This is part of my new interview series, designed to demonstrate the wildly varied ways we can live, work, and chase our dreams. Please keep in mind that, since these are interviews, the opinions, methods, and websites contained within do not necessarily reflect my own views or experiences. (Which is, in my opinion, part of what makes them wonderful.)
Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Susie, who is working her way across Europe this summer:
First, tell us about you. Where are you from? When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I come from Tweed Heads, Australia. I grew up right near the beach and love it. If I’m living and working outside Australia, I really try to get out and see the local area that I live in, whether it be hiking in Switzerland or exploring old estates in the UK. I also enjoy getting out and into the local food.
When did you first start traveling and what made you fall in love with it?
When I was young, mum and dad took my brother and I around Australia in a caravan and then, another time, up through the center of the country, camping. So, I think I grew up with the travel bug.
While I was at university, I did a semester abroad in the Netherlands and that really kicked-started my backpacking adventures. I love going places that are different to what I know and seeing how people go about their daily lives. People tend to be very similar around the world, and it is interesting to see how they fit family, friends, work, etc. into their different cultural contexts.
What is your current job and where will its travel take you this summer?
I am currently a Site Manager with Topdeck. Topdeck takes 18- to 30-somethings on adventures throughout the world by coach. In Europe, they have four sites where we cater delicious, local-inspired meals for the passengers during the summer months. The sites are in Paris, Rome, Venice, and Lauterbrunnen (Switzerland) and I will have the pleasure of working in each of the sites over the summer for about six weeks each.
Having a job that incorporates travel sounds pretty amazing. How did you find and land your job?
I started off by incorporating travel and job hunting! I was getting a little over the job hunting cycle in London, so I went to Scotland for a week. Being a Harry Potter fan, I decided to try my luck job searching with a coffee at the same café in Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling wrote the first two Harry Potter books. Next thing I knew, the Site Manager position with Topdeck popped up during a job search. For extra luck, I also got shat on by a bird on my way out of the café, so I suppose it was all meant to be.
From there, I completed the application form, scored an interview, and was off on a training trip.
What tips do you have for people who want to find and get similar jobs?
Think outside the box. I didn’t want to be a tour leader or a coach driver, so I never thought to look at working for a company like Topdeck. However, with the sites and festival set-ups, they have a number of jobs available, particularly if you have a hospitality background.
The more I travel, the more I see that the options are limitless; you just need to get out there and get going. A lot of the time, it can be a case of being in the right place at the right time.
What are the biggest challenges to this kind of traveling and working? Did you have to leave anything behind at home (a job, boyfriend, etc.) and how did you handle that?
I find leaving people to be the hardest part. Whether its family and friends at home or my new adopted family along the way, saying “see you later” is always tough. Luckily, these days it’s so easy to keep in touch and now I have good friends to visit all around the world!
When I left Australia, I left behind a whole life, career, boyfriend, and friends, which was hard, but there is nothing like jumping on a one-way flight out of your country with a backpack and blind faith that everything will work out (which it has, for the record).
What has been the best part about your job and travels so far?
The other day, after serving breakfast, I was going to go for a hike, but the day was just so perfect in Switzerland that I decided to go paragliding. Turns out, it was the best day of the spring so far and we had a spectacular flight around the valley. A few hours later, I was back at work preparing dinner for 120 passengers. How many jobs give you a workday like that?
Plus, of course, I love meeting all the interesting people along the way.
Where are you off to next?
Off to Rome. Know any good guide books for Italy? [Editor’s note: Wink, wink.]
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