How would you like an all expenses paid trip around the globe? Visiting foreign lands, meeting interesting people and exploring new places? Sounds too good to be true? Well, believe it or not, thousands of people are quite happily getting paid to do this every year by working as a tour guide or escort. Guiding is an interesting job in a growing segment of the travel industry.
The role is extremely varied and you could find yourself working anywhere from a museum to a Caribbean island. Its definitely not your normal 9-5 role and guides have to be adaptable and flexible in their working routine. On longer tours you may be asked to accompany tourists on trips across continents where your specialist knowledge or language skills may be of particular importance. As well as working on land, tour guides are often employed on cruise ships to provide information and local knowledge to the passengers on board. There are also many opportunities working on trains such as the Orient Express or the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Like much of the travel industry, competition for jobs is fierce. Candidates will need to have skills and abilities that set them apart from the crowd. However, with modern travelers now requiring more in depth knowledge about the places they visit and the cultures around them, demand for specialist guides is set to rise. Tour guides with knowledge in ecology, history or architecture are often in high demand as well as foreign language and sign language skills.
In addition to specialist knowledge, guides need to be able to entertain the clients and present themselves well. Could you manage a group of travelers and maintain a good sense of humour at all times? Ultimately you will set the tone of the group and if you are enthusiastic and positive about the trip then others will join in and have fun too.
Employment can normally be found by applying to the tour operators directly. You may be asked to prepare a presentation on your chosen topic for your interview and your presentation style will be equally as important as your specialist knowledge. You can also gain a certificate in tour guiding through the World Federation of Tourism Guides Associations. This not-for-profit organisation aims to improve the standards of guiding within the travel industry. They also offering training for individuals who are starting out as tour guides as well as courses of improvement for those already in employment.
Working as a tour guide can be both personally and financially rewarding. If you’re popular and enthusiastic then your tips can be very good. For example, tour guides working on luxury cruises around the Galapagos islands can make an additional £400 each week in tips alone. As well as the financial rewards, you will meet people and build friendships that will last a lifetime. So if your looking for an exciting job within a growth industry then you should consider life as a tour guide.