How do I become an adventurer - and still get paid?
December 27, 2013 9:40 AM   Subscribe

I want to move around the world, get paid a decent salary, and not have to worry much about room and board - What jobs should I apply to?

I have experience in k-12 education, project and people management in the software dev world, professional development, and event planning. I like the idea of contributing to a cause; and I like the idea of having a healthy retirement account.
posted by jander03 to Work & Money (27 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Cruise ship recreation director.
posted by txmon at 9:42 AM on December 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

This article about a guy who did overseas IT in some stressful places may interest you...

There's always the US Foreign Service. Not of those guys are not sitting around thinking big thoughts about Diplomatic Solutions- they need managers and planners just like any other organization.

As a teacher you could consider getting an IB certification, which would let you apply for more jobs overseas.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:49 AM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Marines. The Peace Corps. UNICEF.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:49 AM on December 27, 2013

Offshore rig for oil company. Get a drilling certificate. Or become a wireline engineer. Six figures, month on, couple weeks off, all around the world.
posted by zia at 9:53 AM on December 27, 2013

I too thought a job on a cruise ship. Doesn't pay great, but you do get to travel.

Air Marshal?

International Sales.


If you're certified for K-12, then do a DOD Teaching gig. It's a US federal government job. When you're abroad the government pays for your housing, and you can live off base. You get commissary and PX privilages, and you can buy gas on base at US prices.

There is NO down side. You get paid airfare back home once a year, and tons of holiday time. So you can make Germany your base, and then do Trains or Ryan Air all over Europe. When you're ready, transfer to Asia, and do that there.

My parents spent ten years abroad and have been all over the world!

VERY HEALTHY retirement.

Can't recommend it enough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:53 AM on December 27, 2013 [20 favorites]

You're going to get a lot of variation of answers. For a generic job title that almost universally requires travel you want "product manager"

I've never met a PM who doesnt travel, regardless of industry.

To make it easier: pm at a company that does software and hardware is the best bet. Just saying "I want to and am open to travel" will open MANY doors and interviews. Travel cal be rewarding but it's also stressful and difficult and challenge to almost all personal circumstances so people that are actively willing to travel are snapped up....
posted by chasles at 9:54 AM on December 27, 2013

And as a second answer: (on preview seconding) any kind of international sales.

Travel and money are the rewards for that profession.
posted by chasles at 9:56 AM on December 27, 2013

True, the pay for cruise ship rec director is not terrific, but they get kick-backs from all the shops they direct passengers to in the ports of call. I have heard they make more money than anyone else on the ships. (Flew transatlantic with a VP of one of the cruise lines as a seat mate once.)
posted by txmon at 9:56 AM on December 27, 2013

Go join the Coast Guard. Go rescue people for a living.
posted by 99percentfake at 9:57 AM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

teach ESL! Plenty of jobs around the work doing that, especially in Asia and Latin America. You already have experience in education and are a native English speaker (I presume?) so it will not be hard to find jobs. Most of these jobs provide living spaces.

Do a search for ESL jobs and look around on the internet; there are plenty of job listings.
posted by bearette at 10:02 AM on December 27, 2013

There are also some jobs in Europe, which may be more competitive (Masters in ESL needed). I have a friend who taught ESL in Switzerland for a high salary. I think ESL jobs in the MIddle East also provide high salaries.

However, there are definitely still jobs for people without ESL degrees. I taught in China, so memail if you have questions about that.
posted by bearette at 10:05 AM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

FYI: Coast Guard is kinda of inside-joke at mefi. That said, it might be a great idea!

@showbiz_liz - that's an amazing article.
posted by sarah_pdx at 10:09 AM on December 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

Most of these answers are missing two things.

1. business travel is not moving around, business travel mostly sucks. you can travel to japan 30 times on business and will not see japan. Same for visiting CMs in China, it's not travel it's an excessive commute.

2. ESL, etc. will not get you a retirement fund

I think this question is unanswerable without three things: married/kids? career and skills background? languages spoken?
posted by rr at 10:27 AM on December 27, 2013 [11 favorites]

Mining companies and their consultants will relocate you for certain positions, although they are in remote places that some (most?) would find unattractive. I have friends and ex-colleagues in Chile, northern Canada, Africa and Australia on mining sites in various white-collar roles. The pay is excellent and they are often on 6-week on, 2-week off schedules or similar. That six weeks can be a bit cabin-fevery though.
posted by jamesonandwater at 11:07 AM on December 27, 2013

My partner is more or less a project manager. He works in oil/shipbuilding. We get to travel a lot on his company's dime. He's about to go to Amsterdam for a week. We also lived in Korea for three years. In this industry, being willing to travel is a pretty huge plus. (I am a writer so I can work anywhere. We don't have kids but I know a TON of people in the industry who do and their kids seem better for the travel, long-term assignments, at least.)

As a counter-point to rr's answer, we've had plenty of time to enjoy his stations when we've traveled together. We often go to museums, dine out, get out to smaller cities, etc. Last year when we were in Amsterdam over Thanksgiving we took the train to Brussels for the weekend. While in Norway for a week we saw The Scream, the viking ships, went to the Thor Heyerdahl Museum, ate reindeer in a ski lodge on a maintain, etc. etc. When we were living in Gothenberg, Sweden, for a month we spent a full week of vacation in Stockholm. We traveled ALL over Asia when we lived in Korea because it was so much closer than flying form the US.

As with anything in life, it is what you make of it.
posted by Brittanie at 11:11 AM on December 27, 2013

Hotel management-- travel to open new properties.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:34 AM on December 27, 2013

public relations for agencies that rep international hotels and tourism boards of other countries.
posted by changeling at 11:45 AM on December 27, 2013

the "guide michelin" is the world's most famous restaurant rating service. i still aspire to be a guide michelin inspector, travelling incognito from one palace of cuisine to another, handing out stars.
posted by bruce at 2:05 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing the foreign service. The pay is not amazing but it's solid, plus they pay for your housing, moving costs, trips home, etc. I have many friends who are/were early-career FSOs and it's honestly pretty cushy. You also do a series of two-year tours, so you get to live in lots of places.

The downsides are: you don't have control over where you go and the work itself can be fairly boring. Also, depending on the country, you can be somewhat segregated from the life of the place you live. For instance, a friend was posted in a country with a lot of crime and kidnappings, and so the State Department gave her a car and driver, but she wasn't allowed to walk around the city, not even take a walk around the block.

Of the people I went to school with who went into the foreign service (when we graduated 6 years ago), over half have left; the combination of hardship posts, moving a lot and the sometimes-boring posts wear a person down. But if you do want to see the world in a comfortable fashion, it's pretty ideal.
posted by lunasol at 2:45 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you just need to get a different project management position? I have a friend who has that exact title, and he's away so much on international travel ("if it's Tuesday it must be Dubai" kind of thing) that he still hasn't decided whether it even makes sense to rent an apartment or just get a PO Box where he ostensibly "lives".

However, he does struggle with feeling like he's "contributing to a cause" corporations which can fly PMs out to every corner of the globe twice a month usually aren't having you do much charity work or sending you out on public health projects or arts programs for underprivileged youth. I know folks who do fabulously interesting work along those lines, but don't check off the "healthy savings account" box.
posted by blue suede stockings at 2:47 PM on December 27, 2013

Foreign Service!

My cousin's husband is climbing his way to the top and after a decade or so is in line for some serious security jobs in fun and exciting places.

My great-uncle ended up being an a Ambassador in the '70s after his WWII FO service.
posted by Sphinx at 7:29 PM on December 27, 2013

One of my friends is a teacher teaching English and is on his third country, Romania, China and Thailand....loves it.....the other in the Navy as an air traffic controller...has been all over the place and has seen tons of things...just a thought.
posted by OhSusannah at 10:03 PM on December 27, 2013

Working as a field engineer on offshore Oil & Gas rigs. You live on the rig two weeks at a time and the rest of the time you can live wherever you like. You can travel all over the world, and make tons of money in a very short time.
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 5:13 AM on December 28, 2013

Learn to be a commercial diver.
posted by semacd at 9:17 AM on December 28, 2013

+1 on what r said.

Many software consulting, project management and sales job will allow you to travel. But you may not get the time or energy to see the places (that you travel to) well You can of course sometimes stay over at your location over weekends and travel. Sales jobs will allow you more flexibility with time than delivery execution jobs (Programming, Project Management etc.). however, IMHO - if you don't enjoy sales, it is harder to get good at it.

With any kind of travel job (Including that of National Geographic photographers, travel writers, mountain guides etc), the lifestyle can become harder to sustain after marriage and/or kids. There is a certain amount of personal cost that you may have to pay after reaching a certain life stage.

With your skill set - software consulting would probably be the easiest to segue into. Would pay well, will be easier to relocate to another country (if you want to do so for some time) and simpler to transition out of when you get tired of the long commutes! (You will also acquire a lot of frequent flier miles that you can use for travel for your vacations).
posted by justlooking at 9:22 AM on December 28, 2013

Semester at Sea is hiring.
posted by divabat at 4:26 AM on December 29, 2013

Yep, showbiz_liz has it right. I you are certified and experienced at K-12, pick up the IB and head around the world on the international school circuit. Good pay. You can stay in one place long enough to really dig in, or move on after 2-3 years if you want to. Read up on the ISTE standards and look for jobs as a technology and learning coach or similar to use tech background.
posted by Gotanda at 7:40 PM on December 29, 2013

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