Tamina Koehne-Drube was a solicitor at King & Wood Mallesons in Canberra and Hong Kong. She had graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Laws from Australian National University and had all the makings of a high-earning lawyer.
But Koehne-Drube gave it all up at the end of 2014 to become a tour guide, travelling the world for free.
She told Business Insider she wasn’t passionate enough about law to sustain a life-long career.
“I felt very strongly that I wanted to work more closely and meaningfully with people from all walks of life and in a more creative environment,” she said.
When she was working late in the office one evening, she started to type all of the things she liked doing into Google alongside the word “job.”
“One of the first hits was an advertisement for Topdeck Travel calling for European Road Crew,” she said. “As applications had just opened I thought ‘why not?’ and submitted my application that night.”
Koehne-Drube spent two seasons as a European Trip Leader for Topdeck, the tour operator known for organising trips for people aged 18 to 30. The job involved taking groups around the continent, all expenses paid, along with a wage.
“I was on the road for two summer seasons, travelling from May to September,” she said. “During that time trips could be as short as 11 days or as long as 49.”
But her Topdeck experience didn’t stop there.
“For many people, applying to be a trip leader seems like a short-term opportunity, travelling for a few years and gaining new experiences,” she said. “While that was of course also a motivation, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to turn this opportunity into a new career.”
Now, Koehne-Drube is a people connect leader for the on-road crew, which involves training and hiring global staff. She’s travelled to over 20 countries with the company, and, despite being based in the London head office, is constantly on the go.
“There really is no average day working for Topdeck,” she said. “On the road plans feel like they change every few minutes and every day or two you are in a new country.”
“Even in the office, each day is different. In my role I still get to travel a lot, whether it’s attending staff or crew conferences in Venice, Paris or Amsterdam, visiting our Australian or North American offices, or delivering training to our crew around the world, including Egypt, Morocco, and the UAE in 2017.”
Her travels have included a New Year visit to Edinburgh for Hogmanay…
A visit to the waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley in the Swiss Alps…
“Spanish Fiesta” trips of sailing through Ibiza…
A personal trip between work travels to the city of Sintra, Portugal…
And her favourite trip so far: 10 days in Jordan and Israel. “Petra completely took my breath away,” she said.
“The big bucket-list cities are always exciting, but by far my favourite moments are taking people to places they may never have thought of (or sometimes even heard of) and watch them fall in love with the unexpected,” she said.
She added that the leaders can be asked to take charge of any trips in the company’s brochure at any time, “meaning you may find yourself staying in hostels, hotels, campsites, sailing boats, castles or bungalows.”
While she said life on the road doesn’t equal a lawyer’s salary, she said “the lifestyle allows you to live very comfortably.”
“One of the biggest lessons I learned through starting with Topdeck was how easy it is to ‘declutter’ your life,” she said. “At the legal firm ‘work/life balance’ was a constant topic of conversation and on the road it is as well, but for different reasons. Rather than work becoming your life, your life becomes your work.”
She added that knowing she’s playing a part in someone’s experience of seeing the world makes it all worth it.
“The letters, emails, Facebook messages, photos and even wedding invites I get from past passengers is really special.”
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.