Maybe it’s you who’s on the move — or maybe you’re helping others get there or enjoy the journey. Either way, opportunities are out there.
“A lot of us love to travel, and we fantasize about how to make it part of our work life,” says Kathryn Saxer, a Seattle-based career coach.
If that sounds like you, one of the first questions Saxer says to ask yourself is: Are you interested in the travel industry itself or in work that involves travel?
For example, those with a bachelor’s degree and interest in working abroad might earn a certificate in Teaching English to Students of Other Languages, one route to teaching English overseas.
“With almost 2 billion people using and learning English worldwide, the international job market is strong and wide open,” says Rachael St. Clair, program director at Seattle Central College’s continuing education department, which offers a TESOL program. China, Spain, Nicaragua, South Korea, Vietnam and the Czech Republic are among the countries where teachers are in demand, she notes.
“Our students come from many different backgrounds, including career-changers and recent college grads,” St. Clair says.
At North Seattle College, students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international business complete an international internship; students have traveled to China, Vietnam and Peru to do so.
“Graduates have used their bachelor’s degree in international business to pursue various careers that include international travel,” says Jesse Cooley, North Seattle College’s bachelor of applied science programs director.
Examples include collaborating on freight forwarding with an international team in India; traveling throughout Asia to recruit international students to attend college in the U.S.; and sojourning to Ethiopia to purchase coffee products, as an import/export entrepreneur, Cooley says.
Traveling on the job
Of course, some people actually love the entire process of travel, from doorstep to destination. Job fits might be in careers such as flight attendant, cruise-ship employee and travel agent.
Office employees at Seattle-based UnCruise Adventures receive a free cruise for two after the first year of employment. Those who work onboard one of UnCruise’s vessels get to enjoy daily life in Alaska, Mexico, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Panama, although the schedule can be intense — seven days a week, for six weeks at a time.
After such a shift, employees are offered two weeks off and a flight stipend to go home … or anywhere else. The break “gives time to recharge,” says Monique LaFollette, UnCruise’s human resources director.
Ideal candidates are reliable, have a love of travel, work well with people from different backgrounds and have the flexibility to work seasonally. Most deck-job applicants come from the maritime industry, according to UnCruise.
For hotel and galley department positions, “experience working in a fine-dining restaurant is an ideal background for shifting from land to sea,” says Holly McPhail, recruiting manager for UnCruise. Expedition, wilderness training and interpretive backgrounds are a bonus, too.
Helping others go places
Due to DIY travel planning, some might consider the travel-agency business long gone. But luxury travel agencies are thriving and growing, as up to one-third of affluent Americans plan to turn to travel advisers, and a growing number of everyday travelers now work with advisers, according to travel and hospitality marketing firm MMGY.
Virtuoso, an international luxury and experiential travel network, has operated in Seattle for more than two decades. Two-thirds of Virtuoso travel agencies worldwide are looking to add new advisers in the next year, according to a company survey. More than 80 percent offer advisers both business and personal travel opportunities, and more than half of advisers earn more than $75,000 annually — one in three earns six figures.
Seattle-based Kelly Bonewitz worked as an interior designer until her first child was born. Once she was ready to return to work, she reconsidered her career options. Growing up in Australia, she’d been to Europe and America for months at a time, accompanying her family as her father traveled for business. As an adult, she loved travel and planning vacations.
Based on Bonewitz’s globetrotting savvy, a travel agency hired her. She took a five-day course on the Sabre software used for looking up airfares and hotels, and was soon working in a dream career, planning vacations as an agent for Woodside Travel, affiliated with Virtuoso.
“I love the research, planning a whole trip within a budget, and I love the people I work with,” she says, describing the clients as adventurous.
When trying to determine if there’s a travel job for you, Saxer says, “talk with people who do one or the other, or both, and get a sense of which seems more intellectually interesting and appealing.”