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Travel and get paid: Find work as an educational travel guide

Travel and get paid: Find work as an educational travel guide
You’ll need to have a lust for new experiences
Do you know Europe like the back of your hand? Do you know things that baffle your friends and entertain strangers?

And do you possess enough common sense to know that when 20 children are staring at you after a long day, they want ice-cream rather than another speech?

If you’re ticking all the above boxes, it might be worth leading educational tours.

Where to start

It’s the perfect way to travel amazing countries while immersing yourself in fascinating cultures.

While you’ll need to have outstanding knowledge in the destination you’re leading, as well as speak the language, you’ll also be personable.

As Chris Robson, tour manager recruitment at the American Council for International Studies, says: “You can know the Sistine Chapel inside out, but it’s important to also know when it’s time for ice-cream.”

And you’ll have to be comfortable talking in front of large groups.

He adds: “[We look for] common sense, a good sense of humour, empathy for the students. They have to be good educators.

“The job of tour manager is challenging and rewarding. It involves providing a large part of the educational content of the trip; through presentations, guided visits, or suggestions for unscheduled activities.
 
“The tour manager also has to lead, motivate and co-ordinate the group. And, very importantly, they represent the company. We usually require fluency in English and at least one of the following, French, German, Italian or Spanish.”

As an educational tour guide leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure your group have a memorable trip - for all the right reasons
.
You’ll also have to be super-organised, as you’ll be the one responsible for booking everyone into hotels, and checking them out again.

Life on the road

However, if you fall down on the requirement of having a second language, there are other options.

Dylan Bowen, transport manager for Busabout, says tour guides aren’t required to speak the language of the country they’re in – but they should be fully prepared for a full-on life on the road.

Successful guides will embark on a 33-city trip where you’ll experience and research as much as possible so you’re able to impart expert knowledge to your group.

“The main thing is to have that lust for travelling and new experiences. We don’t come back to London and that takes a certain type of person – you’re not going home to your bed every night,” he says.

“We want a customer-focused person who wants to experience Europe and is up for the challenge of doing it. Every day has a different challenge.

“There is a fun side of the job, but there is a job to do and it’s quite thorough.

“You need to be a happy-go-lucky person, but it takes all sorts. You don’t necessarily have to be a loud-mouth, so long as you’re approachable, friendly and helpful, we’ll welcome you.”

Summer camp opportunities

If you’re looking to travel further afield, there are plenty of opportunities.

America is internationally renowned for its summer camps, where recruits are needed as ‘counsellors’.
 
Kerry McSweeney, deputy director of Camp America, said: “Ideally we look for someone who has a skill – either sports, arts or crafts.
 
“We love people that are outgoing, fun role models – the best camp counsellors are big kids who can be ultra-responsible when required. Camp is a full-on day – from flag raising to lights out.

"Generally staff spend their time teaching activities or accompanying the campers in all their activities.
 
“Many counsellors are also bunk counsellors meaning they live in with and are responsible for a group of campers.
  
“Staff also get time off typically one day a week – which gives you some time for a bit of R&R or a chance to go explore!”

My Experience

Alex Rawlinson
Age: 19
Job: Worked as a martial arts specialist with Camp America for 10 weeks at Boulder Ridge, Connecticut

How did you get involved? I saw the Camp America adverts and thought it might be a good thing to do. I spoke with some people who’d worked there before and they said it was the best thing, so I applied.
 
What’s an average day like? I would wake up at about 8am and you’d have your morning session planned. After lunch the kids go into their chosen specialist areas.

What skills do you need to have? You need to have great team skills as you’ll be working with others. You’ll also need to be confident, enthusiastic and really motivated. My skill was martial arts and I’ve been practising Tai Quan Do for about 14 years.

Did it live up to your expectations? It was better than my expectations – it was absolutely fantastic.

What was your best moment? I couldn’t name just one – all of it! I want to go back next summer.

What was your worst moment? Leaving! It sounds really cheesy but it’s true!


Words: Carol Driver


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