I remember walking off the plane in Vegas and feeling ecstatic. I’d definitely traveled before (mostly road trips to visit grandparents) and I’d flown a few times, as well. But this was the first time I was traveling alone. My parents weren’t with me; I wasn’t squished between drooling siblings in the backseat of a minivan. I was adventuring.
And I loved it.
I was 17 when I got bit by the travel bug.
Living at home, it was easy to save money to go travel. But once you move out, and the real adult life hits you (hard), you realize you can’t go spend 7 months out of the year backpacking through Europe like you really want to.
I’m a working adult, with a full-time desk job. There’s no way that I can travel as much as I’d like. However, there are a few career paths that will let you see the world, and usually in ways a tourist wouldn’t.
1. Au Pair
Which is basically the French comparison for a “nanny.” There are great agencies that you can work through that will place you with families in any country you want. It’s safe, and such a great experience. I was an au pair for a summer in Paris, and I fell in love with everything there, especially my three kiddos. And even though it’s been almost two years since that summer, I still keep in close contact with my French family. This way, you get to have most of your expenses paid, plus a small paycheck, and you get to live in a foreign country for 3-24 months.
Hospitality can be a hard gig to handle. I worked at the Hilton for a year and a half. And I’ll be honest, the hours killed me (I was not made to wake up at 5 am every day). However, you get killer travel perks. Free or cheap hotels anywhere in the world? It’s the thing I miss most about that job, honestly. And, they have the option to transfer you to a different hotel in a different country. You’ll just have to know the language.
I know a lot of college kids that go and spend a semester teaching abroad. There are programs where you can make it your full-time job, moving there for longer than a semester. There are other programs where you hop between different countries, teaching or serving. There are also a lot of services that give you a few months break in between to go back home, before you head off to the next country.
Granted, in order to land this kind of paid gig, you have to already be with a company that is willing to pay you. But, I have a friend who worked as a content writer for a company, and they continued to pay her to write from different countries. When she came back, she ended up landing an even better writing job because of her traveling experience.
I’ve never personally worked at an airline, but I know a lot of people who have and loved it. There are positions where you can work from home as a reservationist, up to being an actual flight stewardess on flights. It’s a great way to earn free flights, and you can often get free buddy passes for your family and friends to travel with you.
This is a job that I’ve honestly considered, and still consider, going into. Because who doesn’t love a party? As an event planner, you would travel to wherever your client was based, and they pay you to host the classiest of parties. Other perks to this (besides free/cheap travel) include the amazing sorts of people that you get to meet, and all of the amazing food and entertainment that you’ll be lucky enough to partake of.
This can sometimes be similar to an event planners job, but not always. Especially within the travel industry, or with clients in the travel industry. You travel to, from, and with your client. You also plan and host a lot of social and media events. Sometimes you end up working for/with huge hotel or airline chains, working on promoting and planning. I have a few close friends who are going into careers in PR, and they all love it.
It IS possible to have a steady, full-time job, and still be able to travel for free/cheap. It’s not always an easy life, but doing amazing things was never promised to be easy. I miss my days roaming the streets of Paris, and I have every intention of returning, for longer. Thirty years down the road, you don’t want to look back and regret the fact that you never left the state you were born in.
Featured Image via Kristen Curette.