Getting paid to travel…sounds like a dream, but it is reality for tens of thousands of travelers who combine work with pleasure. Getting paid to travel is also easier than you think. While joining airline and hotel loyalty clubs might get you a free ticket or a night or two of accommodation each year, there are much easier ways to see the world on someone else’s dime.
From making minimal commitments through house sitting or home rental to selecting a globetrotting career, here are 13 ways to get paid to travel. Pack your bags and read on.
Work for a hotel
Check in for a year or more at a favorite destination by working at a hotel. Resorts worldwide look for exceptional bartenders, chefs, event planners, public relations managers and hotel managers to run the world’s most exceptional hotels. Along with competitive salaries and benefits, hotel jobs often include free or discounted hotel stays and the chance to earn a living in paradise.
Rent out your house
The proliferation of property rental websites like HomeAway, VRBO and airbnb has made it easier to rent and rent out rooms. For years, Brian Sharples and Carl Shepherd preferred renting vacation homes over staying at hotel chains but finding and booking vacation homes wasn’t easy. The duo started HomeAway in 2005 with 60,000 listings in 90 countries. The website has grown to include 1 million home listings in 190 countries. To put that size in perspective, HomeAway has more rooms in its 1 million listings than the three largest hotel chains in the world, combined. The average vacation rental owner on HomeAway makes $28,000 renting an average of 18 weeks – that is a lot of money for vacationing!
Teach English abroad
With more than 300 million speakers, English is the third most popular language in the world, so there is great demand to learn it. Heading abroad to teach English is not only a lucrative proposition but also many English schools offer free flights to and from your home country to teachers who commit to teaching for a year or more. From teaching test prep at The Princeton Review for a summer to teaching English for a year or more at primary and secondary schools, there are plenty of opportunities listed on websites like GoAbroad.com.
Work as a nanny
After spending three years in London as a nanny on a working holiday, Vicki Kenny founded Nannies Abroad, a New Zealand-based international nanny placement agency. Since 1993, Kenny has helped friends and others find work as nannies from “the point of view of a nanny.” Working as a nanny abroad affords the opportunity to gain work experience overseas and see the world while getting paid. Nannies Abroad has helped more than 7,000 New Zealanders find jobs as nannies in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.S. and the U.K. with posts lasting a year or more.
Write about travel
It’s not the easiest way to get paid to travel, but ambitious writers and journalists can combine their love of travel with their passion for the written word by becoming travel bloggers, travel editors or writers for guidebooks and travel publications. Those with a penchant for photography can also earn a living by shooting photos for travel guidebooks, magazines and websites. Starting a blog is free but gaining connections often costs some money. One place to meet other travel bloggers and travel professionals is the annual TBEX conference, a popular travel blogger gathering.
Be a tour guide
At most monuments, museums and top attractions around the world, tour guides stand at the ready to introduce visitors to these famed sights. Some are so memorable that an hour with them is the highlight of the trip. There are thousands of opportunities to be a tour guide, from working for established companies to working as an independent guide. Tour guides provide everything from walking city tours to cycling culinary adventures to step-by-step explanations of the history at the world’s greatest treasures like the Angkor Wat and the Taj Mahal. Tour guides may be ubiquitous, but they get paid to share the world with others.
Water plants, feed and walk dogs and pick up the mail for homeowners while enjoying the perks of getting paid and a free place to stay. From opportunities in your neighborhood to half-way around the world, there are plenty of websites, like Care.com that list house sitting opportunities lasting from one day to several months.
Work on a cruise ship
Set sail with a great salary and benefits, no commute and the chance to see the world by working on a cruise ship. From housekeepers to cooks, Blackjack dealers to activity coordinators, and bartenders to masseuses, there are dozens of professional jobs aboard cruise ships. Staff are given rotating days off, allowing them to disembark for a day or more in ports of call around the world.
Become a flight attendant
Fly the friendly skies and see the world too. The opportunities to globe-trot are plentiful with flight attendant perks like free airfare and competitive salaries. While the job can be demanding – working long hours including weekends and holidays with long stretches of time away from family – the rewards can include a ticket to see the world.
Volunteer on a farm
Since 1971, folks looking for an alternative holiday have been heading to Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms to work in exchange for room and board. WWOOF is an organization that links volunteers with organic farms and growers. In return for volunteering, WWOOF host farms provide accommodation and food along with experience working on organic farms in Asia, Central America, North America, South America and Europe. Volunteers work four to six hours a day doing tasks like sowing seeds, making compost, gardening, planting, cutting wood, weeding, harvesting, packing, milking, feeding, fencing, making mud-bricks, wine making, cheese making and bread making. Stays average one to two weeks but can be as short as a few days to six months.
Be a travel nurse
Licensed nurses can practice their profession of caring for others while exploring the world. From short- to long-term assignments, nurses not only get to work in exotic locales, but they earn a salary often higher than what they earn at home. TravelNursing.org, which helps nurses find jobs, claims some nurses can make up to $10,000 per month. For nurses who wish to share their talents for free in exchange for a memorable adventure near home or abroad, the non-profit Nurse Without Borders lists volunteer, career and educational opportunities for nurses and nursing students.
Join the Peace Corps
Since 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans have been packing their bags for the most remote corners of the world to tackle the most pressing needs of folks around the world as Peace Corps volunteers. The average age of volunteers is 28, but there is no age cut-off. Volunteers typically serve for two years following in-country training. In exchange, volunteers get accommodations and stipends to cover food and incidentals to live similarly to the folks they serve in 64 countries. An added incentive: Volunteers, who must be U.S. citizens, also have a number of benefit options to reduce student loans.
Be a roadie
Load-in, load-out, day in and day out is the life of a roadie. The benefits of traveling with and having up-close access to bands and seeing the world don’t come easy. Long hours, long hauls and backbreaking work are all in a day’s work. From carpenters and electricians to sound engineers, riggers and stagehands to seamstresses and security, there are many opportunities to work behind the scenes.
(Main image: Peace Corps)