How I Work Full Time and Travel the World

Hayley Rose: Franchise Coordinator

“Working with Chris and Elite showed me what it’s like to dream big: you always keep trying to improve and stay positive when things don’t go quite how you planned; you build a team of like minded people and trust them with their responsibilities. The constant drive towards the unknown parallels with working seasonally to travel, wanting to always be exploring and learning.” – Hayley Rose

I found myself in my hometown of Kingston, Ontario in June, 2017 after having spent the past 5 years away. I was back to spend some time with my family and figured while living at home I would try to save up money for my next travels. Since I had finished at Queen’s University in the spring of 2012 I had been working a seasonal rotation, switching jobs every 2-3 months as the weather changed through mountain towns or I moved to new places.

This lifestyle had been supported mainly by my work in forestry in British Columbia as a tree planter – something I started after my third year of studying at Queen’s.  I had spent the previous summer as a mechanical engineering intern working in solar energy, and had firmly decided the cubicle life was not for me. Long, boring days staring at a computer with little human interaction was not how I wanted to spend my time.  So at 22 I packed up a hockey bag full of camping gear and flew out to a province I had only visited once before. I started work in a camp of 100 people 2 hours up a logging road from the nearest town and spent the next 3 months planting trees for cents a piece.

Tree planting was a world away from my life as an engineering student in Ontario – and it was a world that grabbed my interest with stories of people living transient lives. A winter here skiing and a summer there attending music festivals. Time spent exploring and time spent free of the commitment of work, all possible with the sacrifice of a couple hard working months each spring and living with minimal costs full time. I walked away from my rookie season with enough savings to travel for the following month before returning to classes, and an idea of how I would like to spend my time after graduation.

This idea grew into a loose plan that evolved over time. A spring spent planting meant I could fund a summer of travel and festivals followed by a sleepy fall and a winter skiing. Or add a little extra cherry picking work in the summertime and I was able to take 3 months in the fall to travel through South East Asia. An 8 month working holiday around Australia followed, with return travels in the US and Mexico.

I returned to Canada almost a year after leaving and headed west to my new home of Fernie, BC.  I spent the next 2 years seasonally rotating through serving at resort restaurants, cooking for a cat-ski company, doing coat check for the local bar and planting in near by coal mines and cutblocks to give myself the freedom to ski, mountain bike, hike, travel and go to festivals in my spare time.

During my second winter I was feeling the itch to explore again, and made plans to head south for the following winter. I followed a work exchange opportunity to the south west of Mexico, learning how to make raw vegan and fermented foods for a couple months.  Another month of travel, some spanish classes and more volunteering in the kitchen of a holistic healing retreat took me through to the spring where I was able to hop onto a planting contract short term back in Fernie.

By the end of my 6th season in the bush I knew my body wasn’t going to uphold much longer for the fun activities like hiking, skiing and mountain biking if I prioritized using my body for labouring.  I pictured coming to Kingston and getting a couple serving/bartending gigs to float doubles and save some cash. But my return placed me in the awkward change of seasons where the students have left but the summer crowd hasn’t arrived, and no where was hiring.

I couldn’t be back living with my parents at 28 very long without starting to feel sad. So I applied to an ad titled “BEST JOB EVER!!!” and went into Elite for an interview as a high rise window cleaner. Or maybe, I learnt during the interview, as a member of the growing 3 person office; I told them I was open for either options.

Here’s the ad:

And so I landed in the office for the summer. Back at a computer and desk for the first time in 5 years. It was an adjustment, but working with the team at Elite kept things interesting and fun.  This is a company that is young at heart, gets excited about what it’s doing, has dreams of growth and values everyone as an individual who should hold their life as a priority over work. The team at Elite is driven to succeed – and that success is measured by more than the money the business earns.

By the end of the summer I had made plans to head to Texas for the winter and Elite was on the path to expanding. Chris Stoness asked me if I had ideas for what I would like to be doing over the next 5 years. I laughed and asked if he meant the next 5 months? I had never been one much for longer term plans, letting myself work a season ahead at most.  Because who knows where I would want to be that far out?

I told him I wasn’t sure about specifics but knew I was interested in continuing to travel and having the freedom to do so.  He then went on to explain there could be a role for me at Elite that I could do from anywhere. And so as of April 2018 I started working to help Elite expand by coordinating the remote managers operating across Canada.

Working with Chris and Elite showed me what it’s like to dream big: you always keep trying to improve and stay positive when things don’t go quite how you planned; you build a team of like minded people and trust them with their responsibilities. The constant drive towards the unknown parallels with working seasonally to travel, wanting to always be exploring and learning.

My role continues to evolve as Elite grows and puts into place their framework for scaling up operations.  I get to work with great people who are supportive and like to have fun while working. This job has allowed me to travel while continuing to work for something bigger.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Hayley over the past 2 years, and as I post this article she’s on her way to a working vacation in Vail, Colorado, for a season of skiing and mountain life. It would be an understatement to say our team is excited to hear Hayley’s stories when she makes her way back to Vancouver for the Spring season, but for now there’s adventuring to do…” – Jake Buffin, Strategy & Analytics at Elite

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