Travis Levius living his best life at Ritz Carlton Maldives

Travis Levius

A staggering 93% of people in the U.S. aren’t in their dream jobs. A recent study conducted by finance site Moneypenny found that only 7% of surveyed individuals had careers they were interested in. Among the unfulfilled, 20% were discouraged to switch careers due to lack of experience and 15% cited a lack of confidence.

Pursuing a dream career certainly requires dollops of self-belief, grit and courage, but there are tangible rewards. Just ask these seven life designers that took the leap and never looked back. In the pursuit of travel and job satisfaction, these individuals created their own custom careers infused with their desired ingredients—warm weather, community, adventure, walking and even foreign languages.

If you are reassessing your career and visualizing a future where you can design your dream travel job, here are some inspiring tips from the people who built theirs. Here is what they had to say.

Luke Charny: Food Tour Designer

Luke Charny now gets to travel and eat for a living designing food adventures around the world.

Courtesy of A Chef’s Tour

The backstory: I’ve worked in the travel industry for 15 years and the thing that has always attracted me to a destination is the food. There is nothing that gets me as excited as a colorful, neon-lit Asian street food market or perching at a Mexican taco stand with a cold beer. So, four years ago I made that my job. Now I get to travel and eat for a living designing food adventures around the world.

In 2016, I became disillusioned with working for someone else in the travel industry. It’s ironic that many people who work in this industry don’t get to travel nearly as much as people think.

I quit my job, flew to Bangkok (a city I knew well) and created our first food tour along with a Bangkok chef. I named the business A Chef’s Tour. Today we have had over 15,000 guests join our portfolio of 15 food tour destinations from Hong Kong to Bogota. 

Tips to create your dream job: If there’s something that gets you fired up and doesn’t exist as a job, think about how you can build a business around it. There’s always an angle. It might be a slog to begin with, but when it starts to get traction, build teams around you to remove the parts that don’t involve your dream work but are necessary for the business (like accounts or customer service). Try to do this without investment because as soon as you owe someone, you risk holding onto that dream job as priorities change. 

Imani Bashir: Founder and CEO of The Takeoff Collection

The Takeoff Collection founder Imani Bashir has lived in five countries on four continents.

Imani Bashir

The backstory: I am the Founder and CEO of The Takeoff Collection, a multifunctional luggage line and travel products for people on the go. This is my dream job because I have lived in five countries on four continents and I get to use my products during my travels and also get to source materials and collaborations with people around the globe. More importantly, I am my own boss

My husband, son, and I lived in China when the pandemic hit and we ended up displaced. I thought of all the material stuff that I could never get back but now we have created a ton of new memories throughout our travels. My debut bag is called The Expat Bag for that very reason. Take what you need, leave the rest, but go see the world and engage with it.

Tips to create your dream job: Do it. This pandemic showed us just how quickly our lives can change and just how quickly travel can change. It’s time to really get out and see the world while interacting with the people within it. Yes, you may need to keep your 9-5 in the meantime, but use it to get your business IP, products, services, and other necessities.

Ian Sanders: Urban Walking Coach

Ian Sanders on a Fuel Safari in London’s Regent’s Park

Paul Tait

The backstory: I am an author, storyteller and work coach based in London. As someone who’s not had a fixed office for two decades, I’d always sought inspiration and energy from different spaces, such as working in coffee shops and walking around exploring the urban landscape.

Seven years ago, I was asked by an investment banker to help him rethink his career. I designed a session that would take place walking the streets of Soho, London, and my client loved it. “Fuel Safari” was born and now I get requests from business leaders to solopreneurs. I run small group sessions too, where the focus is on helping participants work out what they need to have a good day, called The Good Days Walk, using my latest book as a prompt, 365 Ways to Have a Good Day.  It’s a playbook to help others seeking to redesign their life aligned with who they really are.

Tips to create your dream job: The first step is to pay attention to what you need, and then being intentional about designing the right work life around that. We’re all different. So, what are the elements you need in a role? What do you prioritize? Flexibility or stability? Freedom or routine and regularity? Do you enjoy people’s company or prefer solitary work? Then when you know what you want to feature in your working life, build those ingredients into your day-to-day life.

Debbie Arcangeles: Remote Podcaster and Content Writer 

Debbie’s podcast began as a passion project and became a real job when she got sponsors.

Debbie Arcangeles

The backstory: On my podcast, The Offbeat Life, I share meaningful advice from experts and expats on how to become location independent. 

I felt unfulfilled in my 9-5 and decided to interview remote workers and digital nomads. It began as a passion project in 2017 and became a real job when I was able to get sponsors for my show. A year and a half after starting I was able to do it full time and I have since included a dedicated website that provides resources for others who wish to be location independent. I love inspiring people to go out there, take risks and create more freedom in their lives. 

Tips to create your dream job: Find something that will combine purpose, passion, and profit. One without the others won’t work. In the beginning, you won’t see a lot of progress and it takes a while to build something good, so the profit won’t be there. Passion and purpose are so crucial because sometimes they are the only things that will keep you going. However, without profit, you can’t put food on your table so if you can combine all three, then you have found real magic. 

Donna Hudgeon: Coordinator of Fun at Bonaire Landsailing Adventures

From the minute Donna Hudgeon landed on Bonaire, she knew she had found home.

Susan Davis at Bonaire Bird Tours

The backstory: I always knew I wanted to create something fun for other people. Too many of us are out of balance and life can get pretty heavy. My motivation was to facilitate something inclusive, active, healthy, eco-friendly and unique and Blokart landsailing ticked all the boxes.

Blokarting was one of our family activities in New Zealand for about 15 years and my husband, Andrew, races them at events all around the world. Landsailing requires a few critical components though, namely consistent wind, flat area and access to active people. To find a home for the business, we made a shortlist of potential places and set out on a reconnaissance trip. Bonaire was our second stop and we canceled the rest of our journey because from the minute we landed, we knew we had come home. Bonaire Landsailing has now been going strong for about four years.

I need variety in my work and thankfully, my job gives me that. My favorite days are in the fresh air and sunshine at the landsailing track and I get to talk to guests about how amazing it is on Bonaire and watch them have the most fun they will ever have on three wheels.

Tips to create your dream job: Imagine your perfect day at work. Where are you? What are you doing and who are you doing it with? Then dissect that and break it down into categories. What skills do you need that you don’t already have? Who do you have to bring into your inner circle to instigate your plans? Talk about it (a lot) until you start believing it is a possibility. Most importantly, take action and keep iterating until your dream becomes reality.

Travis Levius: Travel Journalist and Content Creator

Travis Levius on a super yacht at Patina Maldives.

Travis Levius

The backstory: I had no real idea that freelance travel writing was a thing when I quit my Atlanta-based assistant teacher job and moved to London with little money and a hunch that said “move to London by the summer” and “start writing”.

Based on that “start writing” hunch upon arrival to London, I asked my friends for writing leads and eventually got my first paid gig writing content for a photography tech company. That then turned into an unpaid gig as an editor covering London’s food and drink scene for an American website. It wasn’t until months later that I realized the same website had a travel section and that kickstarted my career. 

Eventually, I’d branch out from writing travel for the website and learned the art of pitching to other outlets and publications, and that’s when I evolved into a professional freelance travel writer.

I have now been doing this for seven years and I specialize in luxury travel so I experience high-end hotels, yachts and the like to create features for several media titles.

Tips to create your dream job: Establish career goals, but allow your intuition to lead you. Sometimes what you think is your dream job could be the second-best (or even worst case) scenario, and I believe you’ll only know what’s truly meant for you when you begin following your gut. 

Bronson Soares: Latin America and Brazil Travel Marketer

Bronson Soares finds being able to set his own schedule incredibly exciting.

Erick Proost

The backstory: Being from Hawaii, a destination that depends on tourism, I observed where many companies fail in their marketing campaigns in terms of being aware of how to appropriately depict the local culture, which is critically important to the local community in Hawaii.

I am the CEO of LUXE LATAM and my job is the perfect confluence of two topics that I am strongly passionate about both personally and professionally—Latin America and travel. I develop compelling, country-specific strategies and marketing campaigns for luxury hotels and resorts, destinations and cruises seeking to engage Spanish and Portuguese-speaking consumers, and my goal is to always promote the particular business in a way that respects the destination’s culture.

There are certainly benefits to having a more structured job position, but with my own business I can dictate my company’s growth, set my own schedule and have a more balanced way of living.

Tips to create your dream job: Be honest with yourself about what your personal and professional goals are and where travel fits into that. Also, find and carve out a niche and become an expert at something. In an increasingly complex travel environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, expert advisors are more important than ever.


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