One: Why be a Tour Guide?


One: Why be a Tour Guide?

Work as a tour leader, tour manager, tour director – it doesn’t matter what the title is – the job is pretty much the same all over the world!

A tour guide’s duties will vary according to the type of tour company employing you. For example if you work for an overlanding (what’s this?***) tour operator you may have to drive the vehicle, carry out vehicle maintenance, cook on a camp stove…..

If you work as a tour director for a coach tour company you will probably have to do narrations en route, organise seating, answer lots of questions…..

  • Whatever type of job you have in this field, you get to work with people when they are happy – most people don’t go on holiday to be in a bad mood, or complain. It’s lots of fun!
  • The job is never boring. You get to solve problems, think on your feet, and be inventive. You may encounter danger; you’ll certainly encounter the unexpected.
  • You get to travel free, and even get paid for it.
  • You meet all sorts of interesting people, from all over the world. Some you get to work with, some will be your clients

Here’s what some tour guides have said about their job:

‘…..challenging, painful, thrilling, inspiring, exhausting …’

‘…..the most exciting, fun, scary, off-the-wall job I’ve ever had…’

‘….the best job in the universe…’

My Tour Guide Course will teach you everything you need to know to do well at interviews and get a job as a tour guide, tour director or tour manager. Working as a tour leader is demanding and the better prepared you are, the more you’ll enjoy your work and the happier your clients will be, not to mention safer, and more likely to travel again with your company!

*** Overlanding is travelling with a group on a specially designed vehicle over often rough terrain. It usually involves eating al fresco, camping in camp sites or ‘bush camping’ where no facilities are available, where you sleep under the stars. It may be in the silence of the desert or among the cacophony of noise in the jungle… are close to nature!

  • Make friends with people of all nationalities and backgrounds
  • Learn about other countries and cultures
  • Learn new languages or improve your foreign language skills


Be aware of:

Long hours, no fixed routine. You are on duty 24/7!

Some expense – not all meals will be covered and alcohol won’t be!

Long periods away from home

Repeating the same itinerary several times

Often the time you spend doing a reconnaissance (what’s this?***) of a destination will be unpaid

Work can be seasonal with no guarantee of further contracts

You may be self-employed, with no job security or redundancy pay. Some tour companies offer performance bonuses – enquire about this at your interview. Don’t be afraid to mention pay – it is not a dirty word and no one expects you to work for free, or without knowing what your finances will be.

You must be fit and healthy – there’s no one to take over from you on tour (but in the case of serious illness the company will usually send out a replacement leader/guide)

***A reconnaissance (French) is a pre-tour visit to a destination to get to know it, make contact with local hotel personnel/guides/agents, seek out restaurants suitable for groups, and make yourself known. If there are any walks or cycle rides on the tour itinerary, now is the time to do them yourself, making notes of difficulty, any hazards, duration, optional alternative routes, and so on. There is no substitute for your own knowledge of a destination or walking route; even other tour leader’s notes are not always reliable (circumstances / staff may have changed, paths disappeared…)

Do a sketch map of every route – you may not remember them all!

Photos: New colleague, Tibet; Terracotta warriors, Xi’an, China

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