How To Figure Out if Tour Guiding Abroad is the Right Job For You

Considering being a tour guide abroad so you can travel for your job? This post goes over what you should expect as an international tour guide and some pros and cons to see if this job could be the right fit for you!

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

Just off the bus to see the Krka waterfalls in Croatia

Just off the bus to see the Krka waterfalls in Croatia

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.

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

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!)

Some of our team working a trip at Italy's Amalfi Coast

Some of our team working a trip at Italy's Amalfi Coast

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.

Our group of students on a weekend trip to Budapest, Hungary

Our group of students on a weekend trip to Budapest, Hungary

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!

Topkapi Palace view in Istanbul, Turkey

Topkapi Palace view in Istanbul, Turkey

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.

Galata Tower view in Istanbul, Turkey

Galata Tower view in Istanbul, Turkey

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
Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

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!