If you were to Google “how to travel the world," the articles and resources you see first might give you the impression you have to quit your job to do it. But guess what? You definitely don’t have to quit your job in order to travel the world. You can get a job that pays you to travel. I know because I’ve done it.
For more than 12 years, I traveled in my job as a tourism marketer for America’s largest department store retailer.
My career allowed me to travel regularly across the United States and internationally to places like New Zealand, China, India, Brazil, Australia, Belgium, France, Argentina, and Switzerland on work assignments.
Instead of trying to figure out ways to fit travel into a certain number of vacation days, hating the fact that you’re unable to quit your job or “escape the cubicle,” figure out ways to make the world your office. Make travel part of your day-to-day.
So, how do you become a successful tourism professional who gets paid to travel around the world?
It’s not a matter of chance. Working in this industry has taught me a few secrets, and I want to share them with you. I hope these will take you several steps closer to making your dreams a reality.
1. You don't have to have experience.
You don’t have to have industry-specific experience, background, or skills to get a job in the travel industry, or to develop a successful career. While every job is different, and the demand for prior experience is dependent on the type of work, most industry employers believe in hiring for attitude and fit, then training for skills.
When I graduated from college, I worked at a publishing company, then in marketing for a company that programs music and produces music-related content for TV.
I didn’t initially see the travel industry as a career option for me. I had no experience in or knowledge of it. It wasn’t until I pursued my passion for travel and researched career paths (Google has an answer for everything) that I was able to determine that my skill set (project management and marketing) was relevant to every industry. I then mastered the ability to communicate my skills to people in travel. A few other job opportunities that allow you to get paid to travel? Education, attractions, management, loss prevention, and management. But that's just the start.
This is a dynamic industry, where individuals of all backgrounds can find their niche. Jobs and careers tend to be fluid. If you have a background in the arts, humanities, finance, or science, you can find a place here. You don't need to pigeonhole yourself into a career in that makes you unhappy.
Gone are the days when you have to keep one job for the majority of your life. Those who get jobs are those who can sell themselves and have functional, transferable skills.
2. You don't have to have a degree.
You don’t have to go back to school and get an advanced certificate or degree to succeed in the travel industry.
Most positions don’t require a university degree. There are many routes to learning, and depending on the specific career path you choose, you can enter the industry and even achieve a management position through on-the-job training or an apprenticeship program.
Most industry leaders want to hire professionals who are trainable. Since they train their employees to respond to the needs of their organization, they want people who can learn new skills quickly and put them into action immediately.
A graduate degree can enhance your career and, in some cases, help you move more quickly into supervisory and management positions. But by no means is it a requirement. Often, it isn't even the first thing employers look for. Many organizations and employment recruiters are happy with a general undergraduate degree. Few job advertisements stipulate a graduate degree.
3. You don't have to work at a hotel, airline, or travel agency.
Opportunities in travel are extremely diverse. The nature of responsibilities can vary from working on a beach to developing marketing strategies for an international organization to preparing gourmet meals. The travel industry offers something for everyone, with varying degrees of responsibility, from entry-level and management to executive, with great opportunities for lucrative career growth.
Careers in travel are much more diverse than what you find in the obvious places. They range from accountancy, architecture, engineering, consulting, sales, and marketing, to web design, attractions, development, food service, health care, entertainment, transportation, and service positions of all kinds.
Many travel occupations involve working with the public. There are, however, numerous jobs behind the scenes where employees or professionals have little or no direct contact with guests or tourists but might have to deal with clients or vendors instead. These types of positions include research, sales, marketing, planning, or technology.
You can have a lifelong career or a part-time summer job. If you’re seriously considering a career in the travel industry, the first step is to get really specific and narrow down your existing interests, skills, and experience to a desired career path in this industry. The number one barrier to breaking into the tourism industry is not knowing what kind of work you want to do and what type of career paths exist in this industry overall.
When you figure out what you want to do it becomes a lot easier to know how you are going to do it. Best of luck!