How Can You Shape your Career Path to Fit Your Passion for Travel?

Tanya Zaufi's picture

Some people let their career shape their lives. I was not one of them. My priority has always been the ability to travel and explore the world. Early on, I made sure to shape my career path around my passion for travel.

 How Can You Shape your Career Path to Fit Your Passion for Travel?

It wasn’t always easy. Careers like flight attendant or cruise ship employee that bring you to far-off destinations are rewarding but can be exhausting, unpredictable, and challenging to balance with long-term relationships. But that wasn’t at the top of my mind when I started out. When I began, I only knew that I was passionate about travel and loved adventure. As a younger adult, I would flip through travel magazines and dream of destinations I wanted to visit. So when I was accepted into a two-year travel consultant program at Grant MacEwan Community College in Edmonton, it seemed like an ideal fit. Looking back, it also seems like it was destiny. I wound up traveling all over the map for the next ten years. I also wound up meeting the love of my life, which I talk about in my memoir, All Over the Map: Two Lovers, Six Continents and a Date with Destiny.

 How Can You Shape your Career Path to Fit Your Passion for Travel?

Here’s how I made the traveling life my reality–and you can, too.

Prioritize the dream

While I attended school, I also began working at a local travel agency to keep my dream in close sight. There, I became friends with other travel lovers. A colleague and I hoarded travel magazines together, read through them, and fantasized about going to all the places on the pages. Soon we were on a trip together to Costa Rica, and not long after that, we made plans to go to Australia with a group of other friends. 

Because Australia was so far away from Canada, where we lived, we decided to go for a year. That meant leaving our jobs. To many people, this would be a reason not to go. To my friends and I, it was a reason to work hard and to save as much money as possible before leaving. The dream of going to Australia was more important to us than anything else. I hustled my butt off working two full-time jobs so I could make as much money as I could for the trip: from 9 to 4 p.m. I worked at the travel agency. From 5 p.m. to midnight, I slogged away at a pharmacy. It paid off, and I saved up what I needed to get to Australia.

 How Can You Shape your Career Path to Fit Your Passion for Travel?

Keep your mind open to all job opportunities

Getting to Australia was one thing, but staying for a year was another. Since we would need to work while traveling, we applied for Australian work visas and then worked our way across the vast country.

I was always open to any job opportunity that came my way, whether it was picking five gallon pails of tomatoes or working in a pub, since it all helped keep the Australian travel adventure going. 

Once I got back to Canada, the experience I gained in Australia led me to work in the front office at ski resorts, hot springs, and in the hotel industry. Over time, I would hold all sorts of other jobs, both in Canada and overseas. Keeping my mind open to all job opportunities gave me the flexibility to come and go and explore the world but always have an income stream.

 How Can You Shape your Career Path to Fit Your Passion for Travel?

Don’t focus on the money

Working was never about the money to me, as long as I could make ends meet. It was about the opportunity to travel and see as much as I could. Besides, careers directly in the travel and hospitality industries are not particularly lucrative.

At one point, following a layoff, an opportunity came up to work on cruise ships. It seems like if one door closed, another door opened. And the cruise ship was right up my alley as I was now paid to travel. I was able to see and experience so many different cultures. I was fortunate to be able to work on three different cruise ships that traveled to exotic ports of call around the world to the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe around the Mediterranean.

The cruise ship also led me to my destiny: I was lucky enough to find ‘My love at first sight’ moment with a handsome and charismatic Austrian named Josef who worked on the same Princes Cruises ship as me. However, his home base in Austria was halfway across the world from mine, in Canada. This created struggles and challenges, but also brought a lot more travel into my life.

 How Can You Shape your Career Path to Fit Your Passion for Travel?

See work as part of the adventure

Before eventually finally finding a way to live together in the same place, Josef and I also wound up working on other cruise ships separately. Cruise ships are essentially a floating city and have so many different jobs available. There’s something for everyone. I worked at both the front desk and as the secretary to the Chief Purser. Other positions available besides front office staff are kitchen staff, waiters, electricians, engineers, plumbers, doctors, entertainers, and working in the ship’s retail shops or spa, plus so much more. Even if the work can sometimes feel routine and the hours can be long, it is part of the adventure. Without those cruise ship jobs, I would never have been able to visit Aruba, St. Thomas, Acapulco, Puerto Rico, Alaska, Spain, Malta, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and so many more exciting destinations. I would also not have met Josef–the love of my life!

In order for me to be with Josef in Austria while he applied for his permanent residency to move to Canada and while we waited for the very slow process to unfold, he set up a job interview for me when I was visiting him there. It was for a barista position in a trendy sports shop in Kaprun, the Alpine village where he lived. It seemed like a long shot because I did not speak German, but I was open to the prospect since it would let me stay in Austria for six months with my soulmate. (Just as I was open to working all sorts of odd jobs in Australia in order to travel there for a year.) Surprisingly, I was offered the job; it turned out to be a memorable working experience and I made many friends.

 How Can You Shape your Career Path to Fit Your Passion for Travel?

Live life with no regrets

I have always wanted to live life with no regrets or “what ifs,” and this mindset helped me prioritize my dreams, keep my mind open to all job opportunities, focus on experiences over money, and see work as part of a bigger adventure. I believe it’s better to look back on life and say, “I can’t believe I did that!” than to look back and say, “I wish I had dared.”

If you have a passion for travel but are not sure how to fit it into your life, I’d say: dare!

Pin for later:
5 Ways to Make a Traveling Life a Reality. From How Can You Shape your Career Path to Fit Your Passion for Travel?

Tanya Zaufi, author of All Over the Map: Two Lovers, Six Continents and a Date With Destiny, is a travel industry veteran who has worked at hotels, ski resorts, and aboard the ships of major cruise lines. A passionate traveler, she has visited or sojourned in dozens of memorable places, from the Austrian Alps and the Caribbean to Greece and Australia—her favorite destinations. When not writing, Tanya enjoys lake life, camping, hiking, cycling, and riding her ATV in the warmer months. During the winter season, she skis, snowshoes, skates, and enjoys relaxing in the hot tub with a good glass of wine. She lives in Kelowna, British Columbia with her husband, Josef, and their two children. Above all, she loves seeing the world through her children’s eyes. Visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram