You probably stumbled across this website because you’re thinking about applying for a seasonal or travel job, by which I mean jobs like an entertainer on a cruise ship, a waiter at a summer resort, a ski instructor in the winter, or any other job that takes place in a vacation destination for a contracted amount of time. Generally, these jobs provide housing and food, and if you’re lucky, it’s for free.
So who should apply for this sort of job?
You should apply for a travel job if:
1. You love to travel.
This one is pretty obvious, but I mean it in two ways. If you’re working these types of jobs, you will be working in travel destinations, which means you’ll be able to see all sorts of places, maybe all over the world. But travel jobs also give you the freedom to travel wherever you want; you save up money by not having any living expenses and working a lot of hours, and you only work seasonally, so you can schedule your life around having a long vacation. A normal contract on our cruise ship was 5 months on, 5 weeks off. That’s a 5 week vacation! And how do you afford that?
2. You want/need a lot of money saved up.
There are a lot of reasons someone does a job like this, but probably the most common is money. Especially on cruise ships, where you could end a contract with $10,000 going straight to your bank account, there is a lot of money to be made and saved. Whether you’re looking to pay off your student loans, have credit card debt, or are just looking for the money to fund your need to travel, seasonal jobs such as these are a great way to do it. You will, however, have to work a lot of hours to get there, which brings us to:
3. You don’t need weekends.
Depending on the job, you will probably have one day off at the most. Cruise ships have no days off, except in certain jobs, or if your department gets very overstaffed. If you want to work this kind of job, you will need to be prepared for the fact that there will be no weekends, and most likely, you will spend more time working than doing anything else. This leads me to:
4. You are willing to sacrifice your freedom for the length of a contract.
You will have very little freedom during the course of any of these jobs. If you’re on a cruise ship, your life revolves around your schedule, and even if you get a break, you’re probably going to want to sleep, not go exploring. If you’re working a typical seasonal job, you’re probably located in a remote location, possibly without a vehicle, so you’re not very easily able to go to town and go bowling. If you think you could make it 4+ months with limited opportunities to go to a Walmart or pharmacy, you should be fine.
5. You can work more than 40 hours a week – sometimes up to 80.
I will admit, this depends on the job. Some seasonal jobs, like the one we did at the mountain resort in CA, only worked us about 40 hours a week. But cruise ships for sure will work you 60-80 hours a week. So if this doesn’t resonate with you, keep an eye out when you’re reading job descriptions.
6. Your favorite kind of food is free.
Look, free food made in bulk for employees is not going to be steak or sushi. You will be eating whatever they found to be the cheapest option that is still edible. This again depends on the job, and some jobs will not provide free food, but if they do, it’s going to be a lot of rice, potatoes, chicken, etc, the basics. Even if it’s not the greatest or most nutritional food you’ve ever eaten, it is still free, and that’s pretty rad.
7. You’re good at pretending to be happy.
Almost all of the jobs we will discuss in this book are jobs in hospitality, and in hospitality, you’re always having a great day. We have reached a point where good customer service=always being friendly and chipper, so even if you’re tired of people’s ridiculous requests, and you only got 2 hours of sleep last night, and you ate something that didn’t sit right this morning, to the customer, you are here to serve and happy to do so. It’s definitely, definitely not for everyone. These are not jobs for someone who snaps easily. They are also not a good way to test if you snap easily.
If you read this and thought to yourself, “hell yeah, that’s me!”, then congratulations, travel jobs are definitely for you! If you read these and thought to yourself, “eh, I’d be ok with all of those things”, you’d probably still be fine doing one of these types of jobs; it really depends on how much you want to travel and/or save up money. But if you read this and thought, “wow, I definitely don’t like the sound of this, and I don’t like travel that much, and I hate interacting with people, and I don’t need the money that badly”, it’s still possible one of these seasonal jobs would work for you, but most likely, you’d be better off finding a different path.
But if you’re still with me, hooray! Welcome to the world of seasonal travel jobs! You will find in this world both freedom and 12 hour days, hard work and hard play, and both the nicest and worst people you’ve ever met. What a life!
If you’re interested in learning more about working on cruise ships, check out my three-part series on getting a job on a cruise ship.