Does the dream job of travelling, adventures and action sports really exist?And what’s the best adventure travel job? We take a look at the top 25 action sport career options, to help you land that dream role.
For us adventure junkies an ordinary life and normal job are just not an option. Fortunately there are many ways you can combine your passion with the outdoors, extreme sports and travelling with work.
What’s the best adventure travel job?
From writers to white water guides, ski instructors to sponsored athlete and blogger to explorer there are many options. These days jobs that include adventure travel and action sports are more common than ever before.
So if you want to dump the nine-to-five, to cease to being a desk jockey and to get outdoors being adventurous then you can follow your passion. But what’s the best adventure travel job?
This is a really hard question to answer. Ask ten people and you are likely to get ten different replies. The reality is that everyone has different interests, talents and a different definition of adventure.
I personally am an adventure travel writer, but to a skydive instructor all that time sat writing might seem a bit dull. Likewise the skydive instructor job doesn’t involve enough travel or variety for my liking.
Top 25 action sport career options
So take a read of the below adventure sport careers. We can’t guarantee a job offer but hopefully we can inspire you to dump the mundane nine-to-five, and to live the dream.
What’s the best adventure travel job? Probably one of those below:
Adventure travel writing jobs
I will start with what I know! Being an adventure travel writer is an amazing job. I get sent to destinations all over the world, to everperience the best adventures in return for an honest write up of the trip.
To make matters even better I specialise in a few of my passions. So I spend the winter snowboarding, the summer mountain biking. I also fit in some surfing, SUP, wakeboarding, hiking and try new activities all the time.
Most trips are all expenses paid and I am usually shown around by a local. As a writer you are wined and dined, shown the best restaurants, bars and tourist attractions. Activities are paid for and guides provided so you experience the best a destination offers.
Furthermore, I sometimes get to take my family with me. We have done everything from camping in Devon to a Christmas adventure in Lapland. Added to this everything from snowboards to clothing and tents to bikes are provided for me to review.
If all that sounds too good to be true then you need to understand the drawbacks. First of all it doesn’t pay very well. While most of my hobbies are free and travel is covered, in terms of income you don’t get paid a lot to write. In fact you often don’t get paid at all.
How you make money from travel writing is the challenge. Which is why there are many different careers that fall under the umbrella of becoming an adventure travel writer.
Only really the national papers and big names magazines pay enough to make this really worth your while. And the competition is aggressively fierce. Established freelancers take the lions share of paid gigs and you need a lot of experience before you will be considered.
Unfortunately lots of unpaid work is usually how you get the experience. But once you have worked for someone unpaid it’s difficult to then get them to pay for your next article. Also many major titles consider the free trip you are going on to be your ‘payment’.
There are jobs at publications like Rough Guides and Lonely Planet, within newspapers travel sections and at mags such as National Geographic Traveller. But they are not the easiest jobs to land. A degree in journalism helps, or masses of writing and travel experience.
It’s worth noting you will usually have a normal nine-to-five job for much of the time. Plus the adventure travel you get to experience will be what your bosses want you to cover rather than what you wish to do. Often staff writers have to take annual leave to go on press trips.
If you want the freedom to do the trips you wish and don’t mind sacrificing a regular salary then blogging can make money. I say ‘can’ because most of those that do it don’t make a living from it.
It’s all about driving enough traffic that brands and travel companies are willing to pay to advertise or sponsor your site. This takes a lot of time and effort. So while you can do it from anywhere in the world, you still need to spend a sizable amount of time at a computer.
The world of influencers has grown massively in the last few years. Essentially it is using a large following to influence people to buy things. In the adventure sphere you could promote everything from hiking boots to hang gliders, surf boards to skis, and destinations to tour operators.
Much of it is done through social media, so you don’t require your own website. But you need a large and relevant following before companies will pay you to promote them. It sounds easy but for every successful influencer there are thousands that don’t make it.
Action sport career: Guide or instructor
If you have a passion for a particular activity then becoming an instructor or guide is a great option. Once trained up you will be spending every day taking people out doing something you love.
However, training usually takes a sizable investment in both time and money. Often the work is very seasonal, however many instructors teach more than one sport, eg snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking in the summer.
When you are first qualified you will probably have to start at the bottom. This means spending a lot of time with beginners – which won’t be as exciting. But as you become more experienced you’ll land more interesting roles.
In many sports guiding is a different and more advanced qualification than instructing. Having met many action sport guides it seems like one of the top action sport career options to me.
Some are based in one location most of the time. But many guides run trips all over the world. They travel, get paid for it and do something they love. Check out a few of the exciting guide and instructor careers below.
Skiing and snowboarding
A great option for anyone who dreams of doing endless ski seasons without working in the hospitality industry. The required qualifications vary around the world, but unsurprisingly you need to be able to ski or snowboard to a very good level.
Once qualified the winter world is your oyster! Many guides and instructors in European resorts earn good money doing something they love. You could even do an endless winter by teaching southern hemisphere skiing once the northern hemisphere season ends.
Have a passion for throwing yourself off things? Like scrabbling up cliffs? Enjoy wild-swimming in and around sea caves? This could be the job for you. Coasteering has taken the UK by storm and is growing all over the world.
You’ll need to take a course with the British Coasteering Federation, but that in itself will be filled with frenzied fun. Combining accessibility to almost anyone with high-adrenalin fun it’s one of the fastest growing types of extreme sport. And a good to set up your own adventure business.
Fancy cruising the turquoise waters of the Greek Islands? Or perhaps the crystalline seas of the Caribbean? Abandon the misery of a land-lubber’s life for a career on the water. You’ll need to take the coastal skipper course from the RYA.
It’s an idealistic life if you can get it, but it’s not a walk in the park. It’s one thing learning to sail. But to qualify as an all singing all dancing skipper in charge of your own vessel takes plenty of time and money.
A two-wheeled tour is one of the best ways to experience a destination. Not only can you enjoy the thrill of riding mountainous terrain but you can travel the world doing it. As action sport career options go MTB is up there with the best.
You could guide a small group across Tanzania’s Usambara Mountains or coast-to-coast in Costa Rica. Or you could live in the Alps and teach skiing in the winter followed by biking in the summer.
White water rafting
White water rafting is popular as an activity day but also for expeditions. Become a guide and you could lead tours all over the world, or set up shop in one spot.
Traversing a river’s mighty torrent takes you far beyond civilisation. Almost anyone can try rafting making it an exhilarating thrill that is very accessible and with a broad reach.
If you can’t get enough of exploring life beneath the waves, you should pursue a career in diving. As with many of the above action sport career options there is a lot of time and money involved in the training.
But unlike many of the other activities you don’t need to be hugely adventurous, verty talented or in peak physical condition – although it helps. Becoming a dive instructor is more about practice than raw ability so almost anyone can do it. My sister is a prime example of this!
Other adventure sport instruction jobs
Pretty much every activity has instructors. If you want to live the beach life become a surf, kiteboard or windsurf instructor. Enjoy time in the wilderness then lead guided treks.
From climbing to kayaking to canyoning, hang gliding to horse riding to hydrospeeding and snowmobiling to skydiving to skateboarding. Whatever activity you like you can make a career out of it.
All holiday destinations need plenty of hospitality staff. Restaurants, bars, hotels and shops don’t run themselves so there are many opportunities to work in a location that is good for activities you like.
But if you want to work overseas make sure you have the right visa. For example, if from outside the EU you should successfully obtain Italian citizenship or work permit before you start looking for a job in Italy.
In some ways the best of the hospitality roles – in others the worst. It takes a certain type of person to work in a bar serving people having fun. You will work late but will get most of the day off to surf, snowboard, bike or climb.
Generally it is not very well paid work. However you can make extra from tips and saving on nights out. As long as you treat it like a job rather than a lifestyle you’ll still get plenty of time to do the activity of your choice.
Unfortunately most restaurants are open for lunch as well as dinner – some even open for breakfast. This means you won’t get time to ski, kite, dive or hike every day.
However, restaurants generally have more sociable hours and more structured time off than bars. So you will normally work shifts and get at least one or two days off a week to get adventurous.
As with bar work it takes a certain type of person to be a chef. The hours are often long, the work is hard but all the chefs I know enjoy it. They get paid well and can usually get work wherever they go.
There is lots of variety too. You could do the cooking on an adventure cruise, work as a villa chef at a beach that’s good for surfing or cook for chalet guests in a ski resort. Time off will depend on opening times, but the chefs I know get time to do the activities they love.
Host (chalet, villa, boat etc)
Hosting accommodation enables you to stay for free in a destination offering the activities you want to do. Most common is a chalet host in ski resorts. You could also be a host at a beach villa or on a boat.
Being a host is hard work. You’ll clean, cook guests breakfast, afternoon snacks and a three course evening meal, plus act as a rep. You get free accommodation and food but are not paid very well. There is some free time, but usually you only have one full day off a week.
Travel industry jobs
What’s the best adventure travel job? For many people it is a career within the travel industry. There are a variety of options ranging from mainly desk bound to an almost always away.
Product manager for tour operator
Tour operators need to know exactly what they’re offering. How can they sell a holiday with little knowledge about the actual experience?
The job of a product manager is to design the itinerary for demanding travellers. While you won’t be travelling day in day out, there’s usually lots of trips to test out the latest adventure holidays, to pick hotels or try activities.
Overland tour guide or driver
The majority of overland operators employ permanent guides to run their tours. On most of these trips there will be two staff members, both need to be able to do a bit of everything including driving a large vehicle long distances in difficult terrain.
It is a tough job as you’ll have a group of people to keep happy and safe. A lot of the time it is fun, but things go wrong and people get inured or fall ill so you need to be responsible. On the plus side you can travel all the time, earn money and have all your accommodation and food paid for.
All the big tour operators have a rep in resort and this is no different for their activity holidays. Go on a ski holiday with Crystal, Inghams, Neilson or Mark Warner and you’ll be met by a young and enthusiastic member of their team. Same goes for the summer holidays.
These reps are there to answer your questions, help you out if you have problems and to ensure the smooth running of the holiday. Most get one day off a week plus a few hours free each day. It is low paid and hard work but a lot of fun.
TV and Video work
The days of Judith Chalmers sinking into the couch on Wish You Were Here? are long gone. Yet the opportunities for TV and video work are more diverse than ever. And if you are into your adventure sports this gives you plenty of opportunities.
Every channel from the BBC and ITV to Discovery and National Geographic have adventure travel features. Most are hosted by celebrities (however minor!), so it is a very difficult job to land.
You will need to start at the bottom and work your way up – or get a lucky break. But if you make it you can become rich and famous whilst doing possibly the best adventure travel job there is.
One of the top action sport career options if you want to get on TV is to start vlogging. A vlog is a video blog, often hosted on YouTube, that features you and your adventures.
As with written blogging you get to do what you want, film the way you wish and be location independent. All this means you can travel the world having one adventure after another. All great fun, but the tough thing is making money from it.
Action sport videographer or photographer
Have an eye for photography or how to get that unique shot but don’t want to be in front of the camera? There is work available filming other people doing crazy stuff.
Whether it is shooting snowboard videos, kitesurfing films, climbing movies or documenting an expedition you will be part of the adventure. Also tourists like to get good photos and videos of them to show off on social media. So you could work in resort and sell your services to holiday makers.
What’s the best adventure travel job? Probably being a professional at your activity of choice. This final section covers the action sport careers that require a good amount of talent, dedication and luck.
Pro athlete: Competition
OK so you might not be the next Shaun White or Kelly Slater. But there are many less well known action sports athletes who make a living in their sport of choice. They travel doing something they love – easily one of the best action sport career options!
If you are good enough to qualify for the competition then you will probably start picking up sponsorship deals and/or funding. Once on the circuit you can earn winnings and the better you perform the more sponsors will want to work with you.
Pro athlete: Ambassador
This often crosses over with the competition pros. For example Red Bull athlete Travis Rice started out as a competition snowboarder. But these days he mainly makes incredibly cool snowboard movies. He is an ambassador for a range of brands and makes a tidy living doing what he loves.
But you don’t have to be one of the best in the world to tap into this. Take a look at the influencers above. You don’t have to be the best to become a ‘star’ and land big sponsorship deals. You can do this by reaching a lot of people which helps to promote companies you work with.
Ok, so becoming the next Sir Ranulph Fiennes is unlikely! But while tourists are invading most corners of the world, final frontiers remain. There are numerous places, from jungle to desert, cave to mountain and ocean to lakes that are still barely touched by man.
If you’re the first one to write about it or take a photograph, that’s exploration. Furthermore, you can be an explorer by doing something different. For example, the first to SUP the Nile, climb a mountain a particular way or walk the length of the Amazon.
Best adventure sport career
We set about this article asking ‘What’s the best adventure travel job?’. Well the answer is it depends on a lot of things. What are your interests and talents, do you want to settle in one place to do specific activities or would you rather travel around doing different things?
The truth is if you want to have a life of adventure there are more than enough action sport career options to choose from. You can combine a range of the roles above to create a way of life that keeps you happy. A world of adventure awaits!
We hope you found the top 25 action sport career options inspiring. What’s the best adventure travel job in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out our range of adventure sports holidays.