I have been very fortunate over my career to travel with some truly wonderful people who were adventurous and anxious to add new memories to their life experiences. And - again fortunately - the vast majority of my travelers include making new friends as part of that enjoyment. These are the folks who make my job a pleasure.
Of course, my tour director duties are only the final part of the process. I spend the entire year researching a wide variety of pieces and parts - from scouting destinations and inspecting hotels, to leading groups on new adventures, and even the part that I consider to be my weakest area: selling tours to the public. (“You don’t want to buy a tour, do you?”)
All of these have their challenges and rewards, and there is always something new to learn.
Despite my best efforts there is an endless list of things that can go wrong on a tour - from weather, to road construction or traffic, to poor planning, to attractions that “forgot” we were coming, or my special favorite: an unscheduled tour group arrives just before our on-time arrival and are given our time slot. For anything from attractions, meals or hotel arrivals this can be a disaster on the road.
So it is probably an understatement to say that the majority of my efforts utilize coping skills.
A few examples of how the tour participants can affect the progress of a tour:
Half of the bus is having the time of their lives while the other half is on the worst tour that ever happened. This is an extreme, but in this case, there didn’t seem to be anyone in the middle. Of course, the main problem was weather, over which I had no control, but try as I might to substitute activities that might placate the malcontents, it was a waste of energy. It was as if I was desperately trying to keep the participants who hated me from those who hadn’t yet made up their minds!
There are times though, when a seeming disaster can turn into an incredibly positive experience. A few years ago my research uncovered a previously hidden gem on the Oregon Trail in Nebraska and I thought it would make a wonderful addition to our itinerary. I was so enamored actually, that I went against all itinerary planning wisdom and decided to include it on an upcoming tour, even though neither the driver nor I had ever been there. Even the locals weren’t aware of this historic treasure in their midst and I’m embarrassed to admit that we became hopelessly lost on some lonely back country roads. Even SIRI didn’t know where we were! After passing a few now familiar landmarks more than once, I finally marched up to what I hoped would be a friendly farmhouse to humbly ask directions. By then we were actually amazingly close to our destination, and found a sign for this original cabin that had served the Oregon Trail for decades. [It turns out, the only sign was facing the wrong direction, so we had missed it.]
By this time the entire group had become invested in the quest, and determined to locate this treasure. The shared triumph of locating that sign and the authentic (and lovingly preserved) Oregon Trail way station turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.
After the long months of waiting we are anticipating a much improved travel season this year, and hope you will consider joining us on one of the many tour adventures we are offering in the coming months.
See you on the trail in 2022!