By Lucian Reed-Drake

Travel and get paid for it. Sounds like a dream job doesn’t it? Yet is being a tour guide or other jobs in the tour industry really all play and no work?

Our very own Lucian (me!) from Working Abroad Magazine has been there, done that and even waggled his flag above the tourist crowds at places like the Trevi Fountain in Rome. I’ve been a tour manager for 2 years now and whilst I can say it’s definitely no easy ride, it is an incredible job being a guide.

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Guide Tours - Job Opportunities Worldwide

First up, credentials. Do you have what it takes to be work in the tour industry? Patience, hard work and a sociable personality is a good start. Most of all, you have to be a people’s person. After all you are leading a group of people, organizing a group of people, chatting, informing, partying and even sometimes counseling a group of people. Add to the personality pot a level headed non stress-head, an innate ability to be very organized, and the ability to think-on-your-feet (and coach, car, ferry, boat or plane).

Second up, lifestyle. Are you ready to live out of your suitcase for long periods of time? Are you ready to say au revoir to your closest friends and family but bonjour to lots of short-term and great friendships. If you are ready, then let’s rumble…

Time to apply. You have to figure out what kind of guide you want to be. There are many choices out there, it depends on the destinations and the style of travel you are rooting for.

For the European coach circuit, the best known are Contiki Holidays and Busabout. Catering for 18-35 year old guests typically, both young although both very fun indeed.

Contiki specialize in tailor-made holidays all over the world, and in particular the European circuit, seeking Tour Managers, Drivers, Mobile Cooks and On-Site Reps.

The training for Tour Managers and Drivers is hardcore, and well renowned in the industry. Imagine 22 countries in 68 days, learning intensively every European history, culture, customs and also where every European city’s ATM, hospital and museum is, then you are halfway there. Minimal sleep, impromptu talks on the microphone and maximum commitment, it’s survival of the fittest and if you get through ‘boot camp’, you’re trained to an impeccably high standard and you are ready for your next biggest test of all, your first tour.

As a Tour Manager you will be guiding 51 people for the time of their lives in everything they do; travel, eat, walking tours, sightsee, excursions, party…I missed out sleep as you won’t get much of it. It’s a true 24 hour job, but a brilliant one at that. As a Driver, you have to navigate around European road signs in funny languages and take charge of a huge chunk of metal around pinball machines for cars such as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Mobile Cook; cook, and lots of it whilst living on the road with your team and 51 hungry campers. On-Site Rep – clean, cook, talk, and party for 6-8 months at a famous European city with a bunch of other fun-loving colleagues.

Busabout are more of an independent travelers circuit with a flexible “hop on, hop off” route around Europe. Driver and On Board Guides are required for the busy seasons and festivals, and although their training is not quite as intense as Contiki, the study of history and being under pressure comes with the job. The On Board Guides ‘check-in’ travelers, give spiels of the locations and interact with hundreds of passengers in places in their career, in places such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or La Tomatina – a tomato throwing festival near Valencia!

The application process for Contiki and Busabout is tough, as is the competition. Be prepared, show your public speaking skills and after a military style interrogation, you may just be placed on a training trip pre-season, typically any time around March-April-May each year. Finally, most of these positions you should hold or be able to obtain a valid European Union passport or UK work permit. Check their details before you apply.

For even more information talk to us on our interactive Working Abroad Facebook group and start some discussions!

Many regard the European circuit to be the teething process for aspiring tour guides, and experienced guides can move on to higher paid jobs at Trafalgar Tours, other global tour itineraries or hiring your services as a freelance guide.

So there is Europe, how about guiding past tigers and lions in Africa, or escorting passengers in the Caribbean? And how much does a tour guide get paid to travel the world?  Find out more in our next blog…

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8 Comments on Working as a Tour Guide: An Easy Ride?

  1. […] Work as a Tour Guide >>> Subscribe via RSS Related Bookmarks RelatedJobs at Sea – Harding Brothers Puts Peo…At WORKING ABROAD MAGAZINE we like to bring you the facts from the people who have done the job, so we spoke to Matthew and Isabel to f…Work Down Under – Jobs in New Zealand a…By Amani Omejer 'So, I've got my visa, now I need to organise a job…Where am I going to stay? I'd better book somewhere…' The…New Zealand Outdoor, Hospitality and To…Where Working Abroad Magazine left off on our last blog, we trailed Frodo Baggins and co. over the postcard scenery of New Zealand an… Digg itStumble del.icio.usredditYahooGoogle Click here to cancel reply. Leave a Comment […]

  2. Dubai Girl says:

    Where can I apply to be a tour guide. I think that would be so much fun. You get to meet so many people every day.

  3. John Watling says:

    I am very interested in becoming a Tour Guide/Leader. I have travelled widely throughout Europe, Egypt,Australia and the Far East. In the 1970’s I was for a period of time an Entertainments Officer with P.& O. I have a very good Knowledge of Art and a fairly wide Knowledge of Europian History both ancient and modern.I am recently retired (67) I am in Good health and active. The above job is exactly what I am looking for. Above all I enjoy travel and I feel I can get on well with all types of people.

  4. […] Guide: You can be a tour guide just about anywhere, but there is always demand for English-speaking tour guides abroad. Of course, […]

  5. luciandr says:

    Have a look at the article Lukas – if you have an EU passport you can apply for Contiki or Busabout. Best of luck!

  6. luciandr says:

    Hi Dubai Girl,

    It is a lot of fun, but a lot of hard work too! Have a look at the article and see what kind of company and travel suits you. Good luck job hunting – it will be worth it in the end!

  7. deborah gray says:

    I really want to drive coaches around the world for a tour company.I drove a 12 seater mini bus around new zealand and australia.also I drove around usa and india,but unfortunately I haven’t yet got my catagory d licence for driving coaches.can u help me or if u know a company that I can work for that will give me training.thanks for your time yours gratefully miss deborah gray

  8. kenneyata miller says:

    would love to get involve as a tour guide , so how do i get started.