For two to four years tour leading can be the greatest job in the world. But eventually it will get to you. For some people it’s the long hours, the distance from home, the losing touch with friends and family that takes its toll.
Others tire of the constant running around after and having to be nice to the clients. Some start to hear nature’s call for them to settle down, grow up, have kids etc, or can no longer bear being apart from that special someone. Others simply burn out with exhaustion.
So what then?
Of the tour leaders I’ve met on the road, many share a communal confusion about what to do next in life, and continue to accept ‘just one final contract’ whilst they think about it. Having had such a varied and exciting lifestyle it’s hard to then settle into a mundane 9 to 5 office job.
Some go back to whatever profession it was they had before they started tour leading.
Others work their way up the corporate ladder and take a job back at HQ, recruiting, training and prepping new tour leaders, as they head off to some place you’d rather be.
Some start their own tour companies, although in an industry now saturated you need to have a niche to be successful.
Some settle in the countries in which they once worked, meet and marry a local, buy or start a small business.
Some go back to studying, or retrain to something totally different.
And finally there are those of us who continue to wander the globe trying to work out what to do with the rest of our lives. Good tour leaders are hard to come by and your employer knows this. If there is any talk of retirement they will offer the proverbial travel carrot.
“That’s a shame, I need someone to go to Tibet later this year”.
Before you know it you’re standing in the snow, drinking butter salt tea and eating momos.