Top jobs for the traveller in you who also needs to pay EMI


Two decades since liberalization, we now inhabit a changed country. The middle class dream has moved on from buying a two-bedroom apartment to starting our business venture, aiming for flexible work hours, or at the very least, get paid to travel the world.

I was a creature of habit and routine and I actually just wanted to travel for travel’s sake. But I did a fair amount of research during my short-lived interest in getting paid to travel, and running away from responsibility is not the kind of advice you will find here. So here are some jobs that will let you travel but at the same time, will also pay enough to take care of those education loans and home EMIs.

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Freelance writer

Have you seen the internet-led content explosion lately? Many would tell you not to write if you are not going to produce literary masterpieces. I think that is rich coming from people who do endless mediocre tasks inside cubicles. Can you string sentences together and write a piece or ten about a thing or two? Then the opportunities are endless. I don’t just mean that for travel writers.

So you've been part of the marketing bandwagon for years and have enough expertise in the space, then find recurring opportunities with marketing publications. Have you worked in offices for over a decade and can smell cultural issues from a hundred miles away? Write about them for HR publications. Been a banker or ace financer? Finance blogs are yours for the taking. The only thing you need to focus on is becoming location independent.

Start early while you still have a full-time job at hand, learn the ropes quickly, form your networks, save for an emergency fund and then, go on to live a life of freedom, flexibility and a new city every couple of months. With just enough focus and persistence, it can be done.

Development sector professional

Trying to get into the development sector purely for selfish reasons like free travel is rather petty, if you ask me. But if there is an issue you care deeply about and you are a free-spirited traveller at heart, there is nothing wrong with mixing things up a little. But be realistic and develop the skills you have that can be put to good use in the development sector. And then, widen your networks to find the right jobs.

As Raphaela, of the Dirty Vagrant travel blog fame, puts it in this Zero To Travel piece about travel jobs in NGOs, “What are your motivations and how much time do you have? The more time you can give, the more appealing you’ll become. This really isn’t a good option as a short-term plan to kill a few weeks in the developing world. Dedicating yourself and diving into the whole thing will increase your chances of finding a great job that is right for you.”

She also goes on to say that it is crucial that you understand your core skill set, and where you have a solid foundation. “You’re probably not going to do much meaningful work building homes, for example, if you’ve never held a hammer before. If you have language skills and can work as a translator, put them to good use! You don’t necessarily need to have a professional background in (the sector) and you’re undoubtedly good at something, so figure it out and go from there.”

Tour leader

If I were to adopt the 100% travel lifestyle, I’d probably do a good mix of leading tours and writing for money. Most travel companies have tour leaders - the metaphoric glue that keeps groups together and oversees logistics.

If being a regular, old-school tour leader for “10-day Europe itineraries” is not for you, focus on finding tour leader roles in offbeat travel companies. All you need is a calm head over your shoulders, the ability to think on your feet, and to remain positive and resourceful even on days when things don’t go your way.

In my opinion, anybody who has learned enough emotional quotient after spending a few years in our often-flawed workplaces can find the ability to be a tour leader. You will probably need more physical stamina but that is an area you can work on.

Cruise and overlanding crew

Attending to travellers to cooking, entertaining, housekeeping, electricals and machinery, planning and logistics - there is a lot of work to be done on cruise ships and overlanding trucks and buses. One needs the right skills and mind-sets for these tasks, if not always a related degree. Find new-age travel companies that understand the importance of these jobs and pay accordingly, and you will be on the road sooner than you know.

I have said this before and I will say it again – don’t let your degree tie you down. It is not a lifetime contract. More importantly, we are fortunate enough to be living in a time when skill is as important as your college degree, if not more. As soon as you can figure how to market the skills you have outside of your regular job or the ones you have picked along the way, you too can live the on the road life you really want.

Often, the ability and effort to put yourself out there is the only difference between those who end up with exciting lifestyles and those who concede to the regular 9 to 6 jobs.


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