I just got off of a Skype chat with a journalism class at the University of Oregon, the students of whom graduate in just a month. With the real world looming on the horizon, the panic of “what am I going to do with my life?” was palpable, even across the airwaves—and I can totally relate.
In 2015, I feel like this is a completely normal and valid train of thought. After all, the lethal combination of globalization and the Internet have created this notion that we can do anything, be anyone, go anywhere, see everything. It’s a good thing, but it can also be detrimental to focus at times. For me, the problem is often wanting to do it all—and all at once, too. Just ask SVV; he regularly has to sit me down and tell me that I simply can’t. (But like the age-old saying goes, “you have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyoncé” … so I’m going to continue to try.)
Even trickier than figuring out what you want to do with your life is navigating a career in travel in a day and age when media jobs are continuing to dwindle. The bad news is that traditional travel writing is on the decline (sorry, budding travel writers), but the good news is that there are still so many other careers you can pursue that involve traveling.
To name a few:
Copywriting. I have to say that I’ve found far more success (at least financially and volume-wise) writing copy for tourism boards and their visitors’ guides than I have for magazines in recent years. There’s simply more work to be had (and it pays better to boot). Advertorials fall under this same category. In the past, I’ve been able to utilize my extensive knowledge about destinations like Tennessee and California to pen state-funded destination guides for in-flight magazines. It’s fun, it’s lucrative, and I’m putting my expertise to good use.
Education. If the goal ultimately is to live abroad and have the ability to travel, teaching can be an excellent career path. Teaching abroad often doesn’t require any specific college degree, as long as you have the proper certifications, like TEFL, in place.
Seasonal work. Are you good with a camera? Do you enjoy diving? Were you always a shredder on the slopes? Plenty of travel bloggers I know, like my girl Alex, engage in seasonal work—whether at a dive outfitter, ski resort or other realm of hospitality—and work really hard for a few months while stockpiling travel funds, then have an equal amount of time off to wander the world.
Content creation. It’s not glossies but it’s writing—and writing on my own terms at that. I’ve absolutely loved getting to be a part of partner campaigns for Travel Mindset, as well as curate all the food and homes coverage out of Nashville for YP on my own terms.
Working for an airline. I have a number of online friends who have gone the flight attendant route and have loved every second of it. While personally, I could never handle the constant change in sleep patterns, that line of work does offer a bit of flexibility to an extent—in that you often work three days on, two off—and obviously the chance to see the world. (Just don’t apply to work for Delta and we can stay friends, mmmkay?)
Sales. For those whose aim to work in travel no matter what it takes, why not be the one selling it? This can be in the form of working as a travel agent—or “adviser” as they’re typically called—or doing ad sales for an agency that handles a number of travel accounts. In many cases, you’ll get to travel—and often—to the destinations you represent or are selling.
Working at a digital agency. Digital jobs at workplaces like Zehnder Communications allow you to delve into a destination, really get to know it and curate all the written material about the place. Case in point: My friend who is employed by Zehnder gets to simultaneously work on the South Walton and Fireball whiskey accounts (and she travels to 30A at least quarterly). Beaches and booze—where do I sign up?!
Health and wellness. I follow so many Instagrammers like Healthy Hoffy and Yoga Girl who have carved niches for themselves internationally as trainers and teachers in the fitness world. If that’s your skill set, I say go for it. Similarly, medical professionals can often find pretty sweet gigs as a traveling nurse. Too bad I can’t stomach the mere mention of blood….
Working for a travel company. It sounds obvious, right? And yet, so many people completely neglect to look into this route. My friend Vy has the awesome job of being PR manager for Contiki, a super fun and reputable tour company. Even if public relations doesn’t sound like your cup of tea—dealing with whiny journalists like myself all day long? no thanks—there are plenty of other opportunities to be had, from writing newsletters to working in SEO. If I were still in San Francisco, I’d do whatever I could to get a job at the Airbnb headquarters or maybe even apply to work at Viator. Want to move to Austin? How about HomeAway/VRBO? Expand your job search mentality is what I’m saying, kids.