Why & How I became a Certified Tour Director
There is a difference between “purpose” and “meaning” in life. Meaning in life asks the question, “Why am I here?” and purpose in life is concerned with our deepest values and purposeful living is concerned with whether we’re living for what matters most. Waking up everyday with a sense of wonder in a new environment where sheer beauty is portrayed from a spectrum of discovery is one of the most crucial human freedoms.
We live in a day and age that is defined by terror and paranoia. We are told to be afraid of everything, to use excessive caution and to question authority when at times we should trust. The media should not define the travel industry. The media should not be the one telling us go here, but not there. The travel industry should be defined by those who have a passion to explore and educate, to play and create, and to rebuild long lost and poor communities. Travel teaches us to enjoy and embrace every discovery as it is thrown at us. Our lives are our own stories that we often think we have no control over.
Traveling is a healthy game of survival and every good samaritan should play. You can not always change what is around you but you can learn to adapt with what you know and what you have. Often times travelers are at the mercy of strangers. You have to know when you should allow your instincts to take over and when you are being lied too. People that say getting around this world is common sense are often naive. They are not the most educated travelers. They may never have experienced threat, danger, or know when the person they are with wants to harm them. These people have never had to problem solve in an unknown location outside the community they live in. What you have to survive with is what you brought in your backpack or in your suitcase and all other information comes from the environment around you and the strangers you talk too. The best worst moments are the moments that happen on the road, overseas, or in an unfamiliar location. These moments teach life lessons on how to solve, when to accept, who to trust, and how to survive.
I am not a coffee drinker, so a morning cup of caffeine is not going to get me out of morning fog. It’s the “Oh’s”, “Ah’s”, “Woh’s” and jaw dropping “OMG’s” that keep me moving. It’s the determination, courage and meaningful relationships that keeps me young at heart.
The International Tour Management Institute (ITMI) started in 1976 and trains ordinary outdoorsy people to nomadic risk taking adrenaline junky adventure seekers to become Tour Directors, Leaders, and Guides in the field of travel and hospitality. The Tour Directing course is a two week intense training program that teaches people young and old on how to be a fully responsible and entertaining Tour Directors, Leaders, and Guides.
The ITMI family totally understands why you hate your 9-5 desk job or why you got “fired” for searching for your next dream vacation on your office computer when you were suppose to be straining your eyes inputing numbers into an excel spreadsheet. They get that you want your freedom and independence and not have to work under supervisors that are causing you to live on anxiety meds. It is not easy to express who you are and prove what you are capable of when you have to do the same tasks every single day knowing that there are places you want to explore.
During this 2 week program you will learn how to solve day to day problems, how to handle the unexpected, types of travel, mapping, human trafficking awareness, industry terminology, TD specific resume and cover letter planning, how to be an ambassador of goodwill, connections, and much more!
The course is held in multiple locations with some days being in the classroom and some days on a motor coach touring around. Throughout the course your classmates will be your best friends and by the end of the course you will be ready to lead a tour. You many not remember every last piece of information you were taught but you will remember the experiences and the people that helped you begin your career.
The people I have met in my class and through networking are people I still stay in contact with and visit from time to time. It is nice to bounce ideas off each other. It was pretty sweet to go to symposium and connect with people who have been in this this creative industry for years. To be able to talk to people who are extraordinary storytellers and who have experienced the same places I have is really something special. The seasoned Tour Directors are definitely an inspiration to move forward in this industry.
You will travel very differently than you have in the past. You will be the smart traveler with all the knowledge and resources that your friends and family wish they had when planning their next dream vacation. If at any point you decide to take a rest from traveling, you know you will be known as the most decorated traveler and coolest storyteller at the dinner table.