Working as a freelance tour leader in Vietnam.

Working as a freelance tour leader in Vietnam.

I work as a freelancer in tourism and travel the world 365 days a year and live in hotels and eat in restaurants more than 300 days a year. This is something which is quite possible to do and here are some of the things I do in order to make a fine living from traveling the world. And I will also talk about some of the things that you should not do if you want to make a living from traveling.

Be out there and meet people in person.

.When you meet people in person you develop valuable contacts.

.When you meet people in person you develop valuable contacts.

I meet so many talented and charming people from all corners of the globe who wants to make a living from tourism and never really get anywhere. One of the main reasons is that they sit and send out endless CV’s to companies that they have never met. This might be what you were told to do in school, but tourism works differently as we deal with people in tourism every single day and you must be able to show that you are fine with people in order to get as far as an interview. So take your CV directly to the company office, or meet the company at various tourism fairs and present it to them there, while you are having a chat with them, so they can see that you are not some introvert who can’t talk to people and not some gang member with spider net tattoos in your face. In tourism you very often have to sell either a product to a buyer or deliver the product to a client in person and you won’t even get close to that if the company manager has not met you in person. So get out there and meet and greet people. The world of tourism is very informal, so you do not need to dress up and act like you are hoping to work in a law office, but you have to be there in person.


Answer e mails daily.

My "office" in a Singapore cafe.

My “office” in a Singapore cafe.

I have a lot more job offers than I can handle. I have also noticed though, that this is not the case for most of my colleges. Over the years I have noticed that a lot of it comes down to something as simple as the fact that I answer all work mails within 24 hours. And I don’t send a short message by phone saying just yes or no to a job. I sit down at least twice a day and go through my work inbox and take my time to answer all work mails properly. ALSO the jobs that I say no to, cause this company might offer me another job in a few weeks I would really like and showing them that you take their interest serious, also shows that you are a serious work partner. This might sound a little annoying, but this is something that takes me less than an hour to do every day (most days less than half an hour). I also do this when I have a period when I am traveling for fun, which is currently 7 months a year. The reason why I can travel 7 months a year for fun and just work 5 months a year while still traveling, is that I set aside 2 X 30 minutes per day to answer work mails properly. This really sounds like nothing and it really is, but you would be surprised how many people do not do that and sometimes take 4-5 days to answer an e mail. This is where we really separate the people who are able to be their own boss, from those who are not.


Be flexible.

On my way to work at Dubai Airport.

On my way to work at Dubai Airport.

If you are a freelancer then you need to be flexible. And I mean real flexible sometimes. I was once sitting in a bar in Copenhagen with my friends having a pint of beer, when the phone rang and a travel agency asked me if I could fly to Mexico City in 10 hours time with 28 clients as their tour leader had fallen ill the same day. Sure I did this, after finishing my pint, even if I had something else organized the next 4 days. The company calling me in this case came back to me several times after that with ore exotic job offers. I have also gone to Brazil with a few hours notice. If you want your whole life organized in a calender several months or weeks in advance, then forget about being a freelancer.

And if spending a few hundred dollars or a few thousand dollars a year in order to keep your freelance business going, then forget it too. You can’t run a business successfully without ever investing any money in to it. Sometimes you might need to advertise yourself a little or spend a few hundred dollars on a flight in order to meet some potential partner, but as a long as this pays off with some work worth nore than what you spend then this is cool. Many people have had to give up working as a freelancer in tourism cause they did not want to spend a penny on it in the first place. And if you lack money then take a seasonal job over the summer or over christmas and work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week and you will soon have some capital to get started.


Don’t burn your bridges.

Don't burn your bridges, use them to connect to the world.

Don’t burn your bridges, use them to connect to the world.

As a freelancer you get to work for many companies and some of them are great and some of them are fucking assholes. It’s very tempting to post negative things online about the ones who treat you like shit, but think twice before doing that. I don’t mean that you would ever want to work for them again, but the manager of that company might very well know the managers of other companies you want to work for (the world of tourism is surprisingly small) so he might just be able to smear your name if you start to smear his. So unless we are talking about law suits and so on, then try to keep a clean path. I have worked for some really big jerks over the years, but you won’t see me writing in public who it is and that is simply because going to war does not pay off. Neither in Vietnam or Iraq or in the world of tourism.


Keep your monthly expenses down.

Kids are cute, but let other people have them.

Kids are cute, but let other people have them.

And finally I have to say that you must keep your monthly expenses down. I usually say that if you want to get married, have kids, buy a house and a car, then you better find yourself a rich spouse if you plan to do this as a freelancer in tourism. We do not get rich in money in the world of tourism, but in experiences around the world and even if I do not have a fat paycheck I still get to spend most night every year in fine hotels and dine out several hundred times a year, so don’t call me poor even if I am not exactly rich. I am feeling like a million even if I am not even close to earning one.

Travel the world and get paid.

Travel the world and get paid.

This was a few words from me, based on my +20 years of working in the world of tourism. Feel free to drop me a mail if you have any questions or just want to have a chat about being a freelancer in tourism. Heck, drop me a mail anyway if you like. As long as you are not trying to sell me something then I will do my best to answer any mail I might get.

If you want my 5 cents about working as a tour leader then you can find it on this link: Being a tour leader

Happy travels 🙂

Cheers to the world.

Cheers to the world.


  1. Fantastic insight and tips, thank you very much!

  2. Great and very informative post Claus! Thanks for sharing, it definitely teaches me a thing or two about being a freelance in tourism.

  3. Pingback: Travel Blogger News: August 2015

  4. I know it’s probably much easier to travel and do your job without a family, but I’ll testify that the joy a family brings to you will by FAR surpass anything you have experienced so far!

  5. Great advice and awesome inspiration for someone wanting to travel the world.

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