How to Get an Adventure Travel Job – Six Places to Start

So, you’ve decided to take the step into a more adventurous life. Bravo! You’ve downloaded and read your FREE copy of  The Live Adventurously Manifesto and the 8 Principles to Live Adventurously and drank the Kool-Aid. If not, look to the right of the page, they’re right here for you.  You’ve found what resonates for you and makes your soul sing. Fantastic!

You’ve decided to start with an adventure travel job. Now What?

Remember Principle #2 from 8 Principles?  Not Knowing is Never a Reason for Not Doing?  To get you started “knowing”  below are six ways to begin.

1. Are you hanging out in the right places?

If you want to know what’s going on in the adventure world, get involved in the adventure world. If you want to find the opportunities, you need to immerse yourself in the circles. You can start by looking into groups or clubs in your area and go to meetings and events. Or check out your local outdoor retail stores for upcoming speakers. Then start talking to people who attend and see what they are doing. Let it be known you are looking for an adventure job. But be genuine. Don’t go into it with the sole purpose of finding a job. Meet new friends and become more adventurous in your own community.

hospitality job

hang out with like minded people, wildlife watching in Yellowstone

Or get involved on line, especially if you live in a small town or don’t have access to these kinds of opportunities. Find bloggers, like us, who have tribes of people doing what you want to do and start commenting and getting to know people on a virtual basis. You never know what will come up.

Adventurers are often serial. What I mean by that is that while we go from one adventure to another, adventurers are often “multi-sport”. While someone may work for a cruise line during the summer time, they may be a ski instructor during the winter season. So often one person can turn you on to other “adventurous pursuits”. Adventurers love adventure in almost any form. The guy you meet at the local bike shop customer appreciate night, might easily be an avid fly fisherman or have summited all the fourteeners in Colorado. Be interested in learning about people and you’ll find doors open up in the adventure world.

2. It’s all Who You Know

Have you heard that all of your life? Well, it’s because it’s true. Think hard through your list of friends and contacts and who might be able to help you with an introduction into the adventure industry. Don’t be afraid to approach and ask for help. We’ve all been in this situation before.

Don’t, however, ask people you don’t know for recommendations. It puts someone on the spot. And it puts their reputation on the line. If they don’t know anything about you it’s not fair to ask them to do this. However, you might ask them what’s the best way to get to the right people for a job. Or, by all means ask them for their advice. They may decide at some point to recommend you for a job but that should be their call.

3. Have a Skill

Often, people mistakenly think that anyone can get an adventure travel job. All you have to do is “be good with people”. And while having people skills is essential for many travel jobs, you need more on your resume than that.

cruise ship job

Meet Dan, a cruise ship Photographer in Italy

Like any job, you need to have a marketable skill. Think outside the box on how you can use the skills you have. Let’s say you are an accountant. You might think, well, how do you have an “adventure job” as a CPA? Here’s an example. Every cruise ship in the world has to have someone who handles all the money, right? Every ship has a Purser and the big ships have several. You’ll be using your skill while the world sails past your window. Not a bad job. Plus the Purser is the one who handles all the officials who come on board and “clearing” the ship through immigration in each port. There are a lot of cool things that Pursers on ships do besides count the money.

Are you a teacher? Great, you know how to talk in front of people and help them to understand. Think you could be a guide on a whale watching tour? Absolutely, you have the necessary skills to be able to communicate with an audience and probably a passion for learning. Now, just go and teach yourself everything you can about whales. Trust me, they would rather have someone who can talk and be with people and can learn about the subject rather than a PhD on Whales who is afraid of a microphone. (oh, but if you tend towards seasickness..try something else!)

So put your CV together, use who you know, who you’ve met, any other connections you have and get it out there. Then…

4. Be Persistent

Adventure Travel Jobs have high turnover. This doesn’t mean that people are quitting left and right or being fired. There are many legitimate reasons people need to leave the road and in this industry you can’t always give a thirty day notice. Let’s say a tour director running a tour falls and breaks their leg. The company would probably need a replacement at a moment’s notice. In a conventional job, the person would have a cast put on and come to work on crutches. This doesn’t always work for a job on the road. So keeping your name at the front of the recruiter’s brain is key and when they need someone with your skill, they will immediately think of you….or perhaps you’ll already be on the phone.

travel careers

Be persistent to get the job you want

Our Story- One day, Ridlon and I compared notes on how we got our adventure travel jobs working at Club Med. We found our stories to be identical. We both interviewed and received letters saying they wanted to hire us but that there were no openings for our particular positions at the moment but to sit tight. We both waited a couple of weeks and then started calling. Ridlon called one Tuesday and the recruiter said, “Oh, wait a minute. Yep, I need a sailing instructor in the Dominican Republic on Saturday. Can you go?” I did the same, calling on a Wednesday and they said, “Oh, Scuba Instructor? Yes, we could use you in the Turks and Caicos on Saturday. I’ll send over a plane ticket”. Just like that, because we were persistent our CV’s didn’t sit in a stack on the bottom of the pile. They knew who we were and gave us the nod. This is different from the recruiting process in a more conventional job.

5. Be Willing to Take Stepping Stones

Like any other job, you need to prove yourself and your abilities to move up. Be willing to take stepping stones to your ultimate goal. If you are a chef, don’t take a job cleaning under the stove, but don’t expect to be head chef in an instant either. Like every other industry, there are some ladders to be climbed.

However, also think about what your goals are. Sometimes, in adventure travel, we can promote ourselves right out of what we love to do. For example, I have friends who work in the Shore Excursion office on a big cruise ship. They (as a couple) are routinely offered the promotion to run the Shore Excursion Dept. but keep declining. The Department head sits in the office and figures out how to get more people to book excursions and writes reports and deals with the complaints. My friends, as part of the Shore Ex staff, make less money but spend every day on the tours with the guests seeing amazing places, the reason they wanted to work on a ship in the first place. Decide your goal for your adventure job.

6. Be Ready

Taking off to work on the road with an adventure travel job means you’ll have to figure out how to handle your other responsibilities while you are gone. If you apply to hit the road to the Peace Corps for two years, you’ve got to have plans in place for what to do with your residence and your current job. Did you agree to be the best man in a wedding in two months? You’ll need to think about that. How will you work your finances? Paying bills? Are you in a relationship? Will you work together or split up for a time?

This isn’t meant to overwhelm you and can all be handled. But if the Peace Corps says, Can you be in Africa in two weeks, you need to be able to say YES, of course!

And we are here to help with all of this. You’ll find numerous posts throughout on the practicalities of life on the road.  Thoughts?  Reply in the comments below!

Do you already have an adventure job?  Tell us about it.

To Your Adventures!





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2 Responses to How to Get an Adventure Travel Job – Six Places to Start

  1. Chris May 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Great article with practical advice. I have been devouring the Adventure Travel Job topic list on your blog for the past few hours. (From my personal space in cubicle nation unfortunately.) Next year I will finish my degree and hopefully have three more letters at the end of my name – CPA. At first I feared my chosen career path would prevent me from living the kind of life I want to have. However, many of your suggestions have given me ideas of places to search for non-traditional jobs that allow for a travel lifestyle while still using my accounting skills. Many thanks and enjoy your adventures!

    • admin May 30, 2012 at 8:07 am #

      Hi Chris,

      Thank you for your kind words and glad our articles are helping you get on the path that’s right for you. If you have more questions on the topic let us know and we’ll be happy to help if we can. Best of luck and keep us posted on where you land next year!

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