When Working in Travel Sucks

working in travel's not all it's cracked up to be

Photo via Selden Vestrit, flickr

For the most part, I have the dream job, or at least that’s what I’d like you to think from my montage of epic adventure photos and heavily PR spun social media profiles. Let me let you in on a little secret: working in travel can be just as frustrating as any other 9-5. Sure the perks are awesome, but if you think it’s all beach resorts and Mai Tais, here are some reasons it’s just as annoying (if not moreso) than any other job.

As a precursor, I really do love working in travel and this isn’t meant to be a complaint or even a rant. For the most part, I genuinely do love what I do. Just trying to show the flip side to a career that everyone fantasizes about because the grass is always greener.

You’re never actually on vacation. Even personal trips unintentionally become work trips because you’re always struggling to come up the next story angle and trying to take the perfect picture (now not only for yourself, but with the added pressure of making it commercial-worthy). Spoiler alert: Instagram’s a lifesaver. Then, when that great idea finally does come to you, you better pray there’s WiFi, because nothing can ruin a trip faster than an idea playing through your head like a broken record until you get it down on paper or computer.

It’s a constant balancing act. As both an editor and a freelance writer, it’s hard to give someone a rate you know is lower than they’re worth because you have to work within a given budget, basically devaluing the same craft you do. Then, there’s the song and dance with PR people. If you’re on a press trip and they’ve invested a lot of time and money into showing you a destination’s highlights, sometimes you’re just not that into it. But can you say that? Not really, you always have to look on the bright side. Or you have other things you want to see, but you can’t because you’re on their schedule. There’s a very fine line between retaining your journalistic integrity and sharing honest opinions without offending your gracious hosts.

You wear a million hats on any given day. Being just a writer or an editor doesn’t cut it anymore. Anyone can start a blog. I’m a graphic designer, social media maven, PR guru, SEO expert, and a million other supporting roles. To build a sustainable business, you have to be a jack of all trades and ABH –always be hustling– dedicating your precious free time to promoting your posts, networking, and keeping your name in front of people in order to maintain a certain level of influencer status.

You’re in startup mode 24/7. With travel being one of the most competitive, if not the most competitive industry out there, you always have to be two steps ahead of everyone else. You’re constantly scouring the competitive landscape for potential new websites and companies doing something faster, better, or cooler than you and have to be able to adjust your strategy on a dime. If you like predictability and routines, it’s definitely not for you.

People tell you you’re lucky. This is the #1 complaint from people who work in the travel industry. Luck implies I fell into this line of work by chance. There was nothing random about this. I sacrificed a lot to follow my dreams, as does everyone who works in this “dream” industry – putting relationships, kids, family, all on the back burner. Maybe I was lucky to be blessed with the ability to write, but doing what I do requires a whole lot of selfishness and is something I chose to make a priority. You can make the choice too, but it is definitely a choice.

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