A complete guide on how to work and travel around the world, from a California girl and UCLA Alumna who has done it all!
I worked and traveled around the world to twenty-four countries before I started my blog or opened up an Instagram account. With so many double-taps and click-bait headlines, it seems like everyone wants to quit their job to start a blog and travel the world.
You probably don’t want to start a travel blog. You don’t need to be “Instafamous” to travel the world.
I can get into that later, but ask yourself, what are you really trying to do?
Get free travel? Nothing is free.
When it comes to work and travel around the world, you have two options:
Save some money, and then take a break from work to travel.
Travel while working. Aka get a job overseas, or a career that will send you overseas.
Personally, I lived option two and in different formats.
In 2012, I bought a one-way ticket to Australia to take a gap year. I then traveled around the world while working remotely in marketing and in 2014, I started my own business . Through my lifestyle of work and travel, I’ve met so many people with unique career paths. I’m happy to share these with you in hopes that you find a journey that works for you.
In this post:
– What is a gap year?
– What is expat life?
– Top cities for living abroad
– What are the perks of working while traveling?
– What are some of the challenges of working while traveling?
– What to do before moving abroad to work?
– What is remote work?
– Resources to find remote work online.
– What are the benefits of studying abroad?
– What are college degrees and careers that allow you to travel?
– What are jobs you can do while traveling that don’t require a college degree?
– Examples of real people that have worked while traveling.
What is a gap year?
A gap year is a choice. It’s a decision to put your career or education on hold to focus on other things in your life — including travel. Travel isn’t just for fun (although that’s important too … life is short!); travel is an investment in bettering yourself. You meet people of other cultures, you put yourself in enlightening positions and sharpen your problem-solving skills in a whole new way.
Traditionally, the gap year was a break between high school and college taken by people in foreign countries. Many people in countries where English is the second language, will take a gap year in Australia, the UK, the US or Canada to practice their English.
A gap year to work and travel around the world, is not something that happens often in American culture, however, living one after college or as a young professional is becoming increasingly popular.
When should you take a gap year?
You can take a gap year at 19, 22 or 35. It’s up to you!
My friend Emilio studied accounting at UCLA and took a gap year after college to travel through South East Asia. He worked as a tour guide and explored Vietnam and more, before moving back to Newport Beach, California to work in finance.
I mean look at how beautiful Vietnam is… can you blame him?
My German girl friends worked as Au Pairs the year between high school and university to practice their English. The point is that plenty of people put their long-term career on hold.
What is the difference between a gap year and expat life?
Expat life is often associated to a gap year as many people will do some work during their gap year, however you could save enough money to not work while traveling — again popular in German, English, Australian and Canadian cultures.
What is expat life?
Expat stands for expatriate which is a person temporarily (or permanently) living in another country. To live as an expat:
- Work for a global company that can send you overseas.
- Find a job overseas.
- Work remotely overseas.
What are the benefits of expat life, or rather living overseas?
When you’re living in another country (or continent), it becomes easier to travel in that region. Now, a weekender might not just be in another city, but in another country!
This is particularly easy in popular expat cities like London, Dubai, Barcelona, Paris, Singapore, Bueno Aires and Bangkok. New York and Miami are actually popular expat cities for non-Americans too.
Because of proximity, traveling while working becomes more timely and more affordable.
Coming to a different country with an existing career in a global company:
Living abroad is a ton of fun! Many American corporations that put you overseas will not only cover your living and travel expenses, but also provide a raise in wage since you volunteered to make the sacrifice of living abroad.
You’ll literally be making more money and spending less money if you are a US employee for a global company abroad. This route is more common for people working for businesses in finance, consulting, sports, law and technology.
My friend Laurie Satran worked in Marketing for IKEA from the USA, and was sent to their global offices in The Netherlands and Sweden. Any international brand has positions around the world — just look up the language requirements for their other offices before going into the company thinking about your big move to Paris or Rio.
American Laurie Satran worked while traveling around Europe.
What are the challenges in working abroad?
In most countries, you’ll need to get a visa that allows you to work while you’re there. These requirements vary across your own nationality, age and education levels.
When I moved to Australia, I had no issue getting a work and holiday visa to get job as a bar-tender. Technically — legally — I could work for a corporation. However, under the work and holiday visa, I was allowed to work for each employer for a maximum of six months. This condition isn’t attractive to employers who don’t want a turn around in human resources so quickly. Most corporations aren’t going to hire you for a six month period.
Getting a job in a different country:
Working abroad proved for some interesting challenges — understanding each other’s accents on business calls, the differences in spelling and conversational phrases, counting money in a different currency, and if anything — having an employer that knows that it is more difficult for you to get work. You have less leverage and agency, which makes it easier for them to take advantage of you.
You have to remember that at the end of the day, as soon as you’re living in another country, you’re not just an expat — you’re an immigrant. You have to research and adhere to the immigration laws of the country you’re residing in.
What should you do before moving abroad to work?
- Look for careers with global corporations that may place you overseas. Express interest in being moved — with so many people in relationships, with families or fears of moving abroad, the person that is willing to move for their job is often celebrated (if not promoted).
- Look up visa details for the top countries you are interested in.
- Speak to people who lived and worked in that destination.
- If you’re hoping to find a job when you get there, save money before your trip as it may take some time to find work.
- Research the different neighborhoods you could live in, and the cost of living vs. your likely salary/ wage.
- Consider cultural differences/ norms.
What is remote work?
Remote work is the process of being able to do your job from anywhere in the world. Remote work doesn’t have to be working abroad — it can be working from home, a coffee shop, or anywhere with wifi.
It is easier to work remotely for someone who you’ve previously worked with. This is because remote work takes EXCELLENT communication, self-discipline and trust. You can’t work remotely with people that don’t know how to work remotely.
However, remote work is also becoming increasingly popular.
Popular remote jobs:
– Graphic design
– Web and app development
– Customer Service
– Social Media Marketing
– Digital Advertising
– Public Relations
I recently created an app for finding the best places, BUENA, with an entire remote team. They’re all a bunch of rock-stars experienced in working remotely… so working together works. .
Where to find remote work:
- We Work Remotely
- Working Nomads
- Skip the Drive
- Virtual Vocations
- Power to Fly (women in tech)
- Authentic Jobs
- Skill Bridge (former consultants/ contract jobs)
Some sites that may not offer competitive rates:
Alternatively, consider study abroad.
I have friends who got their MBA overseas or that took internships in law while living abroad. During my undergraduate studies, I studied abroad twice.
If you’re anything like my friends and I, school really is work. A study abroad program is a lot of fun — but also provides resources accommodating your transition to another country… and it looks great on your resume!
College degrees and careers that are great for global companies.
Careers paths in the U.S. are very different than those around the world where professions are often laid out in college. We have many liberal and ambiguous degrees in America.
The top professional careers that will send you overseas are in finance, consulting, and engineering. You’d want to major in accounting, mechanical engineering, or business.
My friend Zach Kerchman studied Engineering and ended up moving from Disneyland in California, to working a couple years in Shanghai, China — building the new Disneyland there!
However, you really can major in anything. I studied Sociology and Global Studies and worked in marketing, and now technology (don’t forget about my app!)
In many other countries, you can study hospitality and tourism marketing. Publicists and sales reps get to travel frequently for work too. There are entire firms that specialize in travel/lifestyle PR and destination marketing.
Many journalists get to travel for work. You can pave a career in-house at a magazine, or free-lance/ work remotely for yourself.
Other careers to do while traveling.
My friend Kimmie Connor, now a travel blogger, became a tour guide while sailing the Dalmatian Islands of Croatia. Matt Teague is a Sydney based wedding photographer that specializes in destination weddings — allowing him to travel for work too. Bar-tending, hostel and hotel industries, working on a cruise ship, and Au Pairs are great for travel and holiday.
I’d also suggest looking into being a flight attendant or pilot!
Teaching English while traveling.
If you have checked out The Blog Abroad, Drew Binsky, Oneika the Traveller, and Two Monkeys Travel, you should learn more about teaching English abroad. Check out this website out for more information on teaching english abroad.
Starting your own business.
You can of course, work from anywhere when you start your own business. After years of living abroad and working as a free-lancer, I was ready to more formally start and lead people in my own company.
This isn’t a casual commitment and takes a lot work experience. However, it’s very very do-able too!
What would you add to these tips for
work and travel around the world?
Posts You Might Like
Gap Year: 14 Ways to Work While Traveling
How to Save Money While Traveling
Expat Life: the Difference Between Traveling and Moving Abroad
Hi Stephanie, very inspiring read. I love how you managed to go from being a freelancer to starting your own business.
I’m a freelance writer. I love to travel. So it works out perfectly, being able to work from anywhere in the world.
But I’m sure one day I will test the waters and start some sort of business. Provided I still get to travel!
Thanks! I absolutely love writing and choosing to pursue writing was part-passion project, part giving myself agency in a world where we don’t always have a voice! However, writing doesn’t really pay. It’s enjoyable and gives back to people, it can also establish credibility — but it doesn’t necessarily pay the bills stand-alone. It was important to take my drive for writing and learn other skills to create a more comprehensive business. Best wishes and thanks for reading!
Nice Blog and this one is really amazing.
Great one.. thanks for sharing this. Get to know many new pots through your articles.
Really enjoyed reading this! I’ve been doing a lot of freelance travel jobs all over the world and have been making a go at traveling and working, this article is great!!
I totally agree with Barcelona being a great expat city, I’ve been living here for 11 years and it’s a fantastic city to live in! So international, you meet people from everywhere! And there’s always so much going on, and it’s so easy to meet new people even if you move here alone. Big thumbs up for Barcelona!
Thanks for reading and enjoy one of my favorite cities!
You bring up the point that working remotely can help you travel. I know of a company that hires freelance writers so if anyone is looking for such an opportunity you can check it out here: https://www.ultius.com/careers/writers.html
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