Meet Dustin: Outdoor Jobs Worker + International Traveler
Yay! It’s everyone’s favorite time: seasonal worker of the month! This month, I am soooo excited to introduce you to my buddy Dustin.
What can I say about Dustin? He was one of my roomies and best friends for the years I lived in Breckenridge, CO. He won prom king at my 80s prom birthday party. He’s literally (and figuratively) picked me up off the floor many a time. In addition to being a goofball and a sweetheart, he’s the first (and only) person to teach me how to shuck a peanut!
Since working in Breckenridge as a valet, Dustin’s used seasonal jobs to live in the paradise of Hawaii, secluded national parks, and even traveled throughout the US, Europe, Asia, and Central America. If that sounds like the kind of life you’d like to live (and I bet it is), then keep reading!
Name: Dustin Chambers
Hometown: Adamsville, TN
Current location: Somewhere in Guatemala
Current job: Trip Leader for Backroads
Life philosophy in one sentence: It will all work out…
Spirit animal: I’ve never acquired one until now. So I’m taking the Otter!
Favorite quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain
Favorite condiment: Hot Sauce. (It would be sweet mango chutney if I could find it anywhere but Breckenridge.)
Fun fact about you: I once owned and used the same beer koozie for 7 years. It went to 6 different countries with me. Cold beer is good beer!
Dustin’s Seasonal Life
What’s the first seasonal job you worked?
Valet/Bellman at the Village at Breckenridge (a hotel known locally as the Villagio).
What led you to getting that job?
I had visited Breck three times for snowboarding trips during Christmas break in college. And each time, the one week trip was never enough. On the last visit, I knew I had to live there for at least one winter. I applied, interviewed and got a job to be a snowmobile driver for ski school before I moved to Breck.
But when I got to Breck, my roommate who was a Valet at the Villagio convinced me that I would make more money and get to shred the pow pow way more as a valet. So now I have driven more rental cars in the span of two years than you might in your whole life!
What other seasonal jobs have you worked?
Blew up bounce houses for kids birthday parties
Stocked bread at two grocery stores in while living in Breckenridge
Server at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company on Maui
Bartender at Bubba Gump’s in Denver (I know all there is to know about shrimp!)
Camp Assistant for Backroads
Among those, what’s been your favorite and why?
Getting the chance to live on Maui for a year was AMAZING! Its been two two years since I lived there, but I still think about it all the time. It was an endless summer of tank tops, beach cruisers, surfing, and island adventures. ALOHAAA!
But my actual favorite seasonal job has to be my most recent one as a Camp Assistant with Backroads. My “office” was in Glacier National Park for the majority of the summer. While it may have been rough and dirty work — I washed a LOT of dirty dishes this summer — I was getting paid to hang out and explore in one of the most beautiful and unknown national parks in the country. (Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone!)
It was great getting to spend a week with families, some who had never been camping, and provide an amazing camping experience for them on our trips. On time off, I hiked well over 100 miles throughout the park. I had the chance to work with really awesome people that have been everywhere. We lived, worked, and played together 24/7. GLACIER 2013!!!
How did you get that job? Any tips or advice for others interested in the same thing?
Craigslist. I think it is literally possible to get anything on Craigslist. I was super lucky to get the job, especially through Craigslist. I think I might have been the only one hired from the Craigslist postings. The majority of the people that are hired get references from someone already working within the company.
So if you’re interested in leading trips with us and don’t know anybody within the company, just apply and rock out the interview. We hire people from all walks of life from rocket scientists to bartenders like me.
Have you tried a traditional “grown-up” job? If yes, why did you stick with it or why did you quit? Do you see yourself working one in the future?
To this day, I have not had the experience of working a “grown-up” job. I still don’t even know what I want to be when I grow up. I do want to try out a “grown up” job out one day so I will know what it is all about. I have a degree in Microbiology that I would like to use to obtain a big kid job out there somewhere.
But these great opportunities to work and live in beautiful places keep falling in my lap. So I am going to keep on keeping on till the luck runs out!
What rocks about seasonal jobs?
You get to meet some of the most fascinating people from all over the globe. You make long-lasting friendships at such an accelerated pace, because you know the time is limited. And typically if you’re working a seasonal job then you’re probably living in a sweet place in the world. Seasonal jobs also give you lots of free “vacation” time after the season is over to go out and SEE, DO, and PLAY!!
What sucks about seasonal jobs?
Goodbyes to all the fascinating people you just met. Typically no benefits. You have to learn to manage money very wisely, because as the name says (seasonal job), you will not be working for months on end at some points. Usually you do not get to go home for the holidays.
Have you used seasonal jobs to travel? If yes, how and to where?
Yes. My current job with Backroads allows me to travel to some super cool places where we lead trips. This past summer, I visited so many new places while getting paid. I worked on trips in Grand Canyon N.P., Bryce Canyon N.P., Zion N.P., Glacier N.P., Waterton N.P. and road tripped from Salt Lake City to Clemson, South Carolina in a caravan of HUGE Penske box trucks carrying 500 bicycles, 650 sleeping bags, and 350 tents for a company trip we host for DaVita.
I also got to spend time driving up and down the Californian coast on Hwy 1 from San Francisco through Big Sur on down to Santa Barbara, and hike through the magical Redwood forest in Marin County. This fall, our Staff Ride (company party) was in the Andalucia region of Spain. I biked with 240 fellow coworkers for 4 days through the amazing Spanish countrysides and tiny towns from Seville to Granada. I think I might have biked past approximately 78,394,321 olive trees.
Have you gained any special skills or qualifications through seasonal jobs?
I wouldn’t necessarily say I have gained any specific qualifications through seasonal jobs, but I have honed some skills in the process. The various jobs I have had over the years have made me an expert multi-tasker, my “people skills” have improved tremendously, I can manage money like a high-profile banker, and I have learned to live very frugally when necessary.
What’s the one coolest thing you’ve done through seasonal jobs?
While living on Maui and working as a server, I had the opportunity to fly to all the major islands in the Hawaiian Island chain except for one. We would go to the other islands with just a tent and camp in three or four different locations on the island and explore.
I had friends who owned zodiac style boats (think of the inflatable Military boats) on Maui and during the winters, we would go out and watch the Humpbacks playing in the water, swimming up to the boat and breaching all around us. While snorkeling and diving, we could also hear the whales singing to each other. It was incredible to get so close to massive animals like that. I also spent the night out on the ocean in my friend’s boat when the tsunami that wrecked Japan hit the Hawaiian Islands. Apparently, out on the water a few miles offshore is the safest place to be.
Do you have any general tips for seasonal job seekers — to find jobs, keep them, and have fun?
Apply early! Don’t procrastinate and wait until the “season” is starting until you send in your application. Be dynamic in your interview. Think of something that will set you apart from the rest of the applicants. The people holding the interviews and hiring are looking at a lot of cool people, so you want to be remembered.
Work hard, show dedication and don’t complain — and you will be asked to come back to work anytime you want. And once you get the job, don’t think about your next move in the future. Live in the moment because the “season” will be over before you know it!
What would you say to someone who is interested in a seasonal job, but is scared of quitting their grown-up job?
I promise your rollie chair will not miss you if you take 3 months off and go have the time of your life. This is not a rehearsal; you only have one life to live. So if you are not 100% happy with your grown-up job, please save us all and quit saying “I wish I could just quit this job and go do ____”. (See my favorite quote above.)
As a friend/coworker said this summer, “We may not be getting rich but we are living a rich lifestyle.” And that is so true on many levels with seasonal work.
Wow! There are so many gems here in this interview with Dustin! A BIG thank you to him for sharing his insider knowledge and humor with us. Love ya, D!