Lead Tours and Excursions for Cruise Lines and Land Tour Companies

In our last blog we had the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower and the Coliseum out of the office window, but in this blog we continue our tour industry job search to the savannahs of Africa as well as around the world, and the sea on board cruise ships.

With elephants, hippos and lions as your closest colleagues, overland guiding in Africa is as much of an adventure as it sounds. There are many recruiters in the “overland” industry, seeking international guides with a certain sense of intrepidness.

There is plenty of competition for overland organizations out there, all looking for their next self-motivated, hardworking and reliable worker. Expectations are high, after a detailed application form, you will be taken through an unpaid training program before full employment is offered. This is not only to train you to be prepared for the varied demands of the job, but also to filter out those just looking for a short “working holiday” abroad to see the sights en-route. In fact most overland recruiters are looking for at least an 8 to 12 month commitment.

Here are some of the recruitment links we have plucked out for you so you can find your way to job openings for overland tour leaders and drivers:







Job requirements range according to each of the companies. In general: you need to be at least 21+ to apply (for insurance purposes). Preferred candidates should have relevant travel experience, as well as experience with studying tourism or in previous relevant employment.

tour group leader

Become a Tour Leader

Overland tour drivers (and some leaders who will combine their driving skills) should have the ability to achieve a current LGV/PCV license to drive the large expedition trucks and be able to deal with any bumbling African potholes and the roads dancing with the mechanics.

It’s not just Africa that has vast amounts of land to guide on. Tour leaders and drivers are further sought in exotic and cultural routes such as the Inca trails of Central and South America (muy bueno), the silk routes in Asia and the dusty wheel-spinning deserts of Egypt and the Middle East. Additional languages here are a big bonus, especially Spanish for Latin America countries.

Sea-faring guides are also required for international cruise liners. Every cruise ship has a “tours” or “excursions” department for the guests, and tour escorts work in the office at sea, with the sales, administration and customer service of excursions. They also organize the correspondence between local guides at ports, and when docked, grab the paddle (tour tool called a paddle, not the sinking ship type!) and ‘escort’ groups from the back, rather than guiding from the front.

Not as much history and knowledge is required here, yet the ability to be of high appearance, act professionally and calmly under pressure is essential. Check out cruise jobs on WorkingAbroadMagazine and CruiseJobFinder.com for more in-depth information about working life onboard. Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Costa Cruises for example hire many tour escorts, in particular multi-lingual ones, with their mega ships docking at ports all over the world, including sun-drenched beaches in the Caribbean islands rum route.

The tour industry doesn’t end there. JobMonkey offers some great tour guide jobs, including many in the ‘land of the free,’ the United States. Americans and those from overseas with an appropriate J1H visa can work at fascinating environmental sites such as Yellowstone National Park or Alaska.

The inevitable question remains. What’s the money like? Most employees in the tour industry will tell you they certainly don’t do the job for the money, but for the priceless experiences and opportunity to travel. Nevertheless, there is always opportunity to save money. Tour guides and drivers can expect to be paid a daily rate (fixed) anything from US $30 to US $70 a day; although our best advice if not to work it out on an hourly rate as it won’t work out to much! Whilst it might not seem like a high-paying job; subject to performance, tour crew can also receive bonuses, and cannot forget that all accommodation and most food are covered whilst you are away. Coupled with no rent or utility bills to pay and a good proportion of your income can be put away (normally for a well deserved holiday after the season has ended). Some, but not all, also offer commission based bonuses, depending on excursion, souvenir and further tour sales. Add to that tips if the clients feel like you deserve them, and it can certainly be an affordable wage. Tour leading won’t make you rich, but there is an opportunity to save like never before.

Some in the tour industry go for a few seasons and retire early if they feel like they “burn out.” Some go for years as it beats any day left in a white collar behind a computer.

Moreover, all of the workers abroad we have encountered from the tour industry have never regretted doing it and described it as one of the best experiences of their lives. That’s including me too. Work abroad in tours and you’re bound to join us in our opinion. Follow the leader.

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