Finding Your Career
You want to travel long-term. Be free from daily commutes and office lighting. Watch sunsets by the ocean, count the stars in the Milky Way, and sleep by mountain streams. But you don’t want to starve. You don’t want a vehicle break down or medical emergency to end all your travel plans. And, admit it, you still want an iPhone with unlimited data. That means you need to find a career conducive to travel. You need the Work Vanlife Balance.
Working from the road has its challenges but overall has been a huge step for us toward sustainable long-term travel. To be honest we’re still figuring out exactly what our new careers look like. And while we’re still learning, we’ll share what’s working, to help you take one step closer to your travel goals.
Everyone’s situation is different, but we’ve learned that being flexible and open to new ideas when approaching a career is a must. When you have realistic expectations, and take a practical approach to your job search, working while traveling can be a reality.
Three Qualities of a Remote Career
In my previous life (well, just before vanlife) I worked in corporate training. One of my classes was a career development workshop. The gist of this workshop was to focus your job search on positions that have 3 qualities:
- Interest – The job or career path you have a passion for.
- Skill – The skills you currently have, or are willing to gain.
- Need – The organizational or industry value of the position.
When I originally facilitated this workshop, I didn’t realize I would later use these 3 qualities to find my remote position. When discussing considerations for working on the road I shared some top remote careers and best sites to find remote work. This article will cover how to use these three qualities to help find a career conducive to travel.
Pursue Practical Interests
Practical? How is quitting your job and living in a van practical? Believe it or not I took a very practical approach to find a job that interested me on the road. It was also the job I did before—developing eLearning. I always assumed eLearning was something I could do remotely. It wasn’t until recently I realized it could be done on the road.
While this approach worked for me, there are many professions that don’t translate well to remote work. The traveling dentist, for example. Yanking abscessed teeth and tossing them out the RV window is a very disturbing thought (and disturbing that I thought of it).
On the other hand, many careers do relate. Look at your current career. Are there any transferable skills that could translate to remote work? Are there tasks that could be done from anywhere? All my interaction is through email, phone, and web conferencing. I am much more productive now that I don’t have to attend so many meetings.
If you completely hate your job (I’ve had those jobs before too), a career change may be in order. Here is a great list of some jobs you can do from home. Many of these careers could also be done on the road. While additional training may be needed for some of these careers, you have probably gained many transferable skills from previous jobs.
Get the Skills to Pay the Bills
There are tons of options to gain work skills: school, interning, and volunteering are some of the most obvious. However, when on the road these options can be limited. Online courses through Lynda.com are a great way to learn skills in programming, design, social media, video, and photography. If you don’t want to pay a fee, YouTube has always helped me refine skills on the go for free.
If you have a more urgent need for money while on the road there’s also the option of getting your hands dirty and working some manual labor (yes, people still do that). If your interests aren’t “paying the bills” yet, take on some seasonal work in farms, orchards, or vineyards to help finance your time on the road. Many international travelers teach English and other languages abroad. This allows travelers to explore other countries and make money doing it.
Ensure You’re Needed
While it may be competitive, there is still a lot of opportunity to work remotely. Freelancing and contract work is on the rise. Some companies are realizing that remote workers can be cheaper than maintaining employee work space in the office.
Some of the best advice I can give to find a remote job (or any job really) is not to wait for employers to find you. Perfect your personal brand and email potential employers regarding what you can do for them. Even if a job posting does not specify it is a remote position, if you know you could complete this job remotely, tell that employer why. Companies may have opportunities for remote work but don’t realize it. Help them!
If you have ever looked for remote work, you may already know it requires perseverance. But with focused planning and realistic expectations, you can achieve your dream of travel, and work remotely while you do. The Work Vanlife Balance can be a reality.
What is your dream job? Could you take it on the road?