How a 28-year-old lawyer quit her job to become a full-time tour guide travelling the world for free

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 - Jobs

Koehne-Drube spent a
Christmas in a surprisingly snowy Cyprus.

Tamina Koehne-Drube

Tamina Koehne-Drube was a solicitor at King & Wood Mallesons
in Canberra and Hong Kong. She had graduated with an Honours
Bachelor of Laws from Australian National University and had all
the makings of a high-earning lawyer.

But Koehne-Drube gave it all up at the end of 2014 to become
a tour guide, travelling the world for free.

She told Business Insider she wasn’t passionate enough about law
to sustain a life-long career.

“I felt very strongly that I wanted to work more closely and
meaningfully with people from all walks of life and in a more
creative environment,” she said.

When she was working late in the office one evening, she started
to type all of the things she liked doing into Google alongside
the word “job.”

“One of the first hits was an advertisement for Topdeck Travel
calling for European Road Crew,” she said. “As applications had
just opened I thought ‘why not?’ and submitted my application
that night.”

The one thing Koehne-Drube misses about her job as a
lawyer? “The collection of suits!”

Tamina Koehne-Drube

Koehne-Drube spent two seasons as a European Trip Leader for
Topdeck, the tour operator known for
organising trips for people aged 18 to 30. The job involved
taking groups around the continent, all expenses paid, along with
a wage.

“I was on the road for two summer seasons, travelling from May to
September,” she said. “During that time trips could be as short
as 11 days or as long as 49.”

But her Topdeck experience didn’t stop there.

“For many people, applying to be a trip leader seems like a
short-term opportunity, travelling for a few years and gaining
new experiences,” she said. “While that was of course also a
motivation, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to turn this
opportunity into a new career.”

Now, Koehne-Drube is a people connect leader for the on-road
crew, which involves training and hiring global staff. She’s
travelled to over 20 countries with the company, and, despite
being based in the London head office, is constantly on the go.

“There really is no average day working for Topdeck,”
she said. “On the road plans feel like they change every few
minutes and every day or two you are in a new country.”

“Even in the office, each day is different. In my role I still
get to travel a lot, whether it’s attending staff or crew
conferences in Venice, Paris or Amsterdam, visiting our
Australian or North American offices, or delivering training to
our crew around the world, including Egypt, Morocco, and the UAE
in 2017.”

Her travels have included a New Year visit to Edinburgh
for Hogmanay…


A visit to the waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley in
the Swiss Alps…


“Spanish Fiesta” trips of sailing through

IbizaTamina Koehne-Drube

A personal trip between work travels to the city of
Sintra, Portugal…Lisbon Moors CastleTamina

And her favourite trip so far: 10 days in Jordan and
Israel. “Petra completely took my breath away,” she

PetraTamina Koehne-Drube

“The big bucket-list cities are always exciting, but by far my
favourite moments are taking people to places they may never have
thought of (or sometimes even heard of) and watch them fall in
love with the unexpected,” she said.

She added that the leaders can be asked to take charge of any
trips in the company’s brochure at any time, “meaning you may
find yourself staying in hostels, hotels, campsites, sailing
boats, castles or bungalows.”

While she said life on the road doesn’t equal a lawyer’s salary,
she said “the lifestyle allows you to live very


“One of the biggest lessons I learned through starting with
Topdeck was how easy it is to ‘declutter’ your life,” she
said. “At the legal firm ‘work/life balance’ was a constant
topic of conversation and on the road it is as well, but for
different reasons. Rather than work becoming your life, your life
becomes your work.”

She added that knowing she’s playing a part in
someone’s experience of seeing the world makes it all worth it.

“The letters, emails, Facebook messages, photos and even wedding
invites I get from past passengers is really special.”

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