Enjoying a life, a year, or even just a few months of travel doesn’t have to come at the cost of a career. Today’s global economy brings with it an equally global-minded business culture, in which companies see the value in encouraging their employees to travel, hiring employees from overseas, and promoting tourism as a way to connect people around the world.
Aspiring globetrotters can make their dreams a reality by finding a job that marries their skills with their passion for travel. Fortunately, landing a job that strikes the balance between building a career and seeing the world is more achievable than one may think. Whether that be a short-term gig in another country, occupations that require travel as part of the job or careers with potential for permanent assignments abroad, opportunities in just about any field exist for professionals with wanderlust.
Travel jobs don’t fit neatly into any one category. They include roles that involve travel as a necessary part of the job, like a flight attendant or geologist, alongside career paths that allow people to find work anywhere in the world, like a bartender, chef or massage therapist. Freelance and remote occupations, on the other hand, give professionals the flexibility to work from anywhere with an internet connection, earning the nickname as digital nomads. Still, other travel jobs defy categories altogether. Use the tool below to browse top travel jobs and compare their average earning potential.
|Agricultural worker||SALARY $30,410||
Working on farms, ranches and orchards anywhere in the world, agricultural workers maintain and harvest crops or tend livestock. Temporary employment by season or through global organizations like WWOOF allow for frequent travel.
|Airline pilot||SALARY $90,731||
Airline pilots fly passenger planes and scheduled cargo flights. Becoming an airline pilot involves earning a bachelor's degree, a commercial pilot license and an additional certification as an airline pilot before getting hired.
|Au pair/nanny||SALARY $24,278||
Nannies care for children and babies in their family's homes. Au pairs typically help with housework as well as childcare in exchange for room and board in a foreign country.
Bartenders mix and serve beverages to customers in restaurants, hotels, bars and event venues. Bartenders typically learn their skills through on-the-job training, though optional classes and certifcations can open up advanced opportunities in the industry.
Chefs and cooks prepare meals in restaurants, hotels, private households or other food-service establishments. Most chefs gain skills through work experience, though community college or culinary school education can be beneficial for advancement or opening a restaurant.
|Commerical truck driver||SALARY $52,313||
Transporting goods in cargo vehicles, travel is a required part of the job for commercial truck drivers. This in-demand profession requires workers to earn a commercial driver's license and complete truck driving school before starting work.
|Freelance digital marketer||SALARY $46,757||
Digital marketers use social media, search engine optimization and other online media to increase brand awareness or promote products and services for companies. Remote work in the digital marketing field is common, typically on a freelance basis.
|ESL teacher||SALARY $40,768||
Working with youth or adults, ESL (or English as a Second Language) teachers help students learn vocabulary, grammar, and written and spoken language skills. Opportunities to teach English abroad are open to education professionals as well as people without formal teaching degrees.
|Event planner||SALARY $39,947||
Event coordinators plan all the aspects of events and executive meetings, from location to lodging to entertainment. Researching for, setting up and orchestrating events typically involves travel to event locations.
|Flight attendant||SALARY $38,894||
Flight attendants make sure that airplane passengers are safe and comfortable during their travels. Customer service experience is beneficial, while on-site training and certification with the Federal Aviation Administration are required.
|Foreign service officer||SALARY $88,091||
Also known as diplomats, these U.S. State Department employees work in American embassies around the world. After passing the Foreign Service Officer Test and completing the rigorous application process, one can apply for these public service roles.
|Freelance computer programmer||SALARY $54,062||
Those skilled in computer programming languages and techniques may opt to work as a location-independent freelancer. Prior experience and demonstrated skill in computer programming are generally required to earn these competitive, high-demand jobs.
|Freelance graphic designer||SALARY $36,174||
Self-employed graphic designers create digital art for clients. Using computer software and hand-drawn art, graphic designers create visuals for like advertisements, brand logos, brochures, magazines and web sites.
|Freelance writer||SALARY $39,342||
Working on a self-employed basis, freelance writers produce aritcles, blogs and news stories for print or digital publications. They may write for one publication, but most work for several clients at a time, often specializing in a certain subject matter.
Geologists conduct field studies and create scientific reports about the Earth's composition, history, natural processes and structure. Oil and mining companies, engineering firms, governmant agencies and universities employ most geologists.
|Hotel front desk associate||SALARY $21,673||
Front desk associates in hotels, lodges, motels and resorts help guests with their questions, reservations, travel needs and complaints. Most front desk jobs include night, weekend and holiday shifts.
|Massage therapist||SALARY $30,470||
Treating patients by manipulating the muscles and soft tissue, massage therapists help to heal injuries, relieve pain and improve relaxation. A license or certification may be required depending on location.
Singing or playing an instrument as part of a band, concert or a solo act often involves travel. Musicians may perform small gigs as they travel or go on tour specifically to perform in concerts or orchestras.
|Ski instructor||SALARY $15/hour||
Working seasonally at ski resorts, instructors teach children and adults how to ski or snowboard. Skiing skills are a must; on-site training and professional certifications may be required for some positions.
|Tour guide||SALARY $29,350||
Tour guides introduce travelers to the local history, culture and natural wonders of a destination. Tour guides may specialize in a specific type of attractions in an area, such the local cuisine or the best hikes.
Translators convert written works from one language to another language. They must have native-level fluency in both languages, and may work as freelancers or for translation companies.
|Travel agent||SALARY $36,731||
These travel industry professionals help plan, organize and execute vacation plans for clients. They may be responsible for booking transportation, making hotel and tour reservations, knowing important safety information and suggesting itineraries.
|Travel nurse||SALARY $66,081||
Providing medical and emotional care to patients, registered nurses can fill temporary positions in different locations. Travel nurses choose their work locations (generally in places with nurse shortages) and are usually provided housing during their assignments.
|Travel photographer||SALARY $43,355||
Working as a freelancer or for one company, travel photographers capture, edit and publish images. Travel photography is used broadly as art, a storytelling medium or for news.
Tutors assist students of any age with their coursework or extracurricular learning. Many tutors specialize in certain school subjects or age groups and work through tutoring companies or on a self-employed basis.
|Virtual assistant||SALARY $35,621||
Virtual assistants work remotely as they provide administrative support to an office team. Job functions include scheduling meetings, booking travel and accomadation, and managing team calendars.
Companies across the board—whether in the finance, technology, marketing, hospitality or other sectors—realize the value of having a global perspective and an international workforce. These companies find creative ways to encourage their employees to travel the world, benefitting both their businesses and their employees at the same time.
Some companies, like Airbnb, offer team members yearly stipends to spend specifically on travel. Others, including Edelman and Boston Consulting Group, craft special fellowship programs that transfer employees to one of their international offices for one- to two-year stints. Earning a permanent assignment abroad can be the golden ticket to experiencing another part of the world while working for a company with a large global presence, such as Marriott International or American Express. Meanwhile, growing companies like Uber allow their U.S.-based employees to work at one of their overseas offices for a few weeks each year.
These eight companies make a great starting point for job seekers who list travel as a high-priority; their global employee count, major U.S. locations and a sampling of current job openings are listed below.
Company size: 16,000
Locations: San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., Seattle, Los Angeles and other locations world-wide
Jobs available: software engineer, communications associate, community operations manager, data analyst, account representative
Company size: 55,000
Locations: New York City, Phoenix, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Houston and other locations world-wide
Jobs available: marketing coordinator, customer care professional, fraud analyst, intern, accounting specialist, java engineer, full stack engineer, information security analyst, administrative assistant
Company size: 177,000
Locations: Bethesda, Orlando, Houston, St. Louis, Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, Newark and other locations world-wide
Jobs available: guest relations manager, concierge, chef de partie, massage therapist, bartender, front desk manager, manager of housekeeping, hotel operations manager, sales executive
Company size: 16,000
Locations: Boston, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Seattle, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other locations world-wide
Jobs available: financial analyst, business analyst, administrative assistant, consultant, finance specialist, customer success manager, IT developer, operations coordinator
Company size: 5,850
Locations: Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Seattle, New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Portland, Orlando and other locations world-wide
Jobs available: editorial associate, production intern, art director, assistant account executive, design intern, insights analysts, senior copywriter, market research intern, human resources analyst
Company size: insert 3,100
Locations: San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and other locations world-wide
Jobs available: software engineer, experience researcher, data scientist, customer experience specialist, copywriter, account security specialist, trip designer, public relations manager, project manager, technical illustrator
Company size: 263,900
Locations: San Francisco, San Jose, Denver, New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Austin and other locations world-wide
Jobs available: supply chain consultant, customer consultant, human resources associate, cyber risk consultant, cloud security manager
Company size: 126,600
Locations: New York City, Boston, Fort Worth, Minneapolis, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco and other locations world-wide
Jobs available: customer service, aircraft mechanic, member services representative, flight attendant, senior analyst, corporate sales specialist, pilot
While most careers can involve a bit of travel or possible employment options abroad, some jobs are simply made for professionals with wanderlust. The careers profiled below not only require travel as part of the job description, they also promote opportunities for forging a deep connection with the people, culture, and lifestyle of a place while doing so.
Teaching English abroad provides the unique opportunity to do invaluable work as an educator while living in a foreign country for at least a year. The demand for ESL (or English as a Second Language) teachers around the world continues to grow as the English language predominates in international business, politics, computing, and entertainment.
Such an abundant need for teachers means that native English speakers can fill positions overseas without having years of specialized training. While requirements vary by country and by employer, international ESL teachers generally need to hold a bachelor’s degree in any field and a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. Several companies connect prospective teachers with schools and language academies in foreign countries, streamlining the process of earning a certification and getting hired. In general, ESL teachers have the freedom to choose his or her host country.
The day-to-day work involves teaching grammar, vocabulary, and written and spoken language skills in public school classrooms, private lessons or private language institutions to either children or adults. Those who choose to teach in Europe or Latin America are more likely to have adult learners, while most students in Asia are children. According to the International TEFL Academy, the five countries boasting the best job markets in 2018 for teaching English abroad are China, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Czech Republic.
If getting paid to travel the world while taking photos of fascinating people, nature and events sounds like a dream job, that’s because, well, it is. That doesn’t mean that the life of a travel photographer comes without hard work. Getting that first big break can be the biggest hurdle for many—especially with such fierce competition nowadays thanks to the accessibility of quality photography equipment and digital sharing platforms.
Almost all travel photographers are self-employed, working on freelance assignments for various clients, selling prints or photo books, licensing images online, or providing destination photography workshops and tours—or any combination thereof. Companies in the travel industry that frequently contract photographers include travel magazines, destination marketing organizations and tourism boards, hotels and resorts, and outdoor- or travel-related consumer brands.
The uptick in digital media marketing in the travel industry, particularly through social media, comes with broadened opportunities for contract photographers. Starting and maintaining a professional social media presence is a must for freelance photographers nowadays, especially on Instagram, and can often help budding photographers get discovered. Managing an online portfolio through their own websites provides another avenue for travel photographers to sell their images and showcase their talent to potential clients.
Also known as diplomats, these U.S. State Department employees work on assignments in over 270 American embassies and consulates worldwide. The role of a foreign service officer has a strong emphasis on public service, international affairs, and economic development. Generalizing the responsibilities of a foreign service officer poses a unique challenge, as the work varies greatly depending on the assignment and the location’s current affairs with the U.S. Overall, diplomats function as the face of the U.S. in their location and provide help to American citizens traveling abroad.
Becoming a foreign service officer is a rigorous process. The first step requires candidates to choose one of the five career tracks (consular officers, economic officers, management officers, political officers, public diplomacy officers), which will shape the type of work they do for the bulk of their careers. Successfully passing the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT)—a written exam which includes sections on geography, history, popular culture, math, economics and U.S. government—marks a major step forward in the application process. After that, applicants must submit a personal narrative, complete an oral assessment, and go through security and medical clearances.
Those who make the cut go on for training in Washington D.C. and get their first assignments overseas, typically for 18 months. Generally, diplomats serve on assignments in multiple host countries around the world throughout their tenure, which means sometimes moving after each assignment. The effort to join the foreign services comes with the benefits of living overseas during the bulk of one’s career, working in the challenging yet often rewarding field of public service, getting paid to learn languages, and connecting with people and cultures in one’s host country.