Imagine if you will; you and your significant other seated at a Formica table in a large and well-lit room, the rumble of muted conversations surrounding you as you sip a weak mimosa and poke halfheartedly at a stale bran muffin. You glance at your watch as you ponder the question….”so how much money do you think you’ll spend on vacations in the next ten years?” Is that $50 Shell gasoline gift card really worth sitting through yet another time share presentation? Did I mention that my wife plans and runs tours for a living? Do you get the impression that we have been to a few of these presentations? How, you may ask, are these two disparate pieces of information related?
The seemingly endless rains of Seattle and Portland. Dallas and Phoenix’s encroaching heat. New York and Atlanta’s oppressive humidity and bugs—or Chicago or Boston’s blizzards. Wherever you’re from, there are times of the year when you seek an escape from your usual climate, a place where you can embrace the new while feeling comfortable in your own skin. If your mind has begun wandering to travel, visiting Santa Monica, California just might fit the bill.
Life can be full of unexpected twists and turns. Events, both positive and negative, can lead to unplanned destinations, new possibilities, and just maybe the discovery of that perfect niche.
"Sea"posium is ITMI's annual conference, held for the past 31 years. This Symposium will still include the amazing networking, job interviews, professional development and destination knowledge that ITMI is famous for but this time we are just adding a little more water!
We are thrilled to have our first Symposium on a cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas, departing out of Ft. Lauderdale for this inaugural 4 night event!
ITMI has become my family. One that has the same passions as me. We all truly love interacting with others, breaking down those barriers just to be human to human. Bringing our unique skills and ideas, we all have our own intimacy with travel, and I am so thankful to have met and get to know these people with same mindsets as me. I am so happy we have officially graduated with our certification!
It all started innocently enough, about a year ago, over pizza. My wife and I had been invited to go on vacation, to Walt Disney World and on a cruise, with two friends….another tour guide and his wife, a meeting planner. For the purposes of this article I’ll call them Jim and Jane, because those are their names.
When people talk about Winter travel, you wonder what kind of winter they mean. The kind where the thermometer drops to 40 degrees and school is cancelled… or the kind that gets to -40 degrees and school is cancelled, cars don't start and people can die due to exposure. Winter is not the same everywhere you go.
In the Midwest of the United States people winter travel all over the wider area to the states that surround them such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa for their Christmas and holiday celebrations. Holidays together with extended family is the norm in this region, so people have to travel. And many are not flying, they're driving. Packing up the vehicle to venture 4, 5, 6+ hours away for a few days. This is not a small feat in a land of Winter.
When traveling in Winter weather conditions, there are important things to remember that you wouldn't think of when traveling somewhere the weather isn't against you. Traveling in large amounts of snow and below zero temperatures means you need to travel smarter.
Here's a list of what to bring on your winter trip. This list would also pertain to places like Iceland, Russia, Canada, and any place where winter is a big deal in terms of how you live and move around.
Preparation is Key
Winter Wear. Not only should you be dressed in warm clothes, but hats, mittens, scarves and boots are imperative.
Water. Bring a 24 pack of bottles or a few jugs, depending on how many people are with you. Water is one of those things for survival that is as imperative as fire. Which is coming up next on the list.
Candle and matches. Fire can be your best friend, whether to see in the dark, or be warmed from the cold.
Food. Make sure you have some sustainable food. If you end up stranded for a period of time, there won’t be a meatloaf and potatoes being served. I personally always like to have beef jerky, bananas, nuts and chocolate on a trip.
Gas tank always above 1/2 full. Always keeping your tank above half full means you will always have some fuel to run the engine and keep warm. It's not a mechanical thing, it's a survival thing.
Jumper cables. Dead batteries are all over the place when the temperatures gets really low. Not only might you need them for your own vehicle, but you can be a savior to someone else. Dead batteries are common occurrences whether in a grocery store parking lot or on the side of the road.
A charged phone. Heading out on a long winter trip, over the river and through the woods to grandma's house, is not the time you should leave the house with a phone at 20%.
First aid kit. If you don't have one, buy one that's already put together or research what should go into it and make it yourself. Bandages, antiseptic ointment, alcohol swabs etc could be necessary at some time.
As a lifelong Midwesterner from Northern Wisconsin where temperatures can drop to -40, this is what I would want to have along if I was making a trip like one from Eau Claire, WI clear across the state to Oshkosh, WI to visit family on a cold, snowy winter day.
Traveling is one of the most fantastic ways to spend your time. The thought of seeing the world and experiencing the unknown is top of mind for many people. When you finally decide it’s time to venture out to a foreign land, the question arises whether to travel solo, or with a group. So what are the benefits of group travel? Let's find out...
There are definite benefits to both options. As an introvert I was sure traveling with a group would not be for me. Boy was I wrong. Group travel is amazing and something I hope to do many times in the future. Here are a few of the reasons why.
Everything is taken care of for you
This is a big one! All of the particulars are taken care of for you. Planning a trip can be difficult, especially if you’re venturing to a place where you don’t speak the language. Traveling with a group and a Tour Director means all of the details are taken care of for you. You don’t have to worry about booking flights or hotels. And even more exciting is that with a group and Tour Director, all of the excursions are well planned out ahead of time. So you get to sit back and enjoy the trip. Also, when traveling in a group with a Tour Director, if there are any hiccups along the way, there is someone knowledgeable to figure things out and get everything back on track.
Create lifelong friendships
Travel gives people experiences and memories that are felt deep in the soul. When you set out on a grand adventure with a group of people, immediate bonds are formed. You won’t become best friends with everyone on your trip, in fact you might find some people pretty annoying. However, you will come across those few, or more, people who will become your travel buddies, wine drinking buddies, adventure buddies, and the experiences you have together will create relationships that last a lifetime.
Do things you couldn’t do on your own
You’ll get to see and do things you might not have been able to do on your own. Whether it’s skipping the line at a museum or getting exclusive access to an area that is generally off limits, being with a group and a Tour Director means you’ll not only hit all the high points and must see places of your destination, but you’ll experience hidden gems that you wouldn’t have known about, or had access to, on your own.
Practicality of group rates. Whether it’s airfare, lodging, food or adventures, groups will always get better rates than individuals. This is a no brainer if you want to experience everything a destination has to offer, and do it without breaking the bank.
Safety in numbers
There is safety in numbers. You will need to think about safety no matter where you travel. No one wants to think anything will go wrong on a vacation, but that’s not the reality and being prepared is your best defense in tough situations. Traveling with a group means you have a “pack”. Think of a wolf pack. They travel together and protect one another. Traveling alone isn’t inherently dangerous, but traveling with a group means built in safety and protection. You can think of the Tour Director as the alpha wolf in the pack, always there to lead the group and make sure everyone stays safe and happy.
So there you have it, 5 benefits to traveling with a group. I loved it, I really think you will too.
Thrilled to be starting the 30th Annual ITMI Symposium in Little Rock, AR. Symposium gathers ITMI Alumni, Tour Companies, Industry Leaders and Speakers to this amazing 5-day event. We are thrilled to highlight some of our presenters like Kelsey Tonner of Be a Better Guide, Sandi Rose Miller and Carrie Swing. And those are just a few of the incredible educational session speakers at Symposium! #itmisymposium2017
Just being in the same place at the same time is the best thing of all. As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. When we are home at the same time, even doing nothing, we are doing it together. Be it conversations over coffee, a book or a bottle of wine, or holding her hand in sweet silence, life is good.
If you are a travel lover who fears being stuck, then you should consider tour guiding and other career options available that offer a solid living and feed that insatiable travel bug.
A hurricane hit Cabo and it wasn't my fault. I’ve been known to throw an unintentional monkey wrench into our plans (more on that later), but this vacation was smooth sailing. Like most of our trips this one was planned to the last detail by my dedicated tour guide and wife.
Here are five reasons becoming a Tour Guide will provide you with the balance you need in work and life.
Tour Guides have an uncanny ability to create enjoyable experiences for the most diverse groups of guests imaginable. Here are five superpowers that elite Tour Guides possess.
Why is it that some of us over pack, while the experienced tour guide/director packs just right? I am learning that it comes down to two things (not including the magic wand): 1) planning, 2) prioritizing.
Here are six important guides who furthered exploration and discovery for the benefit of all travelers.
We are very pleased that ITMI has become an Affiliate member of NFTFA-USA and look forward to sharing information and working together to enhance the guiding profession and experience for the tourists we guide.
Every day is a new adventure, one that requires flexibility and an expansive set of skills. Mastery of the basics only goes so far. Exceptional Tour Guides and Tour Directors wear numerous hats to ensure everybody has a positive experience. Variety makes this job one of the most fulfilling in the world.
I will admit that I used to fear traveling because I preferred the comfort of the familiar. I could easily have made the same mistakes and inadvertently embarked on the path to uglydom. My saving grace was a savvy, adventurous and joyous traveling partner. The lessons I learned from her cannot be understated.
Here are five signs it's time leave your desk behind and enter a world of limitless possibilities as a tour director or tour guide.