Travel Guide  What They Do

Just the Facts

Travel Guides Career Video

Insider Info

dotTravel guides exist to plan and lead adventures. A major part of their job is going on holiday!

Travel guides must plan itineraries and make sure that all the arrangements for transportation, accommodations and activities are made in advance so that the trip runs smoothly.

Once the trip is planned, the guide accompanies the group on the trip and is responsible for the group's safety.

dotA travel guide's responsibilities depend on the location and duration of the trip, as well as the age range of the group members. A guide planning a long-distance cruise through the Greek islands for seniors would have many different tasks than a guide involved in organizing two-day whitewater rafting expeditions for teens.

Fritz Moriarty is the leader of a tour company in Boulder, Colorado. The tour programs he organizes focus on community service projects and language learning in Mexico, Central and South America and Europe.

"I have an additional responsibility to set up and organize projects and develop language lesson plans," he says. "Beyond safety and logistics, a guide needs to promote an environment fostering learning, teamwork and fun."

dotWhen guides are planning a trip, they work an average 9-to-5 day. While leading a trip, the position becomes a 24-hour-per-day commitment. A guide must be able to help clients in a variety of situations that may pop up while they are away from home.

While on the trip, the guide leads the group to the pre-planned activity sites and describes points of interest. The guide is often responsible for driving land or water vehicles to transport clients to these sights.

Many guiding positions are seasonal or part time. Once on a tour, there is no stopping for the weekend. Guides often have to work through holidays.

dotSandra Crooker says fatigue can be the hardest part of the job. She is a travel guide and co-owner of a tour company in Taos, New Mexico. She organizes and leads llama treks through forest terrain.

dotMost travel guides work four or five months in the summer season.

"If you work hard during the season, it can support you during the year," says Crooker. She adds that a number of travel guides have second careers that they must work in addition to guiding.

dotThis job requires a lot of physical activity. Guides are often responsible for carrying clients' luggage to their rooms and loading it in and out of vehicles.

There is also a very social element to this job. Guides must be able to keep up a commentary for the guests who are unfamiliar with the area and make sure that they are having an enjoyable holiday. Often, the guide is responsible for planning social events for the travel group.

Those who are physically or socially challenged may not find the career suitable.

dotA high level of job satisfaction is what keeps Crooker in the business. "It depends on your personal goals. If you want a high quality of life, then I would recommend this line of work. If you want to pay a mortgage and build income for the long term, then this is not for you."

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Lead people on holidays

  • Guides are responsible for the safety of their groups
  • Many positions are seasonal or part time
  • You need top-notch leadership, organizational and interpersonal skills

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