By Holly Reisem Hanna
Do you love to travel? Do you have wanderlust? Are you a master at finding great travel deals?
Becoming a work-at-home travel agent might be your ideal work-at-home career path!
Working as a travel agent might seem a little outdated in today’s world of Kayak and Airbnb, but in reality, many people still prefer to work with travel agents. Why? Experienced travel coordinators help travelers save money, time, and all kinds of travel-related headaches.
Home-based travel agents generally work for a host agency (a company bonded and accredited by the Airlines Reporting Corporation or the International Airlines Travel Agents Network) as an independent contractor. You can also work as part of a consortium or a franchise, but as a beginning agent, a host agency offers the oversight, access, and background you’ll need to be successful.
As a travel agent, you'll collect a commission on the arrangements you book, and you'll often have access to special deals. You can choose to work in a certain industry or work with specific businesses or a large corporation, or you might even assist clients looking into a particular type of travel (cruises, Disney vacations, etc.).
One of the great things about becoming a work-at-home travel agent is that it’s a relatively easy startup business idea and the costs are very low. With a basic home office (including internet connection, a phone, computer, printer, and website), you can get started with a host agency right away.
So if you love to travel or if you just love to help other people fulfill their vacation dreams, you may want to start a home-based travel agent business!
Getting Started as a Work-at-Home Travel Agent:
Home-based travel agents make an average of $31,056/year, but the wage ranges can vary between $8,000/year to $80,000/year. It all depends on your experience, the number of clients of you retain, hours worked, and commission and support from your host agency.
Agents who work in specific markets or on specific vacation types (like destination weddings or luxury travel) can become very familiar with their market, and thus, enjoy even greater success. Working in particular markets, like weddings or corporate travel can also make a big difference regarding salary.
Remote Travel Consultant Jobs:
If starting your own business seems intimidating, there are many companies within the travel and hospitality industry that hire at-home travel consultants, reservationists, and customer service reps – and best of all many of these positions come with travel perks!
To start out, you may want to explore:
For more remote companies that hire with the travel and hospitality sector, check out FlexJobs.
Exploring Host Agencies:
Finding a good host agency is key to getting started as an at-home travel agent. If you’re just starting out, you may want to familiarize yourself with host agency options to get a feel for what each can offer.
- Cruises Inc.
- Cruise Planners
- Disney Vacation Planner
- Home-Based Travel Agent Resource Center
- National Association of Career Travel Agents
How to Select a Great Host Agency:
When it comes to what they offer their consultants, travel agencies vary significantly, so there are many factors to consider (besides simply who offers the best commission).
For example, do you prefer a large agency or a small agency? Locally based hosting can be easier for new agents who might need support and training, whereas national agencies offer more regarding flexibility and growth.
Carefully weigh your agency options and perform background research. Sites like Host Agency Reviews guide you through the process, offering tips on how to find the best travel agency that fits your needs. If you’re new to travel, you may also need help with marketing and setting up your website, as well as information on the basics of setting up a home business.
Perks of Becoming a Travel Agent:
Aside from being a great home-based business opportunity, becoming a travel agent offers some amazing perks.
If you enjoy travel, you might love the chance to take “FAM trips” or “familiarization trips” to various locales. Cruise lines, hotels and tour guides know that the best way for you to sell their services is to become familiar with them yourself—so they offer all kinds of perks, including complimentary and deeply discounted fares, as well as opportunities to use their services and explore all your amazing options.
You can also save big on your own travel with great discounts! You’ll score awesome deals before anyone else even hears about them, and as a travel agent, you’ll have access to even greater discounts because, of course, the more you travel, the more business experience you rack up.
The best part? You can deduct those travel expenses on your taxes as part of your business! You can also deduct things like advertising and expenses related to your clients. This amounts to big tax savings for you!
Other Types of Travel Jobs:
If you love the idea of working in the travel industry but you aren’t sure about becoming an agent or consultant, there are plenty of other job options out there.
Travel writers document their travels and make great money (to fund even more travel). Magazines, guidebooks, and websites are often looking for freelance travel writers to contribute their experiences and give readers recommendations. If you have writing and communication skills, and you travel often, this might be a great option for you.
The income for travel writers varies of course, but many writers are able to make great money by documenting and sharing their travels. Freelance writers, according to PayScale can make an average of $38,000 per year.
If you prefer to try your hand at your own travel blog, you can also make money by setting up affiliates and directing traffic to your blog by marketing for like-minded and travel-focused companies. Setting up your blog is easy, and it’s a great way to share your travels with the world!
There are other home-based travel jobs you can do too, especially if you have the expertise or a preference for particular types of travel. For example, you can become a cruise coordinator, where you work with companies like Cruise Planners in a home-based franchise. Cruise Planners can make around 14-21% commission (think between $490-$735 for just one booking)!
You can also become a local coordinator for exchange students, in which you earn a small stipend for helping exchange students find a place to stay and get settled. Typically these contractors work with local organizations like schools and churches to find and help students interested in exchange programs.
Social Media Marketer.
If you love to travel and you’re looking for ways to earn money from home, there are plenty of opportunities to take your travel beyond Instagram snaps and shares on Facebook … but if you’re really great at social media, you could also become a social media manager in the travel industry! Many of these positions allow you to work from home for a travel-based company, sharing posts and connecting with their customers.
There are many ways you can earn money working in the travel industry. From becoming a work-at-home travel agent to finding ways to document and share your own travel experiences—there’s an opportunity for every traveler out there. Explore your options and pack your suitcase!
Originally published February 25, 2009. Updated March 28, 2017.
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