You can get all the best travel deals in the game, but at the end of the day, you still need one thing to travel: money. But don’t give up just yet; most people equate dread the word “work” because they don’t enjoy what they do. If you like travel, but can’t travel right away, here are a few ways to surround yourself with it, all while earning a dollar or two.
Jobs where you’ll probably travel as a part of your work
Get one of those jobs where people ask you how you travel so much.
Work for an airline
Travel desk agents, flight attendants, pilots, etc. – you’ll have untraditional hours, which could either be exciting or just plain annoying depending on your lifestyle, but the best part is being able to fly standby for a discounted price, or even for free.
Work at a travel agency
Beware: you may get stuck in a cubicle for this one, but at least you’ll be talking about travel every day. There are a zillion traditional travel agencies, but chances are, you’re a young and fun person, so you would probably want one of the cooler, hipper agencies where you’ll be booking trips for other young and fun people. Try El Camino, STA Travel, Contiki, EF College Break, or Topdeck.
PS: Don’t forget to look into Tour Leader positions, cuz hey, someone’s gotta lead that 14-day tour to New Zealand!
Work for a travel magazine or blog
Work on a cruise ship
Ever since Road Rules did a Semester at Sea season, this has been on my to-do list. People go on cruises all the time…and I mean, somebody’s gotta be on the ship “working” – as bartenders, lifeguards, performers, photographers, waiters, etc. Depending on your perspective, once the ship embarks on the cruise, you’re either always working or always traveling.
Work at an amusement park
Entertainers, roller coaster controllers, waiters, etc. – typically you work six days a week, make incredibly close friends, get to ride the roller coasters every morning, and spend your day making fun of all the park visitors. On top of that, they tend to offer on-park housing which is super cheap (at Cedar Point it’s $180 a month).
Work for a study abroad company
Study abroad – ahhh, if we weren’t doing Shut Up and Go, we would be probably be working abroad as a Study Abroad coordinator. The times we’ve studied abroad are the times we questioned ourselves most. The experience really takes you away from everything you’re used to, and in doing so, you’re forced to reflect on everything you’ve always seen as normal. How rewarding it must be to see this happen to so many students ever year!
Work for a hostel or hotel
As a former employee of the largest hostel in North America, not only did I sometimes get free hostel breakfast when I worked the morning shift, I also got free stays at any of their hostels in the States – a perk I noticed not many of my coworkers took advantage of. Factor in the fact that you start picking up words in different languages, learn more about world cultures, and make meaningful worldwide connections, and working the front desk of a hostel quickly becomes an ideal job for the wannabe backpacker.
You can also go the route of hotels, but expect more conservatism and more strict rules, but possibly better pay.
Jobs where you’re in control of your own schedule, so you can travel when you want
The worst part of traveling and having a job is to constantly feel guilty asking for time off. It’s not fair to your boss, or to you, and if you should realize that. Any job that makes you feel guilty, you shouldn’t be working. Try these jobs, where you’re in control of your schedule and in which you can tell your employer yes you can work or no you can’t.
Catering & Event Staffing
Tends to pay mega bucks especially if you live in a big city, because you’ll be working fancy-schmancy, extremely lavish events or making someone’s special day special (and getting a tip!). I worked a masquerade ball one night with a ice sculptures, stuffed lions, acrobats flying from the ceiling, dancing and prancing models, and even a woman who was painted to look camouflage with a striped wall. My job: pass hors d’oeuvres and get paid $25 an hour. Most catering companies want you to have restaurant experience but I got my first catering company through a connection and then somehow convinced four other companies to hire me even though I have zero restaurant experience – okay, well working at Johnny Rockets for three days before quitting doesn’t really count, right?
I wrote about My Life as a TV Extra, because the job is both so great and so terrible at the same time that I felt the need to inform the public.
If you’re a part of the union (SAG-AFTRA), this job is so worth it because you’re paid basically $20 an hour to sit around in Holding. If you’re not part of the union, you’re paid minimum wage…but again, 75% of your shift is killing time until they need you.
An easy, stress-free job.. You basically listen to your music, do your thing, and when the dog does his thing (if you know what I mean), you pick it up. This job works best when you walk multiple dogs at once, and if you live in New York City or another cosmopolitain city, you’ll soon find out that dog owners are willing to pay $15-30 an hour for you to spend time with their dog while they’re at work. Multiply that wage by a few dogs and damn, you be gettin’ paid!
Jobs you can work while abroad
All of the above and some:
Teach at a Language School
Luckily through countless language courses, an academic year abroad at the Université of Paris, and a three-year long relationship with a Frenchie, I successfully learned French (okay and let’s face it, a clear passion for foreign languages definitely helped). Upon my return to the States, I landed a French Teacher position at a quirky, cool language school in Brooklyn, where résumés aren’t required and the real test is teaching. I am paid to teach French my way – helping out my fellow Amuricans by giving them the tips that helped me learn the language successfully.
Teach ESL (English as a Second Language)
Teaching ESL is a job that’ll have you melting all day long. Students trying to speak English with the cutest accents and cutest mistakes make this job both incredibly adorable and incredibly rewarding. Most of the time, you don’t need a TEFL degree or certificate; just sum plain decent enGlisH skillz.
Be a bartender
When I think “bartender,” all I can imagine is that huge metal bucket overflowing with dollars bills. Being a bartender seems pretty straight-forward: know how to make drinks (…and speak English).
Like kids? I mean, do you really like kids enough to basically care as one’s step-in parent? Being an au-pair is perfect for the person who wants to jump right in and be immersed into a language and culture through living with a local family. Au pair jobs are typically categorized by “live-in” or “live-out,” which would depend on your financial situation and/or sense of freedom you’re looking for. Having rent paid for and a paycheck on top is nice, but if you’re hoping to feel young, alive, and spontaneous, being an au-pair may feel a bit restricting.
Put up a simple ad on Craigslist listing your qualifications and experiences teaching and you can make a lot of money off one of your interests.
Being an au-pair, but with less restrictions, less pay, but more flexibility. Babysitting abroad is actually a super easy gig to land, provided that you speak English. Parents want their kids to speak English and often hire English speakers for homework help and general conversation. If you speak more than one language, even better! I even landed a babysitting gig in Manhattan for a French speaking family, because they were looking for someone who spoke both fluent English and French…but I ended up turning it down to travel. Go figure.