A Tale of Two Careers: How Fora Advisor A'Rielle Thomas Finds Joy (and Makes Money) as a Part-Time Travel Agent

Icon Share


Fora Author Fora

The Modern Travel Agency


    Fora Advisor A'Rielle Thomas

    At Fora, we empower anyone with a love for travel to build a fun, fulfilling and flexible business. This flexibility means you can make travel advising a full-time career, or a side hustle. Either way, you get to decide — and that’s the beauty.

    For Fora Advisor A’Rielle Thomas, travel advising best fits into her life as a part-time endeavor. (She works as an accountant by day.) A’Rie joined Fora in September, 2022, and hasn’t looked back. She recently sat down with Fora’s co-founder Henley Vazquez to discuss how to earn money booking travel. Read on for the conversation’s highlights. 

    Feeling inspired? Become a Fora Advisor and start earning money booking travel.

    How A'Rie turned her passion and talent into a business

    A’Rie says she has always been the go-to person for travel advice. For her 25th birthday, she told a few friends to send her $500, and meet her in Cancún. (“I really take my birthdays seriously,” she said.) She planned a four-day itinerary filled with excellent food, ruin tours — the works.

    “I created this experience that my friends know only I can curate,” she said.

    After the Cancún trip, people started asking A’Rie to curate itineraries for their own vacations. In 2021, she planned a friend’s bachelorette party, whose Instagram coverage garnered yet more interest in A’Rie’s planning superpowers. As more people asked her for help, she started charging a planning fee. 

    “That was my first foray into planning travel for money,” she said. 

    In December of that year, she launched Arranged by A’Rie, her very own travel business. She realized she was passionate about travel advising, and wanted to take it further — become a travel agent, perhaps, or join an agency. Enter Fora. 

    “I was like, I can try this out for a month. If I hate it, I always have my real job to go back to," she said. "Or I can really love it, and this can be something that I do part time and really enjoy. Been here ever since.”

    How A'Rie structures her career as a travel advisor, on top of a traditional 9-5

    A’Rie usually reserves nights and weekends for travel advising: nights are for meeting with clients and understanding what they want; weekends are for planning and itinerary curation. (She carves out a pre-brunch three-hour block on Saturdays.)

    A’Rie says that 95% of her book of business consists of friends, friends of friends and referrals. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. (Read more about how to market your travel business like a pro.)

    Fora - Home
    Advisor - A'Rielle Thomas
    A'Rielle Thomas
    • Honeymoon,
    • Food & Wine,
    • Italy,
    • Mexico
    • , +3 more

    “My clients are doing all the marketing and advertising for me. That’s the way to do it,” she said.

    Her hard work has paid off, and continues to do so.

    “This is a side hustle that pays for me to go on vacations,” she said.

    How A'Rie trained up

    A’Rie says she felt confident with the client-facing part of travel advising, but was unfamiliar with the behind-the-scenes aspects.

    “I didn’t necessarily have some of that acumen that’s needed to communicate with suppliers,” she said. “What are some of those nuances that the traveler doesn’t experience, but that the travel agent needs to be aware of?”

    She found Fora’s training to be especially helpful in filling that gap.

    “The training was a game changer — learning how to work within the industry,” she said.

    (She especially loves using DMCs, or destination management companies, which provide individualized, on-the-ground support for travelers.)

    A'Rie's advice for how to succeed as a travel agent

    Fora co-founder Henley Vazquez presenting at Live Forum 2022

    A’Rie generously shared her wisdom about how to be a successful travel agent. Her top three tips? 

    1. Put yourself out there: “Tell everyone you know that you’re a travel agent.” 

    2. Leverage the community: take advantage of Fora’s community app, Forum, and attend Live Forum, our annual in-person meet-up where advisors network, meet with hotels and Fora HQ members and, of course, learn the ins and outs of the travel industry. (Read and watch a recap of our first Live Forum). 

    3. Take advantage of the training and resources: get familiar with the tools at a travel advisor’s disposal, learn the vocab (so many acronyms), grow comfortable booking different types of hotels and experiences around the world — Fora provides training on all that and more. 

    Feeling inspired? Read our guide on how to become a travel agent. Or, if you’re ready, join Fora to start building your dream job. There's no better way to, in A’Rie’s words, add to your “vacation piggy bank."


    Author - Fora

    We’re a modern travel agency with a twist – one that is thoughtfully designed, proactively inclusive, tech-driven and well, cool. Learn more about us.