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from yachts to the United Nations


People often travel to work.

Some people travel, but it is their core job.

CNBC Travel spoke with people from four industries about occupations where working from home — or an office for that matter — isn’t an option.

One year of travel

Name: Sebastian Modak
Ex-New York Times 52 Places Traveler

Modak was one 13,000 people who applied for a role that sent one person to every destination on The New York Times’ “Places to Go” list in 2018 — the first year the newspaper hired for the position. 

The job was not offered to him.

He said, “A year later, I decided to give it another shot.” It worked this time!

It is the “52 Places Traveler” for 2019, Modak traveled to a new destination every week — from Bulgaria to Qatar and Uzbekistan to Vietnam — in a year he described as both thrilling and grueling.

“I often say it was one of the greatest experiences of my life … but also the hardest,” he said.  “I couldn’t take a day off for the entire year and it was difficult to deal with the pressures of deadlines.”

Modak is the editor-at large for Lonely Planet’s travel magazine. He said that his advice to aspiring writers was to acknowledge you don’t know anything. The first step towards telling great travel stories and finding them is to ask questions.

Source: Sebastian Modak

Modak stated that the job demands someone capable of “doing it all”, from posting articles on social media and shooting photos and videos to writing them.

It was quite a bit! He agreed. He said, “Besides their storytelling skills, they wanted someone with enough stamina and endurance to last the entire year.”

Modak attributes his success to luck, however, he also said that he believed his travel passion and upbringing helped him get the job. Modak said Modak is Colombian and his father is Indian. His mother, however, is Colombian. They made a cultural concession by moving around constantly. He explained that Modak grew up in India, Australia and Indonesia as a result.

Modak said the job — which has been heralded as the quintessential “dream job” — was exhausting, stressful and even scary at times, yet one of constant growth and adventure.

He said, “I wouldn’t take it back to the world.” “It blew my mind wide open, introduced me to people on six continents … and cemented my love for going to a place and seeking out a story.”

‘Humanitarian hero’

Sandra Black (left), with the women who participated in a carpet-making program in a resettlement area after Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique in 2019.

Source: IOM/ Alfoso Pequeno

Black wrote about people who were displaced by Cyclone Idai in 2019 — one of the worst hurricanes on record to hit Africa — while working for the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration. Sarah was a woman she met who, after the flooding in her home caused her to lose her house, had climbed up trees with her infant. According to the woman, she was rescued 7 days later.  

Black, originally New Yorker, speaks French and Spanish. She also has a basic knowledge of Wolof (the national language of Senegal) and Tetum (a language used on East Timor). Her language skills are why she has been deployed in an emergency to help with humanitarian crises, says Black.

In an interview with the U.N., she stated that “at night I type until my eyes can no longer hold it any longer and then I start over at 6am on the next morning.”humanitarian hero“Campaign for 2014

“The best part of humanitarian communication is to give a platform to people who have been affected by conflicts and natural catastrophes to tell their stories,” she stated. Many are genuinely concerned about the well-being of their families and communities.

Chef to Captain

Name: Tony Stewart
Job: Yacht captain

Stewart indicated that he anticipates traveling for nine months while at the helm the The Thrill Ride. 130-foot tri-deck “All Inn” motor yacht. He has already traveled from Central America to Mexico and the Caribbean. According to him, he plans to fly out of the West Coast United States and travel to British Columbia’s Inside Passage. He will then continue on to Southeast Alaska. From there, he will fly to Florida, where he will finish the year in Bahamas. 

This is slightly more than the “typical year”, he explained, due to an increase of charter business. 

Stewart stated that he began his career in yachting in 1998 as a chef and fell in love with its lifestyle, work, and travel. Stewart changed his career after spending a year and half cooking.

Tony Stewart said that since 2006, Tony Stewart has commanded three motor yachts. This includes the 130-foot Westport trideck yacht “All Inn.”

Source: Fraser Yachts

“I made the decision to get my pilot’s license, and I started looking for a job. [a]Deckhand, and I started my journey,” said he.

Stewart said that this job requires problem-solving, organisation, and high stress tolerance. Captains “do a bit of everything”, Stewart said. This includes trip planning and accounting, as well as HR duties and guest golf reservations.

As to whether it’s a dream job — “it absolutely is,” said Stewart.

We endure long days, and sometimes weeks without days off,” he said, but “I couldn’t imagine doing this … and not loving it.”

Italian villa expert

Nom:Amy Ropner
Position: Head of Villas, U.K.-based Luxury Travel and Villas Company
Red Savannah

Ropner stated that out of the 300 villas Red Savannah has worked with, 120 were in Italy. Ropner estimates that she has visited between 80% and 90% of the villas.

She regularly travels to Italy from London in order to examine the collection of villas that are “exceptionally expensive” and evaluate potential new properties to be added to the company’s portfolio. On a recent trip she traveled from Milan, Italy to Lake Como. She then went down to Tuscany and continued south to Amalfi or Positano. She said that her next destination is Puglia because it’s “beautiful and rugged, and very popular right now.”

Amy Ropner, Red Savannah, stated that her main focus is on Italian villas but she also rents homes in Spain, Greece and the Caribbean. “I’m always ready to go at any point … we’re always moving.”

Source: Red Savannah

Ropner stated that around 90% of houses in the area are private. Ropner meets with owners to analyze everything, from the sizes of the pools decks to the beds. “There’s a big difference between an American and British King”

Most bookings are for children so she makes sure staircases and balconies have been checked.

“We must” [know] whether there’s cats on the estate, whether it’s down a dirt track … which obviously takes a little bit longer to get to … where the sun rises, where the sun sets,” she said.  

Ropner spends a lot of time in these villas which are available to rent from $5,000 to $200,000 per wk, she explained. She said that she also travels to local places, where she is able to advise about restaurants, boat rentals, and any new services like e-bike trips or gelato making classes.  

“I believe people are assuming it is glamorous.” [but]”It’s quite a work load,” she explained, noting that once she saw 50 villas in one day.

She said that it was glamorous, but also exhausting.