Now that even the most restrictive regimes have reopened their borders for post-COVID travel, you are probably eager to start racking up some frequent flyer miles. And knowing the average ClearanceJobs reader as I do, I am sure you’re not interested in a quick excursion to Tijuana or a luxurious cruise to the Caribbean. No, you want to see the world—all of it, good and bad. You are an adventurer! Inspired by a recent Reddit thread, I decided to take a look at some of the more… interesting places in the world to travel. And if you love it there, I have great news: you can probably get jobs at most of them! The ClearanceJobs database has employers and positions all over the world. Some more exciting than others.
DUE DILIGENCE BEFORE PACKING
Before you go, you need to do your homework. You will find few more pleasurable sites to browse on the Internet than the “Travel Advisories” section of the U.S. Department of State website. The page divides every country in the world into one of four levels:
- Exercise normal precautions, which is just what it sounds like. Going to Finland? Do not get into the van with FREE CANDY spray-painted on the side. Got tickets to Canada? If you see a clown peeking from a street-side water drainage vent, do not climb inside in hopes of getting free balloon animals. But overall, you’ll be fine. Canada might kill you with kindness, but they probably won’t kill you with a serrated knife.
- Exercise increased caution. Sometimes, countries have a slight terrorism problem. Not, like, 9/11 terrorism, but the more run-of-the-mill stabbing sprees at public markets. NOT ALL THE TIME! But enough that you should probably have your AirPod Pros on transparent mode. Belgium is just such a place. Will you get stabbed? Nah. Well, the chances are unlikely, anyway. But they’re not zero.
- Reconsider travel. Look, the U.S. government isn’t going to tell you what to do (well…), but is this really the best time to go to Pakistan? Wouldn’t French Polynesia or the British Virgin Islands be a little, I don’t know, less burlap-sack-shoved-over-your-head-in-the-dead-of-nightish?
- Do not travel. Sure, Libya is nice. Its desert is sweeping and wondrous, and the Leptis Magna looks absolutely gorgeous in photos. But have you considered going somewhere a little less head-choppy?
BEFORE YOU FLY, GET PERMISSION
As a clearance holder, you, need to consider what it will look like if you make that sudden trip to Moscow (listed as Do Not Travel for reasons that must surely be obvious) without telling your security officer.
Indeed, if you work for the DoD, as we have reported previously here at ClearanceJobs, Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 3 is unambiguous on this point: if you hold a clearance, you must must report foreign travel before traveling overseas. This includes contractors!
You will also have to hand over a travel itinerary. (If you plan to see something, say something.™) (Yes, I am very proud of that one.) Make some time on your calendar before you go, too, because you can expect to get a pre-departure security briefing.
That briefing will tell you all about the potential security violations that might occur. The attractive person asking questions about your job? Please tell someone. Or worse, did you let slip that you know the launch codes? That could be a problem. In fact, you should probably report every single interaction you have with foreigners (including friends and family).
WATCH YOUR STEP
OK, you told your security officer about your travel plans and got your briefing. You know the rules of the road. Let’s talk a little about your itinerary.
Let’s say Switzerland just is not your speed. I mean, sure the Matterhorn is nice, but they have that at Disneyland. And you can get their watches, cheese, and army knives just about anywhere. No, you are a person who needs a little adrenaline in their two weeks of paid vacation per year. The sort of adrenaline that can only be found in beautiful Burma!
The State Department wants you to know that by going to Burma, you will be exposed to civil unrest and armed conflict. How much civil unrest? So much that no one even knows the name of the country for sure. Is it Burma or is it Myanmar? That just depends on whether you recognize the legitimacy of the current government. The State Department and CIA use “Burma,” as do the oppressed political and ethnic groups there, but the ruling military government uses Myanmar. Choose wisely.
And right away, before even visiting, the State Department advises you to “Make contingency plans to leave.” So, unrest? Check. But the thing the State Department really wants you to be aware of are landmines.
Landmines! That’s a problem you won’t find at Mount Rushmore I assure you.
Among the official advice the United States government offers for anyone looking to visit the country: “Do not touch unknown metal objects” and “avoid traveling off well-used roads, tracks, and paths due to risk of unexploded ordnance.”
YOU LIKE TO LIVE DANGEROUSLY
If landmines aren’t your speed, but “crime, terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict” are, then let me tell you about a little place called Sudan. It also has a real problem with carjackings and armed robbery, but if you want that, there’s always New Orleans. The plane tickets are more affordable and we have better food.
If things go bad for you in Sudan (and let’s face it, you’re in Sudan—they will probably go bad for you), you’d better have a Plan B, and it it had better be a good one. As the State Department advises: “Have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance.” It’s not that they don’t want to help, exactly, it’s just that we have almost no presence outside of the city of Khartoum, and even there, we aren’t exactly favorites of the Sudanese. The U.S. Embassy “requires U.S. government personnel in Sudan to use armored vehicles for official travel.”
OK, but what about South Sudan? Believe it or not, the situation is even worse. “Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.”
Even if you do that, yeah, the State Department is basically guaranteeing that you will get kidnapped, advising you to establish a “proof of life protocol with your loved ones, so that if you are taken hostage, your loved ones can know specific questions (and answers) to ask the hostage-takers to be sure that you are alive (and to rule out a hoax).”
But don’t worry. They probably won’t need protocol for long, which is why you should “Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.” That is, to identify your remains.
Sounds good? Then why not get a job there. Because, yes, we have job listings there.
YOU’RE GOING TO NEED A PET SITTER. PERMANENTLY
Here is what the State Department has to say about traveling to Somalia: Don’t. Among the issues you can expect to encounter: “crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health issues, kidnapping, and piracy.” They don’t even bother mentioning the sharks, but… well, there are sharks. Among the things it advises you to do before traveling to Somalia (and these are direct quotes): “Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries” and “Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.”
Just as with Sudan, travelers are advised to “sure to appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers.”
So there’s that. But if that sounds exciting to you, I have great news: There are jobs waiting for you in Somalia. Are you in?
DOWN AND OUT IN DPRK
In all those cases, at least if things go south, you can always count on at least a little help from Uncle Sam. It might take some time, and you might have your fingernails pried off while you wait… but they will help you. (Probably.)
One place where you’re on your own? North Korea.
First of all, you aren’t allowed to go there. “All U.S. passports are invalid for travel to, in, or through the DPRK unless specially validated for such travel under the authority of the Secretary of State.” And unless you are an aid working in an extraordinary circumstance, or a super spy, the secretary isn’t granting you anything. Even if you showed up at the border, the North Koreans would not let you in. Well, not without handcuffing you first.
Once they lock you in a gulag—and they will lock you in a gulag (at best)—don’t expect the U.S. to lose a lot of sleep over the matter. The U.S. government “does not have diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea,” the State Department warns, “and is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Korea.”
If you are looking for a good travel policy, here you go. North Korea: Not even once.
(And no, for once—and maybe the only time!—we have no job listings for North Korea in the database. You’re welcome.)