Life as an Adventure Tour Guide
If you’re reading this, you’re probably like me: unsettled, curious, and craving adventure. You may be questioning your 9-5 job, or the direction your life is headed. You may or may not have an apartment, a car, or a relationship. You’re probably thinking something along the lines of: “There has got to be more out there..”
A few short years ago, I quit my desk job, closed my eyes, and wandered into the wilderness – “Following my childlike sense of adventure” until an opportunity arose. An opportunity that excited me in a way nothing else had. An opportunity to utilize my personal and professional skills, to make people happy, and most importantly: to get paid.
So, it was settled. I became an Adventure Tour Guide. I found a way to not only pursue my dreams of travel, but to do it professionally. If this sounds like something that might interest you, then you’ve come to the right place. I am here today to serve as your literal and figurative guide into this lifestyle, so let’s dive right in!
Damn straight. I am a professional traveler. I literally get paid to live in a van down by the river – and you could too! Over an average three days, my “office” could be [and has been]:
- Snow-capped mountains in Yosemite
- 110 degree deserts of Death Valley
- A wild night on a party bus in Vegas
This is not uncommon at all. At AmeriCan Adventures, we lead trips across the entire United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, and even Canada.
The highlights of this job are as great as you could ever imagine:
- Helicopter rides over the Grand Canyon
- Party in Vegas & New Orleans
- Hiking and camping in Yosemite, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons
- Sunsets in Utah
- Exploring museums in DC
- Swamp tours in Louisiana
I don’t know many jobs that can compete with these experiences, but of course, with the highlights come..
Along with extreme highs, come extreme lows:
- Your workdays are very long
- You [or your passengers] may get sick or injured
- Your passenger’s attitude[s] can make or break your trip
- There are unexpected road closures, accidents, and breakdowns
- Sometimes you only have a one-day turnaround between trips
- You will sleep on the ground, on picnic tables, in hammocks, and if you’re lucky, on an occasional bed
- You have very little time to yourself
- You may go weeks without seeing friends
This job can be physically and mentally exhausting, but the highlights often outweigh the lowlights. In the end, you feel like you can do anything.
The most common question I hear as a homeless vagabond is: “How do you afford this?”
I haven’t had an apartment, a car payment, or a “real” job in years – but as an Adventure Tour Guide, none of this is necessary. You don’t need an apartment, because your “home” changes daily. You don’t need a car, because you are in love with your van. You don’t need a “real” job, because you’re just different, and you’re finally accepting that.
Realistically, your weekly paycheck might not compare to your previous jobs. But work with me for a moment..
Remove the “normal” expenses in your life. Imagine how much you could save without your rent, mortgage, car payment, utility bills, even food expenses [on some trips]. All of a sudden, the amount you’re making adds up to a hell of a lot more than it looks like. It’s not required to condense your entire life in order to work here, but with these “sacrifices,” every single dollar I earn is going into [and staying in] my bank account. That makes for some easy livin’:
If you want to learn more money-saving techniques, check out some of my previous posts:
Commitment [or Lack Thereof]
This position is built for travelers. It’s a job that lines you up for summer work [typically 3-6 months per year], and gives you the freedom to do whatever the heck you want in your spare time.
There are possibilities to work in the winter, but they are usually offered to more “Senior” leaders. Most people are tired after months on the road, and take off to Montana or Colorado – opting to work in ski towns for the winter. Others buy an impromptu flight, and venture somewhere entirely new. The choice is yours, and you now have the resources to live your life the way you want to.
There is nothing quite like the Tour Guide family. I will always remember the day I walked into the Hiring Event. I flew from Boston to San Francisco to “compete” against 22 other people, all praying for the same position. I walked in feeling nervous and anxious, and walked out with a community of like-minded people. People who understood, and accepted me without judgment. People who had relatable experiences, stories, and lifestyles. I knew I had made the right decision. Many of the people I was “competing” with then, are still close friends today.
The same notion exists when you’re on the road. There is no greater feeling than rolling into a campsite and seeing another Guide's van. Whether or not you have even met before, you already have an unspoken bond. There are also “Leader Houses,” where you often stay between trips. These are bases on the east and west coasts, where you can stay for free, and get a chance to catch up with everyone you haven’t seen in months.
My biggest fear when I quit my job was that I was giving up on my career. I have a degree in Operations Management, and years of relevant work experience. I was on the perfect path to continue moving up in the corporate world..
Do Not Fear!: I have learned more about business and managing people in one season as a Guide, than in any position I have previously held. You will not only learn management skills, but true leadership qualities. From the moment your trip begins – you serve as the GM, the Logistics team, the HR department, the City Guide, the Wildlife Specialist, the Doctor, the Auto Mechanic – the entire business. Although you always have support from your team back at base, you are in charge of every aspect of your trip. One might say, there's a new Sheriff in town..
I have spoken very highly of this opportunity to this point. If you’re still here, you’re probably hyped up thinking: “This job looks great! All I have to do is drive around, hike, and party!?” Don’t get me wrong, all of that exists – but those are just the Instagram posts, not your real life. If that is what you are looking for or expecting from this role, you will not survive.
This job is not for everyone. Your days can be extremely long. More often than not, you are “on the clock” for 12-16 hours per day. You can and will be behind the wheel for 8 hours, finish all your organized stops and activities, just to set up camp in the dark.. and then it’s time for s’mores. But then again, at the end of the day, your office is usually pretty effing cool.
How to Apply
If you’re still here and interested, then good for you! We should get a beer sometime.
If you’d like to apply, or have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram (@BodeDotCom) or at my website: BodeDotCom.com. I am happy to provide you with all the information you need to get started on your adventurous new career!
Whatever you choose to do in life, I wish you the best.