Age is not important in becoming a home-based travel agent
I received an email recently that included this question:
“Come November I will be turning 60, is that too old to start my travel business?”
My correspondent also said “I want to share my love of travel with others,” and that is a sentiment that knows no age.
This got me thinking about two related issues.
It’s true, unfortunately, that there is such a thing as “ageism,” prejudice against older folks, with the term “older” being in the eyes of the bigot.
It’s a truism in Hollywood that no one over 30 can write a screenplay and that women over 40 stop being sexy. (Don’t tell that to my wife!)
It’s also true that corporate downsizing falls disproportionately on those over 50.
So perhaps it’s understandable that someone at the ripe young age of 60 should have some trepidation about striking out in a new direction.
And, while I have no data to back me up, I suspect that if a 60-year-old newbie approached a storefront agency looking for an entry-level job, they might encounter a cool reception.
But one of the great things about becoming a home-based travel agent is that there are no “gate keepers,” no one to give you the once over and decide whether or not you are fit for employment.
You’re not starting at the bottom, as an inexperienced job seeker. You’re starting at the top, as your own boss. The only one who can stop you from doing exactly what you want to do is you.
So if you are a “seasoned citizen” and are worrying about jumping into the travel game, just stop it.
Now is a good time to become a home-based travel agent!
I won’t go into the many, many advantages older people bring to a start-up travel marketing business, except to note that your love for travel has no doubt taken you to more places and given you more insights into travel and human nature than any twenty-something can claim.
The other thing that my correspondent got me thinking about was being a travel agent as a retirement avocation.
First, there’s no overarching reason for a home-based travel agent to ever “retire” — in the sense that they would simply stop and never book another trip again. They might cut their client roster from several hundred to a dozen, but it’s so easy to “keep your hand in” that maintaining their business at a lower level is a very attractive proposition.
I recently heard retirement defined as having enough money (savings, pensions, Social Security, and so forth) that you don’t have to do any “work” that does not provide you with enjoyment and personal fulfillment. It doesn’t mean you can’t make any money ever again.
I think that definition makes a lot of sense. We’ve all heard stories about the guy who retires and gets so bored he goes back to work. Or worse, simply dies.
Personally, I can’t think of a better retirement avocation (or “job” if you prefer) than being a home-based travel agent.
For starters, as an independent contractor, you are your own boss and you can define your business any way you want to. If you want to work five hours a week, that’s fine. If you only want to organize three group cruises a year, that’s fine, too.
Even if all you want to do in retirement is book your own travel and that of your immediate family and a few friends, there’s no one to stop you.
It’s up to you.
About the finances
Here’s something else those of you thinking about traveling or being a travel agent in retirement should consider.
If you make $10,000 a year working part-time as a travel agent — something you enjoy doing and that pays you great psychic rewards — that’s like having an extra $250,000 in your retirement saving account.
Huh? Say what? How can that be?
Well, there’s a rule of thumb among financial planners that you can afford to withdraw 4% of your retirement nest egg each year without worrying about running out of money before you die.
And $10,000 is 4% of $250,000. Q.E.D. It’s simple math.
And of course, if you make that $10,000 organizing group cruises and tours in which you and your spouse participate, you are also reducing your own travel costs. You might even be traveling free!
So to sum up: 60 is the new 40. There’s no time like the present. Carpe diem. (Seize the day.)
And while you’re at it, carpe the Home-Based Travel Agent Success Course.