In the dark winter months, sitting at your fluorescent-lit desk can feel like you’re trapped in an especially cold circle of hell—and make you seriously consider escaping Cubicle Nation for a career of adventure, travel, and sandy beaches.
The good news? You don’t have to become a surf bum to get an all-access pass to paradise. Whether you dream of luxuriating under the Caribbean sun, rambling through Italian wine country, or discovering the beauty of an arctic glacier, check out these career paths that’ll take you to the most exotic places in the world.
For the Foodie: Chef
Food is a universal language. And that means the skills of a top chef—whipping up scrumptious meals, delectable dishes, and succulent snacks—can be taken on the road. Whether you work as the personal chef to a vacationing family, job hop in restaurants across South America, or train with the masters in the heart of Paris, this hands-on job can take you to deliciously far-away places. A 2- or 4-year culinary arts degree can kick-start your career, but you can also prove your mettle by working your way up in a professional kitchen.
For the Caretaker: Travel Nurse
Like a substitute teacher for the medical community, travel nurses are paid to work at understaffed hospitals and clinics across the country and globe. You could find yourself in the bustle of New York City one month, or the sunny shores of Puerto Rico the next. Change is the name of the game. Besides the travel benefits, this job has many more perks than an average nursing position, including higher pay, complimentary airfare, and free housing. If you’ve got a medical background—or are ready to invest in 1-4 years of nurse training—this career track can be your ticket to paradise.
For the Freelancer: Writer
Imagine a hammock, a Mojito, and a calm breeze as you quietly type away on your latest travel column—sounds pretty good, right? One of the major perks of writing or blogging gigs is that they can be completed from anywhere, including a cabana. Granted, this field is seriously competitive. But if you’re ready to hustle and can carve out a niche, you’ve got a shot at breaking into the industry. Test the waters by boosting your portfolio with freelance gigs.
For the Business Expert: Wine Importer
If reveling in the fine flavors of vino sounds like nirvana, a career in the wine industry could be a smart move. As a wine importer, you’ll travel around the world to find the best vintages from South Africa, France, or Chile. While this career path requires quite a bit of business hustle (most wine importers have a background in accounting, finance, and law), a crucial part of your responsibilities is sampling the wares. There’s no standard pathway into this job, but taking a Certified Wine Professional course is a good place to start. Delicious tastes, stunning landscapes—this job has got it all.
For the Travel Pro: Flight Attendant
The classic jet-setting job, flight attendants fly the friendly skies to ensure the safety and comfort of airplane passengers. Perks are self-evident and awesome: routine trips to far-away locales, plus deep discounts or freebies on vacation flights, hotels, and more. (So even if your normal route is between Portland and Seattle, you can score savings on that trip to Bali.) The other big benefit is that it usually only take a few months of training to qualify for this job, so it’s a great choice if you need a quick change.
For the Creative Type: Cameraman
Is pristine nature your idea of Shangri-la? Becoming a camera operator can be your fast pass to places you’ve only dreamed about. Whether you’re camped out to catch the perfect shot of baby ice foxes for a nature documentary or trying to capture the best action angle for an adventure reality show, you get to see some of the world’s rarest sites. The film industry is tough for newcomers, but if your heart is set on the open wild, start by joining a professional group or going back to school to hone your skills.
For the Entrepreneur: Tour Guide
If you’ve fallen in love with the mountains of Morocco or the laid-back beaches of Byron Bay, earn a paycheck by sharing your passion as a tour guide. Apply to an established tour company or jump into the deep end by setting up your own gigs. Besides having an entrepreneurial streak, you need a good grasp on local culture, language skills, and a strong dose of patience. But if you’ve got what it takes, you can make a career of sharing your home away from home.
And if one of these jobs isn’t a perfect fit? That’s OK. Get creative and think about how you can play to your skills and create your own career path to paradise.