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It seems like everyone who has quit his or her job to travel (and there are a lot!) is now a “digital nomad” (myself included).
But what exactly does that mean? In short, digital nomads are people who are location independent. Their jobs can be done entirely online, meaning they can work anywhere they have WiFi. Sounds like the dream, right?
It is (most days). But that’s for another post. This post is for all you readers out there who want to work and travel at the same time. It’s possible and I’m here to show you how.
There are really three main ways to work and travel and not all are created equal. Opportunities to work while traveling typically fall into three categories: working online (aka digital nomading), working abroad (aka being an expat) and traveling long-term (aka vagabonding).
Table of Contents
Digital nomad: A digital nomad is someone who works online and consequently can work from anywhere with internet access. This gives you the freedom to be location independent – you can spend three days or three months in one place as long as you get your work done. I fall into this category as a remote social media manager and travel blogger.
Expat: An expat is someone who works in another country and is NOT location independent. Typically, expats have been sent to work abroad by their companies at home, but they can also choose to move willingly. While this limits your ability to travel frequently, it does offer you much more stability – in addition to access to another country and culture. Bonus: if you happen to be an expat in Asia or Europe, you’ll have access to cheap flights within the continent too – score!
Vagabond: I first learned about the term “vagabond” from Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. That title alone gives you the definition of a vagabond. Essentially, it’s someone who does seasonal jobs, odd jobs, work exchange, and more in order to travel. Typically, vagabonds aren’t working to build a career – they work to fund longer term travel.
So now that we have the lingo down, I’m sharing my favorite resources in all three categories. These are the best travel jobs and resources to help you work and travel.
As a digital nomad, you’ll live and die by good wifi (and your self-motivation), but it certainly offers the highest level of flexibility.
Teach English online
One of the beauties of the internet is the ability to work right from the comfort of your home…or from a coffee shop in any city. The demand for native English teachers around the world is booming, resulting in an online teaching revolution. Most companies allow you to teach for a minimum of 10-15 hours per week, leaving you plenty of time to travel. I recommend getting TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified first. Not only will this enhance your skill set as a teacher, but it will also likely increase your pay – most companies pay more for TEFL-certified teachers. Get certified HERE (35% OFF with code PASSPL35) and check out this post on how to teach English in Spain.
Teach ANY skill online
Who says your teaching skills have to be limited to English? There’s a huge demand for online teachers in pretty much every field. I’ve taken online courses in photography, blogging, WordPress and more! This option will take some time investment up front to create a course, but it can easily provide you with passive income once it’s online and marketed well. UDemy is my favorite platform for skill-based learning.
Let’s face it. Travel blogging doesn’t pay the bills. It starts to pay off a bit once you’ve been doing it for a while, but it requires long-term audience building and influence. However, if you have a unique writing style or are just a particularly amazing writer, why not do some freelance writing? There are tons and tons of companies, magazines, and blogs out there looking for writers…all you have to do is start pitching!
Maybe writing isn’t your thing, but something else is, such as video animation or translation or IT support. You can even be a virtual assistant – that’s a thing! There are several websites that are hubs for freelancers looking for work in a variety of categories. You have to do some digging and advertising (and unfortunately, compete with people with lower rates). However, I know several people who have found long-term clients on some of these websites.
Work in tech or marketing
Let’s say you’re already incredibly skilled at your current tech or marketing job. Maybe you’re a developer, a customer service specialist, or an account manager. If you are looking for something full-time (for the most part), then check out the below websites. This is probably the most extensive list for people who are looking to continue a career they already have, rather than enter a new industry.
Note: Several of these job boards overlap and some offer both remote and non-remote jobs.
Sell things online
Yeah, competition is stiff to be an Etsy, Amazon, or eBay seller, but it isn’t impossible! If you have unique crafts or know how to source a bunch of products for cheap and resell them, then there’s your skill.
Do your current job online
Do you have a job that you can do from home or pretty much anywhere? Depending on your line of work, you might be able to turn your occasional work from home day into working remotely indefinitely. Back when I was obsessively searching for jobs, I used The Muse for all my job-seeking advice…and lo and behold, they have an article on how to get your boss to let you work from home. Good luck!
Note: There are SO many jobs you can do online to help you make money! If you have any sort of skill, it’s highly likely you can sell it online, whether it be on a full-time remote basis or a freelance / part-time project basis. (And if you don’t, start learning on UDemy). Get creative!
Live the expat life. Moving abroad for a year or more is an excellent way to deep-dive into a new culture and establish a home base.
There’s a reason that so many bloggers and expats started their careers teaching English. It’s one of the easiest ways to get a long-term work visa and is a job that’s available in a significant portion of the world. Plus, it can be pretty lucrative in most countries. There are often two ways to go about this: either you can get a job that is sponsored by the government (typically as a teaching assistant) or you can get TEFL-certified and get placed by the academy.
You can get TEFL certified online or in your target country. Getting certified online is cheaper, easier and faster, but you do miss out on the hands-on training that comes with getting certified at a physical school. If you choose to take the online certification route, I recommend taking a course at an academy that offers job placements in your country of choice, which you can typically find in their ‘jobs’ section. I’ve been told that teaching English is much more lucrative in Asia and the Middle East than it is in Europe. I’m not sure about South America nor Africa. Note: Although I’m not currently teaching English, I am TEFL certified. I recommend it for anyone who plans to spend extensive time abroad.
Resources: myTEFL, 35% off the course with code PASSPL35.
Become a tour guide
I know it sounds a bit counterintuitive to be a tour guide abroad, but hear me out. Lots (not all) of tour guides are trained on the job, so you really just need to have an engaging personality and be comfortable leading groups (and have other important tour guide skills). You typically have to have a permit to work in the target continent as well. Be sure to search for jobs at both large travel companies and at smaller locals ones as well. Alternatively, you can market your unique knowledge and skills in a new destination. For example, if you cook a really good paella but happen to be living in the U.S., then market a paella cooking class for people traveling in the U.S. Again, creativity is key here.
Basically, if you like children and taking care of them (and maybe doing some housework), then au pairing might be a good option for you. Au pair jobs usually include accommodation, meals, and a small stipend. Depending on the family, you’re usually given 2-3 days off per week. Plus, it’s a great way to learn about local culture directly from locals themselves.
Request a company transfer
While this is the most obvious way to have your cake and eat it too, I know from personal experience that it can be a challenge. Getting a company to sponsor a work visa is an extensive and expensive endeavor, and those visas are usually saved for senior positions. Still, though, it never hurts to ask – some companies are more flexible than others!
Bonus: get a job where you travel frequently! Consultants, flight attendants, and traveling nurses immediately come to mind.
Get a working holiday visa
Depending on which country you’re from and where you’re trying to work, you may be eligible to get a working holiday visa. This is essentially a one-year visa that allows you to work in a specific country, with some restrictions. U.S. citizens can get working holiday visas in Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, and Ireland, but each country has different age, work, and savings requirements. This guide from Global Goose provides a good breakdown of the different locations and rules. These visas allow you to work full-time, so you don’t have to worry about spending an entire year income-less.
Join the Peace Corps
If your idea of a great career includes challenging but meaningful work, then perhaps you should consider joining the Peace Corps. You can utilize your skillset to make a difference in the world, although you won’t necessarily get to choose where you’ll work. You do have to commit to two years with the Peace Corps and the pay won’t be great (you’re a volunteer, after all), so this is an option that requires more dedication than some of the others.
Resource: Peace Corps
Become a vagabond: When the goal is simply “travel longer,” you have plenty of options to get you to your next destination…and no, begging isn’t one of them.
Work at a hostel
I recently stayed at a hostel in Barcelona where almost the entire staff was made up of travelers from other countries. Hostels will typically hire someone for a minimum of two weeks, and offer various positions in exchange for room and board. While the front desk job is the most common placement offered, you can also work as a housekeeper, chef, tour guide, and more.
Do a work exchange
While Worldpackers focuses primarily on hostel work, there are tons of opportunities out there for people who prefer a different work experience. Work exchanges are typically unpaid but do include accommodation (and sometimes food). These websites offer a wide range of options – everything from picking fruit to crewing a sailboat to setting up a café. The sky is the limit!
House Sit or Pet Sit
Did you know that there are people out there who hire sitters to live in and watch their houses while they’re away? I know, it sounds too good to be true. But it isn’t. You can house sit or pet sit all over the world, and while you won’t get paid, you’ll definitely be getting some awesome accommodation. In order to house sit successfully, you have to be flexible with your timing (and know that you likely won’t be in the heart of the city center), but if you can prove yourself to be a good house-sitter, then you can save thousands on accommodation.
Grabr allows people to order goods from any country in the world and have travelers deliver them, for a fee. If you’re already heading to a destination and have access to certain goods, why not do a few “grabs” and bring them along? It’s a painless way to make some extra money, especially if you’re already heading in that direction.
Work on a cruise ship
Not only are there a multitude of different jobs on a cruise ship, but there’s also lots of fun entertainment on board too. Room and board are included, naturally, and since your expenses are limited, you can easily save money! Visiting beautiful places around the world is a given.
Bonus: Save your first 1000+ with these handy ways to get free money!
In the end, there’s no “right” way to make money while traveling. Some people want quick work that will get them to their next destination, whereas others prefer to build their careers and spend years in the same place. While working while traveling may seem like a dream job, the reality is that it comes with its own unique set of challenges and sacrifices. I’ll save all that for another post, but I hope this one has shown you that working and traveling don’t have to be mutually exclusive if you don’t want them to be. So get out there and make your work and travel dreams a reality!
Tell me: Did I miss any of your favorite resources or websites? Or do you have any tips for people looking to work and travel? Share in the comments below!
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