Paid to Travel? Can You Really Get Paid to Travel (or for Free?)

Traveling… ahh yes, doesn’t EVERYONE LOVE TO TRAVEL? Well, I know, I know… the pains of connecting flights, delays, cancellations, dragging luggage a mile across terminals… the hassle of renting cars, fighting traffic in a foreign country (and figuring out which side of the road to drive) and trying to figure out what the guy is telling you when all’s you asked was “where is the bathroom?”… Aside from all of that, is it not the greatest feeling when you can step away from the normal routine, take a few deep breaths and realize you have nothing to do but sit on the beach… your hardest decision is if you’re going to have steak or lobster that night… and your biggest worry is if you have enough sun screen? That’s what traveling is all about… when it transposes us from our everyday lives and places us in a completely new culture… seeing, breathing, eating and dancing to what people 10,000 miles away from you are doing and thinking to yourself “this is the kind of stuff you see on TV”. That’s when it’s all worth it… that’s why traveling is so amazing.

But, one of – if not “THE” – biggest obstacles in traveling is that little green piece (or many pieces) of paper called MONEY. Whether you’re trying to visit a friend in Dallas or take your wife to Bora-Bora, it all costs Money-and a lot of it. The days of those Southwest “$49.00” fares are long gone and even the little weekend getaways whack a dent in your pocket book. There are definitely ways to shave off a few dollars here and there, but no matter how you slice it, traveling is expensive. Not everyone has a cush, 6 or 7 figure salary that allows them to take off 6 day weekends or weeks at a time to party in Ibiza. So, is there really a way to travel-and I mean really travel-and either get paid or travel for “free”??

The travel industry is an $8 TRILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY. Yes, you read that right… that’s Trillion with a capital “T”. So, other than the hotels, airlines and luggage manufacturers, how can you get involved?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can earn a living, traveling across the world:

Flight Attendant: This is actually a great way to visit a LOT of places-FAST. The average flight attendant makes $37,000.00 a year, with the higher level salaries hovering in the $75,000.00-$90,000.00 range. It’s definitely an advantage if you know more than one (1) language. Flight attendants receive a daily per Diem for meals, along with flexible work schedules, discounts on flights, hotels and travel expenses for vacation. The downside is that when you are working, the flight schedule can be grueling-traveling to multiple cities in a 12, 18 or 24 hour time frame. When you finally stop to rest, the urge to go sight-seeing or check out the city, is traded out with the simple need to sleep in a bed. Oh yea, I forgot to mention… have you ever NOT seen a few angry, annoyed or upset people on your plane? Yep, be prepared to deal with those rude customers during your 12-24 hour shift!

Commercial Airline Pilot: Same deal with flight attendants, in terms of work schedule, but the pay is much better-depending on the size of the jet and company, you can be making $121,000.00 a year. If you want to go to flight school, pass your minimum 250 hours of flight experience, go for it! Just make sure you have perfect vision and hearing. Again, if you want to make this a career, you will visit cities all over the country (and the world), but be prepared to deal with thousands of customers, weather and equipment problems, grueling schedules and the stress that comes along with the responsibility of flying so many people to different places.

Travel Agent: As you may already know, travel agents know all about the best places to visit. They are the middle men between the hotels, airlines, tourism bureaus and the travelers. More than likely, they have an opportunity to visit some of these places so they can see everything for themselves-that’s a pretty sweet perk, eh? Typical salaries are anywhere from $25,000.00 to $35,000.00 and most likely be required to enroll in some sort of training, typically with the Travel Institute.

Freelance Writer or Photographer: What a cool job this would be… traveling all over the world… spending your time with various cultures, observing how the people communicate, eat, sleep and worship. You truly are “free”, relaying what you see and experience to the people sitting on their couch, thousands of miles away. Only catch… well, it’s that one thing we talked about a little earlier: MONEY. Obviously, you are not going to get paid before you get to these places, so be sure to plan this out a little bit, stock up some green in your checking account and pick up some pointers on how to express yourself with the pen & paper or with the camera. Try to develop some sort of “following” so you have a good base of people reading and viewing your content. Do not try to fly to India with a thousand bucks and an iPad, expecting to start a travel blog that generates cash, allowing you to wander the world for the next few years. You might as well go to your nearest casino and play blackjack. If you can pull of this occupation (and to those that currently do this), I tip my hat to you-great work!

Okay, now that we have gone over a few of the travel “jobs”, you may be saying, “well, I like my job right now and don’t really feel like dealing with all of those people and flying across the country 6 times, only to sleep in Des Moines for the night.” If you’re in between jobs, just out of school or simply want to take a “sabbatical”, why don’t you consider these routes in traveling the world:

You Speak English?: Speaking English can provide access to countries in all places across the globe. Some companies offer free room & board in exchange for you to help their employees enhance their English speaking skills and knowledge. There are also programs you can find on the web that well set you up with a certain country and company in order to train their people English. Now that you have your room & board covered, now we just need to figure out how we can pay for food and drink…

Start Giving Back: Feeling charitable or want to help others? Why not look to jump on a church mission trip, Habitat for Humanity-International, or if you can take off more time, join the Peace Corps? Obviously, this is not going to be as glamorous as sailing the Mediterranean, island hoping the Greek Isles, but if you want to feel good about helping out people less fortunate-and work hard-pack your bags and sign up for a volunteer opportunity. You will definitely see some places without paved roads, running water and people simply looking for a roof over their head. Giving the less fortunate the simple things we take for granted: food, clothing and shelter, will give you new sense of gratitude, after completing one of these tours.

All of these ways to travel are great and all, but how many people have the opportunity to take off extended amounts of time or have the nerve to just walk away from their job and become a commercial pilot or join the Peace Corps? Everyone has a job because it pays the bills and gives us financial security. I don’t know about you, but I am responsible for my wife and three(3) children, thus taking the plunge on the “unknown” is absolutely NOT realistic.

So, back to the original question above… How can you realistically travel for free? And when I say, “travel”, I mean, really travel… That means taking a care-free vacation… not having to worry about if you can afford to leave the resort for dinner that night, or buy those extra pair of sunglasses… Care-free travel means doing what you want, when you want and not worrying about the bill when you get back home. Let’s break down a few ways in which we really can travel for free (or as close to it as we can get)… or even better: GET PAID TO TRAVEL!

Use Those Points!: You know, I always knew I was going to be thankful for all that money I spent on my credit card. Now that I racked up all that debt, I also racked up all those points! Points I can use towards booking a new flight or maybe pay for my stay at the Bellagio in Vegas… where I can blow even more money!… I’m kidding!… kind of. Whenever you are looking to obtain a new credit card, choose the card that offers the most, when used. Compare the interest rate for charges and cash advances, the annual fees and also the credit card that provides the best rewards. If you fly a certain airline, be sure to input your frequent flyer number to gather those miles. Use travel sites that allow you to accrue points when you purchase flights, hotels, cruises and rental cars. You’re paying for this stuff anyways, so why not try and earn a little more for the next time you want to take a trip?

Vacation Packages through a Resort or Company: Very similar to a travel agent, only you are selling pre-packaged vacations at a discount to consumers. Instead of creating a customized travel package based on what and where the customer likes, you are selling a pre-packaged stay at a specific resort or hotel/resort/meal itinerary. They come in all shapes and sizes… and they can be dirt cheap (think: hotel next to Senor Frogs-Cancun during Spring Break), or the Rolls Royce type of trip. Depending on the type of company or resort, there are many perks with the access to all of their locations, with commission schedules pretty generous. There are limitations on the demographic of the clientele and if you are representative a company or resort with mediocre selections-and reviews-then it may put you in a rock in a hard place.

Direct Selling with a Travel Company: With this, you really do have the opportunity for the best of both worlds-traveling the world on the cheap (or in some cases, for FREE!) and making money. Typically, people that get involved in this industry already have a full time job and are looking for a better, cheaper way to travel and an additional source of income. It can be extremely lucrative, in terms of creating wealth and a residual income, but a lot of the members simply take advantage of the fact they can generate a few extra dollars every month and access to the premium resorts at wholesale pricing. The direct-sell companies in the travel industry offer 5 star packaged vacations at 2 Star pricing, as well as access to their trip planning website that works like an Expedia or Travelocity. Also, confirm there are ways you can accrue points, when you buy flights, vacations, or even their travel mall, so you can use those points for a free trip. Bottom line: do your research… choose a company that has a great reputation and make sure you have a good support system… thousands of people are catching on to these companies and are really capitalizing on the residual income and extremely low cost of travel.

As you can see, traveling for “free” is really only for professional poker players and the kids with enormous trust funds. You are going to have to work one way or another-whether it’s building up a stockpile of cash and funding an overseas trip or jumping into a new occupation on a plane or abroad. There are multiple ways you can get paid to travel, as well as minimizing your travel costs through various companies and resources… it’s all a matter of preference on what you want to do and how much time you have. Traveling can be a life changing experience or simply a much needed time-out from our crazy lives. Whatever you choose, just make sure to not take it too seriously and enjoy yourself!

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your li

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Business Traveller Flying to London? A London City Guide for Getting to the Centre

London. The vibrant, beating heart of the United Kingdom. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations for tourists, and for business travellers too. The amount of commerce that goes through London is staggering, with a financial centre second only to New York, and service industries that cater for both the UK, European and international markets. As the world’s most multicultural city – there are over 300 languages spoken by a population of over eight million people (twelve million if you include the metropolitan area) – the opportunities for business are clear.

With the UK strategically positioned for the business traveller on the western edge of Europe, London is a global hub for air travel, providing easy access to mainland Europe, and a stepping stone to the United States. Primarily served by five airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Stansted and Luton – London is easily reached from anywhere in the world. But with the exception of London City Airport – smallest of the five and located in East London, close to the business district of Canary Wharf – the other four airports are satellites evenly dispersed around the city. The most popular, Heathrow, is located to the west of London; Gatwick is situated to the south; Stansted to the north east; and Luton to the North West. Knowing this before you make your travel plans can be useful. Since the greater metropolitan area of London covers over 1,000 square miles, your final business destination may not be right in the centre. Researching which airport is closest to your destination can save you time, effort and money.

However, whether you’re a business traveller flying from within the UK or from overseas, your starting destination may often determine the airport you arrive at. Other factors, such as your chosen time of travel, budget and availability will also make a difference. For example, if you’re travelling with a major international carrier from a major city, such as New York, the chances are you’ll arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick (Stansted also receives flights from New York but is the smallest of the three). If you’re travelling locally from within the UK with a budget carrier you’re more likely to arrive at Stansted or Luton (though not exclusively). And if you’re travelling from a major European city, particularly a financial capital, such as Frankfurt, London City Airport is a likely arrival point (the airport was created specifically to cater for short haul business travellers, particularly between financial centres).

Each airport is served by comprehensive rail and road infrastructure, providing business travellers with a variety of options to enter London. All five airports offer direct rail travel into the heart of Central London, coach travel to the main Victoria terminus, and hire car, mini-bus, licensed black cab and taxi services by road. If you’re a VIP business traveller, chauffeur services are also available, and with the exception of London City Airport, each also offer direct helicopter transfer into the heart of the city.

London Heathrow Airport

The busiest of the five airports is London Heathrow. Located less than twenty miles from central London, Heathrow is situated to the west of the city within the M25 motorway metropolitan boundary. The fastest route into London is via the Heathrow Express train service, taking just 15 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3 to Paddington station (located on the western side of Central London). If your flight arrives at either terminal 4 or 5 it’s a further four and six minutes travel time respectively, and you’ll need to transfer on to the main London-bound service at terminals 1, 2 and 3.

The service is excellent, offering comfort and convenience, but does not always suite everyone’s travel budget. The standard ‘Express’ single journey ticket costs £21.00 (€25.00 / $35.00), but business travellers can get better value when purchasing a return ticket, priced at £34.00 (€40.00 / $56.00). The ‘Business First’ ticket is more expensive, with singles costing £29.00 (€35.00 / $48.00) and returns £52.00 (€62.00 / $86.00), but it does afford business travellers considerably more leg room, the privacy of a ‘single seating’ layout, and a fold out table. The experience is akin to that of air travel. All passengers across both pricing structures enjoy access to electrical sockets, USB ports and free Wi-Fi. The overall quality of service and passenger experience generates a ‘wow’ factor, and if your budget can afford it, is certainly the smoothest, quickest and most convenient way to travel into London from Heathrow. Trains run regularly every fifteen minutes in both directions, particularly useful for last minute dashes to the airport.

There are two further rail options available to business travellers, both considerably less expensive, though this is reflected in the quality of service. That’s not to say either is not a good solution for business travellers, just that there is a noticeable difference in convenience and comfort.

With a service typically running every thirty minutes, and a journey duration – depending on the time of day – of between 23 and 27 minutes from terminals 1, 2 and 3, Heathrow Connect is more than adequate for business travellers who are not in a hurry. Like the rival Express service, Connect also arrives at Paddington station, but unlike its faster rival stops at up to five other stations before reaching its terminus. The ‘inconvenience’ of this less direct journey is compensated for by a considerably less expensive ticket price. Single journey’s cost £9.90 (€12.00 / $16.00) while a return is £19.80 (€24.00 / $32.00). There is no saving to be made from purchasing a return ticket. While the convenience and comfort of the traveller experience cannot match the Express, the Connect business travel solution is an acceptable compromise that suits a greater number of travel budgets.

The third – and least expensive – rail option is the London Underground ‘tube’ network. Despite the network’s name the majority of the journey from Heathrow is overground, until the business traveller nears Central London. Starting on the Piccadilly Line, the service connects all five Heathrow terminals and provides frequent trains into London, stopping at a considerable amount of outlying stations before arriving in the capital’s centre. This continually ‘interrupted’ journey – there are seventeen stops between Heathrow terminals 1, 2 and 3 and Paddington Tube station (the nearest equivalent tube terminus for a fair comparison) – and takes approximately fifty minutes journey time on average, considerably slower than its more direct rivals. This journey comparison also requires the inconvenience of a transfer between lines.

So why would the business traveller consider using the tube from Heathrow to Central London? Simple. The frequency of service, the array of destinations, and the cost. At a cash price of just £5.70 (€6.80 / $9.50) for a single journey in either direction during peak hours (06:30am to 09:30am), financially the Underground is an attractive option. At nearly half the price of the Heathrow Connect, and at just over a quarter of the price of the Heathrow Express, this service is comparably good value for money. Further value can be found if the business traveller purchases an ‘Oyster Card’, the ‘cashless’ electronic ticketing system beloved by so many Londoners. Available to purchase at Heathrow London Underground stations, this useful option allows you to get tickets cheaper than for cash – in this case a reduction to just £5.00 (€6.00 / $8.30). Off-peak travel with an Oyster Card offers even greater value, with Heathrow to Paddington in either direction costing just £3.00 (€3.60 / $5.00) per journey. The Oyster Card can also be used for unlimited travel on buses and trains throughout London, with a maximum daily spend capped at £17.00 (€20.00 / $28.00) peak time and just £8.90 (€10.60 / $15.00) off-peak for a six zone ticket (destinations across London are divided into six main zonal rings. Travelling from Heathrow to Central London crosses all six zones).

The Underground is primarily a city-wide mass transit system, rather than a ‘train’ service. As such the level of comfort and convenience is substantially less than that of both the Heathrow Express and Connect services, and at peak hours can be considerably uncomfortable. Having endured a recent flight, business travellers who choose this option run the risk of having to stand up the entire journey if travelling during peak hours. If the carriage is full to squeezing point (as is often the case at peak time) managing your luggage can be a challenge. It should also be noted that the tube network – which, as the world’s first urban mass-transit system is over 150 years old – is often prone to signal failures and delays. If the time between your arrival at Heathrow (don’t forget to factor in clearing immigration control, luggage collection and customs) and your business appointment is tight, particularly during peak hours, it is not unfair to say that you are taking a risk if you choose to use the Underground.

Compared to using rail, travelling by road into Central London is far less convenient. Like every major city around the world, traffic congestion plagues the streets of London. The M4 and A4 route from Heathrow into London is always busy and in parts can be slow moving at times. No matter what your method of road transport, the business traveller is vulnerable to the risk of delays and accidents.

Buses and coaches are plentiful. The dominant carrier is called National Express. They operate services between Heathrow Airport and London Victoria, the main coach terminus in London. From here travellers can travel to many other destinations around the UK. The coaches run from Heathrow Airport Central Bus Station, which is located between terminals 1, 2 and 3. Its well sign posted so easily found. If you’re arriving at terminals 4 or 5 you’ll need to first take the Heathrow Connect train to the central bus station. From Victoria Station you can get to any other part of London with ease, via the Underground, plentiful buses, local trains and licensed black cabs / minicab taxi services.

A single journey tickets start from £6.00 (€7.20 / $10.00), while returns cost £11.00 (€13.20 / $18.00). Although you can purchase your ticket at Heathrow, it is advisable to do so in advance, and online. This will ensure you have a guaranteed, reserved seat on your coach of choice, and also provide you with the opportunity to select a time of departure and/or return that best suits your needs. Typically this service runs three coaches per hour to and from London Victoria coach station. The journey time can vary, dependent on the route taken, the time of day and traffic conditions, but you can typically expect your journey to take between 40 and 90 minutes.

National Express also offers business travellers a Heathrow hotel transfer service to and from the airport, known as the Heathrow Hoppa. With hundreds of services each day running around the clock, it’s a clean, comfortable and affordable way to get about, costing £4.00 (€4.80 / $6.60) for single journey and £7.00 (€8.40/ $11.50) for a return journey. This service is particularly useful if your business appointment is located close to Heathrow and you have no need to travel into Central London.

An alternative to coach travel is taking a bus. This can be particularly useful if you arrive at Heathrow late at night. Depending on the day of the week, the N9 night bus runs approximately every 20 minutes to Trafalgar Square in Central London, from 11.30pm to 5am. The journey time is approximately 75 minutes, subject to traffic delays. It’s a very affordable service, and as part of the Transport for London infrastructure a single journey can be paid for with an Oyster Card (£1.40 (€1.70/ $2.30) or by cash (£2.40 (€2.90/ $4.00).

If your journey into London requires the freedom to choose to travel whenever you want, to wherever you want, or you simply require privacy, then private hire transport is readily available at Heathrow. If you’re just interested in getting from A to B and back again, without any other journeys in between, taking a licensed black cab or minicab taxi may suit your needs. Travelling in an iconic licensed black cab into Central London will take approximately 45-60 minutes, subject to traffic delays, and can typically cost between £50.00 (€60.00/ $83.00) and £80.00 (€96.00/ $132.00). If you do find yourself delayed in traffic the journey will cost more, since black cab meters also charge for waiting time when not moving. Black cabs are readily available at all hours, and good sign posting at Heathrow means they’re easy to find. At a squeeze up to five business travellers can be accommodated, though if you all have large luggage it will be a problem.

An alternative private hire to black cabs are licensed taxi services. This could be a better option for the business traveller, particularly if a number of people with luggage are travelling together. An array of vehicle types are available, ranging from standard 4/5 seater saloon and 6/7 passenger people carrier cars, up to 15 or 17 seater minibuses and even coach taxis. An added advantage is you can book your vehicle of choice in advance and at a fixed price. With so many different companies offering these services, prices – and quality of service – can vary, but typically for a single journey the business traveller can expect to pay a fixed, advance price of £40.00 (€48.00/ $66.00) for a saloon car; £50.00 (€60.00/ $83.00) for an estate car; £55.00 (€66.00/ $90.00) for an executive car; £55.00 (€66.00/ $90.00) for a people carrier; £65.00 (€78.00/ $108.00) for an 8 seater minibus; £80.00 (€96.00/ $132.00) for an executive people carrier; and £165.00 (€198.00/ $272.00) for a 16 seater minibus. Savings can be made on all tariffs if a return journey is booked in advance.

Travelling by black cab or licensed taxi affords the business traveller the freedom to travel at his or her own pace, and can take the hassle out of a journey. It can be a very relaxing way to commute from the airport into London, particularly after a long flight, and offers the business traveller an opportunity to unwind prior to their business appointment.

If you need to arrange senior executive or VIP transportation, chauffeur driven services are readily available (booked in advance) between Heathrow and London. The vehicle type and the length of time you require it for will dictate the price you’ll pay. Chauffeur driven services are readily available to find online. The same is true of helicopter charter services which can transfer the executive business traveller from Heathrow into Central London (Battersea Heliport) in approximately 15 minutes. Flightline Travel Management is experienced at providing our customers with both modes of transport, and we’re happy to take your enquiry.

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