Life as a Tour Guide

Hello Free Spirits,

You see all the travel pictures and you probably wonder why is this girl travelling all the time? Is she rich, does she not have a job? Is this her job? How, what, why? Well don’t you worry this blog post will explain why I’m travelling all the time.

I am currently working as a part time tour guide. I have been doing this for over three years. I started this journey like all amazing things in life, by fluke. I attended a summer jobs fair at my University a few years back and I was disappointed with how companies were handling things. Even though I came prepared with my paper resumes, all of them wanted me to apply online. I thought it was silly and I vented my frustration to a friendly man who I later discovered was the owner of a tour company. Next thing I knew we were talking about travelling and he looked through my resume and I guess he was impressed with my skills and he invited me to a interview for his tour company. Then things aligned and I started working leading educational tours to Niagara Falls. The rest is history.

What does it take to get Hired:

From what I remember the owner of the company liked my previous leadership skills and at that time I was organizing ski trips for the polish students association.

I was told I was friendly and outgoing. But I thought differently, I was really awkward during my group interview I was really honest and told the whole group(when presenting my spiel) that I was so nervous, and that was the reason I forgot my words. I still got the job and I was so excited. But working there for three years I know you have to be friendly, a leader, honest, punctual, energetic, knowledgable, patient and you have to love travelling.

You can even hold one of their lobsters which come straight from the ocean.

What do I do on the job?

The answer is a lot. I play many roles while on tour. I am a parent, teacher, nurse and sometimes a mental health counsellor. I’ve seen it all. You deal with some weirdos sometimes, you never know what you are going to get. I will have a blog post coming soon about my best stories as a tour guide. (Leave your email on my site to get notified as soon as it comes out)

Here is what I do in a day: 

  1. Check every one in on the tour: welcome my new friends and introduce them to the driver and their fellow friends. Organize their rooming lists and get to know all their names.
  2. On route to the destination we are all usually sleeping because it is a overnight drive. When we arrive we check into the hotel and get ready.
  3. Explore the city together. I give them a walking tour, take lots of pictures, share stories, sing, dance and make recommendations about places to go during free time.
  4. Explore the town with my new friends, eat some food, drink tons of coffee to stay awake-the bus rides are bumpy sometimes. And sometimes I am running on three hours of sleep. Sometimes I explore the city with them or I go back to the hotel and nap for a fe hours before I check them into their rooms.
  5. Check in my students to their rooms and answer questions and concerns that may arise.
  6. In the evening we usually go back to the city and Im back in tour guide mode again with all the information. I make recommendations for places to visit.
  7. Eat dinner with my new friends.
  8. Go party with them or sleep. My day usually finishes around 11pm.

The Best part of the job:

  • The best part of the job is meeting awesome people from all over the world. I’ve had people from different walks of life. Some where owners of companies, travel bloggers, nutritionists, teachers, students and psychologists.
  • I like hearing their stories from their jobs and what its like to live in their country and cities. I make notes of the cool places they tell me to visit and the food I should try when I’m there. So that when I explore, I can have the best travel experience as recommended by a local.
  • Every trip ends with invites to visit my friends in their city. I think I have over 20 invites to stay in Brazil haha. I should probably take advantage of that soon.
  • Being in a new place every day excites me.
  • Getting payed to travel.
  • Being away from my boss and user management is nice. I get to be my own boss, while following the rules and company expectations obviously.
  • Having free time on these trips is nice, I can work on other projects while on tour or do some readings.

The worst part of the Job: 

  • Dealing with crazy drivers. If you have a driver that is rude, sassy or unprofessional it makes my job really difficult. Every one is affected. In those situations I stay friendly and tell myself that it will be over in a few days. I make friends with the students who have my back and vent to my boyfriend. When I get back I tell my co workers or boss about the driver.
  • Dealing with rude customers. This is rare but when I have rude customers I try to be friendly and avoid conversations with them.
  • Being away from my family, friends and boyfriend on the weekends. The tours to NYC, Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa are on the weekend. And normal people work during the week and have the weekends off. For me its the opposite. I work on the weekends. I’ve missed many birthdays and outings as a result of this job.

How do I get paid ? 

I get payed a day rate. Is it a lot? No the average salary for tour guides is around $20,000, which is pretty bad. But I only work three days a week which isn’t that bad and its a personal choice of mine to work like this for a while.

Do I get tips?

Yes, I do. Technically I am not supposed to ask students to tip me it is against my companies policy, but I always have the occasional students tip me here and there. I feel bad asking university students(most of my travellers) to tip me so I don’t do it.

My company gives me some expense money for food and they pay for my hotel room.

Want to be a tour guide, here are some tips? 

This is the best time to start applying to work for a tour company. February is when tour companies start getting ready for the summer season. Many interviews are held around the month of January and February. So if you want in, this is the time to do it. Email the boss or HR of the company your cover letter and resume and all the best.

Now you understand my way of life and why I’m always travelling. Like my boyfriend says 400 years ago I would be the person to leave the tribe in search for new lands. I have an adventurous spirit, and I am lucky to be able make money while travelling and meeting people.

I hope you enjoyed this article my Free Spirits! Share it with your friends who are thinking of becoming a tour guide.

Have a wonderful week!

Love, Nicole  N

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