I have been fortunate. I have navigated the Salvador Bahia waterfront in Brazil to a stunning restaurant in a converted sugar mill. I have traipsed the seven hills of Lisbon, following my nose is search of custard pastries and my eyes in the quest for stunning photographs.
A wild midnight tuk-tuk ride took me to feast on pad Thai where the citizens of Bangkok eat it—a five-dollar meal that can change your life.
In the past year alone, my travels have included Italy, France, Thailand, and Portugal…
Travel has always been a passion of mine, but it took a while before I came to see it as a way to make money, too. You don’t need any experience to introduce others to the wonders and beauty of the world as a tour guide.
What do most people like to do when they travel? See the sights, experience local culture, shop, shoot great photographs, and eat well (somewhere that’s well, not necessarily expensive—I take travelers to food carts in a half dozen cities where what they know about ingredients, seasoning and preparations is turned on its head for next to nothing).
All anyone needs to do to lead travel tours—all you need to do—is have a passion for traveling to your favorite places for the same reasons.
This is the perfect income activity for people who have moved abroad, too. If you’re already living in Ecuador or Costa Rica, France or Portugal, Thailand or Singapore (anywhere!), there are people in the world hungry to see that part of the world, and your travel expenses would be negligible. You likely relocated there because you love it—why not get paid to show others what you happily wake up to everyday.
By this time next year I will have traveled to four continents, leading tours focused on photography, cuisine, culture and history, and European Christmas Markets, as well as storytelling and writing retreats. We ride metros and walk (no hermetically sealed mega-coaches for us), stay in local hotels, and eat where the locals do.
I do get this question from my friends: “Yeah, but are you making any money?” (My friends can be like that.)
I am. The amount varies depending on destination and length of tour, but I estimate that a fair value for my tour guidance is $75 per day per traveler. If I take 10 travelers on a 10-day tour, that’s $750 a day, for 10 days, which totals $7,500.
Subtract my own travel expenses and I would still be in excess of $5,000 for a trip. The most money I have made on a tour to date? A 12-day trip to Thailand netted me $7,180 after expenses. I expect to do even better on upcoming tours.
What I really provide travelers with is experiences. I do the work to ensure they return home knowing they didn’t just see France or Italy or Peru or wherever…they experienced them. We followed an itinerary that guaranteed their money’s worth, but we also went “off book” and wandered down some interesting looking street or into some artisan’s shop that turned out to be an experience unique to that particular group’s trip.
Success is measured in smiles and changed lives, of which there have been many. If you love to travel, go. Go with all your heart. And take others with you.
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