Post Graduation Travel


USMMA co' 2028
Oct 2, 2023
Hello all,

I’m part of the USMMA class of 2028, and I’m planning to major in Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management. I have a dream of traveling the world and am seeking advice on how to balance a demanding maritime career with my personal travel goals. While I know that traveling as part of working in the maritime industry is common, I’m particularly interested in working shoreside and traveling on my own time and at my own expense. I’m also curious about how the service obligations after graduating from the academy might affect these plans. Has anyone here managed to successfully balance a shoreside career with independent travel? Any tips or experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
If you are an engineer, there are plenty of jobs at sea, so it might be difficult to get a waiver for working shoreside right out of school. There is no way to predict accurately who will be in charge of MARAD and how strict their waiver policies will be by the time you graduate. If you get the right fit in an offshore position, you can have more time and money to travel during your vacation time. My DSIL has a four month on-four month off rotation. When he visits ports during work time, he scouts out different countries for vacation possibilities. Sometimes he just wants to vacation somewhere landlocked. Last year he went to Antarctica while working and had lots of free time to see as many penguins as he wanted. Another destination crossed off his bucket list while getting paid.
Do what I did. Join a Union like MEBA( Marine engineers union) and you can jump on a ship based on its destinations. ie I wanted to surf in Bali so I got on a ship that was heading there. You're off for months at a time with more money in your pockets than all your friends and if you're single you're pretty much on your own to get your travelling bug remedied. As an engineer your looking to make anwhere between $18-24K/ month depending who you're sailing with. You're in for a treat kid. The hard part is getting through the gauntlet of the next 4 years at the Zoo. Good luck. Your time off will give you plenty of time to schedule your 2week Navy reserve committment
If travel is important to you than a shoreside job right out of school likely won't support that.

Service Obligation: If you are IRR than it's only two weeks a year and most employers have a separate leave category for that so its a non issue. If you are SELRES it is your weekends so that reduced travel opportunities by 25%.

Job Obligation: Expect just 2-4 weeks of vacation per year (likely 2 at the beginning) so travel all you want within those 2-4 weeks.

Sailing will give you the best combination of time and money to travel.

My tip is spend the first five years of your career sailing and travelling your heart out then settle down to a shore side career. The sailing experience will serve two purposes in giving you the time/money to travel as you want and give you a stronger maritime experience for your demanding shoreside career.
I never really worried about it. Going to sea had lots of travel and that was enough. I would take trips on my time off where I was interested in going. Overall, kind of low priority when I was young. My work "ashore" has taken me more places than most go to over the past 30+ years. Interestingly my daughter, who is NOT a mariner travels extensively on her own nickel (Antartica earlier this year, Italy next week). When I asked her why she didn't get a job where she travels, she told me that then she couldn't go where she wanted to. . . she has seen what many of the places I go to for work are llike. . . .