a travel writer. With this job, you can work in a freelance role or as a full-time employee. With either, you can often score free travel around the globe (or at least write off your travel expenses come tax time). In exchange, you’ll need to write engaging accounts of the places you visit, including hotels you stay in and attractions you explore.
While travel writing is competitive and full-time positions are few and far between, you can search for travel writing jobs on websites like Indeed and Upwork. The good news about this career is that you can typically work remotely, even if you’re a full-time employee.