Over the years I have received messages from viewers and readers asking me how to become a professional traveler. In response, here are my tips that I wish someone had given me when I was starting out.
First of all, there are so many ways you can work within the travel industry. Don’t just focus on becoming a travel blogger who is essentially a mobile entrepreneur and small business owner. Choosing this path is a very distinct lifestyle decision that one should make deliberately. It requires an entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to forgo benefits of working inside a company.
If you are already enticed by travel blogging but you don’t have the ability to travel right now, begin locally. Start behaving like a traveler in your own city and create a blog about your local adventures. Blogging is not easy. It takes commitment, trial and error, networking, and social media skills. When you are starting out it can feel like a real uphill battle if you intend for your blog to become successful enough to support you. Expect to put in long hours over a sustained period of time before things take off. A wonderful resource to become a travel blogger is the online school called Travel Blog Success, run by a friend of mine.
If you are interested in working in travel, but you want to take a more traditional route, first explore the travel industry in your home town. It is a similar tactic to that of starting a travel blog. Work at a local tourism board, travel industry marketing firm, or travel company. Start aggressively going to travel industry conferences because it is at those conferences where you will make the most contacts and find the most meaningful opportunities.
For a brief and simplified overview, part of the travel industry is made up of tourism boards and visitor bureaus whose job it is to attract domestic and international travelers. And there are many tiers of these organizations from country-level, to state-level, to cities, and regions. Destinations worldwide have domestic offices and offices based in other countries. If you live in a hub city like New York or LA, pick a destination for which you have passion and consider a career promoting it!
For example, Brand USA is tasked with bringing international travelers to the US. Visit California promotes all travel to the state. And Discover Los Angeles attracts visitors to the city. Some of these organizations also hire PR firms to help aid in their endeavors. Similarly, countries across Europe have tourism offices located in regional areas throughout the US to attract travelers in those areas to their countries.
PR and marketing firms for hotels, tour companies, and restaurants are similar to the above, as they are all about attracting the masses.
Alternatively, you can work for organizations (profit or non-profit) that run tours or packaged trips around the world. You could start out as a tour guide and move up the ranks. You could also pursue a career as a travel journalist, writing for publications about travel experiences. And don’t forget there are the many online booking companies from Expedia to Airbnb. A field position with a company like these allowing you to travel and develop inventory might be of interest.
On many blogs and sites, I see individuals suggesting being an au pair or teaching English in another country. I think those can be attractive jobs to do early on, but as your career and priorities evolve the former options might suit you more as you mature.
When we are starting out, it all seems very daunting and confusing. But the most important thing to remember is that many other people have done all of this before you. And seeking advice from those who inspire you is the fastest way forward.
To that end, find meet-ups and conferences for travel industry professionals near you. A very popular meet-up group in the industry is Travel Massive. And here they provide a great list of conferences you may want to attend.
I hope this was helpful! If so, let me know in the comments section below and please share with anyone you think would benefit from reading this. Also, if there are any travel industry professionals out there, I’d love to hear your take or any advice you can share with my readers!
You can also see some of my articles, videos, and travel inspiration on the Expedia Viewfinder blog – an example of a way to work with travel companies and travel for your career!
**Photo cred: Flytographer, London