Skift Take

This list just scratches the surface of the industry's toughest tasks and is a reminder that one person's vacation is another person's full-time job.

After Australia Tourism advertised the world’s best jobs in travel, we pick the worst, from cruise ship morticians to Ryanair’s publicity manager.

Consul in an 18-30s resort

Mixing alchopops, testosterone and foam parties can lead to trouble for those on their first adult holiday, as the British consuls to Magaluf, Kavos, Ayia Napa and Benidorm are no doubt aware. Fancy a day dealing with lost passports, missed flights and stomach pump casualties? We thought not.

Toilet cleaner on an Indian train

Unless you’re riding the Orient Express, train travel can be a less-than-luxurious experience, especially when it comes to the Indian rail network. While the frequent services that criss-cross the country can be admired for their accessibility and range, their toilet facilities most definitely cannot. Dusty, dank and often shockingly dirty, those charged with the duty of cleaning them deserve our utmost respect.

Cruise ship mortician

With more frequency than most passengers would like to imagine, cruise ships prepare for the possibility that, for some, the voyage might be their last. All cruise ships have mortuaries where up to three bodies can be kept in freezers until the ship reaches port. Bodies are then discreetly offloaded from an exit not used by passengers and handed to a local funeral company.

Ryanair’s publicity manager

Even the most self-assured public relations officer might think twice about being the spokesperson for travel’s most controversial businessman, Michael O’Leary.

The role of head of communications at Ryanair, an airline occasionally in need of a public image boost, was advertised earlier this year after the previous employee left “battered and bruised”, in the words of the chief executive himself.

Our thoughts are with his successor.

Lifeguard on Jeorse Park Beach

This public access beach on Lake Michigan is where 76 percent of the water samples taken exceed pollution standards for human and animal waste.

No need for David Hasselhoff to set up a stand here, this is one of the America’s dirtiest beaches and health advisories warning people about the dangers of swimming in the algae-laden waters were posted for much of last summer.

Polar bear trainer in a Moscow circus

Aside from it being depressing that polar bears are being trained to perform in Russian circuses at all, the thought of being the person attempting to command one of these powerful beasts each night, and in this case, force it into a pair of ice skates, is terrifying.

Hostess on a Friday night flight to Ibiza

The week’s over, it’s a Friday night and you’re flying off to Ibiza – the party island of the Balearics. The inebriated dozens that book these budget seats aren’t going to be prevented from letting their hair down by anyone – a formidable prospect for any air steward.

Maid at a Japanese love hotel

They may look kitsch but these hotel rooms, popular in Tokyo, are probably the worst prospect for jobbing cleaners, being the type that are rentable by the hour. Designed for amorous couples in search of seclusion, they have proven increasingly popular in Japan, where space, and therefore privacy, are at a premium.

Budget airline boarding official

What makes flying with a budget airline hell? The piped jingles on landing, the €3 cup of tea, the crush on boarding or the experience of eventually reaching the front of the queue only to have some jobsworth tell you your hand luggage is overfull?

The result is you’re left scrabbling around on your knees, frantically unpacking that bulky book or thick-knitted jumper and desperately finding a way to secrete it on your person. Your untidy belongings lie in full view of your fellow passengers, while your travelling companions have slipped off ahead to fight for the remaining seats together in front of the toilets.

Window cleaner in Dubai’s tallest hotel

Have a head for heights? Whoever gets to wipe the windows of the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai certainly better have. This brand new hotel is the world’s tallest, with two towers that stand 72 storeys high. Scary.

Homeland security at a US airport

We know they are just doing their job and keeping America safe, but security staff at US airports provoke the same level of distrust as traffic wardens in the UK. Often airport staff are criticised for a lack of manners – all you need when you are stuck in a neverending queue.

In Europe, a Skyscanner survey revealed last year that Paris’s Charles De Gaulle was voted the rudest airport, followed by Moscow, Istanbul, Heathrow (blamed on the Olympic crush) and Madrid.

Head of tourism for the Democratic Republic of Congo

Despite the exotic jungle, home to gorrillas, the Democratic Republic of Congo is also sadly known for corruption and war and so is always going to be a difficult sell on a tourist brochure. There are travel alerts in place from the FCO, currently warning against all travel to some areas and all non-essential travel to the rest.

Things are improving however, with a UN peacekeeping force providing optimisim, but the natural beauty of the nation is some way from being discovered by tourists just yet.

Rail ticket inspector

It must be hard not to get a complex as a ticket inspector, after encountering nothing but irritation from passengers grumpily reaching their tickets. Rail staff are often abused, the posters at stations tell us, and, in terms of excuses as to why said ticket is not forthcoming, they must have heard them all.


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Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

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