Lonely Planet Writer

Wonderings: is it time to find your dream job in travel?

Illustration of a traveller looking out of a train window at a lake with mountains and forest in the background © Joe Davis / Lonely Planet Wonderings: rambles through and reflections on travel... this month, James Kay reviews a year rich with opportunity for the cash-strapped traveller © Joe Davis / Lonely Planet

Netflix. Coffee. Alcohol. Carbs. Sex. Before you leap to any conclusions, this is not a summary of my weekend. It’s what a group of millennials said they’d give up for the chance to travel the world for free.

Lonely Planet’s co-founder, Tony Wheeler, once opined that the hardest part of travelling was making that initial, at-the-cliff-edge decision to go. But for the respondents in this survey, the hardest part seemed to be stumping up funds.

Embracing modern-day monasticism is one way of solving the problem, I suppose, but a review of this year’s travel news stories suggests an alternative approach that doesn’t involve quite so much self-denial: working abroad.

Better than harvesting kumquats

I hear you groan. But before you move on, I’m not talking about teaching English or being an au pair or mixing Mai Tais or harvesting kumquats, good though those gigs can be; I’m talking about dream jobs, which crop up with surprising regularity.

According to my sums, these fantasy roles appeared at a rate of more than one a month in 2018; with any luck, next year will throw up just as many gilt-edged opportunities for the footloose and fancy-free.

Sceptical? I would be. But consider the following vacancies, all of them from the last 12 months:

* A travel agency sought four daydreamers to watch the world go by from the comfort of their beach chairs for a fortnight of extreme, yet well-paid, idleness in Stockholm, Sweden. Applicants needed to demonstrate a matchless ability to do sweet FA.

* A price comparison site recruited an adventurous retiree to jet off on a senior gap year, an all-expenses-paid trip around the world designed to fill in the blanks on their bucket list.

* The US was a happy hunting ground for dream jobseekers. What could possibly be better than trousering $10,000 to travel the States taking photos? How about being paid the same sum for troughing your way across that great nation in search of its best barbecue?

A plate of toast spread with Nutella and a clementine Think you could handle two days a week taste-testing Nutella? #niceworkifyoucangetit © P. Langen / Getty Images

* In Italy, meanwhile, the makers of Ferrero Rocher – still the ambassador’s go-to snack – really spoiled us by seeking 60 (yes, 60) people to become taste-testers of Nutella in Piedmont (which Lonely Planet recently named the best region in the world to visit in 2019).

* If drink trumped food in your hierarchy of needs, there was a chance to become an ambassador for Bombay Sapphire instead. The mission? Go on a globe-trotting, gin-guzzling bender, following (unsteadily) in the footsteps of fictional explorer Phileas Fogg.

* Looking for something more sober? The Bahama’s Baha Mar resort wanted a qualified bird nerd to look after its flamboyance of flamingoes, while billionaire Richard Branson’s Necker Island was searching for a new paper shuffler.

Hope springs eternal

* The Caribbean wasn’t the only option for a would-be castaway, though: a posh resort in the Maldives wanted a ‘barefoot bookseller’ to stalk the sand, while ailurophiles must have been purring with pleasure at the thought of caring for 55 cats on the Greek island of Syros.

* If decamping to a desert island didn’t satisfy your stringent definition of getting away from it all, there was still one outstanding off-the-beaten-track opportunity for those with enough flying hours: a job as a pilot for the secret airline that flies in and out of Area 51 (you know, where the US government keep the aliens).

* Finally, Santa couldn’t get enough little helpers in Finnish Lapland, which launched a recruitment drive for elves, reindeer wranglers and aurora chasers. Provided you’re not left cold by the thought of temperatures as low as -50C, where better to seek the spirit of Christmas?

What can we conclude from all this? That hope springs eternal when it comes to travel opportunities, I think. So, friend, if your lengthy list of new year’s resolutions features the seemingly incompatible injunctions to ‘travel more’ but ‘spend less’, don’t despair.

Giving up all the good things in life – okay, Netflix, coffee, alcohol, carbs and sex don’t constitute a complete list, but they're close enough – isn’t the only option open to you; keeping an eye out for your dream job in 2019 might be a better tactic.