Hometown: Oviedo, Florida
ITMI graduation year: 2012
Travel bucket list: Egypt, St. Petersburg, South Africa, Argentina, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Peru, and The Galapagos.
Tour essentials: DSLR Camera, Smartphone, and a Positive Spirit.
What or who inspired you to become a tour director?
My high school drama director was a freelance New York City tour director; I was exposed to the industry at a young age. During high school, I had the opportunity to assist with the reservations and on-tour management of school trips to New York City, London, Paris, and Italy. I witnessed first-hand the level of dedication, commitment, and personalized service that the tour directors employed, and I caught the bug! I studied abroad in Italy during college, which was such a transformative experience personally. I have always had a sense of wanderlust… tour guiding gives me the opportunity to stretch the boundaries of my mind, heart, and soul further than I ever thought possible.
How do you balance your personal life with your travel career?
That is truly a bit of a conundrum! I make it a point to check in with friends and family on the road, and continue those relationships when I am home. Commitment is key throughout so many areas of one’s life. Maintaining frequent contact is a priority for me. Thankfully, my cell phone plan provides excellent international texting and data, so the ability to keep in touch is very accessible nowadays.
What qualities do you feel make for a good tour director?
Above all—patience! But also, empathy, moral uprightness, creative problem solving skills, dependability, improvisation, and a good sense of humor make for a good tour director. A good tour director wears many hats, à la chimney sweep Bert from Mary Poppins. A good tour director is a chameleon, and can turn on a smile and a strong performance for the guests with a snap of a finger. A good tour director intently and truly listens to the guests, anticipates their needs, provides relevant information in a timely manner, and conveys relatable stories regarding the culture of the destination visited that the guests will enjoy. A good tour director helps to implement an unforgettable tour that will resonate in the guest’s memories for many years to come!
What advice would you give to a first-time traveler?
Let yourself go and embrace the cultural exchange. It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before, to test your limits, to break through barriers. You will have come all this way to “x” destination. Let us learn from one another and revel in the differences observed. This will definitely build character and serve as milestones for personal growth. Punctuality is vital to the success of the tour! Flexibility and trust of your local guides and of your tour director are important. But for a first-time traveler, traveling with a sense of adventure and a willingness to deepen your understanding of the world around you will enable and empower you to have a successful tour. It is the tour director’s aim for those who venture outside of their comfort zone to learn something new about themselves and about the world around them by the end of the tour, more empowered and aware than when they arrived.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
Egypt, St. Petersburg, South Africa, Argentina, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Peru, and The Galapagos.
What are three things you must always take with you?
DSLR Camera, Smartphone, and a Positive Spirit.
If you could design your own customized tour to reflect your passions, what would it look like?
I would love to organize a tour for those with a passion for theatre. I have a performance background, and the traveling public always enjoys a night out at the theatre. I would love to start in “The Big Apple,” New York City, and see a plethora of new shows and timeless favorites, replete with backstage access visits and question-and-answer sessions with Broadway actors about life on and offstage. We then travel across the pond to London to experience The West End, and embrace theatre with a British flair. A guided tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre helps us to understand and reflect on a time gone by when the Bard ruled the stage. A quick trip to Paris leads us to The Palais Garnier, or La Opéra Populaire, made famous in Gaston Leroux’s novel and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s international smash hit musical, The Phantom of the Opera. An after-hours tour provides us with a special opportunity to visit the glorious opera house exclusively, followed by a beautiful performance from The Paris Opera Ballet. Our tour takes us to Salzburg, famous for serving as the setting of The Sound of Music. While there, we attend a concert with compositions by Salzburg’s own esteemed composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Our tour finishes in Milan, with a tour of La Scala Opera House, followed by a sumptuous performance of a Verdi Opera, the same venue that premiered so many Verdi operas so many years ago!
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and where you’d like to take them.
I would love to travel with Angelina Jolie. I recently traveled to Cambodia, and was so overcome with wonder and awe at the beauty that I was beholding. Moreover though, I was made speechless by the images before me of the developing country. There was a mother with an infant who insisted that I take her baby with me back to America, to give her baby a better life. Angelina Jolie filmed Tomb Raider in Cambodia in 2000. Not only was she taken with the country’s majesty, she also adopted an abandoned boy, and has donated millions to his homeland, making a huge impact on those in Cambodia. I applaud her humanitarian efforts globally, and think she would be such a joy to travel with. Where would I like to go? Well, I know Angelina loves a good adventure, so it would be a thrill to travel to Machu Picchu, Costa Rica, Iceland, or New Zealand with her.
How has tour directing impacted your perspective of the world?
Tour directing has impacted my perspective of the world in realizing that we are not so different after all. Pride for one’s homeland, perseverance, dedication, faith, and family are all present across all borders, with welcoming spirits and pleasant dispositions.
What advice would you give someone if they wanted to become a tour director or guide?
First of all, I would highly recommend attending ITMI, as it serves as the building block for everything regarding this unique industry. Listen to your true inner self. Can you thrive under pressure, meet deadlines, make snap, sound business decisions, manage large groups of people, and handle stress, all the while implementing a successful and entertaining tour for the guests? There is a lot involved in the role of a tour director, but the benefits are numerous, and it is invaluably rewarding. An honest love of people and committed customer service are absolutely necessary. Learn from your teachers and peers, but also trust your instincts and celebrate your individual style that you can employ on tour. Above all, it is a fascinating career replete with stories that you will never forget.
Do you agree that a tour director is actually an ambassador of goodwill? If so, why?
I definitely agree. The tour director serves as a representative from his or her mother country. It is up to the tour director to serve as the liaison between cultures, seamlessly integrating the guests into the experiences and incorporating harmony, enjoyment, and fun all in a positive light. Respect and compassion follow suit, and the tour director can serve as a catalyst to help to blend these intersections of culture.