Hometown: Pleasant Grove, Utah
ITMI graduation year: 2003
Travel bucket list: Antarctica, Great Barrier Reef and New Zealand
Tour essentials: Smartphone, Hat, Saline Nasal Spray
What or who inspired you to become a tour director?
During my sophomore year in college I participated in a biology/geology field camp. This was a self-contained 8-week course; our classroom was an old GM Motorcoach. We started in Yellowstone and worked our way down to the Grand Canyon. The two professors were excellent teachers, but they were also true tour directors. They opened a whole new world to us. I have worked in tourism on a full or part-time basis ever since.
How do you balance your personal life with your travel career?
A few months ago I retired from my full-time job in IT support so I could work full time as a tour director. I really am living the dream! When not on the road, I volunteer for a number of organizations, and church; this keeps me connected with family and community.
What qualities do you feel make for a good tour director?
A sense of humor is indispensable; you wouldn’t get to first base without it. Enthusiasm and a love of learning are important as well. You should be excited when you share those little nuggets of history and nature. It goes without saying you have to like people. If you’re not a people person, tour directing is not your best career choice.
What advice would you give to a first-time traveler?
Find a trip that fits your interests. Decide on what pace you are comfortable with. Too fast or too slow will drive you crazy. This is where the services of a knowledgeable travel agent come in handy. Find a good one and stay with them; they get repeat business by making you happy. Always ask questions.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
Antarctica, The Great Barrier Reef and New Zealand.
What are three things you must always take with you?
A smartphone, a decent hat, and a bottle of saline nasal spray!
If you could design your own customized tour to reflect your passions what would it look like?
I would love to reconstruct the grand tour of Glacier National Park, Montana as far as it would be possible to do so, utilizing the park hotels and those backcountry lodges that still exist. Glacier National Park truly is the “Crown of the Continent.”
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and where you’d like to take them.
I would love to travel to the Grand Canyon with Charles Lyell. He pretty much invented the modern science of geology with the publication of Principles of Geology in 1830-33. He would be like a kid in a candy store.
How has tour directing impacted your perspective of the world?
The people I meet all have a story to tell, and I love learning those stories as much as I love telling them my story. I have learned that in all cultures, it is the stories that last.
What advice would you give someone if they wanted to become a tour director or guide?
Take the ITMI course and get certified. You will then have all the tools you need to be successful; what you do with those tools is up to you. Develop your own style. Don’t create your own problems, always pay close attention to detail, don’t assume, reconfirm! Enjoy the people you are with; they all have a story to tell.
Do you agree that a tour director is actually an ambassador of goodwill? If so, why?
I would agree. A tour director who respects people and other cultures is usually able to, in some way, impart that to tour members. It can almost be like a virus spreading through the group “beniceitis.” Really, the tour director sets the example, and the group really picks up on it.