By Laura Ashbury
What if you could do something you love for a living and travel the world at the same time? It may sound too good to be true, but you’d be surprised how many people are making it work. Some have put travel at the center of their careers, while others are taking advantage of technology that allows them to work from anywhere. If you’re thinking about taking your profession on the road, here are four tips to help you get started.
Find the Right Job
Image via Flickr by Giorgio Montersino
There’s no way around it—some jobs are more flexible than others. Positions that require in-person interactions are probably not good candidates for people who want to work abroad. However, if your current job is primarily done over the phone or by computer, you may be able to do it remotely. Customer service, digital marketing, and information technology are a few of the areas that offer the best opportunities for remote work.
Freelancers and entrepreneurs are in a great position to design their careers around travel. Start your own business or work as a consultant, and you can set the rules that determine where and how you do business. Whatever field you choose, just be sure to look into the various laws and regulations for foreign workers so you don’t run into trouble. Remember to also make a plan for managing your money. If, for example, you need to send money to Mexico regularly, you’ll save time and money by doing research ahead of time to find convenient, low-cost options.
Experienced ‘workcationers’ recommend establishing clear expectations for when and how you’ll be available. Free video chat tools make it possible to talk face-to-face across thousands of miles. Depending on your destination, you may need to be willing to work late night or early morning hours in order to be available to the rest of your team.
It’s also important to set clear boundaries for yourself. Mark work time and personal time clearly in your schedule or calendar to maintain a healthy balance. If possible, set aside a physical space dedicated to work. When you’re in that space, you’re working. When you step away, you leave the job behind.
Pay Your Way by Helping Others
Some international jobs also offer the satisfaction of doing good. There’s a tremendous global demand for people who can teach English to non-native speakers. If you want to get your hands dirty, look into Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WOOF. This is closer to volunteerism than paid work, as you generally work for a farmer in exchange for room and board. People who are passionate about being of service should also explore the Peace Corps. Expect challenging living conditions and low pay, but the experience is priceless.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to make the leap from a traditional job right to working abroad full-time. Start slow by asking your current boss if you can extend a work trip or planned vacation by a few days while working remotely. If the company you work for offers transfer opportunities, let your supervisors know that you’re interested. If you’re not currently employed full-time, think about combining an extended trip and remote freelance work to see how you like it.
The dream of traveling the world while making money isn’t as far out of reach as you might think. With some planning, creativity, and courage, you can live the life you’ve always dreamed of—and make a living while you’re at it.