When the pandemic struck, millions of jobs in travel and entertainment simply disappeared. It didn’t matter whether you were a waiter or a tour guide. As cities shut down, job prospects vanished. However, as vaccines become more widely available, travel and entertainment side hustles are likely to be a hot spot in the post-pandemic world. 

The reason is pent-up demand. Consumers tend to delay discretionary spending during recessions to focus on necessities. The pandemic not only created those recessionary pressures, it completely closed travel and entertainment venues to stop gatherings where the virus could spread. This guaranteed that even people who could still afford these luxuries, simply couldn’t have them.

Travel and entertainment side hustles

As infection rates fall and vaccines become widely available, those strictures will evaporate. That gives consumers the ability to satisfy the long-suppressed desire to do everything from dining out to visiting distant relatives.

Of course this shift won’t happen overnight. Even optimistic projections of vaccine availability suggest it could be months before a sufficient percentage of the population is inoculated. And consumers are likely to remain cautious, inclined to avoid large crowds, for some time.

That, however, is good news for some of the best travel and entertainment side hustles, which involve hosting small tours and preparing meals — or hosting cooking classes. Not only do you need some preparation time to make yourself successful in these pursuits, they are ideal for a world that prefers small gatherings.

What are the best travel and entertainment side hustles and what should you do now to prepare for their eventual comeback?

Organize local tours 

If you live near any tourist destination, you could make a generous income providing small tours of your local area. Three online platforms — Viator, Tours by Locals, and GetYourGuide — enlist U.S.-based freelancers to sign up and offer tours in their local communities. Another site, WithLocals, offers the same service, but focuses on guides who live in Europe and Asia.

The only one of these sites that SideHusl.com does not recommend is GetYourGuide, which is secretive about its fees that reportedly run as high as 50% of the tour cost. All of the other sites charge a more reasonable 15% to 25% commission for booking and collecting payment for your tours.

What to do now

Your mission is to create an engaging itinerary, and determine the costs and logistics. The ideal way to start is to pair your personal passions with popular tourist sites. 

Let’s say, for example, that you’re an avid hiker living in Los Angeles. You might design hiking tours to the Hollywood sign — or, perhaps, a sunset and champagne hike to one of the many ocean-vista trails in Malibu. Shopping enthusiast? Take your tours through the elegant and eclectic shopping districts ranging from Rodeo Drive to Melrose.

Live in Tucson, Miami or Albany? Google the top tourist destinations in your area and see if you have an interest or expertise that could enhance a tourist’s visit. It doesn’t matter whether your passion is history, architecture, horticulture, art, animals or anthropology. If you combine your passions with things of interest in your community, you can attract like-minded travelers and potentially make a fortune while having fun.. 

Particulars and pricing

Once you have an idea, the real work of creating and pricing an itinerary starts. You’ll need to figure out the time line; logistics; minimum and maximum number of passengers; and a price that factors in what you want to earn.

If the hard costs — lunch, entrance fees, vehicle expenses (if any) of a two-hour tour are $10, for example, you might charge $30 for the tour, but note that it must have a minimum of two passengers to ensure that you earn at least $20 per hour. Any additional passengers would simply improve your hourly rate. Guides report that popular tours can easily earn them $50 to $100 per hour. 

Cooking and entertaining

If you love to cook, you may want to sign up with EatWith. EatWith is an international site that operates in nearly every major city. It allows cooks to arrange paid dinner parties in their own homes. The idea is for tourists — or locals — to enjoy an authentic experience.

Like designing your own tours, when you host a dinner event, you choose the menu, the dates, the maximum and minimum capacity and set the price. The site simply does the booking in exchange for a commission on each sale. 

Your advance planning mission is to perfect an elegant meal, from main course to dessert; price all the fixings; determine how many people to accommodate at each event; and mark up the per-person price to account for the amount you want to earn.

Notably, all event platforms have Covid protocols that require sanitation and screening of guests. You should plan on investing a few bucks on an infrared thermometer, sanitizer and cleaning supplies, if you choose to sign up.

Is it worth it? Meals on the site are listed for prices ranging from $50 to $150 per person. Cooks who work on this platform report that they typically clear $100 to $500 per meal. 

Another site, CozyMeal, specializes in booking cooks (and venues) willing to host cooking classes. Like the other sites, the particulars — and pricing — is up to you.