As a travel blogger who writes to the twenty-something audience, I get this question from readers on a fairly regular basis. It’s a tough one to answer because I am not actually in the habit of dictating other people’s lives. Generally, I think you should pick a major you enjoy and are good at and then go from there. If travel, however, is your main priority, then there are a few guidelines you can use during college to set you up for a life of travel.
What are Your Career Goals?
First of all, there is a big difference between wanting a travel-related career and wanting a job that lets you have a life of travel. Anyone can get a job that involves travel, you don’t even necessarily need a degree (although, as always, it helps). Options like teaching English, working on cruise ships and tour guiding are open to everyone regardless of major.
If you are looking for a career that involves travel, I have some recommendations below. Most of them are difficult to break into because well-paying careers that involve travel are popular and competitive.
It’s worth remembering though that travel may not always be the major priority in your life. It’s far smarter to choose a career you love and are good at, and then figure out how to make it international.
What Professions Travel Well?
If you’re dead set on pursuing a career abroad then in my experience the following will probably get you the farthest so you can experience a life of travel:
Nursing– Nurses are needed everywhere and I have met quite a few traveling nurses on my travels. Some countries even have special visa programs specifically for nurses because they are in such demand.
Business– Not my style but international business is a big deal.
International Relations- A career in diplomacy or international politics may require additional schooling, but can often lead to postings abroad through the foreign service.
Teaching– the world needs teachers, particularly English teachers. You don’t necessarily need a teaching degree (or any degree, depending on where you go) to pursue this, but it would be helpful in the long term.
Freelancing– If you are an extremely skilled photographer, writer or computer programmer then you may be able to take your career with you wherever you go.
Should You Keep Your Options Open?
Here is the thing that college freshman often overlook in the stress of picking a major: It mostly doesn’t matter. Unless you are on a career path to become a doctor or a Ph.D., you have a lot of flexibility in what you major in. In fact, most people don’t end up in career fields related to their major.
And that’s a good thing because what you want at 18 is probably not what you’re going to want at 28 or 38.There are a lot of liberal arts majors that prepare you to do most anything you decide to do.
I’m a writer now but I never really thought that’s where I would be six years post graduation. I majored in English for two reasons:
- because I really, really love books
- because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and it seemed like a good way to keep my options open.
It WAS a good way to keep my options open. It taught me how to write well, how to form coherent arguments and analyze text, it taught me academic discipline and fostered my curiosity for the world. And it didn’t pigeon-hole me into any one career path: I know English majors that became lawyers, bankers and even doctors.
Finally, if you are someone who loves travel, why wait until after college to get started? Pick an academic path that lets you study abroad. I studied Victorian literature in London for a semester, my roommate researched art history in Italy. Another friend did international volunteer work in Bolivia as part of her course of study. There are many options to travel and learn at the same time.
This is a lot of words to basically to say it doesn’t matter what you major in if you want a life of travel. The important thing is to set yourself up with a great education that will help you pursue whatever you wish later on. Pick something you like, something that interests you, that won’t make you miserable for four years.