The world's 7 most portable jobs

Want a job that allows you to travel? You may already be doing it!

5 mins

It’s every travellers dream – a job that pays them to travel. But not every ‘traditional’ travel job is as glamorous as it seems. As a flight attendant you might very well get to travel every corner of the globe. But chances are you’ll have to turn around and come back pretty much after you get there, and have to deal with grouchy passengers along the way. And being a tour guide has its challenges too. Ask any of the Wanderlust World Guide Award winners – a lot of the behind-the-scene duties will leave you exhausted, frustrated and at the end of your tether.

The ideal travel job, then, may be one that allows you to top up your travel funds periodically, while you’re on the road, and allow you to do all the things you went travelling to do in the first place. The really good news is that you may be already doing it.

Here’s our list of the world’s most portable jobs. Hopefully yours is on it.

1. Hairdresser

Pack a basic kit, and you’re set to travel the world as long as you like. Travellers around the world are happy to shell out to have their hair cut by a professional, rather than risk their ‘look’ with a local cutter who may not have experience with their type of hair. Put a notice up in the hostel you’re staying in – or one nearby your more luxurious digs – turn up at the appointed time and get snipping. How much you charge for your services depends on the budgets of the travellers in the country you're passing through – you’ll get more in Europe than Asia, for example – but will correspond with your needs as well.

2. Nurse

While you can’t just turn up and attend to the various cuts, bruises and unmentionable ailments afflicting your fellow travellers, there is a huge shortage of nurses around the world, so your skills are very much in demand. Short-term placements are available in most developed countries, with hospitals across the USA particularly desperate for your services. (Check out the travel Nursing website and you’ll see what we mean.)

There are also opportunities with many of the international aid agencies where you can travel to some of the more remote corners of the globe and make a real difference at the same time.

3. Teacher

Getting yourself a TEFL qualification and teaching English abroad isn’t the only way to make the most of your teaching experience. The growth of online tutoring offers you the chance to earn money while you’re on the road. All you need is a laptop and access to an Internet connection.

Any subject that can be taught remotely is in demand, particularly English and maths. And most online tutoring companies will insist that you pass a Disclosure and Barring Service check if you’re going to be tutoring children rather than adults.

You don’t have to tutor online, of course. There’s a growing trend in countries like Russia for super-rich oligarchs to hire private tutors to help their children get into the best schools in the UK and USA. Who knows ... you could be teaching young Vladimir to get into Eton on daddy’s super yacht in the Mediterranean. It happens.

4. Computer Programmer

The past decade has seen the rise of a new tribe of traveller, the Digital Nomad. Armed with a hi-spec laptop and a intimate knowledge of the computer languages that keeps the internet and websites running, these travellers can be seen kicking back in hammocks, knocking off a few lines of code, with an ice cold beer or cocktail within reach.

It’s not all banana pancakes and ice cold Singhas, though. As our featured blogger and digital nomad, Ashray Baruah, points out, there are times when he wished he had a bigger screen, faster internet and a better time-zone. But if you’ve got the skills that the IT industry needs, it’s definitely a viable way to stay on the road longer.

5. Chef

High-pressured work environment. Long, unsociable hours. Is it little wonder that kitchens all over the world are crying out for decent chefs? Whether it’s a grubby diner in the boonies in America or a high end establishment in Bangkok, there’s always something that needs cooking.

The beauty of being a travelling chef is that you can dip in and out of madness, earning enough to fund your travels until it’s time to work again.

You may be lucky, of course, and pick up a gig on one of the luxury yachts congregating in the South of France or the Caribbean. The conditions are better and so is the pay.

6. Mechanic

The principle of the internal combustion engine is the same the world. As an experienced mechanic you’ll have no trouble fixing them. Of course, in many corners of the globe they’ll be in much worse shape than you’re used to. And you may have to come up with inventive ways to fix them. But hey, that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

While traditional mechanic jobs are available in most developed countries, you may have to consider working for overland tour companies or international aid agencies if you want to ply your trade in more remote locations.

7. Barista

The rise of the coffee culture around the world, particularly in places like Australia and New Zealand, has seen a corresponding rise in the demand for top-notch baristas. If you can dismantle an espresso machine blindfolded, and know your arabicas and robustas, you could well be able to fund your trip up the East coast of Australia and up into Asia.

Finding work in Italy, however, could prove more difficult. Most baristas there have a job for life.

Are there any portable jobs we've missed? Tell us in the comments below

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