If you’re cabin crew and thinking of leaving flying but unsure what to do afterwards I hope this article will help give you some options, ideas and things to think about for which direction and jobs you would like to go into. I know it can feel daunting to leave the lifestyle: I am an ex cabin crew so all the thoughts you’re having – I’ve had. This post is mostly aimed at crew who still want to incorporate some aspect of travel into their new life. Feel free to reach out with a comment below if you need more help!
“Only leave this job for something better” is the phrase I always tell flight attendants when they tell me they want to quit their cabin crew job. Only leave when you have a plan in place.
It’s what I stood by when I made the decision to give up my wings.
I loved flying. But I had always said I only wanted to fly for 3-4 years. After that no more, however much I loved it. And I did love it, I really loved it. But I knew chicken and beef could only take me so far.
I had previously heard of so many crew who had resigned and then ended up living to regret it. I didn’t want that to happen to me. My new life on the ground needed to be as exciting as my life up in the clouds was.
Something better or more exciting doesn’t necessarily mean more money or more travelling. It’s different for all of us. Some want to move back home and settle down whereas others want to continue travelling, just not as cabin crew. Others want to leave but desperately don’t want to go move back in with their parents, or they don’t have qualifications for any other job and feel trapped so just continue to fly.
Most flight attendants however, have no idea what they want to do after flying. All they know is that they don’t want to fly any more.
So where to go?
The first thing to consider is: do you want to move back home if you were Cabin Crew overseas (or stay at home if you are flying in your home country) or do you want to live abroad elsewhere?
Personally I wanted to experience living in Australia for a year, so after working as cabin crew in The Middle East I moved to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV). I chose Australia because I had been there many times on holiday and layovers so I knew I loved their laidback lifestyle, good weather, friendly people and beautiful nature. Plus, the wages are epic in Australia so this draws many people here.
Unless you really have a draw to go back home, at least consider relocating to another country. If you’re going back home for family reasons of course that’s different. But if you just don’t want to fly any more, why not think about moving abroad somewhere new? Even though you’ll be working you can still get to travel and explore your new country in your spare time! Plus of course you’ll make friends!
So many crew I met in The Middle East were scared at the thought of moving somewhere new and starting afresh again – yet they had all done exactly this when they moved out there to become a cabin crew! If you’ve done it once you can do it again! Don’t be afraid to start over. It can be so refreshing, and often a lot better than going back home and reverting into the person you were before you started flying.
8 Best Travel Jobs for Ex Cabin Crew
So let’s look at some ideas of jobs and options suitable for ex cabin crew. You might not think it, but as cabin crew you have SO many transferable skills! So much experience in customer services, problem solving, multitasking, adapting to new situations to name just a few.
Now, there are so many more jobs that you can go into, it’s of course not limited to these ones! But I decided to focus on these ones as they are jobs that are mostly suited for cabin crew who still love travel and want to do a job travel related. All of these you can do abroad too if you decide to take my advice and consider relocating!
1. Work on a Cruise Ship
Working on a cruise ship can be pretty similar to how flying in The Middle East is. You’re all away from home, you live on top of each other, you get free accommodation, you work long hours, your colleagues are from many different nationalities, you get to visit new exotic destinations all the time, you get a good salary, you and your family get staff travel benefits and well there’s the same kind of high school atmosphere – with some bitchiness and a hell of a lot of testosterone flying round the place.
There are two main differences though:
- On a cruise ship there are so many different jobs you can do
- You don’t receive radiation like you do when you’re flying
There are many job options on a cruise ship! Think outside the box, it’s not just waiters and waitresses and chambermaids. Beauticians, fitness instructors, dancers, DJ’s, photographers, lifeguards, excursion leaders, entertainers, chefs, F&B managers, casino staff, accountant, IT staff, hair stylists – the list is vast! Usually you’ll be away at sea for around 8 months, then you’ll have a couple months off, wahoo! If you need a change from cabin crew life but aren’t ready to give up the lifestyle completely, working on a cruise ship could be the perfect solution – especially if you have any niche skills like some of the ones listed above! Click here for jobs.
The second reason: radiation. Actually one of the reasons I left flying was due to the high amount of radiation you receive. Despite what they’ll tell you during your training, the radiation you receive as a flight attendant can have a massive effect on your health down the line. Actually they never even mentioned radiation during my training so some crew didn’t even know what it was!! Continuous overexposure to radiation can lead to cancer, infertility and many more conditions. I studied radiation for 3 years at a Bachelor of Science Degree level so I know what I’m talking about. Working on a cruise ship can be a great alternative to flying if you are worried about the radiation levels you receive.
2. Travel Consultant/ Travel Agent
As cabin crew you are so qualified for this job and you don’t even know it! You know so much about destinations, airlines, cultures and how to convince someone to buy something (because you wanted that Duty Free Commission remember!). Many flight attendants go on to work at travel agencies, or even start their own travel company. I knew a former flight attendant who left and then based themselves in one of the destinations we flew to, and would organise excursions for crew on layovers there, which turned out to be quite successful for them!
There are also some travel consultancy jobs where you can work from home – meaning you can live anywhere and get paid for it!
3. Tour Guide
I’ll let you in on something. I actually applied to become a tour guide in Europe for Contiki at the same time I applied to become a flight attendant! It was my backup incase I didn’t get the cabin crew job. I got both jobs but took the cabin crew job as that was the one I wanted more. But I still think being a tour guide would be fun for a while! Contiki is suited more for younger energetic party people, so other companies I would also suggest if you are thinking to become a tour guide are G Adventures and Intrepid.
There’s no denying being a tour guide is hard work: being surrounded by people asking you things all the time (pretty much like being a cabin crew right?!) and having to be calm and patient when things annoy you or go wrong (again, like cabin crew!). But being a tour guide is a great way to still get paid to travel! And you are oh so qualified for bagging a job like this – they should be falling over themselves to offer a former flight attendant the job!
4. Travel Blogger
This is what I left flying to do, incase you hadn’t guessed! Luckily I started blogging 1 year before I quit flying and so already had my foot on the ladder. During that year I found it ridiculously hard trying to do both at the same time though.
Flight attendants have SO much experience and knowledge when it comes to travel. I would often read travel blogs online and think wow what a pile of wank – I could write something better than that, they forgot loads of important stuff! That’s kind of how I started getting into blogging. It only started off as a hobby, but now I do it full-time in the land down under.
It did absolutely boggle me that so many crew just didn’t see the opportunities right infront of them day after day! You are literally in some of the world’s most incredible places, yet you spend all your layovers watching Netflix or drinking! Crew would be in Paris for example, and say ‘It’s boring, there’s nothing to do here’ – it actually made me want to hit my head against a brick wall and was another factor why I started my blog – to encourage crew to start travelling again (now how crazy does that actually sound!). I would love nothing other than going out on a layover, making an itinerary and going exploring, taking pictures and then writing about it afterwards! Crew would see what I got up to on layovers and many of them would constantly tell me how I inspired them to do more on their layovers. And if you can inspire at least one person, then it’s worth it.
If you’re thinking of starting a blog from scratch, it can take a while to start making decent money. But keep learning, keep investing in yourself and learn SEO so you can start ranking in Google and people will actually find your blog!
On a side note, so I don’t have to pay for my accommodation in Australia whilst I am blogging, I house sit! Meaning I look after people’s pets when they go on holiday! So again, I’m not paying for accommodation and get to stay in some incredible houses all to myself! Housesitting is a great way to travel – I am basically working my way across Australia by going to house sits in different cities/areas every few weeks! So I am able to blog a lot, but also explore a lot too! Click here to join the Housesitting website I use. It has house sits world wide, and I’ve even attached a 25% off code for your membership there!
5. Photographer/ Vlogger
If writing is not your thing, perhaps photography or videography and vlogging would suit you better. Use your layovers as the perfect opportunity to start making short travel videos! You can also share them online on YouTube and with the other crew, giving them ideas of new and exciting places to visit and things to do in certain destinations!
YouTube and Instagram are such great platforms for inspiration and to get your work noticed, and so many people have been able to make a full time career out of this or get to go on free promotional trips thanks to their work getting discovered online! When I was posting some Iran pictures onto my Instagram in December 2018, one of the pictures caught the eye of a tourism company in Iran and they invited me on my first press trip – purely because they had seen and liked my photos and wanted me to create content for them. Click here to read more about it and how you can start getting press trips of your own!
Getting noticed online is becoming incredibly difficult these days. And success will definitely not happen overnight. It could take years of hard work, learning and dedication. So if you have a passion for photography or vlogging and this is the kind of path you’d like to go down, it might be wise to continue working as a crew for a while to ensure you are getting a steady income (and can afford all the best camera equipment!) and that you get to visit and capture amazing destinations whilst getting paid to do so. This way you can keep saving money for when the time does come that you decide to give up your wings and go freelance alone. I know crew who dedicate all their spare time to their YouTube and Instagram accounts, and similar to when I was flying and blogging: flying starts to seem almost like a secondary job as you’re putting all your time and energy into your hobby! And even if you’re not enjoying flying so much any more, you’ll still be thankful that it gives you the opportunity to visit new places and create new content.
6. Overseas live-in nanny/au-pair
Actually before I became cabin crew I was an au-pair in Italy. This was seriously one of the most amazing experiences of my life! You worked part-time hours (usually 20 hours a week!) in a city of your choice, got free accommodation (in a huge house!), free food, free holidays to luxury locations, plus you got paid!
Being an au-pair is a great way to be able to live in a foreign country without being able to speak the language as the families want you to speak in English to the children. Infact many girls decide to become an au-pair abroad so they can pick up the local language when they’re there – this was the main reason I became an au-pair: so I would have lots of free time and be able to learn Italian properly. Some girls even become au-pairs abroad and study a Degree at the local University during their time there! So they are living in an amazing foreign country, getting a qualification from it, and have no accommodation costs or food costs! Whilst I would not consider being an au-pair a long-term career, it is great to do it for a year or two if you want to experience living somewhere new.
Click here to visit the Au Pair World website to search for families. It is free and is not organised through an agent – meaning you are in total control to choose the exact place you want to live and the perfect family! And if you pick the right family, they will literally become your second family and it will never feel like work!
7. Language Teacher
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a great way for native English speakers to live abroad. Like au-pairs, you don’t have to know the language of the country you choose to move to as all the lessons are taught in English – there is no translating into the student’s mother tongue. How cool to think you could just move to Japan or Thailand or wherever you feel like! You can teach in the day and travel in your free time!
Nowadays you can even teach English online, meaning you could teach from the comfort of your own bed if you don’t want to move abroad! And online courses even accept non Native speakers to teach! If you’re not a native English speaker and wouldn’t feel comfortable teaching in English (even though you are proficient in it), why not think about doing some translation services online? Translating documents can be a good way to earn money, and again, you can also do this from your own bed (or sun lounger, or hammock!).
A fair few crew actually train to be flight deck (often in a different continent!) whilst they’re still working as cabin crew! My total respect. I knew crew who on their days off would fly to South Africa, USA or Spain to do their pilot training. Even though it’s a lot of time and money to invest, if it’s your dream then go for it!
I was always so happy to see other crew also learning something and following their passions in their spare time instead of wasting time and money partying! It would make me glad to know I wasn’t the only one sat learning in front of a computer on my days off! Time goes so quick when you’re flying, and you don’t want to just come away from flying with great memories of fun layovers. Be productive on your days off and use your brain to do something you’re passionate about that will benefit you in the future!
Life After Flying
I stopped flying 5 months ago now and I don’t regret my decision. Like I said, I loved that job but I was ready for a new challenge and to get out of the cabin crew bubble. One year before I left I had my plan in place and visa sorted for Australia. I just wanted to enjoy flying for a few more months, save up some more money, and enjoy those last minute staff travel trips on my days off for a little longer!
You need to leave when you are truly ready, so don’t make any snap decisions. You may not think it now, but flying is easy money and you’ll miss it when it’s gone! Save as much money as you can, but still enjoy yourself of course! But you need to manage your money and stop wasting it on stupid things.
Make plans BEFORE you leave. Some crew I know literally resigned without any plan in place. And they didn’t save any money so left The Middle East with no savings, and couldn’t get a job for months so had to sponge off mum and dad. They are now doing some crappy jobs at home and get FOMO when they see their crew friends on Insta still having a great time flying. Some even reapplied to become crew again because they regretted their snap decision to leave! Don’t be like this. Like I said at the beginning, only leave for something better. Leave when you have a solid plan that makes you excited! Plan your exit and even better if you can start doing your thing before you leave like I did, so the transition won’t feel so big. You’ll never regret your decision to leave if it is based on a passion, hobby or dream you want to pursue. Trust me. Your fear and lack of self-belief is the only thing holding you back.
Do I miss flying? I don’t miss that absolutely exhausted feeling that only crew can relate to – you know the one when you wake up post night flight and feel like you’ve been hit by a bus. Sure I miss the social side of it at times – it was like being back at university all living in the same building. But I’m glad to be back in the real world, having normal conversations again, with people whose lips aren’t the size of watermelons.