If You Love Adventure, You Should Work A Seasonal Job.
Road Trip. Work. Adventure. Repeat.
All types of explorers will tell you that moving outside of their comfort zone has changed them in one way or another. Most of the time, adventure reveals hidden treasure scattered across new lands, within new cultures, and inside of strangers.
When I turned 25, I decided that despite my college degree, I was going to find a job that would allow me to get the heck outta dodge. I ended up landing a job in Southeast Alaska as an office assistant for an excursion company for the summer. Horseback riding, ziplining, guided hikes, this sort of thing. I had little idea of what I was actually signing up for and tried to do as much research as possible. In the end, nothing prepared me for the experience I had by venturing out of my little bubble in the southeastern US.
Here is a list of the (mostly) awesome realities of working a seasonal job, as well as some tips for landing one if you’re interested.
1. You’ll meet people who carry the travel bug...
...and it’s definitely contagious. Seasonal workers are the types of people who have itchy feet after a few months of being in one place. Within my first few days of working for the excursion company, I met people who had returned to Alaska after backpacking through Thailand and others who had driven bus trips across the United States. Within a few months of the season, we were all planning our exit strategies. Some of us were headed home to see our families, while others were booking flights to New Zealand or scoring jobs as ski-lift operators in Colorado.
2. There are a ton of different kinds of seasonal jobs. Choose wisely.
Guiding is a great way to get your foot in the door somewhere. Companies all over the world, especially in areas where cruise ships call, hire people to guide daily tours on ziplines, horseback and hiking trails. There is a learning curve, like any job, but those of you learning knots at the climbing gym would be perfect fits for joining a team of unruly, energetic zipliners. If you’re willing to earn a commercial driver’s license and like to talk to people, bus tours are a great way to travel and make money. Avid bicyclist? Why not take some tourists with you and get paid to pedal? Kayaking and river rafting guiding positions are very popular seasonal gigs. Most rafting companies will train you even if you’ve never done it before, but from my research, these are also some of the lowest paying gigs.
Many times you simply have to have the desire to learn to land these “dream jobs”. Being a people person is essential, along with a willingness to work hard for a short amount of time to earn big in one season. Even in a low paying job, the potential for tips can greatly increase your seasonal financial success. Some of us were working 12 hour days (and loving it) because we could see an end to the tunnel. Eventually, we would be off to explore with a nice chunk of change in our savings accounts.
I can’t stress this enough: working in tourism means working with people. Lots and lots of people. If you’re not willing to smile while you answer the question, “so, how did you get here,” almost every day, I’d suggest checking out Living The Dream: 10 Jobs That Get You Outisde and 5 Tips For Landing A Job As A Wildland Firefighter for some other cool outdoor jobs that might not require so much face time with customers.
Convinced? Go to CoolWorks.com for jobs all over the United States. You can search jobs by season or by state and will find employers looking for wait staff, office help, guides, and a number of other neat opportunities.
3. The journey is just as amazing as the destination.
The experience of traveling to the new work destination is worth taking a job far away. A majority of seasonal employers in the tourism agency do not pay for your way to get there, but I have found that many of them offer end of season bonuses to make up for that fact. So, if you can afford a one-way ticket, you can start working as soon as you get there. I discovered that I learned so much about myself and the irrational fears I had about traveling alone on my trips to and from Alaska. I met strangers on planes, in waiting areas and buses. It was seldom that I happened upon someone I didn’t feel safe around and they often had great tips for things to do during my upcoming layover or next adventure.
4. Many companies offer low-rate housing while you’re employed.
Luxury not included. Be wary when companies say they provide company housing. You could be reliving dorm life in a shared bedroom or a small apartment with shared bathrooms. I personally lived in a repurposed freezer. Yes, we had heat and running water. Privacy? Not so much. However, that shared space was part of what made my travels so inspiring. My roommates became seasonal companions and best friends.
5. Sometimes you’ll be working in very remote areas.
Most opportunities for seasonal work in tourism are at resorts and towns that are far from big city life. These communities offer a sense of camaraderie to workers because everyone who lives there goes through the same day-to-day struggles of working with large amounts of people, most of whom are in an unfamiliar place. The best part of working there, though, is that you get a sense of what real life is like in an area of the world that most people will only experience for a few hours. Since most of these jobs are surrounded by wilderness, there tends to be plenty of outdoor adventures to take on your off days, too.
Seasonal work is definitely for a certain breed of individuals. If you’re willing to take a chance, though, you might just find yourself surrounded by like-minded outdoor and travel junkies, making a living doing what they love.
Cover photo: Jacob W. Frank
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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.