Become A Tour Director And Travel The World For Free

May 17, 2009 | By | Reply More
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Let’s be honest, we’ve all sat in a tour bus at one time or another and thought, “I could do this…and it looks like fun”! Imagine being paid to travel, to tour the world’s most memorable sites, making new friends all along the way, and then there are the tips at the end – brilliant!  Could this be your new career as you downsize and simplifying your life?  Read on for some tips about what it takes to be a great (and well-paid) Tour Director.

First off, let’s discuss the difference between a Tour Director and a Tour Guide.  A Tour Director customarily greets a tour group at the airport and accompanies them throughout the length of their tour.  (For Instance, on a 2 week tour of China, the Tour Director might meet the group in San Francisco and accompany them throughout China, leaving the group again in San Francisco).  Think of a Tour Director as an official escort for the tour.  A Tour Guide escorts a group to a particular location, historic site, or performance, explains all about the site, it’s history, and other pertinent information.  Tour Guides generally stay with a group for one day or even part of a day.  (This same China Tour might have 10 different Tour Guides who join the group for one day at a new site, relate all the history and significance of the site and then leave the group in the hands of the Tour Director).  Consider a Tour Guide to be a subject matter expert.

So, assuming it’s the Tour Director’s job that has peeked your interest, what skills do you need (other than the fact that you “like people and love to travel”?  Successful tour guides are conscientious, organized, punctual, personable, at ease speaking in front of groups and have well developed sense of humor.  You’ll be balancing a myriad of personalities, so a good dose of people skills are essential. The best way to get the inside track on Tour Directing and introductions to job opportunities, is to check out the well respected International Tour Management Institute in San Francisco.  ITMI has been training Tour Directors and Guides for over 30 years and has long standing relationships with major tour companies operating across the globe.  Their intensive 15-day training program includes both classroom and in-the-field training for groups of no more than 35 students.  Following graduation,  students are given job hunting leads and are provided free lifetime job placement assistance.

As an alternative, Professional Tour Management Training offers online training with pod-cast classes and an e-book training manual.  You can find all their information at

What kind of employment opportunities await??  Well, tour companies hire Tour Directors on a Independent Contractor basis, and most TD’s freelance between several different companies during the year.  Compensation can range from $150 to $350 per day with all your travel, meals and accommodations paid for by the tour company.  Assignments can last from one day to several weeks.

Sound like an exciting adventure to you?  Check out the websites, gather your questions and give both companies a call.

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