Becoming a Tour Director

When I left South Carolina in 2016 I gave myself one year to travel; in my head, this was enough time to see what I wanted to see and do what I wanted to do. I just didn't realize how fast a year would pass. Four months in Thailand, a week in Cambodia, a month in Rome, a month in Croatia, three months in Germany, three months in the U.K, and weekend trips everywhere else.

The year make approached and it was time for a reevaluation of life. It's 2017. I am pet-sitting in London and I am having a bit of a crisis. Was it time to go "home" and get a "real" job or should I continue teaching online, pet sitting for my accommodations, and traveling around Europe? The answer should have been simple.

I poured a glass of wine and began job hunting online. I can't remember what exactly I searched for but I landed on 'Tour Director' and began reading. The job seemed ideal and perfect for me: seasonal, travel, talking...why not apply I thought, and so I did.

The interview was more like a conversation with an old friend. We laughed, I told some wild travel stories, and before I knew it the interview was over. A few days later I was asked to create commentary for a second phone interview. I had to speak about Arlington National Cemetery in D.C.

I hadn't been to Arlington, yet alone D.C since my 9th-grade trip. Being nervous was an understatement. I researched the topic, watched a ton of Youtube videos, and wrote out what I wanted to say. When the phone interview started I paced as I spoke, telling the story of Arlington. When I was done she said she would let me know in a few days if I were to get an offer to come to D.C for an onsite interview.

It didn't take long, a week maybe. They wanted me to come to D.C to do the in-person interview. At this point, I was less nervous about the interview; I was having second thoughts about leaving Europe. In some people's eyes, I was living the dream.

Arriving in the U.S was a shock to the system. I certainly had reverse culture shock and it, for lack of a better word, sucked. Settling back into the 'American way of life' was not easy for me. I was uncomfortable and not truly comfortable to this day. In casual conversation, I have to restrain myself from saying things like when I lived in Rome...people tend to think I am bragging. Sorry, I digressed. Simply put, I arrived at this 2-day interview not fully whole, uncomfortable, and a little sad.

The first day was a meet and greet with the other people who are applying for the same position. I was terrified and intimidated. These individuals had years of experience, went to a school to get certified as a Tour Director; something I had never heard of until this moment. In my head, there was no way I was getting this job.

We loaded on to a coach to begin the journey through D.C. Each person had to talk about a specific monument, historical structure, or museum. Speaking in front of your peers is hard. Speaking in front of experts in the field is even harder.

On day two it was my turn. The sun had set over the National Mall. I took the group over to the Korean War Memorial and talked about the 'Forgotten War'. I spoke to the group as I would if they were students. Gave high fives when questions where answered correctly, spoke loudly, confidently, and told a story.

Five minutes later it was all over. I had flown across the ocean on a chance that I would get this job. It would take a couple of weeks to find out if I made the cut. When I got the email I was ecstatic. I had no clue how much my life would change at the point.

Two seasons into being a Tour Director and holy cow I can't believe this is my career. I crossed the ocean to do something that had a massive chance of not working out. It's not until this moment that I have actually thought about what I would have done if I hadn't gotten the job.

The career is not easy. It is physically and mentally demanding, challenging at times, and stressful. It's uncertain but I wouldn't change for the world. The future is bright for me as a Tour Director and even a Tour Operator.