January 28, 2021

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Just Do Travel

Prepare now to get these side jobs in a post-pandemic world

4 min read

When the pandemic struck, millions of jobs in travel and entertainment simply disappeared. It didn’t matter whether you were a waiter or a tour guide — as cities shut down, job prospects vanished. However, as vaccines become more widely available, travel and entertainment side hustles are likely to be a hot spot in the post-pandemic world.

The reason is pent-up demand. People tend to delay discretionary spending during recessions to focus on necessities. The pandemic not only created those recessionary pressures, but also closed travel and entertainment venues to stop gatherings where the virus could spread. This meant that even people who could still afford these luxuries simply couldn’t have them.

If coronavirus infection rates fall, those strictures could evaporate, giving people the chance to satisfy their long-suppressed desires to dine out and travel.

Of course, this shift won’t happen overnight. Even optimistic projections of vaccine availability suggest it could be many months before enough of the population is inoculated. And consumers are likely to remain cautious, inclined to avoid large crowds, for some time.

That, however, is good news for some of the best travel and entertainment side hustles, which involve hosting small tours and preparing meals or hosting cooking classes. You need some preparation to set yourself up for success in these pursuits, and they are ideal for a world that prefers small gatherings.

What are the best travel and entertainment side hustles, and what should you do now to prepare for their eventual comeback?

Organizing local tours

If you live near any tourist destination, you could make a considerable income providing small tours of your local area. Three online platforms — Viator, ToursByLocals and GetYourGuide — enlist U.S.-based freelancers to sign up and offer tours in their communities. Another site, Withlocals, offers the same service with a focus on Europe and Asia.

The only one of these sites that SideHusl.com does not recommend is GetYourGuide, which is secretive about its fees that reportedly run as high as 50% of the tour price. The other sites charge a more reasonable 15% to 25% commission for booking and collecting payment for your tours.

What to do now: Your mission is to create an engaging itinerary and determine the costs and logistics. The ideal way to start is to pair your personal passions with popular tourist sites.

Let’s say you’re an avid hiker living in Los Angeles. You might design hiking tours to the Hollywood sign — or, perhaps, a sunset hike to one of the many ocean-vista trails in Malibu. Shopping enthusiast? Take your tours through elegant and eclectic shopping districts such as Rodeo Drive and Melrose.

Live in Tucson, Miami or Albany? Google the top tourist destinations in your area and see if you have an interest or expertise that could enhance a tourist’s visit. It doesn’t matter whether your passion is history, architecture, horticulture, art, animals or anthropology. If you combine your passions with things of interest in your community, you can attract like-minded travelers and make cash while having fun.

Particulars and pricing: Once you have an idea, the real work of creating and pricing an itinerary starts. You’ll need to figure out the timeline; logistics; minimum and maximum number of customers per tour group; and a price that factors in what you want to earn.

If the hard costs — such as lunch, entrance fees, vehicle expenses — of a two-hour tour are $10, for example, you might charge $30 per person for the tour and with a minimum of two customers to ensure that you earn at least $20 per hour. Any additional customers would improve your hourly rate. Guides report that popular tours can easily earn them $50 to $100 per hour.

Cooking and entertaining

If you love to cook, you may want to sign up with Eatwith, an international site that operates in nearly every major city. It enables cooks to arrange paid dinner parties in their own homes. The idea is for tourists — or locals — to enjoy an authentic experience.

As with designing your own tours, when you host a dinner event you set the menu, the dates, the maximum and minimum capacity and the price. The site does the booking in exchange for a commission on each sale.

What to do now: Perfect an elegant meal, from main course to dessert; price all the fixings; determine how many people to accommodate at each event; and mark up the per-person price to account for the amount you want to earn.

Notably, all event platforms have COVID-19 protocols that require sanitation and screening of guests. You should plan on investing a few bucks on an infrared thermometer, sanitizer and cleaning supplies if you sign up.

Is it worth it? Meals on the site are listed for prices ranging from $50 to $150 per person. Cooks who work on this platform report that they typically clear $100 to $500 per meal.

Another site, Cozymeal, specializes in booking cooks (and venues) willing to host cooking classes. As with similar sites, the particulars and pricing are up to you.

Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent site that reviews hundreds of money-making opportunities in the gig economy.