Tour Directing: A Dream Job for Seniors


Filed under Work & Volunteering

Baby boomers are reaching the age of retirement and it’s a great time to do the things they’ve always wanted to do. For many, this means traveling and experiencing different places and cultures. What if that passion for travel and people could be changed into a second career? Being a tour director can do just that, providing the opportunity to see the world with the flexibility to work whenever you want.

Tour directors are the special people who take care of all day to day the details that make for a successful vacation. They oversee airport, motor coach and hotel check-ins, handle customs and airline problem solving, schedule sightseeing arrangements and act as a congenial host generating enthusiasm and melding a group together into a happy “traveling family.”

“Tour directing is great job for those who have retired. You don’t need to be away for months on end, you choose your schedule, where you want to go and when you want to work,” says Ted Bravos, who 30 years ago founded International Tour Management Institute (ITMI), the first state-certified school for training professional tour directors and guides in America. “I feel older people with their extensive life experience can really make a difference in this industry. They get to share their wisdom while guiding others. They also get the added benefit to stay mentally and physically active while creating unforgettable memories.

Lee Burch did just that. After retiring from a 40 year career he decided he was ready for a new adventure. “Tour directing has allowed me to travel to places I probably wouldn’t have been able to travel otherwise, and I’m able to help people,” says Burch. “It combines both the travel, which I have a passion for, with being able to make a difference in people’s lives. It has made a difference in my own life as well.”

Sound too good to be true? ITMI’s 30 year track record speaks for itself. With the right tools, determination and personality, it can be a reality. The school prepares students for a tour directing career in a 15-day intensive training program. Students learn about the tour and travel industry through practical “hands-on” experience in the field, including 5 days training aboard a deluxe motor coach and an overnight fieldtrip where they actually perform the role of a tour director. After graduation, ITMI have a more than 85 percent placement record.

Tour directors range in age from 20 to 70 with almost half over 50 who have either raised families or had other careers before taking on the new challenge of leading tours. After becoming certified, tour directors can work as much or as little as they choose. Leading tours can also be financially rewarding as well. Besides getting a free trip, tour directors receive approximately $200 per day, plus all expenses, meals and their own private accommodations.

Joanne Connors began her career after raising three children. She had always dreamt of traveling the world, but marriage and family came first. She first learned of tour directing on a trip to the Grand Canyon.

“My tours started in New England where I was born,” says Connors. “From there the whole world opened up to the most exotic places for me. My biggest dream was to go to Africa, but on my route I went to India, Egypt and the Soviet Union. It’s been such a pleasure and a joy.”

Connors spaces out her trips so that she will have plenty of time to spend with her family, including her grandchildren. She has found being a tour guide is a rewarding and flexible career that can be tailored to complement her other interests and responsibilities.

Article courtesy of ARA Content

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