Ever dreamed of having a career that would allow you to travel the world — and get paid for it? The annual Women’s Travel Fest is an event that gathers the best and brightest in the travel business, women who have forged careers that pay them to explore. I caught up with a handful of these women, from writers to executives, and found out their tips for how to create your dream travel job. And guess what? These women make it sound pretty easy.
If you want to have a career in travel, the first step is to start traveling and see where your passions are: if it’s writing, if it’s blogging, editing, photography. Or you can just travel and pick up jobs on the road in hospitality, as I have done in the past. I always recommend — especially to younger travelers, those under 30 — a working holiday visa, which gives you the ability to work for a year in countries like New Zealand or Australia. It’s a great way of creating income while you’re on the road. I actually worked for a company that did Lord of the Rings tours in New Zealand — it was so funny. People would come up to me speaking Elvish. It was the best job ever.
Nneya Richards, founder of the blog, ‘N A Perfect World, fashion stylist and travel blogger who has written for publications like Vogue and Pop Sugar
Invest in yourself and your dreams and your passions. Whether it’s getting a new camera, using your iPhone, getting a selfie stick or getting the tools that you need to build and produce content. If it’s writing, if it’s videography, whatever you’re passionate about. And invest in travel because at first, you’re not going to get paid to go someplace. My first travel writing job was because I had been going to Mexico and I wrote about it for an outlet and one thing led to another. But for the first few articles, I wrote about what I knew because I had paid for those trips.
Alyssa Ramos, full-time travel blogger, social media influencer and founder of My Life’s a Movie. Read about Alyssa: “How This Woman Went From Broke To Traveling Full-Time (And Making Lots Of Money).”
My top tip: You need to be really really passionate about what you do, what you want to do and making it a career. You need to be business savvy. You need to really know the ins and outs of the industry and keep up with all of the trends. And you have to be able to make yourself known and stand out among all the people who are trying to have a career in travel right now. I say this to everyone: Dreams don’t work unless you do. And I say that because you need to be willing to work hard to be in this industry, especially with how fast times are changing and trends are changing.
Gillian Morris, founder and CEO of Hitlist, an app that helps you travel more for less. Read Gillian’s packing tips: “Confessions Of A Packing Expert: 9 Business Travel Hacks.”
There are so many amazing career paths to go down, but a lot of people think: “Oh, I’ll become a travel agent.” However, there are plenty of industries that will take you traveling that you wouldn’t necessarily come up with off the bat. Study-abroad programs for schools, for example, have staffers that go out and vet things in advance and set up the programs. Obviously, the State Department or doing civil service is an amazing way to see the world. I have a lot of friends who have gone that route. And it’s not just the Foreign Service, where you have to take a very rigorous test; a lot of times you can sign up as a contractor, if you have skills. Obviously, speaking another language is a huge plus, so I would recommend trying to immerse yourself in other languages, if you want to expand your horizons. The easiest way to get abroad is teaching English and pretty much everyone in the world is trying to learn English, so even if you don’t have the certifications, you can usually land on the ground and find a job teaching or tutoring English.
Juliana Broste, travel host, filmmaker and founder of TravelingJules.com
Travel is an incredibly amazing space. I believe in just doing it. It’s something you can think about, something you can dream about, but it’s really not real until you do it. I create travel videos, so I travel the world and capture my experiences, document them on camera and share them with the world. Now it’s easier than ever to tell your own stories. We’ve got iPhones. We’ve got GoPros. Small point and shoot cameras. DSLRs! So get out, take your camera with you everywhere you go and just capture those experiences.
Erica Virvo, director of global operations at Nomadic Matt and budget travel lover who has been exploring the world for 10 years
Go to meet-ups and tell people you want a job in travel. Applying for jobs is hard. I applied to about 100 jobs online and I don’t think I got one response. I went to one meet-up and met my boss — he gave me a job on the spot. It’s all about who you’re being, it’s not about what your resume is, because there are so many people with the same skills. It’s also about meeting someone and jiving with them. And tell everyone you want a job. That’s the number one mistake some people make: They don’t tell anyone they’re looking for a job.
Marcia DeSanctis, author of The New York Times Best Seller, 100 places in France Every Woman Should Go
I think a career in travel is possible for any woman in the world, and I think it’s a question of finding what you love to do out on the road. Are you interested in humanitarian work? Are you interested in food? Are you interested in cultural things like dance and ballet and theatre in other countries? If you can find a way to do that — to follow what you want to do and either write about it or get involved with it, or work for it, it’s like anything in life: It’s about your passion. And it’s better to have a focused way to have a life in travel because otherwise you’re just getting on planes and spending money. It’s nice to know that you have a point to all your trips, especially a point that matters to you.
Julia Pond, head of editorial content at Skyscanner
First of all, I’d say: Talk to people. Talk to people who are already doing it. Understand what they’re doing right, and figure out what part of the industry resonates with you, because travel is not just getting paid to travel the world. You can be an editor, you can be a writer, you can be making videos, you can be doing any number of things. Try to understand a little more about what part of the industry you want to get involved in. Then find people who are already doing what you want to do and reach out to them.
Lavinia Spalding, author of Writing Away: a Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler, and the editor of The Best Women’s Travel Writing series. Watch Lavinia’s TED Talk on pursuing a career in travel: “9 TED Talks That Will Inspire You To Quit Your Job And Travel For A Career.”
I think that if you want to have a travel career, you just put yourself out in the world and you make it happen. For me, I moved to Korea to become an ESL teacher, and that’s where I became a travel writer. I never set out to become a travel writer, but being in an interesting place turned me into one. I know a lot of people who were also in Korea being English teachers who now have import/export businesses or run hotels there. Put yourself where you want to be in the world and start a business there.
Tami Fairweather, marketing communicator, consultant, connection enthusiast and event media manager for the Adventure Travel Trade Association
Authenticity and networking are vital. There are so many of us travelers who love traveling, and we love it because it feeds our soul. And we connect with each other that way: You meet another traveler and you immediately know they’re your soul sister. There are so many people who are writing who have a full-time job during the day, but they have a blog at night or might be doing tours on the side. Know a country really well and decide to run a tour there. Networking is important. Go to conferences like this and trade shows and listen to other travelers and meet people. You never know what’s going to come of it. It’s all about knowing people, following that passion and — pop! — you’re in the travel industry.
For other ways to create the job of your travel dreams, check out “Vermont Wants To Pay You $10,000 To Move There And Work.”