The Truth About Working in the Travel Industry

by Glenn Bolich

Every time I check into a new hostel and meet my new roommates they give me the same reaction.

“Wow I hate you.”

“So, basically you’re living the dream.”

“How the heck did you get that job?”

“You wanna get me a job?”

 After telling them I work for a student travel company and travel around Europe for six months of the year they hate my guts, for an initial minute but it quickly subsides. I tell them that it’s a whole new animal to work, travel, to be enthusiastic day in and day out, encouraging students to see new places with their friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but recently I have really noticed the differences of travel versus work travel versus vacation travel versus study abroad travel. It’s fun all the same because I get to see new people and places too, but work travel isn’t for everyone. Luckily, I feel that it is for me.

Sight-seeing 









Glenn in Paris

Glenn in Paris.

Every story I plan to tell, you will groan and think to yourself in a sarcastic tone about how difficult my life is. And yes, it might not come across as hard but if you are thinking of entering the travel industry for your line of work, you’ll have to be aware that work will come first. When I was in Rome I didn’t see the Coliseum, I had to go out of my way to see Big Ben, and yes I only went inside of the Louvre because I went with a tour group.  When work comes first, seeing the sights and basking in the enjoyable parts of the city takes a back seat. If you can manage that and understand that sights are NOT on your to-do list then you’ll be off to a good start.

Where are you from?

“So where do you live?” That’s a question I get a lot. And considering I work from my laptop and a hostel lobby for part of the year, I never really have a straight answer. Since I’m a young professional in the crazy and interesting business, I don’t have as many responsibilities as the average person might. I don’t have a kid to take care of, a mortgage, a car payment, a home to maintain, or anything that would prevent the average citizen to travel the world for half a year.

It’s an interesting dynamic I have with my parents, family members, and my girlfriend. Without going too far into it, I’ve been with my significant other for a short time. She knew that my job would take me away for periods at a time. We agreed to try it out, keep in touch and just go with the flow since we wanted to be committed to each other. I miss her all the time and talk to her via texting and certain apps (Skype, Viber, Voxer) as much as I can. Often times our conversations end with “I just want to give you a big hug. I miss you so much.”

So yes, I do count down the days until I am back in my own bed, a home-cooked meal, clean clothes, and a date night with my sweetie. The truth is, I’m happy I’m able to balance it all and have people back in the States who support me so much.

Lifestyle

Everyone does it. Everyone, except maybe Floyd Mayweather. But when you travel you must stay within your budget. Just because I am traveling to many countries over a long period of time doesn’t mean that I am going in the first class trains and staying at nice hotels. My company does a good job about providing a budget for me to work, eat, and sleep within reason. I know that I have to sacrifice a healthy well-rounded meal for the convenience and affordability that a kebab provides.  And honestly, it’s sometimes more fun that way.

I get to be quick, on my own schedule, and ready to get back to work wherever that may be. It never gives me a smile walking into a restaurant on a Tuesday night asking for a table for one. And after that possible lonely dinner, it’s quite the opposite feeling walking into a 14-person dorm room at the nearby hostel. You now wish to be alone, as you want to get some shuteye as you climb up to that top bunk. Budget is key to good travel.

Suitcases

Once again, not something anyone can avoid. But if you can carry multiple bags, be willing to organize your clothes and work materials (and I mean ORGANIZE), and wear the same pair of pants for 14 straight days because you haven’t had the opportunity to do laundry then you’ll be on my level. No, I’m not complaining nor bragging but it’s just another thing that has come up during my adventures. Knowing that you will carry three 30 pound suitcases for many hours of the day, then sleep in that sub-par hostel bed is something that all travel professionals have dealt with in their time.

Finally, something that everyone I’ve met experiences while living out of a suitcase in hostels is the ole "run around." It’s that feeling of having multiple bags and trying to remember where you put what. It’s that feeling of locking your storage bin, getting into your top bunk, and then realizing you locked away something you need to get and then trying to dig it up. Once again, not the end of the world but something all work travelers have to be aware of.

These are just a few of the business trip differences I have found during my first few months on the job. With all the difficulty also comes the fun and easy. Talking with students and teachers about their travel backgrounds and learning how excited they are to see Europe is so rewarding. I am lucky to be "that guy" who can help students check things off their bucket list and teach them how to travel well. And even if you do think I have the greatest job in the world don’t hate me out too much when you run into me at your local hostel.