When you walk into a room full of people it is almost impossible not to notice Anna. Smiling, talkative and full of enthusiasm: she easily makes new friends wherever she goes. Travelling is a way of life for her and I mean that quite literally: she recently became part of the Ryanair Cabin Crew and travels for living. All photos in this post are from her personal photo archive: check more photos and travel stories on her blog SoundTrippin’ and on Instagram (@soundtrippin).
I remember several months ago, when Anna was looking for a job and she told me she will go to the Ryanair Assessment Day “just to see if there is a chance to work for them”. The second she told me about it, I knew she is perfect for the job and here were are several months later: talking over Skype about the whole experience (Note: she is based near Dublin).
What is travel for you?
A way of life. Literally. My life is all about travel in recent years and especially now, when it has become a profession as well. It’s really great but it can also be confusing. I don’t know which place to call “home” now. I just work in Ireland, but I wouldn’t call it home. Greece on the other hand is very close to my heart (Note: she has family in Greece and has been travelling back and forth for a long time).
When did you start travelling on a regular basis?
I used to travel a lot to Greece because I have relatives there and I have been on short trips to Paris and destinations like this. But my real passion for travel was born after a trip to the Czech Republic where I had my Erasmus Plus program in the field of education, training, youth and sport. The program is really worth it- I can recommend it to everyone: you go to a EU country for a week and earn a YouthPass certificate.
You get reimbursement for all your expenses covered (transport, food, etc.) after you come back. It’s great – you get to meet many people from different countries and you make friends all over Europe. In fact I am still in touch with some of the people I met there several years ago – and we had a reunion with an Italian friend here in Dublin.
And you’ve recently become cabin crew: how did it all happen? Is the job all sugar and spice?
I had just finished my EVS in Greece and was looking for a job in Bulgaria. It really happened out of nowhere: I applied for the Assessment Day almost as a joke. And before I knew it I was approved and went to the 6 week training in Frankfurt-Hahn. If you are really dedicated and you follow the training rules you become part of the Ryanair team – it is not impossible but you have to keep in mind that there is an initial investment. You pay for your own training (3K EUR) whether or not you get approved and if you become cabin crew the sum for the training is subtracted on a monthly basis from your salary. Nevertheless, it pays well especially here in the Dublin headquarters.
At the beginning it is not what you imagine: we travel to many countries on a daily basis but we usually do not have time to disembark and visit these places. And every evening we go back to our base. The job is also controlled by many regulations and there are strict health rules about working. Our work week is limited to 3 day per week (900h/year or 100h month) and we are required to take 12h rest between shifts. The regulations are applied very strictly and even 5 minutes are considered a breach of schedule.
Nevertheless, I love my profession and it is really amazing. I have a lot of fun and I enjoy communicating with people. Being Cabin Crew is essentially about communicating with he passengers so if you manage to do this in the right way- it is great.
Are all people who work as cabin crew fascinated by travelling or is it just a job like any other?
Yes, most of them absolutely love to travel. We have many young colleagues (mostly from Spain, Portugal and Italy) who are in their early twenties and some of them discover their love for travel here. Older colleagues have become fond of this way of life and find it hard to settle. They spend 2-3 years based in one country and then they switch to another one. Ryanair has over 80 bases in Europe which is huge and offers a lot of choice. I personally prefer Dublin because salaries are based on the average paycheck for each country but many people choose based on their cultural preferences. I am curious what will happen after Brexit, because we had a huge base near London, but we shall see.
Which is the most interesting destination you have visited so far?
I love Greek islands – I’ve spent a lot of time there and I cannot choose just one. Prague is also one of my favorite destinations so far: it is one of the coolest cities I’ve been to. It is interesting that it is so clean and neat and in many ways it is the complete opposite of Bulgaria. But then again: I feel like the people there are very close to our own mentality, they’re friendly and easy to talk to. It is a very, very beautiful city: both the new and the old town: with impressive buildings, smiling people, etc. Also it is relatively cheap: while clothes and other items are not so expensive in Dublin, the food is too pricey.
And what about Bulgaria? Where do you prefer to travel there?
That’s complicated: there are so many nice places. In general I love outdoor destinations by the sea and in the mountains. Both types of places have pros and cons but in general I’d prefer to go out in nature. Also a trip is all about the people: I like cheerful, easy going personalities and the due to the type of travel I choose I usually end up exactly with this type of people.
I love the northern Black sea shore, you know, places like Tyulenovo, Kamen Bryag, Duran Kulak because of their wild and virgin nature. In the mountains I like the Troyan Balkan and the Rhodopes. I’ve been doing lots of camping in the past few years. In fact this is my first summer without camping and I miss it so much.
One of my favourite trips was an improvised hike to Vitosha Mountain on a Wednesday evening. We went up to the mountain (about 30 people!) and slept in our tents their and next morning we were in the office, ready to work.
Which is the best advice about travelling which you have received?
Don’t be afraid to set off on a journey. In general, people are afraid of the unknown – but once you make the first step and start travelling you see that people everywhere are more or less the same and you will always find someone on your side.
What is the craziest thing that has happened to you during a trip?
I had a really crazy time rescheduling a flight from Turin to Sofia. It was a flight with layover in Rome so I thought I could just improvise in the last minute and have a road trip with my friend from Turin to Rome, see the city and then just take the plane from there…
NEVER DO THAT! Air companies only consider your ticket to be valid if you go all the way through and you embark on your first flight. You cannot just get the connection flight to the end destination: you have to pay through the nose for that and I learned it in the hardest possible way, losing hundreds of euro and many nerves along the way.
What are your tips for travelling?
Always do your homework. Research the minutia like how to get from the airport to the city (are there online discounts for buses? Options for shared taxi rides? Budget travel?) And always use hostels not hotels. You get to meet really cool people: from my personal experience the cheaper the hostel is, the more interesting people you can meet because in such places you usually meet travelers who have a real passion for seeing things outside the tourist framework and who travel for the sake of seeing as much of the places they visit as possible, instead of spending time in expensive hotels.
Which destinations are on your bucket list?
The entire world (laughs). I definitely want to see New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, South America – in general everything south of Europe.
I want to see 30 countries before I turn 30, for sure. I’ve been to 14 so far.
All this travelling is great but it also has a flip side. I can’t really answer the question where I live. And the price of loving people in different places is that you start to feel rootless. You can’t be with them every day and it can get lonely. You get to experience great things but many of these friendships wouldn’t last.
Now I’ve started building everything from scratch for the second time (after living in Greece)…I might want to settle but you never know. Many people who had started this job “for a year or two” have stayed for about a decade. At least with Ryanair you always come back to where you are based at the end of the day: I know Emirates Cabin Crews have to spend the night all over the world which makes it hard to maintain relationships. In their case your work becomes your life. For me flying is just like going to the office: only the office is flying around.
Dublin is probably the best place to be based- if I stay with the company in the long term, I think it will be here. It’s huge, there are great people in here. Depends on how my life go. I never make plans: I go with the flow.