Many of us romanticize jobs that involve travel; we think about staying in great hotels, expensing meals and maybe doing a little work along the way. Often, these dreams creep in as we’re nearing the end of a vacation and starting to think about what it will feel like to return to reality.

But, as most of us have grown to realize, typical business travel isn’t the same as taking a leisure vacation. You’re boarding early flights and visiting cities you never really get to see — aside from an office, conference center or your hotel room. Additionally, you may be traveling for important client meetings, tradeshows or presentations — which are often stressful to begin with. Factor in the airport hassles and lost productivity as a result of being away from the office, and it’s easy to lose your wanderlust.

But, as we remind our career coaching clients, travel-centric careers are very different than traveling for your typical job. Could one of them be the right fit for you? Following are five jobs for travel lovers that you might want to consider.

career coaching Chicago travel jobs

5 Jobs for Travel Lovers

  1. English as a Second Language Teacher (ESL): If you want a wide range of countries to choose from and you’re looking to embed yourself in another culture for an extended period of time, teaching ESL can help you see the world. Once you get certified, you can target your job search in a particular country. Those who excel can sometimes choose their own placement after a few years. One ESL teacher-turned-journalist offers insights from his own experience teaching in China and shares great advice for how to make the most of your time abroad.
  2. Humanitarian or NGO worker: If you want to pursue cause-related work, and combine your passion for giving back with your desire to travel, there are numerous organizations to choose from. You might consider joining the Peace Corps or Habitat for Humanity. If you are a medical professional, Doctors Without Borders is a fantastic way to use your skills — and often the organization has projects that are open to dental professionals, speech language pathologists and other non-MDs. Check out Transitions Abroad for more information about opportunities for different types of humanitarian work, as well as opportunities to work on farms or as an au pair.
  3. Hospitality jobs: Whether you are a concierge, a hotel manager, or a server on a cruise ship, working in the hospitality industry can help you build credentials to work anywhere in the world. A good way to get started is to work locally with an international company and build experience. Once you have proven yourself within a company, it’s easier to move around within the organization. Think about the international hotel chains in your area and check out hospitality jobs on HCareers for a taste of what’s out there.
  4. Translator or interpreter: If you speak another language, there are a number of ways to use that skill to build a career in the travel industry. There is high demand for translators and interpreters, and the field is growing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The language you speak will determine where you can work. Opportunities may be available with the State Department, tourism offices, hotels and national attractions like museums.
  5. Freelance work: If you love to travel, there are many jobs that can be accomplished remotely. This option works best if you work in a project-based field or as a web designer, graphic designer, photographer, consultant or writer. Freelancing requires you to be autonomous and comfortable with a lack of stability — when a project is over, you may have lag time before the next one kicks off. Digital nomads (primarily tech workers; the term grew out of the increase in global internet access) are becoming more common. Luckily, more companies are embracing remote work, and one survey found that digital nomads report a 92% increase in happiness.

career coach guidance: When Should You Ditch the Desk?

professional career coaching chicago travel-centric careersNot all of us can just uproot our lives and hit the road for good. In addition to responsibilities with family, you need to consider what a stint abroad will look like on your resume — and unless it’s the first step in a career shift, make sure it aligns with your career trajectory. If you’re not ready to dive in headfirst, our career coaches suggest that the best times to test the waters with a job overseas are:

  • After college or graduate school: You may not have a lease to deal with or much tying you to a specific place; therefore, this is a great time to give one of these jobs for travel lovers a try.
  • During a career shift: If you are making a change and unsure of your next step, time away from your routine could be just what you need to get some clarity without creating a gap in your resume.
  • Before you retire: You may be burned out and ready to move on, but not quite ready to retire. This is a great time to keep earning, use all of the valuable skills you have developed over the course of your career, and learn something new.
  • In your existing role: Consider asking your employer if you can work on a project for your company in another city or work remotely for a month. This will let you test your ability to work independently.

Internet access has changed the playing field for people who want to work remotely, opening up possibilities in a wide variety of industries. Our career coaches strongly recommend that before making a change, you research the careers you are considering, and give serious thought to your reasons for wanting to travel. At the end of the day — although they might be amazing ones — travel jobs are still jobs.

Do you have a travel-centric job? What advice would you offer to those considering a change into one of these careers?

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