Earn Money While Traveling: 4 Types of Tour Guiding Jobs
When you're considering working a travel job abroad, being a tour guide can be one of the most attractive jobs in mind.
Traveling and showing people around and getting paid for it is pretty awesome, and in fact, that's exactly what I used to do.
For my former job I was based in Florence, Italy (where I had previously studied abroad) for six months. The company had weekend group tours for students all over Europe, so these were multi-day trips throughout many European countries.
What's cool about working abroad as a tour guide is that there are multiple types of tour guiding jobs you could get. This, of course, varies based on the types of tours the travel company offers.
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I've grouped different types of tour guiding jobs into four categories:
1. Group travel - multi-city/overnight tours (what I did)
Most people that email me are interested in doing the type of tour guiding I did, which was for multi-city tours.
It's no surprise this is one of the most attractive options as you're traveling with the group and get to cover a lot more ground in your travels since you'd be traveling to more cities. (To give you some context for this type of tour guiding, companies like Contiki, EF College Break, or G Adventures are good examples.)
Keep in mind that with this type of tour guiding job, you're literally working the entire time.
Being a guide is your top priority. If the group is out partying, you'll probably be there, but you need to be on top of your game. If something not ideal arises, you need to fix it.
If you're lazy, this option isn't for you (in fact, none of these options are for you!)
2. Day trips
If you are based in a city that gets a lot of tourism, the surrounding area (countryside and/or nearby cities) probably see tourists as well.
This would be a good option for anyone who wants or needs to be able to be able to come back home every night, while doing the adventurous day trips during the days.
3. City walking tours
You can find walking tours in just about any major city/town in the world.
If you are moving abroad or want to show off where you currently live, these tours would be good since you'd have a home base.
If you love the city you're in and enjoy sharing it with travelers, this could be a good option for you.
Keep in mind there are a lot of free walking tour companies where guides only make money based on tips. Since there isn't a set rate for this type of position, consider doing it on the side or save up some extra cash.
Also, this is self-explanatory, but you wouldn't really be traveling for your job. However, on days off you can travel the nearby countries or cities, depending where you're based.
4. Adventure and speciality tours
Bike city tours, winery tours, horseback riding tours, kayaking tours...there are many specialty and adventure options out there as well!
If you enjoy the outdoors or are passionate about a certain activity then see what the tourism industry has to offer for that city.
These types of positions would be a fun and unique way to show a city, town, park, etc.
Important: Consider your finances
One really important thing to consider is that most tour guiding jobs pay more so in travel and less so in money. I got a tiny monthly stipend from my old travel company, but they also covered all my travel expenses, housing, gym, other discounts, etc.
It was great for six months, but at the end I was low on cash, a little burnt out (working 24/7 almost every day for six months straight is exhausting), and was ready to move onto something else.
I did, however, LOVE the majority of my time working in Italy, got great work + travel experience, and still am close with a lot of the people I worked with. I am so grateful I took a leap of faith and said YES to working in Italy.
So while I loved my tour guiding job, I didn't see it as a life-long career or means of massive financial growth.
Instead, it was one of the best work experiences that added lines to my resume and allowed a ton of travel (I traveled in 11 countries for that job over the months I was there).
At age 22 right out of college, it was awesome, but if I were to go back and do it at age 25? Hmm, I'm not so sure. I enjoy the comforts of my apartment and making more than $500 a month these days. :)