I was always scheming up the next job I could do that would allow me to see the world. The 1st job I got abroad was from an ad I saw in USA Today, while working the night shift of my college job at Avis at the airport. After having returned for 3 extended trips throughout Mexico, I was looking for ways I could return. I saw a posting for real estate sales and thought some how I was qualified at the ripe age of 20 to apply. I immediately faxed my information over, and before I knew it, I was offered a job to sell time shares as part of a new development in Nueovo Vallarta. They would even put us up for a week in another time share condo, while I found a place to live. I talked my 2 friends into going, and we quickly bought $99 dollar tickets on Suntrip Airlines out of Denver (8 hours away.) We arrived to Mexico and settled in. I was to meet the people the next day. Taking the bus out to Nuevo Vallarta totally lost, walking across some huge golf course, I finally found the massive construction zone of the soon to be Mayan Vallarta, with just a mock up of the plans, and lots of renderings on the wall. I did not see the vision, and thought how on earth am I going to convince someone to buy this? After a night out at the famous ZOO bar, we some how got recruited to work for a competing, established, time share company, called Sun Club Vacations. They would pay us $65 US cash for every person we got to sign up for a presentation. We lost one friend along the way to the night club scene, after he met up with a group of girls on summer break, and would see him out and about living it up, with a different girl each night. After about a week of us not seeing him out around town, we started to get worried, and called the local tourist police. They confirmed that he had lost all of his money and the Good Samaritan program had paid for a bus ticket back to the border for him. We saw him a few months later back home, and he ended up robbed and stranded in Guadalajara, and sold his camera to make it home. But I digress. The Sun Club Vacations gig was actually pretty fun. We found a 1 bedroom apartment right on the beach, complete with a roof top swimming pool, bbq’s, a housekeeper 5 days a week, in a secure part of old town for only $500 US a month. The company would either pick us up in their company van, or we would ride the bus for 10 cents out to the main office, and then they would shuttle us around the town, dropping us off at various offices and stands through out the city. My friend got a spot located in a fancy lobby of a hotel, because she was “more gringa” and to not draw attention to herself. I was so tan at the time, I could almost pass for a local, and I found it quite funny, them always telling me to slick my hair back, “more water” they would say. We would sit in air conditioned offices, or outside the local shopping mall, escaping for breaks with my 2 co-workers on trips to the beach, and then would shut down for siesta time for a couple of hours and drop us back at our apartment for a break. They would come pick us up for the evening shift which usually finished around 8 PM. My roommate did better in the sales department, while I perfected the art of hanging with the locals. One of the highlights was our co-workers coming to pick us up one night in the Sun Club VW van, asking us if we wanted to go on a cruise. We thought we were going on a dinner cruise, on a boat, but it actually turned out to be a jungle “cruise” in the VW van.
During this time working, or barely working I should say, we came across another tribe of workers in Mexico. The Spring and Summer Break chaperones. They had the coveted gigs of night club and party chaperone. I was intrigued, so I befriended a few and got the inside scoop on their job, making plans for the future.
After the summer ended, and my roommate was forced by her parents to return home to finish up her final year of college, we bid goodbye to our friends and summer of fun. With winter in Montana fast approaching, I applied to become a nanny, anywhere warm. Within a few months, I was living it up on the beaches of South Beach on the weekends and had landed an all expense paid nanny job, making a few hundred a week. I did that for a few months, and then went to work for a wonderful family out side of San Diego who had an 8 bedroom mansion, right across the street from the San Diego Chargers quarterback, in an exclusive neighborhood. I went to college during the day after dropping the kids off at school, had my evenings and weekends free, and just had to pick the kids up from school and make them dinner. I had my weekends free travelling to Mexico or Las Vegas almost every weekend. I then took another nanny job in Passau, Germany, but that was short lived, as the mother (a pharmacist) ending up going to rehab, right before we were to head to the family vacation house in Mallorca Spain, and I got the heck out of the cold German weather. Back in the states, I started applying to all of the student travel companies that were looking for student campus reps, and on site chaperones. With many companies, if you sold enough trips, you could earn cash and your own all expense paid trip to the destination of your choice. I was selected to be an on site staff member, and was given a free ticket to Cancun Mexico, $300 USD cash a week, housed (with a room mate) at the Hyatt, and an all access pass to all of the hottest parties, night clubs, events, and activities. Most of the meals were comped at the nicest spots, and we worked 4 days on and 3 days off. It was challenging, and a bit stressful at times, dealing with a bunch of drunk high school students, getting them out of jail, hospitals, them getting kicked out of hotels, (or getting sent home), but the opportunity was amazing. During my time there, I was able to visit the ruins, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, Playa Del Carmen and the surrounding areas. All of the activities you could arrange for free with the company, so money was never an issue. This is a great way to spend a summer, and some even make a career out of it as a sales rep a few months a year, and the rest spent going from place to place with the company.
After I finished the summer in Mexico, we were allowed to hop on any charter flight back to the states, and even stay on if we wanted to go to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
I returned back home, determined to keep the travel ball going. I discovered the website http://www.resortjobs.com and put my resume in for any position at any hotel I was qualified for. There were posting in Egypt, Greece, Thailand, and Guam. Most would provide you with a work permit, a 6 month contract, all expenses paid, and a return ticket home after you finished your contract. Within a month or so, I was on my way to Guam to work for a Club Med style resort called Pacific Islands Club as a Clubmate or “ambassador of fun.” This was the best job I had by far. You got a shared room in a wing of the massive resort living with fellow Clubmates. You worked 6 days a week, with all of the meals and a salary (with medical insurance) provided. You were basically there to entertain the Japanese, Chinese and Korean guests, in various areas throughout the resort. There were water slides, tennis, archery, putter golf, a windsurfing pool, and an amazing beach, where you would teach lessons, take the guests snorkeling, or sailing, participate in evening shows, and get paid to hang around the pool bar and drink with the guests. My contract was for 6 months and I signed on for another 6 months becoming the activities supervisor, who oversaw the activity department, planned special games and activities for the guests, and also was the audio and lighting technician for the Pacific Dreams Island show. We even were in guests weddings! Where else would you get paid to basically have fun and entertain guests in a beautiful tropical paradise?
After that contract was up, I somehow convinced the HR lady to let me change my ticket home and cash it in for a vacation package to Bali. We spent a month exploring, and had the advantage of traveling with a Japanese friend we had met at the resort, who’s grandfather happened to have a house on Lombok and a guest house on the quaint island of Gili Meno. She spoke the language, and we really got an insiders view of the place. Fostering relationships and getting to spend long term time in a places and learn about the culture has been one of the greatest experiences. The money is secondary. The nice thing is, with all of these jobs, it put me in a good position to save for more travel.
After I returned back to Guam from Bali I was going to stay and work for another hotel and even had a job lined up. I had some friends moving to Hawaii, and I had fallen in LOVE with it after a stop over on the way to Guam. So we all decided to move to Hawaii, and right away got jobs in the hospitality field. Island fever soon set in, but I absolutely loved Hawaii, and had fallen in love as well. One of the perks of my job with a reputable tour company included $35 dollar stand by flights on ATA Airlines, which the company used to charter flights to Hawaii. I was able to fly to Los Angeles and San Francisco anytime I wanted. I thought that I would make Hawaii a sort of home base. I thought what a better way to live in Hawaii, and be able to fulfill my travel bug, was to get a job for a big airline. So I actively started applying, and soon landed a job with United Airlines. This is where the serious travel started.
I was travelling almost 100,000 miles a year….To be continued… Stay tuned for the next blog post on how I managed to land a job for a major airline, but still be able to take months off at a time and be able to travel the world for practically free.