Welcome to another edition of the “Work and Travel Abroad“ Series! In this series, we feature stories from those who have managed to find ways to earn money while traveling by working jobs that don’t resemble a typical 9-5 routine. They share their experiences, give their advice, hopefully inspiring many of you to believe that paying your bills and saving for the future while traveling the world IS POSSIBLE!
Today, we are excited to share our Q&A with Rachel Wilson from The Dubai Diaries who shares her experience working as an international freelance writer
Q: Who is the Rachel Warren Wilson? Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I’m a 25-year-old born and raised Brit, however, have spent the past 10 years of my life living abroad. 6 years in a small town in Austria near the Italian and Slovenian borders, and the past 4 years in Dubai. I’ve always had the travel bug, and moving abroad only intensified my desire to see more of the world!
Q: What was your life like before you started your career as a flight attendant? Where did you live/study/work?
A: As I mentioned I was living in Austria, in a town called Klagenfurt, with my family. I went to a specialist tourism and hospitality school there, which I really enjoyed. We were offered a lot of interesting opportunities, including a 3-month internship abroad, where I worked as a receptionist in a hotel in Spain. After finishing school (which was a year longer than most due to the extra subjects) I decided to take a break from studying and that was when I made the decision to move to Dubai and work for Emirates.
Q: What inspired you to leave England and how long have you been away from “home?
A: It wasn’t actually my choice to leave England, it was my parents who thought it would be good for the whole family to live abroad and experience a new culture and learn a new language. At the time I wasn’t very happy with the idea (especially as I didn’t speak a word of German!), however now I realize what an incredible opportunity it was for us all, and how useful it is to speak another language fluently. All in all it’s been just over 10 years since I last lived in the UK, and I don’t see myself coming “home” anytime soon.
Q: How do you afford to keep traveling?
A: I’m very lucky that as part of my benefits for working as cabin crew, we are offered staff travel. These are cheap tickets (usually around 10% of the normal price!) which are on a standby basis, so if there are empty seats we can get on the flight, but if it’s full we have to catch the next flight or go via another city! I think plane tickets are one of the most expensive parts of traveling, so I feel very privileged that I get them for a fraction of the normal cost.
Q: How/when did you land your first job as a flight attendant? Did you have any formal training/education prior to securing your first job?
A: Working for Emirates has been my first and only airline, and I got the job on the first try. I actually saw an advert in a magazine when I was coming to the end of my schooling and was still unsure about the future, so decided to just go for it! I hadn’t had any specific flight attendant training prior to applying, but I’ve always worked in part-time jobs either on the weekends or school holidays so had plenty of experience in customer service roles. Within 2 weeks of attending the open day, I had a call to say that I’d got the job!
Q: Is the pay enough to cover your living expenses? Are you able to save anything to continue traveling?
A: I’m quite lucky in that Emirates actually provides us with a fully furnished apartment and covers almost all bills, as well as offering transport to and from the airport. Other than that, the UAE is a tax-free country, so any money I earn is mine to do with as I please! I can easily save at least half of my salary every month without much effort, and more if I didn’t go out to eat or shop! So I would say I can definitely save enough to travel, the only thing I wish I had more of is days off to actually spend traveling!
Q: What are some highs and lows of working as a flight attendant?
A: The obvious high for me is the travel – it’s the main reason I chose this job and still what excites me the most about going to work. From one month to the next I could have visited 8 countries spanning 3 or 4 continents, and I try to get out and see as much as I can. The lows are the constant tiredness, which comes from flying overnight half of the month, as well as loneliness. It may seem like a very social job, which for the most part it is, but it can be quite difficult to catch up with friends when your rosters don’t match for weeks on end!
Q: Is demand for flight attendants significantly higher in the Middle East vs other parts of the world? What made you choose to base yourself here?
A: I believe that the demand in the Middle East is fairly high, but there is also quite a high turnover rate of cabin crew. The airlines here are expanding rapidly, so the hiring rate is quite high to keep up with demand. Emirates only has one base for all of the cabin crew and pilots, so it was a decision that was made for me when I got the job to relocate to Dubai!
Q: Would you recommend a job as a flight attendant to someone who wants to quit their 9-5 routine and explore the world? What advice would you give them?
A: I absolutely, without a doubt, 100% recommend becoming a flight attendant! It’s the best decision I’ve ever made and if you’re thinking about it, just go for it. The amount of travel I do is second to none, and I can’t think of another job that would let me explore so much of the world (and get paid for it!). If you’re a people person it’s a great job, as you’re always meeting new people and hearing interesting stories and getting tips about local hidden spots to visit.
Q: Where would one start if they too wanted to start a career as a flight attendant?
A: The easiest way would be to research which airlines you’re interested in working for and whether or not they’re hiring. Most of the Middle Eastern airlines are hiring fairly regularly, and they hold open days all over the world. It’s also worth thinking about whether or not you’d be willing to relocate to a different country, as some airlines only have one base (i.e. Dubai for Emirates).
Q: What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2017?
A: Since I’ve just had a promotion to working in first class, I’m now focusing on getting to know the cabin, and every aspect of the service, really well. I’m hoping it won’t take me too long to adjust, and I’d like to enjoy working in first class for the next year or so (especially as it’s unlikely that I’ll ever get to fly in first class!). I’m hoping to travel to some new destinations that I haven’t been to yet, and top of the list is South and Central America, as well as the Philippines, which has some stunning islands that I’d love to visit. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to make the most of my cheap tickets and travel as much as possible in 2017!
ABOUT: Rachel Warren Wilson is the writer and photographer behind The Dubai Diaries, and having grown up in England and Austria, now lives in Dubai where she works for Emirates as an international flight attendant. Having only 24 hours at each destination she flies to, Rachel tries to make the most out of each short layover and see as much of the world as possible! Follow her adventures on her blog, The Dubai Diaries, Instagram and Twitter to stay updated.
Huge thanks to Rachel for taking the time to answer our questions and share their experience with us! If you have any further questions for Rachel, leave a comment below!
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Does working on a farm sound like something you might want to do to help you travel the world? If not, check out other posts in the “Work and Travel Abroad” Series for more ideas and stories from other travelers.