Best Travel Jobs
Profit & Pleasure
In most of the travel websites, such as International Living, or Live and Invest Overseas, you are either a sightseeing tourist, a retiree looking for a more economical place to live, an investor speculating in overseas real estate, or a perpetual traveler, seldom lighting in one place. All of those are good reasons to travel, no doubt, depending on one's temperament and family ties, but generally exclude young people, and either require a wad of cash, an independent income such an a retirement annuity, or both. That works out OK for some people, but travel tends to be expensive, especially if you have a wife and kids tagging along. For most of us, the best way to see the world is on someone else’s dime.
The alternatives for young people, and families to travel generally entail working with an employer or organizations which have a world-wide presence. Some lesser known but perhaps more available jobs are with the US government, the US Military, or multi-national companies. Some of these jobs even entail high salaries, such a foreign-service employee working for the US Department of State. A more modest income job might be working for the US Military, either as an officer, enlisted personnel, or (surprise) in a civilian capacity with the US Military. A low-paying job may be enlisting in the US Peace Corps.
The Obvious Travel Jobs
The most well known, and possibly the most glamorous job, might be as a pilot or crew member of an airline that services US and foreign ports. Another sort-of-glamorous job might be as a crew of a cruise ship. However, cruise ships tend to specialize in an area, and few are worldwide ocean cruisers anymore. A much less glamorous job might be as a crew member of an ocean freighter. Occasionally a position comes open on an ocean-class yacht or sailing boat. You have to search out these jobs yourself, and get ready for a lot of competition, as these jobs are highly sought after.
The Best Travel Job?
One of the best traveling jobs, especially if you want to take your spouse and kids along, is with the US Department of State – in the foreign service, assigned to an US embassy somewhere, even in some godforsaken land. Even in the most remotes and desolate landscapes, the US Department of State’s foreign service employees enjoy the best of life overseas, with their own clubhouse, swimming pool, booze rations (in Moslem countries), commissary stocked with US foods, free housing built to US standards, free utilities, free video library, free moving and transportation of their household goods, free education for their children, relatively good security, US mail service – including package delivery, etc., etc.
About the only thing these federal employees have to pay for is their food. And with their salaries on the high side of the government pay scale, they can sock it away to supplement their excellent retirement annuity, and still spend a good deal on side trips to other parts of the world. When they travel and reside in foreign lands, they do so on diplomatic passports, so if they are never subject to running afoul of a foreign jurisdiction’s sometimes strange customs and laws.
So if you’re young, and want to travel for free, stay awhile, and get paid a large salary for it, try for a US Dept. of State federal foreign service job.
The Next Best Travel Job?
I worked for the US Army’s Corp of Engineers – in the Trans-Atlantic Division, covering Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Despite being a US Military organization, most of the employees in that division are civilians – federal employees, mostly engineers and engineer techs. As a civilian Civil Engineer in the US Army Corps of Engineers, I traveled extensively – more than twenty countries and 200 cities – most fully paid for by my employer. At most of the sites I was able to also bring my wife and kids along. I often crossed paths with the US Embassy foreign service types in these travels and tours of duty overseas . I got to use all the US embassy facilities, and support services, and sometimes even traveled on a diplomatic passport. But generally I lived close to a construction project – far from the embassy grounds or housing facilities.
It was a compromise, I guess, trading all the comforts of home that a US foreign service employee enjoyed, against living in a foreign culture – with only most of the comforts of home.
So if you are young, and don’t get into the US government’s foreign service, try the US Army Corps of Engineers – there are a lot of non-combat, civilian jobs that entail considerable foreign travel – many that allow your spouse and children to accompany you.
The US Military
The US Military has a worldwide presence, just like the US Dept. of State. Most of the jobs are non-combat jobs - jobs supporting the combat troops. The US Air Force, and the US Navy have bases and ports all over the world. Us Army posts are less generously scattered around the world, and are generally close to danger zones. Life on a post, base or port is generally good, with plenty of facilities such as gymnasiums, commissaries, clubs, swimming pools, schools, exchange stores, etc. If there is one drawback, it is that US facilities are like a little America, and not the same as the local culture of the host country. But there usually isn't anything to restrict you form venturing into the local community. The US military always operates under a Status-of-Forces agreement with the host country, so if you get involved in any civil or criminal actions, you will be escorted out of country, back to the US.
The US Peace Corps
If you are a liberal, bleeding heart, do-gooder, then this is probably a good job for you. But if not, then you probably won't like this job. The pay is lousy. The living accommodations are often primitive. You are likely to pick up a lot of unpleasant and hard-to-get-rid-of diseases. The natives are often restless. Your life may be in danger from not-so-friendly elements of the local population. Even the host government may view your efforts as condescending and interfering. It is not a job to take your family to. I have vivid recollections while stationed in the Sudan of a Peace Corp couple who took their child into the bush with them. The child contracted malaria and died. Please, if you want to do this, don't take your children with you. The Peace Corps has very noble goals, but they all occur in the most primitive of places, lacking any sanitation and medical care.
I have many stories to tell from my travels – of romance in the most desolate of places, where storks might strut about like undertakers, yet beauty and romance thrive in dark, inviting eyes, sometimes s under a veil – not to mention the danger from pursuing such allure. There were people and places most travelers may never see – a picnic on the Blue Nile with an Azande beauty; a mud-walled town in the Arabian desert, living much as it would have ten thousand years ago – giving a glimpse into our murky human past; the Kasbah in Morocco; the Khan Al Khalili in Cairo; the pyramids, Luxor and Karnack; the drop of a veil and flash of an eye in Riyadh,; the red sand dunes of Buraydah; those dark, soulful eyes of a senorita in Ciudad Victoria; the girls of Ismailia; – – Ah, but those are other stories, for another time.