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The good, the bad and the insane – what’s having a career in travel actually like?


Here’s a little burst of realism (with a big dose of optimism) about a career in travel. Have a read to prepare yourself for an adventure of a lifetime. I’m sharing this with you because it’s what I would have liked to hear before I started my career in travel (as a flight attendant).

Its not always glamorous- but don’t we need some stories to tell too?

Trip managers. Basking in the summer sun, margarita in hand, toes in the sand, and a whole lot of crazy planned. Sounds amazing, right? Stalking a trip manager’s Instagram is almost torture for those that suffer from FOMO. The fun is seeping through your screen, and you can hardly believe their luck. Free travel, loads of fun, and a salary to go with it! How about cabin crew, gliding through the airports, slick with Chanel make-up and perfectly coiffed hair? You can just see that they are headed to some exotic destination to lay their head on a five-star hotel pillow before having the adventure of a lifetime. Some people have all the luck, right?  And that’s why you want to get in on this whole career travel too.

There’s also a not-so-glam side to this. You become responsible for people, and that includes cleaning up their mess. Both emotionally, and physically. You have to control drama, chaos, and, in both scenarios above, a decent amount of puke.

The beauty of indecent chaos and less-than-glamorous moments, is that they make the best stories. I will never stop recounting the time I walked into an unlocked bathroom while a man was shaving his ball-sack on a flight to Bangladesh. It was pretty gross at the time, but man, did I get a story to tell!  I won’t get into detail here, but let’s just say there was red hair dye involved.

It can be lonely- but loneliness could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you.

It’s always tough to leave your loved ones behind and pursue your new jet-setting career. In the first few weeks that you leave, you will feel so desperately lonely that you will think you made a mistake and want to go home. Don’t. Once your internet is set up, and you’ve made just one decent friend, you’ll be fine.  Trust me, it’s worth it. When you aren’t in your comfort zone with people you know, you’re forced to interact with new, interesting people. It makes you more interesting too. The friends you make in travel (out of initial desperation) tend to become your family, meaning loneliness can be more amazing than you ever imagined.

travel solo

People will try put you off – but you determine your experience. Not them.

There will always be at least one person that will try put you off a career in travel. 99 out of 100 times, that person will never have experienced it themselves. If they are the 1 out of 100 that had a really shitty experience, you have to ask why. People tend to project their own negative situations, but always bear in mind that your perspective is what will determine your experience. Not just in travel, but in any job. Don’t let another person put you off what could be your dream job. If somebody has a legit complaint, like your recruiting company being shady, do your due diligence and check it out, but don’t let anybody taint your experience with theirs.


You will get tired- but wasn’t it great getting there?

Working in travel can be exhausting. Looking after other people on their travels is tough work, mentally and physically. I remember a shift from Dubai to Houston. The flight alone was 17 hours long. As the galley operator, I worked physically hard. Changing containers, sticking ovens onto carts, preparing all the service items needed… I took photos of children, made small talk with insomniacs, and wore myself out in every way possible. At the end of it all, I had some compliments from passengers, an incredible layover in Houston, and met the love of my life (it was The Cheesecake Factory, if you’re curious. That was the love of my life.) Being tired was worth the reward, and a lot of the time, being tired is the scorecard of all the fun you’ve had leading up to your Big Sleep. It will happen, but it’s not the end of the world. Think of all the amazing adventures that got you there, or the amazing experiences you will gain from it.

A woman exploring travel photos on a wall.

You will want to give up – but don’t

This is a hard truth that you will have to come to terms with. Being tired and living a ‘fast life’ definitely takes its toll on your emotions. The tiniest gripe could become the biggest issue in your life, and suddenly everything will seem achy and painy and difficult. Feeling like this from time to time is totally normal, and others in the same position as you feel the same way! Always examine where your pain is coming from, and if you are able to ride out the storm. Staying healthy and fit are super important to keep your mental well-being strong. Sounds a bit preachy? Try it and see. It changed my world.

My life as cabin crew was beautiful, messy, precious, insane, and priceless. I wouldn’t trade ANY of my experiences, even the awkward, strange ones. Remember, kid, you are stronger than you could possibly imagine, and the world is yours for the taking. So take it.