If travel is your passion, earning an income from your trips can hold great appeal. The expertise you gain from arranging your own travel itineraries and the knowledge you develop from exploring new and exotic locations can be put to good use with a bit of imagination. Add relevant professional experiences and personal qualities to the mix, and you might just have the winning combination needed to set up a thriving business.
City Walks Tour Guide
If you’re a confident, outgoing person with good communication skills, put your knowledge of your favourite places to use as a tour guide. To differentiate yourself from other tour guides who might focus on the iconic "must see" buildings and experiences, try taking your tour off the beaten track. Maybe focus on hidden street art, secret gardens, a literary tour, or a gourmet tour that samples the best gelato or street food. Key qualities are a thorough knowledge of the area, a well-thought-out tour, and accurate timing, so that you don’t miss out on tips if people have to rush away before the end. It can also be an advantage to speak several languages.
Your set-up costs for city tours can be minimal. Simply advertise your services, tour times and meeting place online, and choose whether to charge a fee or work for free and hope to pick up generous tips at the end of each tour. Ask people to email you to reserve their place on your tour. It’s worth investing in a brightly coloured umbrella to hold aloft during your tour so you don’t lose people along the way.
As you become more established, try linking up with local tour companies, hotels, and tour operators that bring in coachloads of visitors. As you become more professional, you might want to invest in a communication device, such as a wireless microphone with a number of wireless receivers and headphones. Armed with this technology, you don’t have to strain your voice to be heard and your group can enjoy a more positive experience.
Running an Adventure Travel Company
A step-up from leading city walks is running an adventure travel business. This could be anything from leading a day’s hike along country trails to taking a Jeep-load of tourists on an amazing off-road tour into the jungle where they also enjoy other high-adrenaline activities, such as white-water rafting. Indulging in your passion day after day with a group of like-minded people sounds amazing. However, to ensure your customers have the best possible experience, make sure you and your staff have the required insurances, and are trained on how to deal with medical emergencies. Also, ensure that you have the necessary licences to operate in the country and permits to access the land. Not all countries allow wild camping, for example, so check these important details to avoid disappointing your customers.
Running Wellness Retreats and Activity Breaks
If you have a particular skill or expertise that you’d like to pass on to others, set up your own business running activity breaks. Nature walks and water colour painting, city walks and photography workshops, yoga retreats, or wellness breaks are popular for people who are looking for a more leisurely activity holiday. Try linking up with a hotel in a peaceful location, and negotiate a good room rate by block-booking rooms and using their facilities. Start small by only offering breaks that you can host yourself, using your own expertise. If you prove successful, consider expanding by taking on employees to run some or all of your breaks.
Local Etiquette for Business Travellers
If you have a good knowledge of business customs in one or more countries, consider setting up welcome meetings for first-time business visitors. Knowing how to dress appropriately, whether to bring a gift, how to greet men and women, and how to behave at mealtimes are some basic customs that can get a business trip off to a good start. Understanding local nuances of doing business are also helpful. For example, some nationalities don’t respond well to a hard sell and prefer lengthy discussions, while others rely heavily on reading body language as a clue to the state of negotiations.
Shared Working Spaces
With the number of digital nomads increasing as people abandon the 9-5 grind and work remotely, the demand for shared work spaces is growing. While some people are happy to work from hotels, bars, and cafes, others need a more professional setup. Access to 24/7 workspaces can be important for workers catching up with colleagues in other time zones. Consider setting up a shared workspace or hub in your favourite location where you can charge for use of a hot desk and office facilities such as Wi-Fi. Also consider boosting your income from sales of refreshments to your captive customers.
If you’ve ever sat on a popular beach in Asia, Africa, or the Caribbean, you know how hard it is to escape vendors plying you with local crafts such as necklaces, wood carvings, and clothing. And if you’ve engaged with them and enjoyed a touch of haggling, the final purchase price of these items has probably been a surprise. There might be potential to bring those items back in bulk and sell them at a generous profit. Alternatively, importing luxury items such as fine wines, gourmet foods, and fashion items can be profitable. Setting up an import business is a great way to indulge in regular travel to pick up items for import, visit suppliers, and set up contracts.
With people of all ages seeking to spend their spare time and money on experiences rather than possessions, now is a great time to use your travel to build up a business. Play to your strengths, plan carefully, check the relevant rules and legislation at home and abroad, and there’s a good chance you can spend your working life combining your passion for travel with growing a successful business.