On my social media I tend to show the tip of the iceberg.
Being a tour guide hides many challenges that are not often taken into account and, therefore, less visible.
I have to underline the fact that there are different tour guide profiles and many ways to do this job, so I just got the inspiration from my personal experience as a local tour guide. If you have something to add, don’t hesitate to write in the comments.
People always ask me if the most difficult part of my job is dealing with tourists during guided tours. I have to admit that… it is actually one of the things I prefer!
Let’s see together some hidden challenges.
Job insecurity: tourism and travel industry are highly dependent on local and global events, such as terrorist attacks, economic crises, and pandemics. Tour guides are ready for any disaster!
Freelance life challenges: accounting, rates negotiation, administration tasks, relationship with clients and colleagues … there are plenty of tasks less visible but necessary for a self-employed person.
Bad weather: when it’s raining cats and dogs or there’s a heat wave. The difficulty of these situations mainly lies in the experience of the people visiting a destination. Different strategies can be adopted to minimize it. Positive side: I get tanned for free!
Mental tiredness and physical effort are two aspects of my job that I never mention on my social media and during my guided tours. During the years I have learned, and still learning right now, to set my limits and know my weakness. Especially when, during high season, I have to endure exhausting days and weeks.
Stressfull situations and unforeseen problems are just around the corner such as encountering an accident on the highway or having to go to the embassy to ask for some lost documents or to deal with someone in distress.
Irregular food routine: working in different locations can lead you towards an irregular food routine. What do I always eat? Sandwiches!
Traffic jams: it is the most common problem, especially here in Brussels and, more generally, in Belgium.
To conclude, I have to say that experience, self-organization and good advice from other fellow tour guides can help deal with the “hidden part of the iceberg”. In fact, many of these aspects are contributing to the overall know-how gained over the years, even if it’s less visible than the tip of the iceberg.
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Always good and instructive to know the behind the scenes. It’s essential, really, for others to appreciate these things.