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Why I ditched journalism to be a travel agent

Every so often I get asked about my journalism degree and what I plan to do with it. It’s been almost a year since graduating with my Bachelor of Journalism and truth is, my plan is and always will be to end up writing for the rest of my life. It is my dream career. But I have two big dreams in life and the other is to travel.

My ultimate goal would be to live, write and travel for a career. I mean, who wouldn’t love that? But until an opportunity for that comes up, I have to put my number one passion first and my number one passion at this point in my life is to wander the globe aimlessly.

I struggled to find a journalism job…

I didn’t ditch journalism because I’ve lost my passion for writing, it wasn’t due to lack of trying. Honestly, getting a job in journalism was hard. After university I applied for close to a hundred positions, both paid and un-paid. I applied for part-time, full-time and internships which I would do just for the experience and to build my portfolio.

I got one interview. One. That interview was for an online magazine where I would be volunteering by writing articles about an inner-city shire in Melbourne. I got the position, but with no pay it wasn’t enough and nothing else came.

I was broke, bored and tired of looking. I have to admit I sort of lost motivation. I was told by my lecturers and tutors during my studies that a move to the country would benefit my career as jobs are easier to snatch up in rural areas. I watched as many of my old classmates were doing just that and scoring jobs. But I wasn’t ready for that. I wasn’t ready to give up my life for my job just yet. I was 22 years old.

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Grafitti alley in Melbourne, Australia

I didn’t want to move to the country…

I had spent my final high school years and a gap year that followed living in the country with my dad. I’d written for the local newspaper there. It was great, but the country bored me to tears. I wasn’t going back.

Traveling took over all of my energy and thinking…

And then I thought about what I would do if I did get a full time job. How much would I be able to travel? I would only have 4 weeks of annual leave a year, is that enough? Answer, no.

I also know I want to work overseas for a few years, how would my career progress when I want to move around so much? I was scared to get sucked into an industry where once you start progressing, you feel like you are trapped and you can’t leave.

All I could think about was traveling and how my job could work around that kind of lifestyle. That’s when I realised that the type of journalism jobs I was applying for would not be able to work around my that lifestyle that I wanted.

And when push came to shove and I had to choose one or the other, travel won.

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The beautiful city I wasn’t ready to leave

I’ve always wanted to be a travel agent…

Then I started looking into travel agent jobs. It had always been a career I thought I would be good at. When planning my own holidays I was always good at researching and finding the best deals. Plus the perks of the job seemed pretty good.

So I applied, and got called for two positions almost instantly. How easy was that!

Perks of being a travel agent…

Traveling is encouraged when working in the travel industry. There are incentives all the time to win free trips from tour companies or airlines and in stores with 7 days trade we can work our days off around our annual leave so we get more time off.

We do get discounts, yes but we also know when we see a good deal and jump on any sales.

The job comes with its struggles. It’s stressful, some customers are difficult and a lot of people think they’re the experts and know more than us. Some think booking a flight for next week will cost the same as booking 10 months in advance. They think a flight during Christmas time should cost the same as the ones they saw online for October. They think we make so much commission on flights that we can discount it to whatever price they think they should pay (we make almost nothing from flights even though it takes up 90% of our client base).

It’s tiring, but can be rewarding. When people are actually appreciative of the hard work you put into planning their holiday, they are so gracious and it is so rewarding sending people away on trips of a lifetime.

But the main reason I love this job is because of the opportunities that come up. I’ve been to Brazil this year, trying Bamba independent tours for a discounted price. Next week I go to Southeast Asia to utilise a free Contiki tour opportunity I got for selling a lot of Contiki. In July I go to Paris and Tomorrowland because I won an incentive with Busabout. And in October I hope to visit China with G Adventures on another free tour. Of course all of this still comes with my own costs, but it is so much cheaper having won things or rewarded free tours for my hard work.

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The Amazon, Brazil

And I am loving it. I have been offered journalism jobs, applied for one but then when another opportunity literally came knocking on my door (well messaged me on Facebook), I decided not to apply.

Journalism will always be my passion and I will get back in the game and focus on it soon enough. But right now I’m enjoying the travel agent lifestyle. I’m not only traveling a lot but I am learning a lot about the industry that I am so passionate about and I am excited to share my new found knowledge with others as well.

xx

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