How to Work in the Travel Industry

Posted on March 11, 2011 by

Bitten by the travel bug and want to make travel your lifestyle? Or are you fresh out of college, ready to explore the world one inch at a time? Whether your dream is to travel for a living or simply build a new life abroad, you can work at making the dream come true.  I’ve received many questions from readers and friends about how I made travel my lifestyle. Since going into travel writing, I’ve never been happier. If you’re as crazy about travel as I am, then you might like to check out these possible jobs that can allow you to wander the world.

Travel Writer/Photographer

Let’s face it, it’s everyone’s dream job to be a travel writer or photographer. It’s not easy to get but it’s also not impossible. To begin with, you can first set up your own blog to showcase your work. It’s best to take a writing/photography course to help you lay down the groundwork and have basic knowledge in the field. From there, you can research on possible outlets and perhaps start working for free. It doesn’t happen overnight but when once you get your first paid gig, it’s much easier to go from there. I’d highly recommend checking out Matador U and VIVA Travel Writing Bootcamp (which I attended and it landed me a gig as a guidebook author).

Flickr photo by Ben Stephenson

Travel PR

If your vocation is public relations, then veering into travel PR will be an easy option to unleash the wanderlust in you. PR professionals working with tourism boards, hotel chains or cruise companies tend to travel frequently on press trips (i.e. fully sponsored trips). Qualifications to work in travel PR vary, but generally you will need an education in either public relations, communications or business management. There are numerous PR agencies out there that work with clients in the travel industry, make your pitch and see where life takes you.

Hospitality Jobs

Working in hotels or resorts would be an excellent way to relocate abroad. Start by looking into large-scale resorts and five-star hotels in popular tourist destinations such as the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula, Spain and Thailand. These jobs usually don’t require much qualifications, although you can gain an edge over others by attending hospitality management schools.  Some all-inclusive resorts also tend to hire animators or entertainment staff who are basically involved in daily entertainment programs in the hotel. These jobs allow you to live abroad, explore and experience a totally different culture and environment.

Flight Attendant

Another practical option to lead a jetsetting lifestyle, working as a flight attendant will definitely give you the chance to see more of the world and rub shoulders with seasoned travelers. Most airlines usually require just a high school diploma and some experience in customer service. Requirements tend to vary from one airline to another, although most of them focus on your general physique (weight and height), etiquette and the way you present yourself. Check out the airline websites to apply online.

Cruise Ship Jobs

For the young graduates or gap year students, cruise ship jobs might just be right up your alley. They give you the chance to cruise from one port to another, have some leisure time to explore when off work and learn a thing or two about tourism. But as you can imagine, the cruise industry is competitive and to stand a chance to work on a cruise, you’ll need to display plenty of potential. One way to give yourself an edge over others is to have some experience in customer service, retail or the F&B industry. Speaking more than one language would also put you at an advantage. Some good places to look for cruise ship jobs would be the classifieds and cruise ship websites.

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

14 Responses to “How to Work in the Travel Industry”

  1. Sabrina March 11, 2011 6:39 am #

    Great post! I would add scuba, surf, snowboard, or ski instructor :) Or really any kind of instructor people could want on vacation.

  2. Graham March 11, 2011 7:59 am #

    I guess if you want lower level jobs where you travel around a lot these are options, but real jobs in the travel industry are a LOT of work. Try 13 hour days, weekends, middle of the night. Flying to other countries for conferences, sounds fun? 8 hours of conference, 5 hours of work to catch up on what you missed back in the office, sleep, repeat.

    I have managed a lot of people who thought they were doing to be having some awesome time in the travel industry, the usually lasted 2 months. My suggestion- do what you are passionate about.

  3. Serena March 11, 2011 10:55 pm #

    Nice post! i'm new in this amazing world and i have everything to learn! :) thanks for sharing!

  4. BlueGreen Kirk March 11, 2011 11:04 pm #

    Those are all great suggestions! This is my first time to the site and I and loving it. Many of the jobs though dont look like they pay much is that the give take for traveling?

  5. Ted Nelson March 11, 2011 11:18 pm #

    Some great tips for getting started. Teaching is also a good job to do. You can either teach overseas or teach in the states and travel during the summer.

  6. Donna Gulec March 11, 2011 11:22 pm #

    Great article & great photos. Learned a lot.

  7. baconismagic March 13, 2011 2:17 am #

    Nellie I have been reading you all along and did not know you wrote guide books

    • Nellie March 17, 2011 5:36 am #

      Yeh I contributed a few chapters of Viva Travel Guide Guatemala. I got the gig after attending a writing workshop with Viva, check that out if you are interested. ;)

  8. Anthony March 13, 2011 12:15 pm #

    All these jobs sound so enticing. We are currently researching to work on huge supernyachts off the coast of Southern France. Not sure if it will work out. But is sounds exciting!

  9. Jacinda G April 1, 2011 2:26 pm #

    This is a great post. All of those jobs sound like they would be so exciting.

    I am currently a college junior majoring in PR, so after reading this I may consider Travel PR as one of my options. I never really thought about traveling as one of my options.

  10. Jessica April 8, 2011 10:41 pm #

    I have to agree with Graham. These jobs sound awesome, but they are tons of work. I spent several years as a cruise ship photographer, and although it was lots of fun it was also lot of work. Try 18 hour days, no breaks, no overtime, no reprieve from the screaming children. Pay is terrible, and travel is, well, if you call a few hours in a cruise ship port travel, you might have other issues to deal with.

    My vote is to find something you love and then find a way to do it remotely. Any type of job that can be done via the internet can be done almost anywhere in the world. And if you do it right you can work less on the road and actually spend some time seeing your destination.

    Also- if you really want a cruise ship job, don't apply to the ship directly. Look for vendor companies. Usually spas, gift shop, casino and photogs are all hired by independent companies.

    • Nellie April 12, 2011 9:56 pm #

      Thanks Jessica for such valuable feedback! It\’s good to hear from someone who has actually worked on a cruise ship before. I agree, these jobs are tons of work and are more suitable for young travelers who are fresh out of college. Like you said, the best way is to do something you love and find a way to do it remotely. I\’m doing just that, writing for U.S. and Asian publications from wherever I am. It\’s a great way to lead a nomadic life and make a living.

  11. Sabina August 31, 2011 1:27 am #

    Nellie, this is a really helpful post. I've heard that travel agents can have pretty nice travel lifestyles too. Maybe they fall into the PR category. If not, a career as a travel agent would be something else for people to consider.

  12. Beanster October 10, 2011 11:51 pm #

    For many front-line hospitality jobs, it is *required* to have a degree, diploma or certificate in hotel or hospitality management. The vast majority of four- and five-star hotels in Canada, as well as many one-, two, and three-star hotels, prefer that qualification unless you are working as a housekeeper, doorperson, lifeguard or valet. Perhaps hiring requirements are stricter here, but even my managers would not even bother interviewing someone for even a hostess position without formal training!

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