Work Abroad

The Million Dollar Question

Being sincere, profound, non materialistic road junkies like myself, none of you will really be interested in this next bit. And none of you will have jumped directly to this page, Right?

Ok, so here’s the bit you all want to know. How much does it pay?

Well, it very much depends on who you work for, where you work, how good you are at it, and just how ambiguous your morals are.

Who you work for.

Most companies offer a daily rate that you are paid for every day that you are away. This in my experience ranges from £10 to £25 per day for the first year. Then you may get a small raise.

Assume that you work for one of the ones that pays £20 per day. That may not sound like very much but £20 per day, seven days a week is £140 per week. Peanuts if you live in London, but you’re doing pretty good if you live in Bangkok or Cairo. That’s £560 per month.

Take into account that you will rarely spend any of your own money in a lot of places and you’re saving £560 per month. After a six month contract you can come home with a nice pile of savings.

Where you work.

Where you work will determine how many freebies you’ll be getting, and how much money you’ll spend..

If you’re bringing 20 odd people to a restaurant or bar, the owners are likely to look after you very well indeed, giving you free food and drinks. In fact, this is the standard in most of the world. In some countries it goes without saying. In others you’ll need to work a little harder to negotiate it for yourself.

In parts of Western Europe very few restaurants will be prepared to do this and you’ll find yourself spending lot of your wages simply on living.

‘How good you are’

Most tour leaders can expect a tip at the end of each expediton, which will vary depending on how good you’ve been, and how generous your clients are (hope for Americans rather than Dutch).

Obviously tips are extremely variable but after week long tour you can expect an average of £10 from each person.

Your Scruples

There are many ways to earn a few extra quid tour leading and some tour leaders will exploit them all. For example, you can take your clients shopping in many places, No visit to Morocco is complete without the obligatory visit to a carpet shop. Here your clients can learn about the history of carpet making, its place in Moroccan culture, how they’re made, and of course, there might just be the opportunity to buy some too.

Whilst most tour leaders will be happy to take a few free rugs and other gifts back home at the end of their contract, some will take a cut of what their clients spend.

Some tour leaders will even take their groups to restaurants and take a percentage of what they spend at the end of the meal. An easy way to earn extra money but generally frowned upon. Most tour leaders don’t do it, and in fact many companies will sack you on the spot if they think you do.

So in summary, it’s highly possible to earn, (and save the best part of) £1000 (including tips) per month in your first year. Sound ok? But please bear in the mind the following :

Each company is different, and has different conditions and rates of pay. The above information is devised solely from my own experience. Many companies offer no pension, national health insurance or sick pay scheme. If you don’t work you may not be paid, and when tours are cancelled at the last minute due to some terrorist attack or outbreak of bird flu, you could lose 6 months of work at the last minute and not be compensated.

Tour leaders can save some money but few drive flashy cars or live in big houses or live in a big house. You will travel, and you will get paid but you will not be ‘paid to travel. Tour leading is not going to make you rich, but if you’re looking for an exciting job, bucket loads of new experiences and fresh challenges daily, then tour leading could be for you.

Tariq El Kashef

Tariq El Kashef is the author and editor of – The Online Egypt Travel Guide