Traveling the world is a dream for many of us. The problem is that it’s so expensive, it seems out of reach. But what if you could get paid to travel? Instead of spending thousands of dollars on an international vacation, you can find ways for companies and brands to pay you to travel the world. Doesn’t that sound fantastic?
It sounds like a dream, but there are actually quite a few ways to make money traveling. Some of these methods require a lot of up-front work, while others require commitment and personal sacrifice.
You can get paid to travel by choosing a certain career or pursuing side hustles to help pay for your travel. Here are all the options to earn money traveling.
How Do I Get Paid to Travel?
There are a few career fields that will pay you to travel. The travel costs will all be on the company’s dime, so it’s free to you. However, remember that if you choose a job that pays you to travel, your main priority will be work, not exploring exotic locales.
Many folks choose a career that pays for travel only to learn that the only foreign lands they’ve experienced are airports and hotel rooms. Some of these jobs aren’t as glamorous as they seem, but if you are brave and adventurous, you can make it work.
The other option for getting paid to travel is starting a side hustle. A professional travel blogger can make a lot of money, but there are many different ways to make your travel dream come true with side hustles.
Careers that Pay you to Travel
Many people will balk at joining the military, especially as a means to travel. However, it’s one of the best career fields for getting paid to travel.
Not only are there training opportunities all over the United States, but there are also trainings abroad as well. Many Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines get stationed overseas in Europe and Asia, so it’s like you are getting paid to live in a foreign country.
The great thing about the military is that you get to travel almost as soon as you sign up. There are Army bases that conduct basic training in most parts of the country. Still, if you join the Navy, you will most likely get sent to Great Lakes Naval Station and explore Chicago, or you will go to the Naval Station in San Diego and have the opportunity to explore California on the weekends.
Clearly, there are downsides. The United States has been at war for over twenty years, and you may end up traveling to war-torn countries. However, if you are adventurous and feel a calling to serve your county, this might be one of the only ways to see ancient sites in Mesopotamia, like the Ziggurat at Ur.
Remember, though, that with the military, there are no guarantees about where you will go. You go where you get sent. Sometimes it’s an epic experience, and sometimes it’s horrendous. You have to take the good with the bad if you go this route.
Another government career that pays you to live in foreign lands is with the State Department. As a diplomat, you will be stationed at a US embassy somewhere abroad. Newer diplomats tend to get less desirable locations, so if you’ve always wanted to live in underdeveloped countries, this might be a great fit for you. As you work your way up, you can get assignments in developed countries.
It’s not easy to become a diplomat. A rigorous selection process includes a written essay, a role-playing exam, and a written test. However, there are also support positions available in IT, medicine, and general administration. The selection process for these positions is rigorous, but it’s not quite as difficult as that for the actual diplomat.
Although it’s hard to get into it, it’s a great career choice if you want to serve your country without joining the military and see interesting parts of the world.
Flight Attendant or Pilot
If you want to literally get paid to travel, consider getting involved in the aviation industry. Pilots and flight attendants get paid to be in the air, ensuring that everything on a flight runs smoothly.
However, these jobs aren’t as glamorous as they seem. Pilots are highly respected, but it takes years of training to get behind the wheel of an airplane. You need a minimum of 1500 hours of flight experience to earn an airline transport pilot certificate, the minimum requirement for becoming a commercial pilot. Gaining this experience is not cheap. It can cost upwards of a hundred thousand dollars.
Becoming a flight attendant is much easier (and cheaper), but these workers are often underpaid. Some are only paid for the actual flight time, not any prep work, which is ridiculous!
Both of these careers often have quick turnaround times, so it’s unlikely that you will be able to see much of whichever city you landed in before you have to fly back. However, if you plan your work hours with your vacation days and off days correctly, you should be able to find time to explore!
Ship Crew Member
Another way to literally get paid to travel is to work on a cruise ship. The cruise industry always needs workers to help clean rooms, run the many restaurants and stores on board, and assist guests. The downside of working a cruise ship is that you will most likely be working when a ship is docked in cool places.
Another option is to become a deckhand on a cargo ship. It’s a bit harder to find work in this industry, especially since most ships don’t hire US workers, but it’s still possible. Many different jobs are available on cargo ships, from cooks and janitors to engineers to ship officers. Many crew members can take shore leave when the ship is docked in various locales.
Being a crew member on a ship is not easy. It’s dangerous work, and the majority of the world that you will see is covered in the ocean. However, for someone who loves the idea of being on the water and traveling by sea, this is a great option.
Journalists can be sent on assignment all over the world. One of the best things about this field is that it covers a variety of niches. Fashion journalists can be sent to Paris to cover Fashion Week. Food journalists can be sent to cover the scoop on new restaurants or emerging food trends.
Writers can be sent to uncover stories of people living in desperation, the environmental impacts of developing new technologies, and political disruptions in war-ravaged countries. The work runs the gambit from fun entertainment pieces to dangerous journeys to uncover the truth.
Some journalists venture deep into rain forests to learn about the people or animals who call it home, while others stay safe in Hollywood interviewing up and coming stars. This industry is filled with people in thousands of different niches, all reporting on the things that they truly care about.
If you truly have a passion for traveling, you can become a travel writer. This niche of journalism is highly competitive, but those who make it can travel to exotic locations and write about their experiences. Travel magazines such as Conde Nast often publish epic tales of amazing adventures. Unfortunately, it is harder to get a full-time job at these publications. Many of their content is written by freelancers, but becoming a regular contributor might be enough to make a living.
A final way to get paid to travel is to get a job teaching English overseas. Native English speakers are in high demand in many different countries. You need a bachelor’s degree in any subject and a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate to teach English abroad. You can obtain a TEFL certification at a variety of online schools, generally for about $500.
Many people use teaching English to backpack through Europe or Asia while having a home base at the teaching location. There are opportunities available all over the world. However, it will probably be difficult to find assignments in Western Europe or developed Asian countries as a newer teacher. If you dream of living in Europe, try an Eastern city like Prague or Budapest. If you are in love with Asia, look into teaching in Cambodia or Thailand. The competition isn’t as fierce in these countries, and there might be more opportunities available.
Find Companies that Pay You to Travel
Although the jobs listed above are the ones that traditionally have travel opportunities, they aren’t the only ones. With globalism, more and more companies are becoming multi-national. You may find work at a software company in Seattle that sends you to conferences in Germany or at a supply chain company in California that sends you to China to meet your shipping counterparts. You may be an engineer sent to South America to quality control the production of a certain product.
There are too many possibilities to list. If you want to find a career traveling the world, find skills that are in demand globally. Use job search boards like Indeed to determine which career fields require employees to travel and become essential in one of those fields.
Side Hustles that Pay You to Travel
Not everyone wants a career that forces them to travel. Sometimes, we want to get paid to travel on our own! It’s much better to work for yourself and choose your own assignments than to be tied to what a company wants you to do.
Here are a few side hustles you can start that might lead to paid travel opportunities. Remember that you need to put a lot of work in upfront to score these epic opportunities with side hustles.
Use Credit Card Rewards to Travel for Free
As long as you use your credit responsibly, getting credit card sign up bonuses and points for spending can be a great way to travel for free.
In fact, my family of 4 hasn’t paid for plane tickets for over 3 years now!
There are a lot of great travel rewards credit cards out there, but my #1 recommendation if you’re just getting started is the Chase Sapphire Preferred (you can check out my full Chase Sapphire Preferred review here).
Start a Travel Blog
Travel blogging is the first thing that pops into most people’s minds when they want to get paid to travel on their own terms. Those with successful travel blogs often get sponsored trips to interesting places, which they then review and write about for their audience.
Travel bloggers earn money by writing about their adventures. This side hustle is always at the top of any list on traveling the world and making money, and for a good reason. It works. It’s the dream.
But what many writers forget to mention is that it also takes a lot of time and effort. Making a travel blog is hard work, and it will take time to get established enough to earn those sponsored trips. It usually takes at least a year or two for bloggers to see any return on their investments. However, those who stick with it through the hard first few years will be able to monetize with ads and affiliates, and as they grow their blogs, they will start earning sponsorship deals and get paid to travel.
Be an Influencer
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of creating a blog, you can try becoming a social media influencer or content creator to get paid to travel.
Influencers are the new rockstars, and becoming one is not as easy as it seems. It takes a lot of content creation, curation, and understanding of the variety of social media platforms available to make it big on any of them.
However, if you are successful at it, you can earn a living by posting to social media. Companies will start paying you to post if you build a following on your travel Instagram of over 100K. You can get sponsorship deals with tour companies, hotels, and more. In addition, you could become a brand ambassador and get paid to promote a certain brand’s products. Some influencers work with travel gear companies, getting paid to show off the latest trends in luggage or travel jackets. There are plenty of ways that influencers can make money and get paid to travel.
Become a Photographer
Being a photographer ranks up there with journalism as a great way to get paid to travel, but with the advent of smartphones and easy access to editing tools, anyone can become a great photographer.
The difficult part is selling your photos and making a living off of your photography. There are a few ways you could go about this. You could become a freelance photographer for a travel magazine and get paid to take great shots for them. You could set up your own photography website and sell prints of your epic travel photos, and you can even post your photos to apps like Instagram and try to become an influencer.
Another way to make money with photography is by selling stock photos. Amazing photos of interesting places are in demand. Upload your best shots to sites like Shutterstock and make money whenever someone uses your photo. A final option is to upload your photos to a print-on-demand website, so people can use them to create t-shirts, mugs, or wall prints. ArtPal is designed specifically for printing works of art, but you may be able to sell your photos on sites like Tee Public as well.
House-sitting can be a great way to cut your travel costs, if not get paid fully for your trip. Rather than paying for lodging on your next trip, use an app like Home Exchange or Love Home Swap to find opportunities for house sitting and house swapping. You can also exchange services, such as pet sitting, for free lodging on apps like Trusted House Sitter. This app matches house sitters who love pets with people who need trusted pet sitters while they are away. They get the pet sitter while you get free lodging.
Many of these apps do have service fees or membership fees, but if you use them often, the cost will be much lower than the cost of lodging. That’s like getting free money to travel!
Become a Digital Nomad
Getting paid to travel is the dream, but they don’t always have to go hand in hand. Instead of getting paid to travel literally, you could find remote work. By working remotely, you can travel wherever you want and get paid for your normal work while doing it.
There are tons of ways to be a digital nomad. You could become a freelancer and write articles for a variety of outlets. You could land a few virtual assistant jobs and help others manage their social media accounts or blog schedules. These digital positions would allow you to work on your own schedule and travel whenever you want. You could also create your own businesses, like a blog or a YouTube channel. The difference between being a digital nomad blogger and a travel blogger is only in the niche. You can write about whatever you want while traveling.
Volunteer Work that Pays for Your Travel
Volunteer work is traditionally unpaid, of course. Still, many volunteer organizations will pay for your airfare, and some even provide a stipend while you are in a foreign country working for them. However, don’t expect to go to fancy cities like Paris and Rome if you go this route.
If you are doing volunteer work, you will likely be heading to countries that need the help. Expect harsh weather conditions and poverty conditions. Volunteer with organizations like the Peace Corps or Volunteer Service Overseas to do good in the world and get your travel paid for.
Getting Paid to Travel
Getting paid to travel is the ultimate dream. Start with the ideas on this list to turn that dream into a reality!
This post originally appeared on Savoteur.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world's problems. She's self-educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming, and her cats.