Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel and explore the world, and for some, the travel bug can be squashed with a week or two of vacation a year. However, for those with true wanderlust, that just won’t cut it. After all, they need to explore and travel in order to truly feel alive and to be authentically themselves! Unfortunately, traditional jobs can make that nearly impossible. So if you want to plan your life around traveling, you need to check out these wanderlust careers for those who can’t stay put in one place.
Historically, one of the best careers for people with wanderlust has been sailing. And for those with questionable moral compasses, piracy. While these careers still certainly exist – a la Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi – there’s a more modern career for travelers who also enjoy the sciences. Oceanography isn’t just a cool general education class. It’s a career where you spend months at a time out on the open sea, sleeping in hammocks, battling storms, and collecting data to investigate plummeting catch rates for deep-sea fishermen (and many other projects!). Oceanographers are the modern-day Jacks of all trades. They do it all, from sailing to research, to grant writing, to presentation giving. If you’re flexible like to rough it, and love going where the wind blows, check out this awesome career for travel lovers.
In business, there are as many challenges as there are businesses. Sometimes it’s hard to see the solution from inside the problem, which is why companies hire consultants to help. Consultants usually have a business or entrepreneurial experience under their belt to share, as well as great leadership, communication, and strategic talents. The best part? Business consulting often requires you to travel to meet with clients and get a feel for their business from inside the company. Depending on the scale and kind of business, a consultant could have international clients who depend on their favorite consultant to help keep things running smoothly, implement company-wide changes, and advise them on all matters related to business. For an entrepreneur or executive touched by wanderlust, that’s a pretty sweet gig. Make sure to build up a stable of clients in your favorite destinations, as well as leave room in your schedule for new clients in unexplored countries and cities around the globe.
Is the age of the travel agent dead? While labor bureaus predict a decline in available jobs in this career due to available information on the internet, many travelers still choose to employ assistance when making plans. After all, most agents take a commission from the hotelier, not their traveling clients. Offering individualized, truly helpful advice to fellow travelers is easy when you’ve been to the destination yourself. This is one career where the more time you spend traveling, the more successful you are. The benefits go beyond merely encouraging wanderlust, however. Tourism boards and resorts love it when travel agents visit them. Travel agents bring them business, so many are happy to offer discounts and even paid trips where they spoil you rotten. Like a restaurant will give a food critic the 6-star treatment, tourism and hospitality companies will make it easy for a travel agent to enjoy a visit.
Being an archaeologist isn’t all Indiana Jones’ digs and treasure hunting. I know. Bummer. In fact, for most of the year, the Indies of the real world catalog artifacts, write reports and care for their finds. But if you love history and learning about new places within a historical context, this might be the perfect wanderlust-quenching career. As archaeologists, meticulous, detail-oriented people get to cut loose a bit and explore for a few months per year on archaeological digs. Plus, as you develop a niche or specialty, you can keep heading back to your favorite areas in the world. After all, there are artifacts to be found just about everywhere. If adventuring out in remote regions of the world and immersing yourself in dirt and ancient cultures, archaeology may be the perfect wanderlust career for you.
Import/Export or Retail Buyer
Globalization has done wonders for the businesses of retail and import/export. For travelers who are good at sussing out great deals or new and innovative products, this might be the perfect career. Many companies hire professional retail buyers to scour the world for items to stock their stores with at bargain prices. Buyers can specialize in any number of industries, like fashion, furniture, art, or electronics, but they’ll have to be sharks when it comes to negotiating merchandise deals. The independent or freelance version of the retail buyer is an import/export buyer. Going freelance in this realm is incredibly difficult and requires a whole host of entrepreneurial skills, like negotiating, accounting, planning, management, and economics. Those who are successful, however, have the opportunity to explore undiscovered markets, trade centers, and factories around the world, from the largest cities to the smallest towns – depending on their niche.
While bartending isn’t a “get paid to travel” gig per se, these jobs are everywhere. No matter where you go in the world, people drink booze. The same could be said for table-waiting, cooking, and other service industry jobs, but most of these don’t enable you to get to know your customers and the greater community as intimately as bartending. As a bartender, you are a confident, wingman, psychologist, cheerleader, and general life expert to bar patrons. When you travel abroad, you’ll attract other ex-pats. They’ll chat you up and you’ll get to know each other. Inevitably, invitations to join them on their volcano hike the next day, stay at their place next time you’re in their hometown or join them on the next leg of their trip roll in. Sometimes the best thing you can do to further your own travels is to get to know others who travel, too, and bartending is one of the best ways to do that.
Teach English Abroad
Natives of countries like Canada, England, The United States, and Australia all have at least one incredible opportunity for a travel-minded career: teaching English abroad. While many countries have immersion programs for other languages, English is the most sought-after second language in the world. For nomads lucky enough to be native speakers, there are tons of teaching opportunities around the world. Asian and European cultures place high importance on learning English as children, so look to these places first. Not only do teachers reap the rewards of helping their students, but they have the option to travel abroad to many destinations, live with fellow ex-pats, and experience new cultures in-depth because most assignments last at least a few months, and many longers. Teaching positions often require ESL or TEFL training, which can cost several thousand dollars. Once you’re certified, however, you’ll be eligible for better salaries than teachers without this certification.
People who love traveling and children can combine the two by becoming an au pair. In simple terms, an au pair is like a nanny who comes from another country. The reality is a bit different. Au pair was originally a French concept, meaning “equal to.” The idea is that these people live with their employers as equal family members. As an au pair, a traveler can answer the call of wanderlust and choose from plenty of destinations. Many of these destinations are in Europe, but families in Australia and China have been known to employ au pairs as well. In exchange for caring for the children, helping with homework, some housework, etc., au pairs often receive free room and board in the family home, plus a small salary or stipend. And, they have the opportunity to be completely immersed in their family’s culture and language from an entirely unique perspective.
Website Design, Coding, and Copywriting
A laptop, an internet connection, and a Skype or Google Hangout account are the most important tools for these careers. While these jobs aren’t specifically related to travel, they can be accomplished effectively from just about anywhere in the world. Build a website on a sandy beach in Tahiti, create an app atop a glacier in Alaska, or write a product description amid the sights, smells, and sounds of a Moroccan bazaar. In today’s digital professional landscape, more and more companies allow telecommuting. The thriving shared economy also makes it easy to freelance in these careers. Great financial success can be had by catering to clients in high-wage countries while living in or traveling to inexpensive destinations. The only downside is that these jobs tether nomads to the internet, so they need to make sure the services at their destination can handle the bandwidth they need.
Travel Writer or Photographer
This is certainly one of the most popular (and most Instagram-worthy) wanderlust careers! Not many people literally get paid to travel, but those who create the words and images in travel publications do. There are tons of opportunities for travel writers and photographers, especially if you can do both reasonably well. After all, there are travel blogs, magazines, guides, tourism ads, and books, all with enthusiastic readers who can’t wait to share in your adventures. Success as a travel writer and/or photographer can be found on any of these platforms. Travel writers and photographers can work as employees at specific publications, or they can freelance. Often, editors will ask them to visit certain places, and at other times they choose their own destinations to cover. These careers reward people who like to travel off the beaten path and find innovative destinations and ways to travel, but be prepared to spend several years or more breaking into the industry.
People with wanderlust often want to lead physically active lifestyles as well. Hiking, sailing, swimming, running, yoga, and skiing are all common favorites among travelers. If you’re more interested in marrying your wanderlust with a career in a team sport like baseball, basketball, football, or soccer, however, athletic recruiting might be just right for you. Athletic recruiters for colleges travel all over their country in search of players with natural talent and a drive for top performance. Recruiters for pro sports teams often make world trips as well to follow leads on international talent. Either way, building great relationships with local coaches, a solid background in playing the sport yourself, and a bit of sports management or kinesiology knowledge goes a long way in this career, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to keep one foot in the sports world while you travel the rest of the world. Score!
Cruise Line Worker or Flight Attendant
Working in the hospitality and travel industries always makes for great wanderlust careers. Flight attendants and cruise line workers spend most of their days (and often nights) in the air or on the water. Not only that, but they get to interact with other travelers each and every day. Cruise line workers are particularly rich in this way because most cruise lines try to hire a diverse staff from all over the world, so even your colleagues will have wanderlust. While most of these careers require little to no schooling, jobs are highly sought-after. Nomads who do score a job with a cruise line or airline, though, will probably receive some pretty awesome perks that will feed their wanderlust. Flight attendants usually get free or discounted flights for themselves and their families, and cruise line workers get free food and accommodations. All-in-all, it’s not a bad way to see the world.