Continuing on with our series of interviews of current working travelers, I recently found Eric. He has been working and traveling since 1986, beginning in the army and working his way around the world. Originally from the USA, Eric has most of his travel experience in Latin America, but has been to all 7 continents and many countries.
Eric used to work as a Paramedic/Security Consultant for Global Rescue. While there he did several medical and security evacuations around the world, including post earthquake Haiti.
By way of background, Eric is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Officer. During twenty or so years in the military he traveled all over the world, but with most of his experience in Latin America. Eric was a Latin American Foreign Area Officer and spent the majority of his career working and living in that area.
After retirement, he worked as a security constant for several news media outlets, traveling around the world with them following the news cycle, spending most of the year outside of the country. Currently he is working as an Operations Director for an international security firm, coordinating mostly corporate and personal security operations around the world. This has him traveling quite a bit, but not as much as in the past.
The nice guy that he is, Eric was happy to answer a few questions about his travels as well as advice on how you can get a rewarding career in the international security field.
My career started off as a U.S. Army officer. Fresh out of ROTC in 1986 I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry. After three years of that, I tried out and was selected to train as a Special Forces (Green Beret) officer. The interesting travel really began at that point as I was deployed all over Latin America on various assignments. At one point I was selected for the Army Foreign Area Officer program, which was the Army's attempt to grow regional experts. I was sent back to language school for Spanish, then to Graduate School for Latin American Studies. I spent the next 10-12 years in and out of every country in Latin America, working various projects for the Department of Defense.
When I retired from the military in 2006 I worked as a security contractor for various organizations, to include the news media, which had me traveling throughout the Middle East following the news, as well as Haiti (post-earthquake) and a few other places.
Since then I've worked as a paramedic for several organizations, and a Director of Operations for an international security firm. All of that has afforded me ample opportunity to travel as well. I've been back to Haiti as a paramedic several times, and worked on the reality TV show, The Amazing Race.
At the height of my traveling I found that I was gone from home more that 300 days in a year. This was the nature of my military career, and it took its toll on my personal life. While working for the media I traveled for six weeks, and then had six weeks off back home. I found this to be a bit more reasonable.
Currently I make several short trips in the name of business, and about as many personal trips. I'm normally gone about 10-12 days a month.
I have two valid U.S. passports with added pages in both, and normally burn through one in about five-seven years. I've been to every continent on the globe for one reason or another. In terms of regions, I've been to every country in Latin America more times than I can account for. I'm well-traveled in the Middle East, and a bit in Europe. I've been to a smattering of places in Asia and Africa, as well as Antarctica and Australia.
Because I've traveled under several different roles, the time that I've had to actually enjoy and explore a given place is really dependent. As a Foreign Area Officer with the military I was encouraged to explore and learn about the the area in which I was in.
When working with the media it differed. In the Middle East I was based there, but had little opportunity to walk around the streets because of the risk of being shot or blown-up. Nonetheless, I did travel around a lot more than the average Westerner did.
When working medically as a paramedic I normally have ample opportunity to go out and see things. The problem is that long days of treating patients often leaves you too tired to go out and explore much.
The Amazing Race was special in its own right. I remember running through Sidney Harbor chasing contestants and looking to my right to see the famous Opera House. I snapped a photo quickly with my BlackBerry and emailed it to my girlfriend as I was running dodging tourists.
When I was a young Captain in Special Forces my battalion commander (my boss) came down to Panama to visit me and see how things were going. We sat together one evening in a dusty, local bar and quietly chatted over more than a few bottles of beer. He told me stories of places that he'd been, and things that he had done, all in the name of Queen and Country. At the end of the evening after soaking up several beers and stories, I told him that he should write a book of his adventures, as I found them fascinating. He looked at me, smiling he exclaimed, " I would, but I don't want my mother finding out what I have done". As I've reached the age of my old battalion commander, I've found the wisdom in that statement :)
The advantages to a life of travel are numerous, and vary person to person. For example, I've probably seen more than my fair share of human suffering. Is this an advantage or just the opposite? I think it depends.
The military showed me just how deep I could go into a culture or a location to fully understand it. At one point my Spanish was so good that I could imitate a taxi driver from Puerto Rico or a college professor from Buenos Aires. I knew the history, economics, culture, literature, etc... of a region. All of which you need to fully comprehend its sense of humor.
The media taught me to look at human tragedy for varying perspectives, to remain distant. Medicine, just the opposite; how to embrace and understand the same suffering.
I got a very healthy education in travel security; to the point where I currently teach other travelers to remain safe in various areas of the globe.
The world is too amazing not to share.
Resources for Travel Jobs Abroad
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