How to make travel your career

Drinking wine in Manhattan, New York City, 2015

I’m one of those people that just can’t sit still.

Staying in the one place seems pretty damn boring to me and I know I’m far from the only one who feels this way.

Last week I received this comment on one of my posts:

“I’ve recently decided to take up blogging, and travelling has always been an interest. But as I’m still a college student I can’t really afford to travel much. My parents are constantly telling me to work towards becoming a nurse or a doctor, but I’ve always wanted to travel and I’m not quite sure how I could take it up as a career as well as convincing my parents?”

This is a great question, and one that many of us have struggled with at some time or another. How do we deal with this constant wanderlust and juggle a career at the same time? Can we incorporate travel into a job, so that we’re never tied down to the one place and can make money doing what we love?

If you are in a situation like the one above, you might be pleased to know that you don’t have to choose between a career and travel. It’s quite possible to have a decent job and still be able to see the world!

The key is to have transferable skills, or find a job that is location independent. You may be surprised at how many industries are versatile enough to find work abroad. Here are three ways you can incorporate travel into your career.

New York City, USA
New York City, USA – 2015

1. Do your current job in another country

You might be surprised at how easy it is to do your current job in a different location.

My cousin and his wife both work in the health industry as a nurse and paramedic. They just left their jobs in Australia to move abroad and take up similar roles in London. Over the next 2 years, they’ll be working and using London as a base to travel throughout Europe.

So for my commenter, starting a career as a doctor or nurse doesn’t mean you can’t travel. Jobs in the health industry are available worldwide! The only restriction is that you might have to base yourself in English-speaking countries.

If you enjoy your current job or don’t particularly want to change careers, ask yourself:

  • Does your company have offices in other countries that you could transfer to?
  • Could your current job be completed in another country?
  • Could you ask your company working remotely is a possibility?
  • Could you quit your current job and apply for something similar in another country?
Sydney, Australia
Sydney, Australia – 2014

2. Create your own career

Creating your own career is not as impossible as you might think. By figuring out what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing, you can turn your skills into freelance work.

Some of the things I’m good at are travel writing, social media, content management, and photography, so I use these skills to make money freelancing.

The best thing is that this online work allows me to work from anywhere in the world. During my three months in Europe, I would do an hour or two of work in the mornings and evenings, and go out sightseeing during the day.

There are so many skills that can be turned into freelance work. My husband works is a web developer, and there have been numerous times where he has taken up freelance work when we’re travelling, as all he needs is a laptop and internet connection.

Self-employed travellers often go for one of these options:

  • Blogging or travel writing. Not everyone is able to make a full income from writing so it’s often used as a side income as well as doing other work.
  • Creative jobs can often be done from anywhere, as long as you have the equipment (camera, laptop, and wi-fi connection). You can read about how I used my creative skills to freelance in my post on becoming self employed.
  • Online consulting is super versatile, and can include advising on social media, marketing strategies, or travel planning.
  • Freelancing or contract work. If you already work in your industry of choice and want to go freelance, get some contacts in your industries that you can ask for work.
Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand – 2012

3. Do odd jobs abroad

This one probably won’t apply to my commenter, but if you just want to travel long-term and make money at the same time there are plenty of options. Here’s a few to get you started:

  • TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is popular in many Asian countries and is a great way to get a few months of work. Here’s a helpful article on teaching abroad.
  • Hospitality jobs are often easy for foreigners to get. If you have any skills working as a barista, in a bar, waiting tables, or as hotel staff, you may find these jobs advertised on hostel job boards.
  • Cruise ship jobs are a great way to see many parts of the world without paying for accommodation and transport. I’ve known someone who worked on a cruise ship as a nanny, but there are plenty of other jobs available. Search for opportunities at All Cruise Jobs or Cruise Job Finder.
  • Fruit picking and farm work is sometimes available on farms in remote areas, who often employ foreigners for seasonal work. Many travellers will go for this option if they’d like to live in a different country for a while and use a remote area as a home base to then travel the country later. Check out WWOOF (which stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms) or Help Exchange to find opportunities.
  • Volunteer work is available in many countries. Each program is different but many will offer board as part of the program. Work will often be in conservation, childcare, construction, healthcare, or teaching. See the volunteer section of Go Overseas for opportunities.
  • Au Pair jobs are common in many countries in Europe or North America. Do a web search for nanny jobs in the area you wish to visit.
  • Seasonal jobs such as working at summer camps or in ski resorts are really popular in USA and Canada. I know many Australians that have done this for a summer or winter season.

Want more ideas? Check out this list of 12 expat jobs that will help you travel the world!

Kastellet, Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark – 2016

Honestly, I feel that there are plenty of options for making travel your career. Most of us aren’t tied down to any one job, or any one place. If we want to travel and work at the same time, we can do it! All it takes is a little forward planning.

If you think that none of these options will work for you, then as a last resort you can extend your annual leave by taking unpaid leave. Save up as much money as you can, take a few weeks or months off to travel, then save up and do it all over again.

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46 Responses to “How to make travel your career”

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Studying does make it a little more difficult to travel as it usually means you’re earning less money and have less time to spare, but it’s certainly still possible. My trip to Europe was squeezed into the three months between Robert finishing his final exams and the start of the new uni semester, and we’d saved up for a year to be able to do the trip.

      But if you can’t travel now, at least you have something to aim for in the future! 🙂

  1. Tessa / Bramble & Thorn

    These are all excellent tips! It’s so true about not having to give up your career to travel, it’s just as easy to just do your job in a different country (assuming you speak the language, of course!)

    Tessa at Bramble & Thorn

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Absolutely! As long as you can communicate with the people in the country you’re in, there should be no problem! There are often other commitments that hold people back from doing their job in another country (house, family, etc) but if you’re open minded enough you can make anything happen!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Definitely! Travel can be cheaper than staying at home and paying rent/electricity/loans so if you do it right, you’ll actually save money 😀

  2. Morgan Sullivan

    Great article! Though I finally managed to make the jump into travel and work last year, I can still definitely remember being in a very similar conundrum as MidnightMist. Travel and work really is easier than people think… it just takes perseverance and creativity! But lists like these are perfect for people who are just starting out 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m glad you’ve been able to make it work Morgan! It’s definitely not as hard as people think. For me it seems not so hard because I know I have a wide range of skills that are versatile enough to take almost anywhere. As long as we have confidence in ourselves, we can make it happen 🙂

  3. Iida-Emilia

    Great advices! I’m studying journalism and I’m lucky, because my work is gonna be writing articles or doing TV stuff etc, which usually includes traveling 🙂 And it is also very normal to be a freelance journalist/writer so I think it will be quite easy to travel at the same time 🙂 But I think it’s actually possible to travel, no matter in which idustry you are working for, you just have to make it work 😀

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Journalism is a perfect career for travel! Even if the job is based in a particular city, the likelihood of you travelling for stories is very high, and you can definitely do freelance work if you do decide to travel at the same time. There are so many jobs that people may think are set in one place, but are actually versatile enough to take to other countries. Thanks for sharing your advice Iida-Emilia!

      • Tiffany

        I am a librarian. I work at an American university here. Never thought being a librarian would lead to a life of travel but it has.

        • Ashlea Wheeler

          Wow, that’s an interesting one Tiffany! Could you elaborate on how you went about taking your job as a librarian abroad?

          • Tiffany

            Well it is a long story, as I had been looking for a job abroad since 2009 after living in the Caribbean. It took four years of searching. It was hard since I only speak English. In my field, we have job websites run by professional organizations, so looked at those in foreign countries and international ones. I also looked at specific places I wanted to work. I found this job on a library job website that aggregates from all over the world. Another good place to look is the UN. Have patience and research a lot. Hope that helps!

          • Ashlea Wheeler

            Wow, 4 years is a long time! I’m glad you were able to persist until you found something you wanted, sometimes it seems easier to give up when nothing is going our way but you’ve proved that if we keep trying, we’ll get there in the end! Thanks for sharing your story Tiffany 🙂

  4. Sarah

    What you wrote about unpaid leave… Hallelujah! I love you!
    Pretty much everyone thinks it’s so weird I spend so much money on traveling, while I just wanna live a little while I’m still young. I’m 26 and all my friends are getting married, getting kids,… And then there’s me… I save up money to take some time off to see the world, to then do it all again. Just like you wrote 🙂

    Thanks for all the tips! Loved reading all of them 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You and me sound like we’re on the same page Sarah! While many people around me are pumping out kids and buying houses, all I want to do is spend all my money on exploring new places, experiencing new things, and living my life to the fullest. I’ll do everything in my power to continue living my life this way! I’m so glad you feel the same way 😀

  5. Iona

    Thanks for the post, you’ve wrote some things I never thought of. I’m in university right now so travelling is something I’m putting off for a few years. However, I have always thought I would take the ‘work abroad’ route!

    – Iona

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m glad you found it useful Iona! University does make it a little harder, but I hope you don’t put off travel for too long – you’ll regret it later 😉

  6. Leah of The Mochilera Diaries

    It’s kind of funny to me how few people think of the option of “do the same job in a different country.” So many people could do this! Traveling and working is all about being a little creative 🙂 Great tips, as usual Ashlea!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      My thoughts exactly Leah! It’s something that doesn’t really occur to many people, probably because they have other commitments keeping them in one place. The most freeing feeling is letting those commitments go and being able to move to wherever you want!

  7. Lauren Hughes

    I am hoping to do point one this year and move to Australia for the year! It is a scary prospect, but if I don’t do it I will always wonder ‘what if…’

    Great post though, I hope you get to do lots more travelling soon 🙂 xo

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Moving abroad is definitely a scary prospect, but the regret of not trying would be so much worse. Best of luck with your move Lauren, let us know how it all goes!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’ll be taking off for more travels in May, can’t wait 😀

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m really glad I was able to inspire you Mary! Life does seem to get in the way sometimes, but don’t leave it too late – sometimes you’ve just got to take a chance and see what happens. When my partner was in college we took the 3 months in between his semesters to travel Europe, and we’re so glad we did 🙂

  8. Janelle

    I currently am an Au Pair in Spain, this is a great way to experience another culture. I’m doing this for 7 months and while I’m doing this I am working on my start up company,

    A place for people who want to travel but the planning part dose’t appeal to them. Ashlee, I’m curious if you would like to collaborate together. I am trying to form a “mastermind group” of people like-minded who are also wanting to get their on career going. And need support from others who are doing the same and are in the same place.
    Please email me if your at all a little interested.

  9. Who Needs Maps

    Awesome post and it is definitely a dream of ours to travel full time. We are currently doing some freelancing which has helped tremendously. We use sites like fiverr, elancer, odesk and freelancer.

    You can do all sorts of work like writing, social media likes and commenting, product reviews and testimonials and if you have a talent like voice over or singing you are set 🙂

    Great post, love it and will definitely be sharing it with our travel buddies.

    Happy travels,

    • Wyetta Butler

      I would like to recieve more information on starting a travel business. I was a overseas contractor for 5 years and while doing so i begin to travel the world and i enjoyed doing research on places to find my next adventure and best deal. Since returning home i have been in search of a way to do this as a cater and continue my own travels. The only things i have found though are pyramid schemes on becoming at private travel agent. This message is a response to Janelle….thanks in advance.

  10. Lea

    I love looking up posts about travelling and getting advice on things I want to get into in my life. I always had a “life plan” as many people do when they are in high school. You always have that plan that you want to finish school by this year and get married and have kids and there is always that time frame. I look back and wish I would have done more schooling or wish I would have saved a bit more to help fund my desire to travel. But as I look at my life now, I am content on what I am doing. I don’t make the best money but I am happy. As that one poster stated, trying to convince your parents is the hardest. I finally have my parents and family, happy with what I am doing and honestly, I don’t really care too much about their opinion. My life and my happiness is more important. It sounds selfish but why stay in one place? I am a cruise ship worker and I work with the youth programs. It is not the best money and you work hard and many hours. However, the people I have meant, the experiences and the memories I have made is priceless. That right there is something no amount of money could ever give. I always wanted to start a blog about my travels but I really don’t know how about it. I have many stories and experiences and advice to give. Thank you for your article 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      This is a wonderful story Lea! I’m so glad you were able to put aside any pressures you might have had to do what would make you happy! I have a friend that does something very similar to you (works in kids club on a cruise ship) and she has the most wonderful time. She gets to see so much and work in a job that she loves. In my opinion, that’s so much more important than getting a high paying job that you don’t enjoy.

      • Lea

        Well your friend does exactly what I do. Not similar but the exact same thing! I mean, I love it most days and some days I hate it. Like any job thought, right? Some cruise lines are designed to give the crew an easy life after hours and then some cruise lines are designed to give you an easy life during work hours. If you know what I mean? But hey, I am going back with the same company for a fourth time and this time it’s in Australia! Who can turn that down?!? And yes, money and materials aren’t so important but I think we live in a society that forgets that. I would take a less paying job like I am now, just to experience this life. Thanks for your blog 🙂 I love it.

        • Ashlea Wheeler

          Absolutely – any job has it’s ups and downs! Even travel blogging can be a pain in the ass some days, though I love it most of the time 😛

          So glad you’ll be coming to Australia through your job! You’ll love it, I’m sure!

  11. Markie

    Thank you for your blog post, it has relit my torch on my burnt out New Year resolution. I had started a blog of my entertaining, adventurous, and transitioning healthy self life… Then got a job at a restaurant and the excuses started. Thankfully my main resolution, leaving for summer is in the works becoming true, I signed up for WWOOF Hawaii 🐢🐚🐙🍄🍠🍌🌴🌺⛅🌈🌙🌅🌊🌎🌋🌌⚓🎣🏄🛀🏊✈
    I was debating whether or not I wanted to find an avenue for money or just have a great time, thank you for subconsciously inspiring me! I am going to refocus on my blog (:

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Markie! It can be difficult when we’re faced with the choice between stability and the unknown, and heading down the unknown path is always scary. I hope you’re able to have a fabulous time on your travels, no matter what 🙂

  12. Tammee

    I’ve got plans to do my first nurse travel assignment in about 6 months. I’m excited about the upcoming adventure. Nice article, thanks for sharing your thoughts and insight.

  13. Anna


    Your article is great and inspiring to me. I am 52 and unemployed. With a diverse background and a love of travel, I am looking for ways to do what I love…..helping others and travel. With a background in education, mentoring…customer service, clerical in many fields such as health, hospitality, business administration accounting temp work and others, still I am finding companies look past the skills. I am now looking to other countries…..wanderlust, I suppose. I will definitely look into the links you have given. Thanks and happy travelling😊🌲🌲

  14. Dean

    Hi ashlea
    In a nutshell i am divorced and how shall i say restless with life in britain…im 47 and have thot about selling house and taking myself off to do a renovation project …thinking france at moment…
    Had any similar situations on your site?
    Any advice would be gratefully received
    Many thx

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Hi Dean, thanks for your comment! Unfortunately I haven not had any similar situations pass by on this site, but that’s not to say yours isn’t a good idea – I think you’ve got to do whatever you think is right for you! If heading to France to do a renovation project is what your heart desires, then go for it. Remember, it’s better to try then fail than not try at all. At least you won’t have any regrets 🙂

  15. Southern Travelista

    I became a travel addict with my first international trip to Thailand. I would love to make traveling a career but it’s been difficult. My next step is to find a career in a different country where it’s easy to travel. 🙂 Great post!!!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That sounds like a great thing to do to involve travel in your everyday life (in fact, that’s exactly what I’ve just done with my move to New York!). I hope you make it happen, it will be a fantastic opportunity for you!

  16. Corrina Sisk-Casson

    As a freelancer, how do you get the company to pay for your travel? Or, how do you claim your travel in taxes? I freelance around my home, but I can’t figure out how to do it on the road.


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