Photo by the author
PEOPLE OPPOSE THE IDEA for many different reasons. However, if you believe that the humanitarian and international aid efforts are genuine – then you may want to consider it as an alternative to the cubicle life of most people you know.
The U.S. Navy hires people for a wide range of positions. Photographers, mechanics, dentists, barbers, electricians, and many other jobs exist in the Navy. Unless you pick your job with the goal of getting into the middle of the fight (Navy SEALS ), then you probably won’t be anywhere near it.
The information below comes from my seven years in the United States Navy, but the lifestyle will apply to other navies around the world.
Where Can I Go?
In the Navy you can request to serve in a variety of locations. I know many sailors that lived in Italy, Britain, Hawaii, Spain, or Japan. While I didn’t live overseas, I moved up and down the east and west coasts of the United States – experiencing a variety of cities and getting paid for moving expenses each time.
A naval ship will take you to many parts of the world. Deployment doesn’t mean that you are necessarily going to war. The United States sends ships all over the globe. It doesn’t concentrate them all in the hot spots. My first deployment was a slow trip around the Pacific Ocean, stopping at major port cities along the way.
On deployment, I regularly visited Japan, Guam, Australia, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Other common port visits include Bahrain, Mumbai, Hawaii, Thailand, Alaska, South Korea and many more.
Sailors earn 30 days of vacation each year. This is much more than the average U.S. citizen. Of course, working for the government means there are extra rules you must follow. When requesting your vacation, you must tell your superiors where you are going.
If you want to go to a country that the United States isn’t friendly with, then you will have to answer extra questions and fill out more paperwork. This will, of course, decrease your odds of going.
Another perk is the availability of military flights. If you don’t need to keep a strict schedule, this can be a great way to fly free. After signing up, you will be placed on a standby space-available list. More information about this can be found at MilitaryHops.
What Is The Downside?
Don’t ignore the physical danger you are in by being a member of the armed forces. Events like the USS Cole bombing do happen. However, most sailors never experience anything like that. Being on a ship a hundred miles off the coast of an enemy country is very different than slinging a rifle on the front line.
When you are on a naval ship, you won’t be the one picking the next port . You just try to enjoy wherever you end up. The only way to affect this is to choose your assignments wisely. When I joined I had already traveled much of Europe, but little of Asia. So, I requested to be assigned to a ship on the west coast. This made it more likely that my ship would visit Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore.
Navy travel can feel constrained. Your ship will make rules about where you can go, often limiting you to the closest big city. I have visited Japan more times than I can remember, but I have only been to one city. The karaoke bars in Sasebo get old real fast.
The U.S. Navy has a buddy system. So, find a buddy that has a compatible travel attitude. Otherwise, if everyone else plans to get wasted at the nearest bar, then that is where you are going. Being caught out on your own can get you in trouble with your superiors. Of course, being used to solo travel before I joined, I usually just risked it. On my way back to the ship, I would join up with the drunks and help them get across the quarterdeck and to their racks.
The Navy Isn’t For Everyone.
For many reasons, military service has been growing less popular in recent years. However, if you are looking for an escape from the cubicle, then you might want to consider the Navy. It can be a great way to collect a steady paycheck while traveling the world.