Work Abroad

Tour Companies and Contracts

For the right person there are plenty of tour leading opportunities out there. The average life expectancy of tour leader is two to three years (although some go on to do it for much, much longer), so each year companies recruit fresh enthusiastic individuals to replace those looking to hang up their sandals.

Listed below are some of the companies you might wish to work for. Each has their own style, and their own specialities and you should study their websites for yourself before making any decisions.

Some work on fixed term contracts (several months at a time) which may allow you more freedom to chop and change where you work. The longer contracts (18months) may require you to work in only one region for the duration but offer more security if you get ill or tours are cancelled.

Don’t expect to pick and choose where you go. It doesn’t work like that. To begin with you go where you are sent and, over time, as you prove yourself you’ll be given more freedom to choose.

The following companies are looking for full time staff, and may only recruit people over a certain age, or with a certain passport.

One the big ones based in the UK. Claims to run over 500 tours to 90 different countries. Big focus on activity trips including walking, trekking, cycling, mountain biking, rafting and cross country skiing.

Arguably the largest UK tour operator, offering a wide range of tours to suit all. From camping out under the stars in Namibia and Botswana, to visiting South America on one of their “In Style” 5 star tours.

Established in 1991, Imaginative traveller has developed into a very successful tour operator with tours running all over the globe from Egypt to Antarctica. In addition to running small group holidays they also operate honeymoons, family holidays and volunteer programs.

Whilst Kumuka do also offer private tours and coach tours, they are best known for their characteristic blue 4WD trucks, usually full of twenty something’s on their way to one campsite or another. With tours spanning 5 continents, Kumuka has been making overland trips for the last 22 years.

Started over 40 years ago with trips from London to Kathmandu, Dragoman is the original grand daddy of the overland truck tour operators. Today they have a fleet of 35 plus trucks around the world, and most clients are aged between 18 and 40. To work for Dragoman you will need a drivers license and be prepared to obtain a LGV/PCV license at you own expense.

Unlike many of the companies above, JLA is still an independent company managed by its founding directors. It’s largely recognised to be the UK’s leading Latin American specialists with a side line in language courses. Good level of Spanish and local knowledge required by all tour leaders.

Australian adventure travel specialists running trips across the globe. Whilst you would be expected to commit to a specific region or area for 18 to 24 months, Intrepid is one of the few employers that offer 4 weeks paid holiday and 5 sick days every year.

This is the little brother of Tucan (another Adventure tour operator worth checking out) that focuses on providing cheap tours for 18 to 35 years olds. Currently they only run tours in Europe, Egypt and South America.

Tariq El Kashef

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