Don’t ever travel with expectations. Expectations lead to deception. Travel with the desire to learn something new.
— Gina Legalle

Hometown: Villebon, France

ITMI graduation year: 1998

Travel bucket list: Bali, Denmark, Washington, D.C.

Tour essentials: Essential oils, journal, camera

What or who inspired you to become a tour director?

On returning to the States after a year of living in Paris and traveling throughout Europe, I decided I must go back.  I quickly networked to find the way to make this possible with an income and a job.  My girlfriend Sandy Darringer had gone to ITMI and she suggested this to me.  I enrolled immediately.  In the last week of class, I was interviewed at ITMI by Tauck Tours.  I was hired and left immediately, didn’t even make it to the farewell dinner at ITMI. 

How do you balance your personal life with your travel career?

As a tour director, I took my job seriously and worked hard when on the road.  I tried to manage personal time regularly with long baths, trips to a museum, shopping, reading a book, dinner with a friend, etc.  It’s important to find time for yourself when you’re constantly serving others.  However, rest is critical and personal time must be healthy to avoid burnout.  

What qualities do you feel make for a good tour director?

Patience, organization, and empathy make for a good tour director.  Having these three qualities, a tour director can get through all questions, trials, and bumps, and make a beautiful memory for any traveler.  

What advice would you give to a first-time traveler?

Don’t ever travel with expectations.  Expectations lead to deception.  Travel with the desire to learn something new. 

What destinations are on your travel bucket list?

I would like to see Senegal, Bali, Thailand, St. Petersburg, Finland, Denmark, India, Bryce Canyon, Savannah, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and the Caribbean. 

What are three things you must always take with you?

I always take my essential oils as my traveling medicine cabinet.  I always take a journal to log my experience. I always take my camera to eternalize the moment and share with others.

If you could design your own customized tour to reflect your passions what would it look like?

It would start with a visit to San Francisco and beautiful California, followed by a trip to Europe for a multiple city excursion via train travel.  With of course, boutique style hotels that reflect the location in each stop, only local food and beverages would be allowed.  Discovery of local music and culture is a must.  The tour would finish in Africa under the safari moon and the sounds of the village children holding our hands for a farewell dance.      

Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and where you’d like to take them.

I would truly enjoy traveling with Hillary Clinton and having dinner with her overlooking the city of Paris.  I’m sure she is a very interesting lady. 

How has tour directing impacted your perspective of the world?

Tour directing has given me the knowledge that the world is dynamic and unique.  Thanks to my many travels, I know that all the little things make us different yet make us the same.    

What advice would you give someone if they wanted to become a tour director or guide?

They must go to ITMI.  It is the steppingstone to being a professional director or guide.         

Do you agree that a tour director is actually an ambassador of goodwill? If so, why?

I do agree with this statement.  Traveling in itself for leisure and personal growth means one is an ambassador of goodwill.  We are not required to travel.  The fact that we choose to, means we are ambassadors.