If you are interested in working while traveling, then a job as a tour guide could be a great option for you.
Being a tour guide is an great way to see the world. In fact, that's exactly what I did. I was a guide based in Italy and led trips all around Italy and Europe.
Before I graduated college, I knew I wanted to travel around Europe, but couldn't afford a long trip (or even just a few weeks).
While the "gap year" is common in many countries around the world, it isn't so much in the US.
The pressure for finding a job after college can really build up and get stressful, especially if you're unsure if diving into the corporate world is the right decision for you.
No matter if you're recently out of college, have been kickin' it in the workforce for a few years, or are looking for a way to sustain your long-term travels, being a tour guide can give you valuable work experience in addition to providing a way to travel.
Is Tour Guiding The Right Job For You? 6 Tips
1. If you don't have a lot of money, it's a great way to turn a few weeks of backpacking into not only an extended trip, but a living experience
Still make sure you save up money, though, because it's always better to have some breathing room with your budget, especially when you're constantly traveling.
Depending on which company you work for, you still may need to pay for some things: Airfare. Food. Rent/utilities. Dining out/bars. Museum entry fees or any other sightseeing outside of your work.
Remember that you'll be working and making money to help with these costs, but always keep your budget in mind.
2. You need to like (or at least get used to) being around people, 24/7
You'll constantly be around your co-workers and fellow tour guides but also the passengers on your tours.
You'll need great customer service skills as your priority will always be the customer.
(Don't worry, you'll still get to have fun!)
3. You should be comfortable speaking in front of groups
After all, your job is to speak about the places you're at.
Being excited to lead the tour is important as well - the people on your tour will be able to see through fake enthusiasm.
Being quick on your feet, flexible, and able to make snap decisions are good skills to have too, and being a tour guide will only improve these skills.
4. Knowledge of the tour destination(s) is essential
People are paying the tour company to get a good experience and accurate information.
If you don't at least know the basics of the country - like currency, local language, or how to pronounce the city you're staying in - it will discredit you as a guide, as well as the company you work for.
Doing your homework before a trip is so important!
5. Still remember that you'd be working, even during "fun" activities
For example, if you're leading a tour in Italy and you're hosting a three-course dinner with unlimited wine, don't get totally hammered and be unable to take care of your guests.
Obviously have fun and enjoy yourself, but know where to draw the line between professional and sloppy.
6. Having a sense of humor is important
Things will inevitably go wrong here and there, and sometimes the situation will be out of your control.
Do your best to fix what you can and move on (and laugh it off)!
Some positives benefits of being an international tour guide:
- Travel perks
- Being based in a different country
- Opportunities to learn the local language and meet people
- Traveling for your job
- Discovering new places
- Getting to become friends with your co-workers, and working/traveling/partying/hanging out with them
- Adding lines to your resume with valuable work experience
Some downsides of being an international tour guide:
- Long days (there usually is no "day off," and it's not an hourly gig either)
- Can get exhausting from always being "on" 24/7
- Salary typically isn't much, so you'll probably need to learn how to budget really well or have some extra savings before you start your job
I hope this gives you more of an idea of if a tour guiding job is right for you.
I had an amazing time being an international tour guide in Europe after college and have no regrets.
Add your thoughts/advice in the comments below, and of course contact me if you have any questions!