Want to prioritize traveling but don’t have the money? There is a solution: jobs that pay you to travel!
In The Ultimate Guide to Traveling for Free (or Otherwise Lowering the Cost), we discussed…well…how to travel for free.
But I didn’t even touch on the potential to work abroad.
To avoid a post that could very well have turned into a guidebook (you’re welcome), here’s a whole article dedicated to opportunities that will allow you to not only travel at little to no cost, but to also get paid for it!
13 Jobs that Pay You to Travel
1. Teach English Abroad
Opportunities to teach abroad are infinite. But if you want to go for free, you should hone in on teaching jobs in Asia and the Middle East.
According to the International TEFL Academy, the following countries have paid teaching opportunities that will both reimburse your airfare AND provide free housing/a housing subsidy:
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
The pay is usually higher in Middle Eastern countries, which means the market there is also much more competitive.
(For a more extensive list on teaching abroad opportunities, head over to 12 Legitimate Programs that Pay You to Teach English Abroad.)
No matter where you’d like to teach, you will probably need a Bachelor’s degree (although not necessarily in English), and you will most likely need a TEFL certification.
If you’re confused as to what the heck TEFL even means, allow me to explain.
TEFL stands for teaching English as a foreign language. This is a certification that allows you to teach English to non-native speakers.
There’s a bunch of other acronyms that essentially mean the same thing, like TESOL, but for the sake of this post, we’ll stick with TEFL.
If you want to teach English abroad, a TEFL certification is something you will likely have to invest in.
This means you will have to take a course (either online or in person) to satisfy certain requirements (i.e. at least 100 hours of coursework).
There are tons of companies that provide TEFL courses, all at different prices, but I recommend heading over to the International TEFL Academy.
They offer courses in 25 locations worldwide, as well as an online course.
The site is also filled with helpful information, so even if you don’t want to take their course, you can learn about what criteria to look for in any TEFL training.
And if you DON’T want to invest in a TEFL, you should (again) check out these 12 Legitimate Programs that Pay You to Teach English Abroad. Several of them don’t even require a TEFL certificate!
2. Au Pair
Au pairing is international nannying.
You look after one or more children (like, on the daily), and get compensated with room and board (and sometimes an extra allowance).
Each role really depends on the family’s terms, but my friend who just finished a year au pairing in Spain had an incredible experience.
She was integrated into the family as if she were an older sister to the two (ADORABLE) girls she was au pairing. She lived with the family, had all her meals covered, and was given extra money that she most likely spent on all the tapas in Madrid.
Not to mention all the paid-for family vacations she got to go on. (I’m only a little jealous.)
Again, your costs will depend on your host family, who may or may not pay for your airfare and/or give you an allowance.
The details should definitely be discussed beforehand.
If you’re interested, you can look for potential families at AuPairWorld.
Note: Even if you get an allowance, you shouldn’t expect it to carry you through on all the adventures you’re already daydreaming of. Start saving now.
3. Summer Camps
If you’d rather view the world short-term, you can look into summer camps.
There’s a huge market for English summer camps in Europe, where room and board should be covered for at least the majority of each week that you work, on top of getting paid.
And when you have time off (usually a day on the weekend or a few days in between camps), you’re totally free to travel on your own.
But if you’re interested in a different country, you can simply type “English Summer Camp [insert desired country here]” into Google and see what comes up.
It doesn’t seem that common for these summer camps to reimburse your flight, so be sure to head over to 12 Ways to Find the Cheapest Flight Possible for tips to lower your airfare by hundreds of dollars.
4. Working Holiday Visas
Also along the lines of seeing the world short-term are working holiday visas.
A working holiday visa allows you to stay and work in a certain country for a specific amount of time (I know, it’s vague).
It’s apparently better than a normal work visa because you don’t need sponsorship from any company before you go.
For all you spontaneous travelers out there, this means you can arrive without having first landed a job.
According to The American’s Guide to Working Holiday Visas, the countries that offer U.S. citizens working holiday visas are as follows:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
The details for each visa will vary depending on the country itself, but the majority of jobs are found in hospitality (think hotels and restaurants).
If you’re interested in the specifics, I highly recommend checking out the above guide.
The term “instructor” is broad, because this one very much depends on your own skills.
For example, if you’re a certified scuba diver, or a ski instructor, or a zipliner extraordinaire, you can turn this into an international job.
I have several friends who are cycling instructors over in Europe, and they’re having a blast.
Seriously, what gets better than breezing through Europe on a pair of wheels, and getting paid for it?
You will want to be specific with your search (i.e. “scuba diving instructor jobs in Taiwan”), because “instructor jobs abroad” will generate lots of outdated and spammy and irrelevant jobs (trust me, I just tried it).
6. Cruise Worker
Before we get too excited, I should disclaim that working on a cruise ship is by no means the same as being a guest on a cruise ship.
But we can dream.
Now that that’s out of the way, working on a cruise ship is obviously a job that will get you traveling.
Not only are you able to see the locations where the ship stops, but for every month you work, you also get a whole week off. (In a 6-month contract period, that’s essentially 6 weeks of vacation!)
You don’t pay for room and board (it’s accounted for in your salary), and depending on your contract, you can tag along on passenger tours (for FREE).
If you want an insider’s account, head over to How to Work on a Cruise Ship and Travel the World.
7. Flight Attendant
Again, another job that will obviously get you traveling.
You will usually only need a high school diploma to be eligible for a flight attendant job (but don’t think that the hiring process isn’t rigorous).
Once you’re hired, your airline will train you, which will last 3 to 6 weeks.
You will also need to complete a separate certification for every aircraft you work on (because, ya know, flight attendants are realistically responsible for everyone on said aircraft).
Being a flight attendant comes with huge responsibility, and even after training and certification, it will take usually a year (or more) before you have a consistent schedule.
One of my friends who happens to be a flight attendant was able to fly internationally after a year of only flying domestically (although she did get to see quite a bit of Canada).
But once you start flying internationally, just imagine all the places you can see. The possibilities are endless (well…depending on where your airline goes).
8. Tour Guide
Have a knack for remembering random facts, or for talking to people, or for walking backwards without falling?
Then you, my friend, should look into being a tour guide.
Like most of the opportunities on this list, being a tour guide is what you make of it.
You can find a full-time job based out of one specific city or region, or you can travel from place to place and be a schnazzy excursion tour guide.
You can even become a tour guide for free walking tours, which means you’d be dependent on tips for your wage.
At the end of the day, you just need to be personable and adaptable. Remember that painfully awkward tour guide that killed any and all vibes on your Hawaii excursion/college visit/brewery tour?
Be better than that tour guide.
9. Foreign Service Officers
That’s right, the government could be the one to make your travel dreams come true.
More specifically, the State Department. This department employs Foreign Service Officers, who are public servants placed in different countries.
You receive a living stipend, and although I can’t find anything on airfare allowance, I assume they pay for your flight.
That last assumption isn’t based off of anything concrete, so don’t quote me.
According to the State Department website, these officers are signing up to “promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.”
The job title “Foreign Service Officers” actually branches into 5 different career tracks, each with their own specific terms and duties:
- Consular Officers
- Economic Officers
- Management Officers
- Political Officers
- Public Diplomacy Offers
Here’s the official website that gives you more info on each track.
Warning: The website says that Foreign Service Officers can potentially be placed in war zones, so I wouldn’t go for this job unless I was truly committed (literally diehard committed). But that’s just me.
10. Peace Corps
Want to travel for a cause rather than for the ‘gram? Then you may want to consider the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps is a humanitarian organization that sends volunteers to a community in need for a period of 27 months (that’s 2 years and change).
There are 6 different sectors within the Peace Corps:
- Community Economic Development
- Youth in Development
Different communities will have different needs. You will want to check out Peace Corps’s Volunteer Openings to see where your skills can best be utilized.
Although this is a volunteer position, you don’t have to pay for your flights to and from the designated community, your housing is provided, and you get a living stipend.
(But don’t get too excited – the stipend is just enough so you can truly live like a local.)
You also get more than $8,000 at the end of your program to help with transitioning back home.
And once you complete the program, you may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (this is only for public student loans, and will depend on your lender).
Let me be clear.
The Peace Corps is not glamorous, and should not be considered unless you are actually invested in the cause you’d be working toward.
Okay, lecture’s over.
11. Hostel worker
Hostels are INCREDIBLE.
Cheap beds to sleep in, fully functioning kitchens to cook in, and hordes of other likeminded travelers from all over the world to talk and drink with.
What could be better?
Having access to all of the above for free.
As a hostel worker, you would get free accommodation, at least some of your meals covered, and sometimes a wage on top.
(Sorry for the wishy-washy adjectives, but these perks will of course depend on the position you land.)
The duties of a hostel worker include (but probably aren’t limited to) reception, cleaning, bartending/serving, and events (like leading a bar crawl).
Essentially, if you’re a people person, you’re good to go.
Since there are so many hostels out there, you’re likely better off choosing a specific destination where you’d want to work, and then looking for opportunities there.
Real talk: You won’t get paid with WWOOFing (at least not with money). But it’s too incredible of an experience to not share with you.
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms (there are apparently multiple WWOOF organizations).
The gig is pretty straightforward.
This network connects you, a “willing worker,” with free accommodation on an “organic farm.” Of course, you provide labor on that farm, usually up to 6 hours a day.
As usual, your duties and the duration of your stay will depend on your specific contract.
To give you a ballpark idea, some people have WWOOFed (can that be a verb? yeah, it’s totally a verb now) for only 2 days, while others have stayed for 6 months.
There are several websites that come up when I google WWOOF, and I sincerely don’t know which one is best, so…no link for this one. If you’re interested, do some research and browse through the several sites.
(I’m sure many of them are legit, but I don’t want to promote any one over the other.)
13. Online Jobs
This is more of a category than a specific job, simply because there are so many online jobs that allow you to travel.
From freelancing to teaching online, the possibilities are actually endless. I can vouch for this, because I am currently making a living off of ONLY online jobs!
If you’re interested in finding out more about (non-scammy) online opportunities, take a look at 5 Legit Ways to Make Money from Home.
When I say “from home,” I really mean “from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.”
There are many, many jobs that pay you to travel. You just need to find the right one for YOU.
Looking for a job that will reimburse airfare, provide living accommodations, and pay you on top of all these goodies (or at least give you a living stipend)?
- Teach English Abroad
- Au Pair
- Cruise Worker
- Foreign Service Officer
- Peace Corps
- Hostel Worker
Don’t mind having to pay for your airfare and/or housing, granted that you’re still being paid?
- Summer Camps
- Flight Attendant
- Working Holiday Visa
- Tour Guide
- Online Jobs
Are you okay with not being paid, as long as other amenities are being taken care of?
Of course, there are other factors you should take into account.
Do you want…a longterm relationship or a short-term fling? …to talk to people or keep to yourself? …to stay in one place or travel extensively?
Regardless of your preferences, there is a job out there that will pay you to travel.
Good luck, and happy job hunting!
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