Careers as an Adventure Travel Guide
Frequently Asked Questions
Leading a tour in Patagonia.
“Find a job you love” says
Confucius, “and you never have to do a days work in
I have written previously about the
rewarding and varied lifestyle of an adventure tour leader
Abroad Leading Adventure Travel Tours: How Make Your Trips
Pay. In the article, I
described how I had found the job I love and how it had
taken me to over 15 countries in four continents that many
people only dream of visiting.
The article has generated an enormous
response. My inbox has been flooded with emails from individuals
on both sides of the Atlantic looking for more practical
advice about tour leading jobs, and more specifically, how
to find one for themselves.
In general they ask the following questions:
How Much Does It Pay to Lead Adventure
Tour leading is not well paid but does
offer an excellent opportunity to save money.
Daily rates start at between £10
and £25 (US$15 - US$40) for a new leader and you can
expect to receive at least 50% more in tips. Most companies
offer a pay raise over time, but it is the way of life that
really allows you to save.
When on the road, you will rarely, if
ever, have to reach into your own pocket to pay for anything.
Food and accommodations are usually covered, and few bars
will expect you to pay for your own drinks when you are
bringing them tourists with money to burn week after week.
There are even opportunities to make
commissions from shops and travel agents if you can help
them sell their wares. So in short, you will never be short
of funds while you are tour leading. And if you have the
self-control not to blow all your earnings during your down
time, you can even save a tidy sum.
I am a Citizen of North America,
Where Can I Find Work Leading Tours?
While it is true that the majority of
leading adventure travel tour operators are based in Europe,
there are also a number based in the U.S. and Canada which
offer employment to North American residents. These travel
GAP Adventures Worldwide
G Adventures has been
operating since 1990 and has its head office in Toronto.
They recruit tour leaders from a number of countries including
the U.S., U.K., and Canada. A truly worldwide outfit, G
Adventures organizes tours everywhere from South America
to Central Asia.
Tour leader recruitment is via their website, and although they look
favorably on candidates with specific language skills, these
are only mandatory for certain regions (i.e. South America).
The minimum initial contract is 18 months and no minimum
age is specified. If you’re looking for security and
adventure in these times,
GAP Adventure’s 18-month contracts may be an attractive
way to see the world.
Backroads has been helping people to
discover the world through active travel for over thirty
years. Operating a variety of biking, hiking and multi-sport
vacations, the company philosophy that “...active
travel is, at its heart, a way of connecting more authentically
with the world’ has won them numerous awards and established
the company as a leader in the field.
Backroads will recruits for tour
leaders, camp chefs, and camp assistant positions. Individuals
over the age of 21 and legally entitled to work in the US,
Canada, EU or Switzerland are entitled to apply. Application
forms are available through the recruitment pages of the
(See more companies that hire adventure tour leaders in the boxout at the end of this article.)
Leading an adventure tour on the Inca Trail
What Are the Long-Term Tour Leading Career
Tour leading has a shelf life for most
people. Something about the transient existence and the
distance from one’s loved ones means that most people
retire from tour leading after three or four years. So what
Tour operators design, market, sell,
and coordinate numerous simultaneous tours across the globe,
and the operations departments are filled with former tour
leaders. Moving back to HQ to train, coordinate and equip
future tour leaders is a logical progression for many. There
are many possible paths you may take:
If you have ever dreamt of being
a travel writer or photographer, no way of life will
provide you with more opportunity, access, and inspiration
to master your craft than leading groups around the world.
Many tour leaders develop an expertise
in a specific region and go on to either write guidebooks
or provide the often breathtaking images for them.
Tour leading is such a varied and
challenging job that after several years you will have
a whole new set of skills suitable for any number of
Briefing your travel groups, you
may discover a latent talent for presenting or teaching.
The meticulous preparation required
for organising complex tours makes event planning and
management a natural next step.
You may discover a new passion for
one of the many aspects of a country about which you
will acquire in-depth knowledge, be it archaeology, architecture,
languages, or all of the above.
You may simply use tour leading
as a “career break” or “Gap Year” and
go back to whatever it was you were doing before you
read this article.
No matter which path you take, or whatever
you go on to do after your time “on the road,” you
will return a more well-traveled, well-rounded, and fulfilled
person than when you left. And you will have an address
book full of new friends to go along with memories that
will last a lifetime