From teacher to travel entrepreneur – how becoming her own boss has been “life-changing” for Emma

We’ve always maintained that teachers have so many useful skills that translate perfectly to running your own business. So, we spoke to ex-teacher, Emma Rutherford, to find out more about how she’s transitioned from the classroom to being her own boss, what she’s enjoying about being a Travel Counsellor, and how much her life has changed for the better since making the switch. If you’re looking to get out of teaching, Emma’s story could be just the inspiration you need to embark on a new chapter with us.

Emma Rutherford

Hi Emma! Could you tell us about your teaching career and why you decided it was time for a change?

I was a primary school teacher for 11 years. I had my little girl, Willow, at the very start of lockdown. My priorities completely changed and I reassessed what I wanted. I’d been thinking of changing careers for a few years and it just put everything into perspective. I’d fallen out of love with teaching.

I’d always loved travelling and the planning that comes with it. I was always the one in the family to arrange every single detail on our holidays, and I’d always spend my spare time looking for trips to go on!

What skills have you been able to transfer from teaching to running your own travel business?

Firstly, my organisational skills have been invaluable. As a teacher, I meticulously planned every day, and this is a habit I’ve carried over into my new career. I still have my daily to-do lists and prioritise the things which need to be done first each day.

Secondly, my IT skills have been beneficial. Teaching requires staying up to date with the latest technology and resources, which has translated into my work as a Travel Counsellor. Learning to use new tools and platforms, such as Phenix, has been straightforward for me.

Lastly, my communication skills have been essential in both careers. From interacting with children in the classroom to engaging in staff meetings and parent consultations, communication is key in the education sector. These skills have been fundamental in building relationships with clients and my fellow Travel Counsellors.

Teachers are always learning, and in the travel industry, we say ‘every day’s a school day’. There’s always something new to learn, be it a destination I haven’t come across, or a technique to help me grow my business.

How has your life changed since leaving the classroom behind and becoming a Travel Counsellor?

The biggest thing has been my confidence. Never did I think I would go to events by myself and meet new people without even thinking about it. As a teacher, I was so anxious and I’d become a person I didn’t recognise. I’ve pushed and challenged myself in ways I didn’t think I could, because at the end of the day, this is my business.

What’s the best thing about being a Travel Counsellor?

Every morning, I can take Willow to nursery school. I get to stand in the playground with the other parents. As a teacher, I could never do this, and it always made me upset that I was there for everyone else’s children but not my own. I sat watching her first nativity knowing I hadn’t had to beg for permission to watch my little girl. I’m my own boss.

The next thing would be the people I’ve met. I’ve never had so many genuine friends. I might work for myself, but there are always people around me for support. I’ve started working in teams with other franchisees too. This means during my quieter periods, I know I’ll always have enquiries to work on to boost my income.

Last but not least, the opportunities. In my first year, I attended every training event I possibly could to build up my knowledge. I went to the CLIA Conference in Southampton and the River Cruise Conference in Vienna. I’ve also been extremely lucky with FAM trip opportunities. So far, I’ve been to Disneyland Paris, spent a night on Uniworld S.S Joie de Vivre in Paris, stayed at the Ritz Carlton Abama in Tenerife, and went on Seabourn Ovation sailing from Rome to Monte Carlo.

Do you have any regrets about leaving teaching?

Absolutely not. My life is completely different now and I’m genuinely happy. Before, I was just plodding along, but now I’m excited about what each day will bring. While hard work and dedication are still required, I no longer experience the Sunday night dread that often accompanied teaching.

Why do you think teachers make great Travel Counsellors?

Teachers are resilient, resourceful, and have a strong work ethic. As a teacher, 60-hour weeks were common. Now, I can still sometimes do those hours, but it doesn’t feel like work because it’s my business and I love what I’m doing. Teachers also care and put the children’s needs first. As a Travel Counsellor, we care more than anyone else too, and our clients are our priorities.

What advice would you give to teachers who are thinking of leaving the profession in terms of what Travel Counsellors can offer them as an alternative career path?

Travel Counsellors provides invaluable support through the Academy Programme. The initial 2-week induction is fantastic and you can learn at your own pace. You’re then linked with an experienced mentor who is there to guide you through the first six months. The knowledge you gain is just incredible.  As a teacher, I had no work-life balance. I even worked during the holidays. Now I have that balance I’ve always wanted. For me, Travel Counsellors has been life-changing.

Are you looking to get away from the classroom, or perhaps you’ve recently left teaching and are considering your next steps? Just like Emma, your life could be transformed by becoming a Travel Counsellor. Enjoy a better work-life balance, be in control of your earnings, and put your existing skills into practice in a thrilling new business venture. If you’ve got a genuine passion for travel and the drive to make a success of your business, we’d love to chat to you. Get in touch and let’s start your journey towards an inspiring new career. You can also hear from more of our ex-teacher Travel Counsellors here.

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