Like it or love it, most of us have to work for a living. This is the place to commiserate with other cube-dwellers and get tips from other business travelers. Talk about how the daily grind will one day allow you to realize your vagabond dreams. Share tips for turning travel you have to do into travel you want to do.

Traveling as a Career

Tangface

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  • Added on: May 27th, 2009
Hey everyone, I'm a a rising sophomore in college and its time to seriously decide on what I want to do as a career. In the beginning I had planned to become a doctor (non surgeon) and then retire early to travel the world. As my first year ended I realized I can't wait that long. I have a serious case of wanderlust to see and explore the world today.

So basically I need to find a career that would allow me to travel as work. But the hard part is I want a career that would enable me to stay in a country/city outside of the US for a few months out of the year rather than travel every other week in another city. I want to be able to explore and learn more about the history of that country/city. Not have a glimpse of it and then move on.

Any suggestions would be greatly welcomed and appreciated. Thanks.

2wanderers

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  • Added on: May 28th, 2009
There's few career paths where you will start with that kind of flexibility. The Foreign Service comes to mind as a good option. Skobb is our resident expert on that, and he's got an extensive thread on it over here.

If you want to primarily stay in the first world, you might have good luck on a management career path with a multi-national corporation. Difficult to get started, but once you're in, you'll probably get some of the flexibility you want. Something along the lines of an MBA is probably a good way to kick start this, but you will have to put in your time as a domestic drone before opportunities open up.

If your interest lies in the developing world, a career with aid agencies, NGOs, or the UN might be a good option. I don't know much about getting in with those, as the only contact I have is one friend at the UN, who took her law degree, spent a year with a volunteer program (she did get a small honourarium) processing refuges in India - essentially doing all the work to make get them papers and all the things they need to be "people" in the modern world, then got a full-time job doing the same for Iraqis in Jordan. She's now in Jerusalem...not sure what she's doing there, actually. In general, you'll probably have to start off as a volunteer before you can get a paid posting.

If you're still interested in medicine, there's no shortage of need for doctors in a lot of places...but getting paid decently may be a problem.

No matter which option you look into, learn more languages. My friend at the UN can pick up a new language in 2 months flat, as long as she's totally immersed in it. You need to have pretty specialized skills in order to be a valuable asset with a translator in tow.

Tangface

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  • Added on: May 28th, 2009
Neil, thanks for your advice. I was also thinking about the UN but I'm not sure if political science is along my drift. I'm going to have to look into that more. Someone also mentioned to me about a career in Anthropology since she knew I love Egyptology. I'm not sure about that career path either. Its just very confusing for me.

AmazingJulesVerne

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  • Added on: June 7th, 2009
You could get a teaching certificate and then get a job working for the Department of Defense at a school somewhere in the world. Look here for that. This is an excellent civilian placement, frankly, because of the benefits and the extra pay that you earn if you are placed in a school that is considered 'hardship.' One of my friends earned hardship pay for living in Iceland for a year but had such a great time and got to meet really interesting locals. That hardship pay meant that she had extra pocket money for travel during school breaks.

Having a teaching certificate would also allow you to get a job working in an international school -- while those jobs commonly place you initially in Korea, China and Kuwait, with a few years of experience/seniority, European posts become a possibility. This site is the absolute best resource for international school placement.

The nice thing about teaching abroad is that you make a decent wage and have time off for travel in the summers as well as school holidays. Many schools, after you sign a year contract and fulfill your obligation, also reimburse you for the cost of your ticket to get there. Some schools even give you a housing stipend.
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'It involved a squirrel, a dryer and a Scotsman doing the Haka in my kitchen.' - La Rosser.

VagaJohn

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  • Added on: February 16th, 2010
It's been a while since you posted this, so you might've alread decided which career path to choose.

All I would say is that life is strange, you never know what will happen tomorrow, and there are many opportunites to live in Foreign countries for long periods of time if you just keep looking for them, and if you can speak a few languages.

My advice would be to find something that you love to do that is needed and then make your own decisions about which country to live in.

For example,

Doctors are needed in every country. (You could look into Doctors without borders, doctors get higher points immigrating to certain countries, etc.)
Engineers are needed in every country. (People in the oil business work everywhere, Engineeers without borders, IT people are everywhere)
Teachers are needed in every country. (Teaching English in Korea, Universities will have guest teachers from other countries, Study abroad programs, etc.)

So, just find something that you love to do that people around the world would need, and you can write your own rules.

And if you're still in school, why not get a Masters at a University in Australia, or England, or some other country. Then, you'll definitely see the international opportunities around you!

Felix the Hat

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  • Added on: July 9th, 2010
"Travel as a career" for most people is like "retirement as a career". Working abroad is just that - work. There is really no such thing as backpacking as a career.

If you'd like to work abroad, there are all kinds of ways to do it. Learning a language fluently (passing a undergrad proficiency test does not make you fluent) is a near-essential tool to have in your kit to go abroad. If you aren't anything beyond lukewarm for a certain course of study yet, you'd best finish your undergrad degree, and go teach abroad for a year or two to think it over. Once you have a four-year degree, you can be in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, or China within a matter of weeks to teach English.

Tangface

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  • Added on: July 16th, 2010
Hello everyone,

It's been along time and yet I am still stuck on this question. Fun :)

Well, I've looked into everyone's ideas (thank you very much for them; they certainly inspired me) and teaching is probably the best, and probably safest, choice for me. Now the issue with me is that I would like to teach English (and hopefully other subjects as well) for an academic year and then move on. However, it probably wouldn't seem to be the best choice to do so. Does anyone think that its possible to teach for a year or two before moving on to another city or country?

KathrynD

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  • Added on: July 19th, 2010
I think you should teach something scientific like biology, since you were thinking of going into medicine. Lots of places need teachers in those fields. I met a woman whose daughter teaches chemistry in China in an English-speaking school and she loves it. You'd get a better salary than you would just teaching English.

Also, I meet people involved in medicine who travel. Both younger and older people. Doctors have it best for retirement because they just cut back hours as they get older. I kind of wish I'd gone that way, but then again, I really don't like sick people so probably not perfect for me.

Anyway, think about the science angle if you already have knowledge that direction. It will narrow down your competition.

Dan The Chainsawman

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  • Added on: July 26th, 2010
Man, I teach ESL.. Trust me.. Get a proper teaching degree if you want to teach and travel. ESL typically puts you into the low end of the pay scale. A very select few hit the high paying gigs in the Middle East. There is Korea but that market is so flooded you wouldn't believe it.

Get a teaching degree, do your student teaching, and get some practical experience.

You'll be much better off in the long run.

VagaJohn

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  • Added on: July 26th, 2010
Does anyone think that its possible to teach for a year or two before moving on to another city or country?


Yes, it absolutely is.

A lot of ESL gigs are for a 12 month period.

I know a lot of people who teach/have taught ESL and most of them hate it while they're doing it, and then can't wait to get back to it once they go into the corporate world.

You won't make a lot of money, but are you really going to become a travelling teacher for the money? Of course not, you want the experiences that go along with being an expat in a foreign land.

Asia is still the best bet for finding jobs teaching English abroad.

There's no reason you can't find a job in Japan, then a job in Korea the next year, then a job in Thailand, etc, etc. The job might suck, but who cares, you get to live in Asia.

And if that doesn't satisfy you career-wise, why not have fun for 3 or 4 years teaching English abroad then come back and find more challenging work that still involves travel. Maybe work for a multi-national and let them know you'd like to try their Kuala Lumpur office, work for a non-profit specializing in African women's rights in Kenya, or get a job with a foreign company that gives you trips to their Tokyo headquarters after a year or two.

Just so you know, all 3 of those examples are from people I've known through the years.

Being a traveller is more of a mindset to try new things. Let people know what you're interested in, and see where it takes you.



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