Over the last few years, we’ve seen incredible changes in the way people think about travel. Conscious, transformational approaches are all the rage, along with many other buzzwords that leave people feeling intrigued yet confused. How does one actually have a transformational travel experience (and what even is it?)? How can you actually be sure you’re making a difference in the place you’re visiting? And most importantly, who can we turn to that can explain and execute these kinds of experiences?
For some, before COVID and subsequently the true beginnings of this paradigm shift, jobs in travel felt limited and uninspiring, with many companies, learning institutions and roles using outdated training and education. For us seasoned travellers eager to pursue a career in the very industry that had changed our lives, this contrast between reality and expectation felt disappointing.
Doors of job opportunities in tourism.
For me, it took a lot of learning, unlearning and networking with industry thought leaders before I recognized that there were options greater than anything I could’ve dreamt about. Creative jobs like travel blogging or influencing were interesting but seemed unsustainable or too good to be true. I knew though that these types of careers were one step closer to the type of work I wanted to do. One day, I discovered a concept that spoke directly to me: travel coaching.
If you ask me, travel coaching is the industry’s best-kept secret. It is the “secret” I would reveal to tourism students who don’t want to work in hotels, be a tour guide or a travel agent. It is what I would reveal to travel advisors, tour operators and hoteliers who are burnt out or straight up bored of the often transactional, impersonal, retail feel of mass tourism. Travel coaching quenches our creative spirits, allowing us to tap into our own unique travel experiences, and the ways in which we can implement them practically are limitless.
What is a Travel Coach?
You may be asking yourself: what exactly is a travel coach and how does it differ from any other type of travel planner out there? This is a fair question. There are so many different ways we describe people who book and plan travel - advisor, planner, consultant, agent, designer, that you may be thinking: what’s the purpose of throwing “coach” into the mix?
According to the Travel Coach Network, a travel coach is a passionate traveller who understands the deeper purpose of travel and the impact that it can make on your mind, body, soul and quality of life and work.
A major distinction between a travel coach and a travel advisor is that travel coaches do not necessarily book and/or plan travel. Travel coaches focus on guiding their clients through the emotional and mental barriers by helping them reach different goals through travel. Such goals may range from getting over a fear of flying to travelling to heal from a recent divorce.
The coaching industry as a whole has taken off in the last decade - life coaches, culture coaches, relationship coaches, career coaches - and with the wonderfully complex way travel can impact our lives, travel coaching is a natural addition to the coaching space.
Why Should I Be or Why Should I Hire a Travel Coach?
1. They work within unique and specific niches.
The very term “niche” has gone far beyond surface-level types of travel such as eco, beach and cruise. Now, travel niches take on a new level of personalization through catering to specific and important aspects of people’s lives.
Travel coaches draw upon their own circumstances and knowledge to help individuals or companies. Specialties may get as specific as travel for 50+ females, travel for those with disabilities, food allergies and digital nomadism.
Through catering to audiences in their own niches, they can speak directly to their clientele’s struggles and work with them to create solutions and set goals.
2. Travel coaches offer flexible, multifaceted, and customized services.
There is a preconceived idea that coaches of all sorts work one on one directly with consumers. The truth of the matter is that travel coaches can work with businesses and groups of people at a time. Some travel coaches, like myself, don’t even book or plan travel. That is the beauty of the profession - it is up to the individual how they want to utilize their knowledge and experience. However, those that do want to book and/or plan travel, can do so flexibly.
Business models vary from coach to coach, with some coming from travel advisor backgrounds looking to elevate their businesses holistically through the added dimension of coaching skills, and with others simply providing guidance and suggesting itineraries for clients to ultimately book themselves.
This flexibility empowers clients right from the start, with multiple options to reach their travel goals.
Traveller meeting her goal of climbing a mountain with the help of a travel coach.
3. They know how to elevate and optimize your experiences.
Travel coaches see beyond the commodification of travel and not only are they trained to recognize its impact on the self, others and the planet, but they have also experienced this firsthand through their own adventures.
With this recognition, travel coaches are well equipped to help you develop the mindset of maximizing your experience by asking strategic questions that help you get to the root of what you’re looking to get out of a trip.
Putting some of the control and decision-making in your clients’ hands makes them feel like an active part of the whole process and allows them to cultivate skills like problem-solving and decision-making that are often a necessity while travelling.
4. Travel coaches provide ongoing value and support.
Unlike traditional interactions with tourism booking methods, travel coaches recognize that the impacts of a trip extend far beyond the physical end of the trip itself and far before the trip or the next trip begins. They will support you ongoing to help you meet your travel-related goals as they relate to your overall life goals.
Travel coaches take the guesswork out of how to have a meaningful travel experience. They support you as you work through every emotional, mental, physical and social triumph and obstacle.
Who Can Be a Travel Coach?
Anyone who has experience and a passion for travel can pursue travel coaching. Travel advisors may participate in travel coach training to gain a deeper understanding of how to support their clients on a more personal and long-term level, or they might collaborate with a travel coach who can work with their clients on an ongoing basis to address their goals and emotional barriers.
Travel coaches can also work in partnerships or with businesses in a learning and development capacity, helping them curate training programs and educational materials related to meaningful travel.
A group travel coaching session.
Overall, travel is intrinsically powerful in its ability to captivate us, challenge us and change our lives. With their specialized knowledge, flexibility, experience and support, travel coaches are a revolutionary solution to empowering travellers on their unique and transformative journeys.
Do you want to learn more about how you can become a certified travel coach? Are you interested in how travel coaching can benefit your company? Feel free to get in touch via email or social media and Your Travel Analyst will be happy to help.