15 Ways to Reinvent Yourself Abroad

Dreaming of an escape from your everyday life? Here are careers abroad to satisfy the wanderlust in you.

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Become a Grape Picker

The Perks: Where would you rather be standing right now: under those fluorescent lights, or in the natural sunlight of a French vineyard? 


The Challenges: Low pay. But my guess? The wine is free.


Resources: Try picking jobs or WWOOF


Become a Professional Scuba Diving Instructor Abroad

The Perks: Why stay on land? Get your feet wet as a professional scuba diving instructor. Explore tropical reefs everywhere. Just watch out for the sharks.


The Challenges: Requires certification, which can be expensive.


Resources: Divewise


Talk to Your Own Company First

The Perks: You can escape from your less ambitious colleagues. If your company has overseas offices, ask for a transfer. They'll handle the hassle of a work permit for you.


The Challenges: Sometimes that assignment for one year turns into six. But who's counting?


Resources: Start with your human resources department


Become a Volunteer

The Perks: How many of us struggle to feel we're making a difference in this world? Sometimes writing a check doesn't cut it. 


The Challenges: Are you prepared emotionally? "There are so many children in poverty-stricken nations who may never know the loving touch of a mother's hand," said Suzanne M. Garber, COO of International SOS Assistance, Inc., who volunteered at orphanages in Brazil, South Africa and India with Global Action. 


Resources: Global Action, International Executive Service Corps

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Suzanne M Garber

Become an International Aid Worker

The Perks: You will see first-hand the difference you can make in a person's life. Make that lots of people's lives. Because when disaster strikes you'll be there, doing what you can to aid with recovery and rehabilitation.


The Challenges: Intensely challenging situations.


Resources: Red Cross, AidWorkers Network


Start a New Company

The Perks: Take your entrepreneurial spirit abroad. Work for yourself and enjoy your freedom.


The Challenges: It's risky. "Whatever you want to do, talk to as many people as possible first," said Anne Griffin, who exports handmade pottery from Bulgaria to the U.S. with Bulgarian Pottery and Gifts. "If you are really passionate about something, you will be amazed at how many people are willing to help you along the way."


Resources: Transitions Abroad

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anne Griffin

Become a Tour Guide

The Perks: Got a knack for facts, and love talking to people? As a tour guide, you can satisfy your wanderlust, while eating at great restaurants and exploring amazing sights.


The Challenges: Ever seen what grumpy tourists look like at the airport?


Resources: GoAbroad.com


Teach English

The Perks: As an English teacher, you can yap all day for a good cause. Share your culture and language with the world. "I was able to meet some wonderful people who are still friends after being back in the States for over 10 years," said Therese Gibbons, owner of Alora Ambiance, who taught English in Italy.


The Challenges: Cutural blunders. Your accent and mistakes are just as funny to them.


Resources: Teach Away, WorldTeach


Become a House Sitter

The Perks: Live and sleep like a local--for free.


The Challenges: No pay. But what's your realtor's mantra? Location, location, location.


Resources: House Carers or Mind My House


Become a Translator

The Perks: It's dreamy to think of: Your office is the local coffee shop. In Paris. 


The Challenges: Landing your first job. "Find a specialized field that you like and learn that vocabulary," said Karen Lundquist, who worked for years as a freelance translator in Italy. "Market yourself as an expert in that field."


Resources: Language Jobs, Go Translators

Photo Credit: Andrea Matone

Work on a Cruise Ship

The Perks: Ever since Fantasy Island, cruise ships seem like a happy place to be. Work as a bartender as you sail across the Atlantic. You'll be off duty and free to explore when you reach your next port.


"Nearly every morning you wake up ready for a new adventure in another location with no packing or unpacking!" said Lisa Niver Rajna, a travel writer for We Said Go Travel, who worked as a Senior Assistant Cruise Director on Renaissance Cruises.


The Challenges: You won't make as much as you do on land, but your room and board are free.


Resources: Carnival, Princess Cruises, Renaissance Cruises

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lisa Niver Rajna

Join the Foreign Service

The Perks: Do the honorable thing: Become a diplomat, and serve your country abroad. Uncle Sam pays for your salary as well as your housing, while you improve and enrich the lives of our neighbors.


The Challenges: This job ain't for the faint hearted. "Some of these posts are in difficult and even dangerous environments."


Resources: U.S. Department of State


Transfer Your Skills Abroad

The Perks: With specialized skills, like that of a nurse or an engineer, you're in demand. Who doesn't like to feel needed?


The Challenges: The legwork in obtaining a job to get you the work permit.


Resources: Transitions Abroad, Monster


Freelance Travel Writing and Blogging

The Perks: Visit places you've always wanted to explore on somebody else's dime, and then share your adventures with your readers.


The Challenges: Establishing yourself. "Start a travel blog, and add new content at least two or three times a week," said Nancy Mueller, author of Work Worldwide: International Career Strategies for the Adventurous Job Seeker, whose travel assignment sent her to the Galapagos Island. 


Resources: The Travel Writing Portal, MediaBistro

Photo Credit: John Mueller

Join the Peace Corps

The Perks: Ask not what your country can do for you. As a Peace Corps volunteer, you'll make small changes in villages that lead to a greater good. Jill Brennick landed in Albania for two years, where she helped introduce the Women in Development program.


The Challenges: Many, if you're not flexible. But that's how you grow, right?


Resources: Peace Corps

Related: The Stories of Six Real Women Who Reinvented Themselves Abroad

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jill Brennick

First Published October 5, 2011

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