For many, the ideal Thanksgiving is not about consuming massive amounts of turkey and stuffing and parking in front of the TV for a day of sports. Some would rather spend their holiday feeling waterfall spray in Costa Rica or exploring centuries-old palaces in Madrid.
These experiences often are made possible by devoted tour directors and guides who give their all every single day on the job.
Here are eight reasons to be thankful for tour directors and guides.
They put your needs ahead of theirs: You’ll usually find great tour directors and guides at or near the back of the buffet or bathroom line. They recognize that the happiness of the group depends on all members feeling valued. That means knowing their own place during the tour.
They anticipate the unexpected: Seasoned tour directors and guides know never to trust weather forecasts or estimated drive times completely. They achieve that delicate balance of building just enough cushion time into the schedule to ensure group members are neither bored nor scrambling.
They keep you on schedule: Think about one 15-minute photo stop. Some group members will call it too long, but shutterbugs will wish they had more time. The best tour directors and guides are masters of gauging their group’s interests and inconveniencing the fewest number of participants possible. Same goes for meal duration. It’s not politics. It’s good-natured utilitarianism.
They are knowledgeable: It takes a brave person to stand in front of a motorcoach and tell the history of a region and its people. It takes a foolish one to do the same and not know what they are talking about. Reputable tour directors and guides are sponges – always learning more about their subject matter. Those who aren’t teachable don’t last long.
They have a sense of humor: Despite the best laid plans, there are days when nothing seems to go right. A health emergency is followed by a flat tire, and that one vocal group member won’t be satisfied until the bus turns around delivers him to his own doorstep yesterday. For these situations, laughter is the best medicine. Inject it liberally.
They’re always on: When there’s an hour of travel time ahead, it’s nice to doze off and dream of the adventures that await. Tour directors and guides often don’t have that luxury. For every napper, there are two or more group members who want to know when the next rest stop is or who just want to shoot the breeze. It comes with the territory.
They can recommend your next trip: The wanderlustiest travelers are already planning their next vacation before their current one is finished. Their wish lists are padded by listening to the travelogues of other group members as passionate as they are. Those who need help paring down ideas or choosing between accommodations are wise to consult their tour director or guide. They know the qualities that contribute an enjoyable experience. They must.
They are trained professionals: They are certified, they study, they keep up on the latest technology, destination and safety information and skills to give the traveler the very best experience.