Which Jobs Require Lots Of Travel?

Filed Under: Advice, Travel

Reader Jase asked the following question on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog:

Hi Ben! Longtime fan of the blog, I really enjoy reading your articles.

I’m interested in a career that would allow me to travel as much as you do! (or at least more than I currently do). Do you have any advice for readers who are starting out professionally and want to find careers that allow for lots of travel, either for business or are flexible enough to allow for frequent trips?

Let me start by saying that I’m the wrong person to be giving any sort of career advice. When I graduated college a few years ago (sheesh, has it really been that long?) I couldn’t get a job I found fulfilling, though that may have more to do with the fact that I have a hard time showing enthusiasm or putting 110% of myself into something I’m not truly passionate about.

But when I was a teenager I spent so much time trying to figure out jobs which would allow me to travel a lot, because at the time I thought that would make me happy. So while I don’t have a good answer directly to your question, I do have some general thoughts:

Yes, some jobs automatically involve lots of travel

If you’re starting your career and one of the main goals is to travel a lot, obviously there are some jobs that immediately come to mind. Management consulting, international sales, IT, etc., can all involve a lot of travel. At the same time I don’t think it’s worth pursuing a job just because of the travel — I can’t imagine that would be fulfilling.

Not all its cracked up to be!

I have a good friend who is allowed to travel international first class per his company travel policy. In theory he should be doing a lot of exciting travel. And I thought I was insanely jealous of his travel policy… until we recently talked about the work trips he has taken recently.

In the past month he has taken three business trips. Two to Kansas City on a one cabin regional jet, and one which was actually in international first class, where he was gone from home for 24 hours — he flew from New York to Frankfurt, had a meeting, flew Frankfurt to London , had a meeting, and flew London back to New York on the evening flight.

While someone else paid for his $12,000 ticket, that’s not a trip I’m jealous of!

Focus on jobs which give flexibility

As much as it’s easy to romanticize business travel (I did for years — after all, who doesn’t like someone else paying for their travel?), I think it’s much more fun to pursue leisure travel. There’s a hilarious BuzzFeed post comparing the expectations vs. reality of business travel, which I think sum it up quite nicely.

Like I said, it’s not something I have firsthand experience with, but when I was finishing college I thought to myself I should be a consultant because that would allow me to travel the most. And then I realized what drew me to that wasn’t what I’d actually be spending 50+ hours per week doing, but rather the podunk hotels in small towns that I may end up in, along with the possible weekly flight on a regional jet.


So if my life hadn’t worked out the way it did, I don’t think I could have followed through with that. I think I would have done something completely different, even if it involved no travel. And then I would have dedicated my resources (time and finances) towards traveling in a way that I enjoyed.

I do believe that if you’re passionate about something and make yourself indispensable, over time you can work with your employer to hopefully have at least somewhat of a flexible schedule.

I think it’s also worth considering jobs where you can “bank” vacation time, either by working longer shifts, working on individual projects that you can take breaks between, etc. For example, I know some people that are able to work longer shifts and are able to work four days in a row and then have three days off, and then can structure it so they work eight days back to back, and then have six days off. That’s a good amount of time to travel every two weeks!

Bottom line

I don’t have much insight here since it’s not something I’ve dealt with firsthand. At the same time it’s a thought process I’ve certainly mentally gone through.

I’d focus on doing what you’re most passionate about regardless of the travel implications, and over time that will allow you to pursue your desire for travel more. Either because you’re able to get more time off, able to move around in the company to a position that requires more travel, or long term you’re able to do the best financially when you do something you’re passionate about.

For those of you that have been in a similar situation, what are your thoughts? Has anyone ever taken a job primarily because of the amount of travel required, and if so, did it work out?

  1. Just be quite aware that when you take a job that requires a lot of traveling – someone picks the traveling for you, and you’re often very much restricted as to how you do the traveling, too. It’s great, however, when the stars all align and you land something that allows you to travel how you want and to destinations you actually care to.


  2. A lot of the business travel in my company isn’t just on weekdays. People are spending weekends on the road, too.

  3. It’s probably worth noting the possible pitfalls and negatives of traveling a lot before diving headlong into this. Unlike lucky, most people whose jobs involve a lot of travel end up going on trips/destinations that they really have no interest in, often for long durations.

  4. I used to be of that mindset: “I love to travel,” therefore, “I want a job that requires travel.”

    That is NOT the answer. That kind of travel is kind of depressing…quick trips where you don’t get to see anything; you go from airport to board room to hotel to airport, all within 12-24 hours; it’s quite lonely; it’s stressful; etc.

    The list of negatives is too long. In fact, it takes the fun out of travel and makes travel an annoyance, not a perk.

    Find a flex job that allows you time off. I know it doesn’t always pay well, but think: teacher/professor (huge winter breaks, spring break, summer break). There are other jobs like this with intended breaks that may fulfill this desire.

    Sometimes, owning your own business (whereby you can leave and put a #2 in charge) is a good idea….but, first you have to start a somewhat successful business!

    How I figured it out: I became a Virtuoso travel advisor! I’ve been on the road for the past 2 weeks (Sicily then Vegas for Travel Week), all with my wife, all stress free. FAM trips (highly discounted travel-agent trips to get you aquainted with a destination) about 4-5 times a year. Going to Egypt for 9 days, staying at Four Seasons and taking a luxury river cruise on a FAM. Going to Thailand in April, staying at 5* places at 90% off rack rates (some of it is 100% free). The list goes on…

    You don’t have to be a Virtuoso advisor to unlock these perks…but you do need people to sell to. Think of it this way…being a travel agent, on average, works on the 10% principle. You make 10% of what you sell. IE, you have to sell $1mm/year to make it a six-figure job. You need rich clients. Get what I’m saying?

  5. I do around three to four business trips a year and man, they are not fun. Of course this’ll depend on the industry but the hours are long, you eat where you can and end up in some places that you would never pay out of pocket to go (Long Island, Central Illinois, etc.). It’s really not all that it’s cracked up to be. It could be different if your job’s focus is on the travel, such as Lucky’s job, but for most normal careers, it’s just a week in a Holiday Inn where you’re just thankful they have a gym, even if you end up being too tired to use it.

  6. Ideally we all want a job where we have the freedom to work whereever we want, however we want, and get paid well. But it’s not always to be – Even when I was being sent to phenomenal cities (HKG, , PEK, ICN, SIN, NYC, etc.), there’s just no time to enjoy any of it.

    I don’t think I quite enjoyed a single business trip I’ve had the way I could nearly enjoy a vacation – I end up developing a negative attitude for some of these locations because of the business reminders….

  7. I work as a CRA (Clinical Research Associate) and I travel almost every week, with an international trip once a year. Looks glamorous and all, but it gets tiring and monotonous.

  8. On a recent trip, I had to laugh when I found an ad on a US Airways tray table that featured the choice copy “your final destination is never an airport” (http://on.fb.me/1t441jT).

    As a consultant in the aviation industry, I have had plenty of trips where the airport is indeed my destination: I arrive, check in to the airport hotel, visit the airline/airport office located at the airport, check out of the airport hotel, and depart. And while I still enjoy the actual travel part of it, this is hardly a glamorous life.

  9. Yeah – agree with the sentiments above. I work in a senior position doing International expansion for a well known company. So, most of my trips are to Europe and Asia and sometimes, I’m able to stay the weekend and do some exploring on my own.
    But in general, my trips involve:
    Flying out on Sunday night to get to London or Paris on Monday.
    Spending the week in meeting rooms and the hotel, sometimes staying late for conference calls back to the States and eating wherever.
    Flying out on Friday morning to be back in the west coast later that evening so that I can spend the weekend with my family.

  10. While my work travel hasn’t been all that exciting I have had a chance to go to some really need places. One thing that always bothers me is that I’ll end up some really cool place and think wow this is great. Then I look around and I’m the only one there. My wife is at home, my kids are away at school or work. I would rather enjoy it with someone I know and/or love.

  11. Great advice Lucky……..I used to have a job in advertising where my employer paid all my travel (domestic) and I would decide where I went 75% of the time……..so I always went to places I wanted to go…..San Francisco, New York, LA, Chicago, Dallas, Portland, Seattle………so status was easy and building points was easy although no where near as easy as MS………but after a while being away from family wore thin and I decided to move to a job where I never traveled for business……..now all my trips are vacations and that is just fine……..my advice is learn how to manufacture miles and work where you have passion…….the best of both worlds will be at your door step……….

  12. I remember a story my college adviser once told me about him and his best friend growing up in the 1950s. They both wanted to walk on the moon one day. My adviser decided to follow his dream and studied aerospace engineering in college. His friend decided to get a PhD in geology. A few decades later, my adviser was a Professor of Aerospace Engineering with feet firmly on the ground, while his geologist friend was selected by NASA to collect moon rocks during an Apollo mission.

    Lesson learned from that is that you can achieve your goals and dreams from some of the most unlikely career choices. Don’t let your (perceived) love of travel drive your career choices. Do what you are good at doing and do what you enjoy doing. That is the recipe for success. With success in your chosen field, whatever it may be, will come the opportunity for business travel, personal travel and the freedom to live and enjoy your life on your own terms.

    Not everyone can do what Ben does for a living, but everyone can learn a small lesson from Ben. He has made a success (so far) out of a very unorthodox career choice by following his dream. He does this by working hard, taking on board the advice that makes him better and ignoring what is only intended to drag him down. Keep those tips in mind and anyone can achieve enough success in professional and personal lives to live their travel and other dreams.

    PS. I set up airlines for a living. Two startups already successfully behind me, one more in the pipeline. That lets me travel a lot, sometimes too much. I loved the fact that I once flew nearly 600,000 miles in 12 months when I was around Ben’s age. I’d never do it again willingly. I got older and travel became less fun. Don’t build a career around that lifestyle because you just might outgrow it.

  13. I want to work nurses hours like my sister (and then complain about it!). 12 hours for 3 days in a row, then take SIX days off, work another 3 when back. To think how rough that must be. I would be broke (in miles and $ due to traveling everywhere every weekend).

  14. In the late 90s I was single and traveling about 50% of the time each month. I had a little flexibility to get out and see things but usually didn’t have too much chance since I was in out of the way places. Even though I was single I still got to not liking the travel. But being single allowed me to voluntarily bump from flights, I collected a lot of vouchers that way, and I flew a lot of domestic F. It still wasn’t worth it. Now I have an extremely flexible job where I am indispensable. I come and go as I need. I work while on personal vacation time so I rarely use up my PTO. I even feel I’m at the point I could ask to work remotely and move to a more exotic location. That has taken about 8 years of consistent work but I feel like I could ask that of my current situation.

    I’d say figure out what you want to do in life and then find the best way to get there. And be patient through it all.

  15. I’m finding this thread quite interesting/ironic – seeing how many of us seemingly love traveling and the perks that sometimes this career/lifestyle brings us, yet we’re all cautioning this reader against doing this so easily 🙂

  16. I travel every week for work and I’m not going to lie, it’s a grind. However what keeps me going is the miles/points I accumulate every week which in turn pays for my vacations.

  17. I travel, travel a lot, I average 200 nights/yr in hotels. But I have a unique job in which I could be at a customers site for 3 weeks, then have 2 weeks off, or travel mon-fri and fly home friday night. I do very little multi flights a week (but it has happened, PHX-ABQ-ORD-MIA-SEA-LGA-PHX in one week) but I lovw my job. It allows us to travel on some great vacations and stay in some of the best hotels around the world, I’m PLT with SPG (150 nights) Diamond with Hyatt, CP with US and EXPLT with AA, It’s not an easy lifestyle but you have to 1) love your job and 2) love adventure. For the most part my flights have been on time and very few delays. I also have started to bring with me choc kiss’s with me, to give to GA, TA and FA’s who look like they need a present. I’m also lucky that I’m allowed to book my own flights, hotels and cars, but the downside is, it can take a month or more to get reimburse, however I get to set my own travel schedule, and yes, I have to purchase Y tickets unless it is an emergency and I need to get the job site asap.

  18. Make sure you also have parents who own their own business and can transfer you the miles they earn from the credit cards they use for said business…;)

  19. I guess it all depends on age and lifestyle. At the beginning of my career I used to travel but not that much. Later I got married, changed jobs and was flying from the US to Asia and Europe on a monthly basis. At the beginning it was fun and glamours. Paid business class on AA, BA, CX or SQ, was Executive Platinum for 5 years in a row. There were weekends were I was flying to London on a Sunday evening and back to the US on a Friday to spend the weekend with my wife before flying back to London on Sunday again. Lots of stays at nice hotels such as Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, Raffles, Ritz, etc… I knew all the details of first class lounges in London, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, etc… However, suddenly I realized I was always on the road and my wife was at home. Then it came my first child and I decided that all the glamour and fun was not important anymore. I would basically pay to stay home. Changed jobs again and today I fly few times per year and spend most of my time with my family. Thus, in summary I guess it all depends on your situation and what is a priority for you.

  20. I had a consulting gig for awhile that allowed me to book Biz RTW tickets a few times a year with only 3-4 cities required for work. That meant I got to fill up the rest of the RTW ticket with personal destinations! Was awesome because I could always get a weekend in Thailand between work in Asia and Europe. Too bad the contract ended and I don’t have that gig anymore…

  21. I would suggest do what you love but also if you truly love to travel, look for doing that for a large international companies and volunteer for oversees assignments. Growing up with my father lived in Paris, Qatar, Norway, Indonesia around 2 years at a time using vacation time to travel to nearby destinations. You not only get to live and experience a different culture but you can take weekend trips to nearby countries for much cheaper. You may not get millions of frequent flyer miles but you will a ton more cultural exposure.

  22. I used to work as a software trainer and traveled all the time. Get up Monday morning (or late Sunday night) for a flight to an appointment. Grab a rental car and drive to the site. Afterwords, back to the airport for a flight to the next destination and another hotel. Usually get home Friday night with enough time to get clothes laundered and rest a bit and back at it for the next week. It was a real grind. What I remember are airports and hotels. Only good thing was all the points I got.

    I love airplanes and love flying, but it was really a grind. This was back in the day when they served meals on almost every flight in economy and seats were almost comfortable with leg room. Would hate to think what it would be like now.

  23. Dear Jase,

    My advice is simple: do what you love.

    The reality of business travel is *very* different from what you read at Ben’s (fantastic) blog. Ben chooses the best airlines (most of the time), in their newest airplanes or airplanes/configurations that he particularly wants, and goes to the destinations that he wants.

    The reality of business travel, whether you travel within the United States, or even in Europe, the Middle East and Asia – where it is generally a little more luxurious – is that most of the time you don’t get to choose where you travel to, and you certainly don’t have the luxury of choosing which planes you will fly with. Furthermore, chances are that you will have to travel to the same place multiple times, which can turn out to be a bit monotonous (if you let it be, that is!).

    I have to travel often and no I do not get to choose the planes I travel with, or the places, but do I care? No. Because I love my job. All I care about is to arrive at my destination as soon as possible -because, let’s face it, traveling always makes you even a little tired, so the sooner you arrive and the less connections you have, the better- and to get my job done.

    Does travel excite me? Absolutely. I love flying the latest jets and configurations, and I love staying at nice hotels. But at the end of the day, my job excites me more, and that’s what makes the entire experience better.

    I started off as a construction manager and then turned into a project manager/consultant once I received my masters degree. Not conventional careers for travel, but like you I wanted it and I chased it.

    Once again, remember, do what you love. It is the most important advice you could possibly follow. From that point on, you will figure out how you will arrange your travels – be it business or leisure.

    PS: Ben, nice post!

  24. I prefer to work for travel instead of traveling for work. Find a job that has enough scheduling flexibility to actually be able to take time off … and make sure it pays enough to support your level of travel. That’s a better approach than getting your travel adventures through the grind of regular business travel.

  25. Lucky, that management consultant picture/cartoon is awesome! Can’t stop laughing…It made my day!

  26. lucky, curious what your friend does for a living that allows him to fly paid F internationally? most companies dont allow beyond paid J, IME.

  27. I got a job for which I can travel quite a bit as a software trainer visiting clients in two set territories. It is fun initially and I still love the airports/flights/lounges/hotels, but what people don’t realize is the amount of work you put in at the destination. Where I am normally training 2 clients a day when at HQ, I can end up training 4 or 5 clients in a day when travelling and then spend the evening in the hotel catching up on admin. I would aim for a job that provides middle ground, some time in the office and some travel. I imagine travel all the time would get really old fast.

  28. The general consensus might be that if you’re being paid to be all over the world, you’re kind of expected to work *extra* hard while on business trips, and not quite… slack. It can mean a sucky trip…

  29. I am an Imagineer based in California and my job allows me the chance to travel a lot for work. Most of us work on projects at our resorts around the world – Orlando, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong…also Hawaii

    I worked recently on the Hong Kong resort and had the chance to travel there many times over the two years. Business class both ways (with upgrades to first when available) and nice hotels in Hong Kong

    i also worked on Aulani in Hawaii and took tons of trips over the course of 6 years while we built the resort. Easy upgrades to First class on all those flights, great meals while in Hawaii and stays at the JW and the regular Marriott

    Many trips to Orlando as well as well as some vendor trips.

    There are dream jobs out there that allow travel as well.

  30. @Sean M.

    You must be talking about Harrison Schmitt. Nice story but not exactly sound career advice to the masses. It was a complete one off only one non airforce/pilot/navy guy walked on the moon..Harrison Schmitt. Geology is also kind of relevant to walking on the moon. They gave basic training to astronauts.

    The best part is when you say your advisor followed his dream and did aero engineering! Yeah like that is ever going to qualify you to walk on the moon! Lol. Maybe work at NASA yeah but walk on the moon? Ha! Your advisor was an idiot if he ever really wanted to walk on the moon. He had no chance. If you tell the story again say your advisor went on to become a test pilot or something will be more plausible.

  31. I been traveling for over 32 years on business. I travel on business over 200 days a year domestic and international. For the last seven years I had my own consulting company specializing in new business development in the hospitality, tourism and transportation industry. I have been able to gain the trust of many companies to let me represent them on sales missions and trade shows all over the world. I been able to do this by giving my clients added. I do enjoy business travel because no 2 days are alike and most of all I do it on my own terms.

  32. Reminds me of the little girl that wanted to go into space. Society was sexist back then and she became a teacher, and go selected to go into space and … oh … too soon?

  33. Lucky, so you are working as a management consultant? and that job require you to travel a lot? how many percentage of travel in average….like 80%?

  34. Lucky is right in that being passionate and indispensible is a great way to have a job that involves a lot of travel. Unlike a lot of the other comments, I happen to really like travelling, even when it’s to no where that I would have picked on my own. I really think the key is that I’m passionate about my work, and I don’t care where I do the work, I just want to keep on doing what I’m doing.

    To do my work, I have to travel. And because I’m traveling, interacting with different people, I understand my work better. I understand that what worked for project A won’t work for project B, and I have to come up with a new way of doing things, which makes me even better at what I do. ITS AWESOME!

    I’ve been to some great places. I’ve been to some crappy places. I have great memories from both. Some of my very best business insights have come to me while on an airplane or while driving from my hotel to my meeting.

    Back to the original question – there’s obviously a lot of jobs that involve travel, in lots of different industries. Apparently, from the comments here, there are a lot of situations where you turn into a travel zombie – job choice is a contributing factor, but so is one’s family situation, your stage in life, employers flexibility on your travel schedule, etc.

    If you love what you do, a lot of other things work out right. If you hate or are ambivalent about what you do, then things don’t work out so right.

  35. I work in the healthcare industry and I pretty much dictate my work schedule. I’m able to work 3 x 13 hrs/ week and off for 4 days however I want to, which means I could possibly work for 6 days straight and get 8 days off. My workplace also offers a generous PTO policy that I accumulate 8 weeks of PTO/ year. With this flexibility and vacation hours, I can take up to 8 two-week-long vacations per year (combining my PTO and 8 days non-PTO off days), and unlimited 8-days-long vacation all year long.

  36. @ Crutis – Nurses job is not easy, having to deal with patients who want to be pampered liked they are at the Ritz Carlton or making demands that are not feasible, then complain about it. Also your math is off, a nurse can had 8 days off in a row not six, 8 + 6 = 14. How do I know this, I’m a RN who no longer works bedside and there is no amount of money that could get me to go back to it.

  37. @Tony – you’re correct, I was thinking 3 days on 3 days off with reverse the next series as opposed to 3 of 7 days. I do understand that being on your feet as a nurse is a lot of work, and I can certainly see how it is demanding, more so than any hotel since you’re covering basic human needs for many of these people, but regardless the timing of work like this would certainly be ideal for a very significant amount of travel unlike most people have the ability to do. I work 50+ hours a week very consistently, with weekends and nights added in frequently, yet every single time I go on a trip I leave on a Friday straight from work and return either the next Sunday night or next Monday morning and power through the first day back at work just to get the chance for as much time as possible seeing the world. Would love to have that kind of schedule!

  38. Work for an airline! While I don’t get to travel as part of my specific job responsibilities, I get to travel for leisure when I want! And traveling for free for leisure > traveling for free on business.

    Funny and true story: in my previous life, I was a consultant assigned to the US Coast Guard (and I had requested a lot of travel). So I’m thinking “this is great, will get to go to Alaska, Hawaii, San Diego, etc…only place I’m not going is Kansas!” So first day on the job, I show up and ask where do we travel to…”well, we don’t go out too much, but we do get to visit a center in Topeka once a year.” And yes, I went to Kansas.

    Now I’m at an airline and wouldn’t want to be any place else.

  39. Alliance says: “I prefer to work for travel instead of traveling for work. Find a job that has enough scheduling flexibility to actually be able to take time off … and make sure it pays enough to support your level of travel. That’s a better approach than getting your travel adventures through the grind of regular business travel.”

    ^ This.

    There was a time when I thought business trips might be fun but the reality was rather different from my imagination. The notice was often last minute, the schedule could be rather tight, and the locations were nothing I’d consider glamorous. I’d spend anywhere from a couple hours to couple days in places like DFW, PHX, and ELP. Not the sort of destinations most folks would consider fun and exiting getaways. Occasionally I’d end up traveling to more exotic locations but even then I was only there long enough to get my work done or finish my training and fly back. These days most of my business travel is limited in duration and scope. Most of the locations I visit see me maybe once or twice a year if that. In most cases I can get there and back in a single workday and that’s just the way I like it. The way I see it if you want travel to remain fun don’t waste your time trying to mix business with pleasure.

  40. I travel to meet with customers, attend conferences, and deliver training workshops. I’m the CEO of a 30 person web consulting company, but I’m a very hands on CEO, and often pick up the slack when we’re stretched too thin.

    Last year I traveled for 13 weeks for work which was too much. All flights over 3 hours were business or first class, simply because I’m very productive if I have space to work. I had two trips to Asia, two to Europe, one to India, and the remainder were US and Canada. Some destinations were great, some were boring, but the work is always interesting and fun. Whenever possible, I add a day or two to see sights and adjust to the time zone.

    This year, we had a baby boy in January, and I’ve cut back quite a bit, with just 4 weeks of work travel, though one week was a quick trip to Hong Kong with an extra day before and after to see the city. On the most recent work trip, I was fortunate to take my family and turn it into a five week trip to Europe (trip report at http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1601498-trip-report-ba-cw-phx-lhr-zrh-fco-lhr-phx-family-irrops.html ). The last one was interesting as we had a 21.5 hour mechanical delay coming back out of LHR.

    I didn’t really start my job with the intent to travel, but it’s grown into a big part of it. I try to find a good balance, not travel more than once every 3-4 weeks with the baby as I don’t want to miss him growing up. But the key thing I insist on is making just enough extra time to see the places I visit, and finding the energy to leave my hotel room each night so that it was worth the journey. In my industry, there are people I should talk to in almost any city in the world, which makes it possible to not always do everything alone, though I do enjoy some nights of dining alone at a nice restaurant.

    Anyway, a much longer comment than I expected. Great thread topic lucky, and good luck to the guy asking about jobs with travel.

  41. If you’re single, or have an understanding spouse, consider extending your business trips to include weekends. (If you’re on business in an interesting place, stay a few extra days and enjoy it!! If you’re in Ohio, stop over in New York or Chicago for the weekend on the way home.)

  42. become a famous professor, even better if you are a finance professor. You can choose where you want to travel and you usually get business or first class because you are famous or get invited. Moreover, your work is to present your research at conferences, and conferences are often held at nice places that everybody wants to visit. You can spend your summer break in an exotic place doing your research if your research is not cite-specific. And spend your winter break in Europe enjoying the christmas market.

  43. @ Kim — Nope, I’m a full time travel blogger/consultant. No management consulting for you, unless you call telling airlines what they should do “management consulting.” 😀

  44. I am a Chemical Engineer and I work in a Licensing function. My company pays International Business Class. Travel is part of the job, and I get a lot of perks due to FF/hotel status that makes the travel tolerable. I get a ton of FF/hotel miles paid by someone else and the last thing I want to do is get on a plane for a “vacation”.

    My schedule since mid-July: I spent a week in France, was back in the US for a whole *DAY*, and got on a plane to China for (what was initially scheduled as) a week. It soon became apparrent that our client had a “different opinion”, and of the 3 of us, I stayed another week while the others whent home to mobilize for an extended assignment. I returned on Wednesday (should have been Tuesday, but there was a missed connection), ran to the office to file some paperwork and pick up a few things,and the next day began a 1600 mile drive to my home (I arrived last night). Tomorrow, I fly back to China and will be there until about the end of October. We will stay in an unaffilliated hotel. We will work 6 days/week and there is nothing to see within a 3 hour (each way) car ride.

    The office joke is “Think fo the FF miles!”. Glamorous it is not.

  45. @ Curtis — Follow me around for 3 12 hour shifts in a busy CVICU and I bet you change your mind about how “easy” nursing and the schedule must be.

  46. Become a hospital doctor, find medical conferences around the world and get your department to shoulder it.
    There are TONS of jobs that require or allow you to travel, both domestically and internationally. But after having the mindset of “im going to get a job in travel to allow me to travel”, I’ve learned that its best to get a job that allows you flexibility to both have the time and means to travel. Some business travel leaves a sour note about travelling (Was in Europe for 3 nights once, and after 24 hours of travel, was expected to be at work the next day- this was an Australia- Europe-Australia trip). Albeit in business class, it doesn’t leave a very fond memory of the trip. Don’t rely on your work to allow you to travel as it’s not very liberating.

  47. Don’t underestimate Dept of Defense (DoD) jobs or working for a contractor who does work on bases. The US has bases in Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Korea, Djibouti, Bahrain, Qatar, etc., etc. I am a Navy Civil Engineer and the joke is that by the time you finish a 20 year career you’ll spend equal amount of time in crummy places as you do in cool places staying at nice hotels. Highlights so far are 10 weeks in Philippines (1/2 Manila in swank hotel, 1/2 in “provinces” in mom n’ pop motels by the beach), Germany for 2 weeks, Spain and Gibraltar for 10 days, Nagasaki for 4 months, Yokohama for almost 4 years, Korea for 2 weeks, plus various middle eastern countries. Now I’m in Bangkok on 3 year orders with trips from here to Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and more to come. The trick is to pick a job with opportunities like that. One guy I know is a structural engineer expert on piers and wharfs, and he spends several weeks at a time at overseas locations doing technical studies for 8 hrs/day, leaving lots of free time to explore.

  48. This is where people get it wrong: don’t look for job titles/careers you think will require you to travel- choose a company that is more likely to require travel. I have a friend who was in HR service design at one company that had offices all over the world. She had to spend 3 weeks out of every month in Europe (London or Berlin office, depending on the project). When she decided to start a family, she took a job in a different company doing the exact same thing, but the company doesn’t have offices in any other state or country; they just have one, local headquarter.

    Same with my old boss- she was a user experience director for the web and interactive marketing department for an international hotel group. She had to go to China and Europe for business, changed companies but is doing the same job and hasn’t traveled for work in three years. Typically, management positions in companies that have offices/clients in various international or national locations will give you the opportunity to do some travel. The level of travel will definitely vary depending on the position (sales/consulting yields more travel than accounting).

  49. Maybe it is just me but I have a Consulting Job that I LOVE.


    I love to travel for 4 main reasons:

    1. I love to travel.

    2. In my industry, jobs that require travel generally pay 2 to 3 times as much as jobs that don’t.

    3. I travel to the same place 3 out of 4 weeks for 3 months to as long as 3 years. So, I can get the routine down pat*. What time as the airport the least crowded, what flights are more likely to upgrade you, etc.

    4. I have every Friday off.

    * when I was in San Francisco I was renting from Enterprise and they mentioned that they charge the same price to rent for 4 days as for all week. I asked if I could get that don’t on the C Class Mercedes? Sure, and you can park on our lot. So, I rented month to money and always had a car waiting for me.

    That said, I have the greatest respect for people who travel to multiple places every week. I was talking to a lady who had retired as the head of a market research company. She spent 30 years doing New York, Dallas, Pheonix, Chicago, New York and other such com I actions. That would be rough.

  50. @ Frank – I don’t think Curtis was saying that nursing is easy, just that bedside nurses only work 36 hours a week compared to his 50+. BTW, I spent many years in Burn ICU… I want to write a book about my years in that unit.

  51. Stagehand, but not every stagehand. Two types are the local guy and the traveling guy. Just don’t call us roadies as they are just one step better than carnies. Could be a live music or theatre tour (they suck as you are bus bound so no points), to corporate shows where you earn plenty of miles and hotel points (client provides rooms and pays for flights – good clients let you route your flights as needed for max miles) to broadcast shows where you are traveling all the time for weekly or daily sporting or other broadcast events.

    If you do lots of corporate shows you are really an independent contractor and bill your clients direct for at least your time. Some clients let you add the travel costs (flights and ground transportation) so better point earning potential. Almost never pay for hotel on the larger shows but do get many paid days sitting backstage reading travel blogs for 12+ hours.

    The work is a blast for the most part. Meals are almost always catered so per diem can be reserved for drinking (oops I mean nice dinners) or taking home as a bonus. It’s pretty easy to work with the client to extend your stay a day or a week once the show is complete and have the time to enjoy the location. Sometimes the hotel will extend my stay at the discounted rate for the show or event. I always call to confirm my reservation and explain I want a few more days after the event. I ask if I can get the same rate and if not I look for a new hotel for a few more days. Most of the time it’s not a problem as long as rooms are available.

    Some years are 20 weeks away from home and some are 50. After a while you can begin to pick and choose the jobs and clients and have a bit more control over your yearly schedule.

    It’s either this or pushing road boxes loading in a rock and roll tour at the local arena. No thanks, even for the tour shirt.

  52. I do a lot of travel as an international IT guy. I love my job, but the travel is rarely fun. I’m in business class so I can be ready to start working when I arrive. I’m there until the problem is fixed, albeit an hour, a day or a week. I have no control over my schedule when in country and the only option I have to see anything is to trade sleep for sightseeing. I can tell you anything you want to know within a three mile radius of any international airport, but have never seen many of the tourist sites that countries are famous for.

    Most people who have jobs that require travel love it at first, but after awhile it truly does get old. Do a job you love and are passionate about. Even if the job has no travel you can afford to do it on your own.

  53. travel for business is highly overrated and hardly fun – even in international premium classes. Even in first class you do everything to maximize the sleep, there is usually no way to enjoy much of the food or the exotic (for an airplane) beverages. It´s about tight schedules, stressfull situations, if a connecting flight is missed, an airport is closed due to snow, thunderstorms or whatever, or the baggage is in Bangkok instead of Kuala Lumpur. Sure it helps if somebody really like to travel – but you´ll need a very understanding private life at home – at least when you have a private dinner date and your flight is once again delayed by two hours.

    On the other side – the very rare free hours in interesting cities are sometimes really worth it. I travel very much as a coach for football referees in Germany and Europe, so I really like my appointments in Spain, Greece, Portugal (warm countries), Iceland, Cyprus, Norway or Estonia (countries, i´d rarely see on private travel – and then there are trips to Belarus, Kasachstan or even Ukraine – not so much fun, but the game must go on…

    You have to look for a job, where you can put some dedication in. If it involves travel – fine. If not, negociate good wages, so you can afford private travel 🙂

  54. Interesting query – like everyone else has said, find what you like to do and then find the company that matches. I’ve seen all backgrounds/majors/industries have some travel to them -outside of air/hotel/etc. pretty much most companies have a travel feature – local, domestic and/or international. I have friends in Finance (MBA, Accountants, CFAs), Pharma (Clinical Scientists, Pharmacists), Publishing (writers, conference presenters) and Event Planners all of whom travel. I’ve met people who’ve worked cruise ships, private jet management and in hotels. All have traveled but depending on the company, they earn zero miles if they have corporate cards or their company pays for airfare direct. My pharma friend can only stay at Hiltons (never Starwood or even Marriott), fly connecting flights (no directs) and has a per diem which doesn’t cover room service. Whereas I work for Investments and have a lot more flexibility in choosing hotel/air and I keep my points.
    So find a job that interests you that you want to go to everyday, put your time in to work hard and see what opportunities open up to you and if they involve travel.

  55. For six years I was a tour director (no, not the person who tells you what building you’re looking at as you drive through a city), and I was assigned to work in Europe, South America and Antarctica. There’s really not that much specialized knowledge you need to become a tour director and it seems that there are more and more positions open as the market rebounds. On my off time I could use the time to visit wherever I wanted, and I could also live wherever I wanted as long as it was close-ish to an international gateway airport.

    At the height of that career I was on the road for about six months at a time, with a few non-working months off, then back on for the winter trips (Antarctica, Winter in Europe), a few more months off, and then back to the summer high season. It was lucrative, and I got to visit all of the museums and other sites of interest with the group if I wanted. Once I got my fill of the Prado and Louvre, I’d find a cafe and have a coffee, read a book, watch people go by, whatever, while my group was inside. For me, it was the best – no conference rooms and business hotels, but the sites and destinations that people chose for vacations. There are the down sides of it, too, but it was a dream job, and I’m getting back into it soon.

    I qualified for AA EXP and DL PM easily every year, and got to keep my miles. Not all tour operators are as generous as mine was, but because of frequent schedule changes they always booked us in full-fare Y which I was able to upgrade 100% of the time. I even received a few upgrades at the gate for no miles/copay on my international legs.

  56. First off, thank you Lucky for a whole post dedicated to my query. Secondly, I really wasn’t expecting more than a few words so this post and all the comments have been very insightful. What was especially poignant were the repeated comments about the grind of business travel. I originally posted this because I simply wanted to know the best way to travel more than I do now. I first flew when I was 3 days old (according to my mother) so I have had the travel bug since before I can remember. Lucky’s career is very unique and after reading his post, readers’ comments, and reflecting a bit, I believe that my goal is to travel more for leisure and take my loved ones with me. There is the trade off with accumulating miles for annoying business travel or playing the credit card miles-accrual game (which is far more risky). As long as I can slowly accumulate miles then I will eventually reach my goal. I’m in my mid-twenties now and I think my next step is to get a master’s degree and, as one reader suggested, look for a company that offers travel opportunity instead of a position made for travel. (Also, I need to look at Virtuoso’s careers page) 🙂

    Thank you all once again for responding so enthusiastically to this post.


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