Do you want a travel job? If so you’ve seen the usual list of jobs that require travel: flight attendant, cruise ship employee, traveling nurse, photographer, and so on.
But what about other career paths?
There’s probably more options than you think. Business travel jobs run the range from a couple short trips every quarter to traveling almost constantly. And in my experience, jobs that require heavy travel tend to pay more.
To give you some ideas, here are some travel jobs I’ve done, along with a few held by my friends or other people I’ve met.
1. Software Architect
This job was my first foray into business travel. I worked in the office most of the time with the rest of our R&D team. A few times a year I traveled to customer sites to talk about the product architecture and do the occasional demonstration. My sons were still in school and I had no interest in doing any heavy business travel. In this position I traveled to Brussels, Amsterdam, Fargo, Puerto Rico, Buffalo, and more. How often? About 4-6 times a year.
2. Regional Territory Rep/Engineer/Manager/Technician
How much a regional person travels depends on the region size. I have a Sales Engineer friend who works with customers just in the greater Dallas area. One of my brother-in-laws is a regional manager for a big box store and has a three state region (including Alaska) — he flies to some stores and drives to others. With regional jobs there’s a higher chance of driving instead of flying, to at least some of your customers.
3. Product Manager
The Product Managers in my current company travel about 30% of the time. Most trips are to our R&D facilities in India, Israel, and Texas. There’s also trips to conferences and to the occasional customer. My brother was a Product Manager for a while and traveled to China 2-3 times a year, but was usually home the rest of the time.
4. Traveling Specialty Construction Worker
Lest you think travel is just for sales or engineers, let’s talk construction. Every once in a while I sit next to someone in the skilled trades, flying to a job site. Workers with jobs at the Alaskan North Slope fly home every so many weeks. Others are flying to a dam, power plant, or specialty building site of some sort. Most construction workers I’ve met seem to fly home every week or so.
When my Master Electrician husband retires he plans to work on-call for an electrical Testing Laboratory. Testing labs send teams to do on-site equipment inspections on an as needed basis.
5. Sales Engineer, National Territory
This is what I do today. Our team of six engineers handles all pre-sales conversations in North America for our product. We travel about 50% of the time and our schedules are very fluid. I may go more than a month without traveling, and then may be gone every week for another month. It all depends on the customers’ needs. I can usually count on a slow period in early January and early July, but the rest of the year is anyone’s guess.
This is a great job for someone who can be flexible, as my travel schedule changes weekly (sometimes daily!). When not on the road I work from a home office.
Consultants nearly always travel. A lot. I was in IBM’s consulting arm for a while and had the typical 5/4/3 schedule. What’s a 5/4/3? Five days committed to the customer, four days onsite, and three nights in hotel.
In this life I flew out Sunday afternoon or first thing Monday morning, and flew home late Thursday evening. I worked Friday from my home office. I rarely had more than a week between contracts, and my contracts were usually between 6 weeks and 9 months.
At the other end of the spectrum I know some consultants who go to a new customer every couple weeks. For example my company’s Services arm will help customers install and configure their newly purchased software…hardly a long-term engagement.
7. Subject Matter Expert
Now for the extreme side: one of my friends is on the road more than 45 weeks a year for both national and international customers. She’s gone so much that she gave up her Manhattan apartment to move closer to the airport.
My friend an expert in her field, and is called on to deliver half-day workshops , help plan large implementations, work with existing customers to acquire references, and is generally her company’s go-to person to make sure customers and projects move forward successfully. Another member of her team regularly flies between Isreal, Europe, North America and Asia to help customers needing his particular expertise.
I hope this list gave you some ideas. My best recommendation is to go to to a site like CareerBuilder.com and put the word “travel 50%” in the search keywords. Here’s an example of searching for a travel job for a construction worker — it returned 38 jobs.
Try a search in your career field. How did it turn out? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear!
Note to self:
Healthy travel is often about the little things. Like lubricating eye drops!
Case in point: two weeks I was in Newport Beach for a customer project and working really long days. You know, those 14+ hour days we all try not to have…. That Wednesday night I crashed into bed exhausted, without removing my makeup first.
Not one of my brighter moves.
Thursday morning I woke up with a sore, red eye. A clump of mascara had worked itself into my eye and scratched my cornea.
Fortunately I carry liquid tears in my travel kit. Eye drops didn’t heal the scratch but at least they made the pain more bearable. I used my Refresh eye drops religiously every couple hours during the day and Refresh P.M. Ointment each night. My eye finally feels better, but it took a full week.
You’d expect me to have eye drops if I wore contacts or had allergies, but I don’t.
Good eye drops are a travel essential for any frequent flyer.
My eyes get tired and gritty feeling from the dry air on planes — I started carrying eye lubricant a couple years ago to banish the sandpaper feeling after flights. Drops are in my travel kit to combat travel dehydration.
Setting aside injuries like last week’s scratch, it’s important to keep our eyes hydrated when traveling. I posted two years ago about dry eyes, and the importance of drinking enough water on travel days. I started paying attention to my water intake, and use eye drops before bed most nights. My eyes feel so much better!
If you need eye drops for your travel kit I recommend the Refresh or Systane brands. My friend Jean swears by Systane, and I understand many doctors recommend it too. I personally use Refresh; my eyes don’t feel the same relief with other brands. Try a couple brands and see what works best for you — what really matters is that you choose a brand formulated to provide moisture to the eyes.