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What Does a Tour Guide Do?

How do you make your travels more memorable? Let's talk about tour guides, the unsung heroes of every great trip.

A tour guide makes up 85% of what travelers think about a tour. So, if you're running a travel business and want to improve customer satisfaction, start by hiring and/or training great tour guides.

In this guide, we'll explore what makes a great tour guide. We'll look at the skills they should have, like sharing knowledge, ensuring safety, respecting local cultures, and caring for the environment.

How important are tour guides?

Travel guides are the heartbeat of the industry. They turn simple trips into unforgettable experiences by blending stories, culture, and adventure.

These guides do more than just show the way. Whether it's leading a tour through ancient ruins, leading a wildlife safari, or guiding you through a city, they connect people with the world.

So what do they do? We've got 10 key things tourist guides should practice and be trained in.  

What does a tour guide do?

1. provides information.

what a tour guide do, storytelling skill

A tour guide's superpower is sharing fascinating information. They don't just show places; they bring them to life with stories about history, culture, and more.

Imagine exploring an ancient site while your guide unveils its secrets, from architectural marvels to dramatic historical tales.

  • Why It Matters: This storytelling turns a regular trip into an unforgettable journey. It's the difference between just looking at old stones and feeling the pulse of history beneath your feet. Tourists carry these stories home, making their experience richer and more meaningful.
  • The Risk of Falling Short: A guide who can't weave these tales leaves travelers with just snapshots, not stories. It turns an adventure into just another walk, leading to disappointment and forgettable trips. For a travel business, this means unhappy customers and a reputation that takes a nosedive.

2. Guarantees guest safety

safety gears, hiking tours

At the core of a tour guide's responsibilities is ensuring the safety and well-being of guests. This includes sticking to safety protocols, guiding guests during activities, and handling emergencies effectively.

Take a wilderness hike, for example. A skilled guide not only checks that everyone has the right gear but also clearly explains safety rules. If a hiker twists an ankle on a tricky trail, a guide's quick response is crucial.

  • Why Safety is Key: Safety is the foundation of a successful tour. A guide's ability to manage risks and respond to emergencies not only protects the guests but also builds trust. This trust is essential for an enjoyable and worry-free experience.
  • The Consequences of Neglect: Ignoring safety can lead to serious consequences. A lapse in safety measures might result in accidents or emergencies, tarnishing the tour experience and the reputation of the travel business. In the world of travel, a safe journey is as important as an enjoyable one.

3. Manages itinerary

itinerary management, calendar

A tour guide's ability to organize and execute a tour itinerary is vital. This involves scheduling activities, coordinating transport, and managing time effectively to guarantee a seamless experience.

Consider a multi-day city tour. Here, the guide carefully plans each day, arranging museum visits, landmark tours, and dining experiences, all while balancing the group's time to maximize their enjoyment.

  • Why it matters: Efficient itinerary management is the backbone of a smooth tour. It ensures that every experience is woven seamlessly into the journey, giving guests a well-rounded and hassle-free experience.
  • The impact of poor management: If a guide mismanages the itinerary, the tour can turn chaotic, leading to missed opportunities and dissatisfaction. Timely and organized execution is key to keeping the tour on track and ensuring that every moment counts for the guests.

4. Knows how to engage guests

good customer engagement skills

A tour guide's skill at engaging with guests, answering their questions, and offering enlightening insights plays a big role in enhancing the tour experience.

Imagine a wildlife safari where the guide doesn't just point out animals but passionately describes their habits and habitats. They encourage questions, sparking a deeper connection between the tourists and the wildlife around them.

  • Why engagement matters: Effective engagement transforms a standard tour into an interactive journey. It's not just about seeing; it's about understanding and connecting. When a guide is interactive, it elevates the tourists' enjoyment and enriches their learning.
  • The downside of disengagement: A guide who lacks this ability may leave guests feeling disconnected and uninvolved. Engagement is key to keeping the experience lively, educational, and memorable. Without it, even the most exotic tour can feel flat and unimpressive.

5. Speaks local

local language, foreign guests

A tour guide's proficiency in the local language, coupled with their ability to translate or interpret for non-native speakers, is crucial for a smooth tour experience.

For instance, in a foreign country, a skilled guide not only fluently translates the tour explanations but also bridges the gap in conversations between tourists and locals. This ensures clear and effective communication throughout the journey.

  • Why language skills are vital: Being fluent in the local language is more than just about communication; it's about connection. It helps in accurately conveying the essence of culture and history, and in facilitating meaningful interactions with locals.
  • The impact of language barriers: Without strong language skills, misunderstandings can occur, potentially leading to a less fulfilling experience for the tourists. A guide's ability to speak the local language fluently is key to a seamless and enriching travel experience.

6. Excels at tour planning and logistics

logistics and tour planning skills

A tour guide's role in overseeing and executing the logistical aspects of a tour is crucial. This includes arranging accommodations, meals, permits, and tickets, ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Take a cruise excursion as an example. Here, the guide handles all the details, from coordinating transport from the ship to securing attraction tickets. He also organizes a picnic lunch for the group.

  • Why it matters: Efficient planning ensures that every aspect of the tour is hassle-free for guests. It's about providing a seamless experience where tourists can focus on enjoying their adventure, not worrying about the details.
  • The consequences of poor planning: Poor planning can lead to logistical mishaps, inconvenience, and frustration. A tour guide's skill in managing these details is essential for a successful and enjoyable tour, enhancing the overall travel experience.

7. Respects cultural aspects & beliefs

what tour guides do

Tour guides' ability to promote cultural respect and sensitivity among tourists is pivotal. It involves ensuring tourists appreciate and follow local customs and traditions.

For example, on a cultural heritage tour, the guide might encourage visitors to remove their shoes before entering a sacred temple. This reinforces the importance of respecting local practices.

  • Why it matters: Respecting cultural norms is the key to an immersive and respectful travel experience. It helps tourists connect more deeply with the places they visit and fosters mutual understanding between different cultures.
  • The impact of cultural insensitivity: Lack of cultural respect can lead to uncomfortable situations and offend local communities. A guide's role in educating and guiding tourists about these aspects is critical for maintaining harmony and enhancing the overall quality of the tour.

8. Promotes sustainability

sustainability in tours

A tour guide's commitment to promoting responsible and sustainable tourism practices is crucial. This includes educating tourists on proper waste disposal and minimizing their impact on the natural environment.  

Consider a nature hike: a knowledgeable guide leads the way and teaches the group about preserving the ecosystem. They emphasize the importance of leaving no trace, like avoiding littering, to protect the environment.

  • Why sustainability matters: Encouraging sustainability is vital for protecting the places we love to visit. It ensures that these destinations remain pristine and enjoyable for future generations. Responsible practices reflect a commitment to the environment and local communities.
  • The risks of ignoring sustainability: Neglecting sustainable practices can lead to environmental degradation, disrupting natural balance and diminishing tourist destinations. A guide's role in promoting sustainability is key to maintaining our natural and cultural treasures.

9. Handles the unexpected with ease

good tour guide in emergency situations, weather changes

Tour guides' ability to handle unexpected challenges, like weather disruptions or participant concerns, is critical.

Imagine a sudden rainstorm hitting during an outdoor activity. An adept guide doesn't just find shelter; they swiftly rearrange the schedule to adapt to the new conditions, ensuring the tour continues smoothly.

  • Why it matters: The unexpected is part of travel, and a guide's readiness to tackle these surprises head-on can make or break the tour experience. Their quick thinking and problem-solving skills keep the adventure on track, providing peace of mind for tourists.
  • The impact of unpreparedness: If a guide cannot manage unforeseen events effectively, it can lead to disarray and disappointment. Being equipped to handle the unexpected is essential for maintaining the flow and enjoyment of the tour, no matter what comes your way.

10. Good record-keeper

record keeping

Tour guides' skill in maintaining accurate records of tour-related information, including attendance, expenses, and incidents, is vital. Utilizing an online booking system enhances this process significantly, offering ease and precision in record-keeping.

Consider a guided photography tour. With an online system, the guide can efficiently log participant details, track locations visited, and note special photographic moments. This streamlines organization and provides participants with a detailed account of their experience.

  • Why it matters: Online booking systems bring efficiency and accuracy to record-keeping. They simplify data management, making it easier to track and update tour details, leading to better planning and execution. For guests, these records can become cherished summaries of their journey.
  • The downside of manual record-keeping: Relying solely on manual methods can lead to errors and oversights, potentially affecting the tour’s smooth operation and perceived professionalism.

An online system mitigates these risks, ensuring records are up-to-date and easily accessible. This digital approach is a significant advantage for both tour guides and operators in delivering a high-quality travel experience.

To sum up, tour guides are much more than just travel facilitators; they are the architects of unforgettable experiences. Their expertise in delivering engaging information, prioritizing safety, seamlessly managing itineraries, and promoting cultural sensitivity transforms a mere trip into an enriching journey.

In recognizing the invaluable role of tour guides, we see them as essential guides to the world's marvels. They bring depth, safety, and insight to every adventure. They are the bridge connecting curious travelers to the wonders around them, making each journey not just a visit, but a story worth telling.

As we applaud these unsung heroes of travel, we understand that their skills and passion truly open the doors to the world's treasures for us all.

FAQ Section

What are the duties of a tourist guide.

Tourist guides provide guidance and extensive knowledge of local history, attractions, and archaeological sites while entertaining their visitors. They ensure compliance with establishment or tour regulations, manage the itinerary, and provide assistance in emergencies. Tour guides educate and interact with clients, making each destination more interesting and engaging.  

What do tour guides do daily in their tour guide jobs?

Tour guides conduct walking tours and guided tours, often in art galleries, historical sites, or remote locations. They research and plan each tour, ensuring they have extensive knowledge to share.  

Tour guides work confidently with clients, answer questions, and provide engaging and educational experiences. They also coordinate with tour companies and ensure safety practices are upheld.

Is tour guiding a hard career?

Tour guiding as a career can be demanding but also rewarding. It requires confidence in public speaking, proficiency in the English language, and the ability to teach and entertain in an interesting manner.

Tour guides must be adaptable to handle various sites and situations, from busy city tours to remote locations. It's a job that involves constant learning and interaction, making it a good fit for those who enjoy teaching and exploring.

How much does a tour guide make per tour in tour guide jobs?

Tour guide jobs earn vary. Tour guides work for tour companies or as freelancers and are often paid per tour, with rates depending on the tour's length, destination, and the guide's experience.  

Guides may also receive tips from clients for providing excellent service. Additionally, online resources and tour operator platforms can offer avenues for tour guides to find more clients and establish a stable income. Research and understanding of the local market are key to estimating potential earnings in this career.

What qualifications or training are typically required to become a tour guide?

Qualifications and training requirements can vary by location and the type of tours offered. Tour guides may benefit from formal education in tourism or related fields, as well as relevant certifications or licenses.

Training often includes developing communication skills, knowledge of the tour's subject matter, and practical guidance on leading tours.

How do tour guides handle unexpected challenges or emergencies during a tour?

Tour guides are trained to handle a variety of situations, including emergencies. They may have contingency plans in place, such as knowing the nearest medical facilities or alternate routes in case of road closures.

Communication with tour participants and swift, calm decision-making are essential skills for addressing unexpected challenges.

What's the role of a tour guide in promoting sustainable and responsible tourism?

Tour guides play a crucial role in promoting responsible tourism by educating tourists about respecting local cultures, wildlife, and natural environments. They encourage responsible behavior, such as minimizing waste and supporting local communities.

Guides also ensure that tour groups follow designated paths and adhere to any specific rules or regulations at destinations of environmental or cultural significance.

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CAREER PATHWAYS

Looking for the perfect job? Explore our Career Guides!

How to Become a Tour Guide

By Alyciah Beavers

Published: December 6, 2023

If you’ve been wondering how to embark on a fulfilling journey as a tour guide, this article is your roadmap to a career that lets you explore the world while sharing its wonders with others. Here, we discuss the role of a tour guide, how to become one, and some of the tour guide skills you should possess. Plus, we’ll delve into what the tour guide salary is like, helping you make an informed decision about this exciting profession.

Career Summary

Tour guide salary.

Tour Guide Salary

Are you wondering how much a tour guide earns in the United States? Well, the average tour guide salary is $40K per year. However, there is an estimated addition of $18K each year in bonuses, commissions, profit sharing, and tour guide tips from clients.

According to Glassdoor , here is the breakdown per each level:

  • Entry Salary (US$45k)
  • Median Salary (US$59k)
  • Executive Salary (US$79k)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average wage in the US is $61,900, meaning that tour guide salary falls behind the national average of other occupations.

What does a Tour Guide do?

A tour guide, also called a tour leader or local guide, plays a considerable role in promoting and preserving a town, city, organization, or country’s historical and cultural heritage. These are certified professionals licensed to lead other people on trips and tours while providing an informative, educational, and enjoyable experience.

Tour Guide Career Progression

  • Entry-Level Tour Guide :  Leading basic tours, assisting with logistics, and providing introductory information to tourists.
  • Tour Guide :  Leading a variety of tours, providing in-depth information, and ensuring an enjoyable experience for tourists.
  • Senior Tour Guide : Taking on more complex and specialized tours, training and supervising junior guides, and often acting as a point of contact for clients.
  • Specialized Tour Guide : Specialized tour guides focus on specific niches or interests within the industry, such as history, art, adventure, wildlife, or culinary tours.
  • Tour Manager : They oversee the logistics and operations of multiple tours and ensure that all aspects of a tour, including transportation, accommodations, and activities, run smoothly.
  • Tour Company Owner or CEO : At the highest level, a tour company’s executive director oversees the entire business. They set the company’s vision, strategy, and direction, manage financial aspects, and make critical decisions impacting its growth and success.

Tour Guide Career Progression

The Pros and Cons of Working as a Tour Guide

  • You will live your dream and share your exploration and traveling passion with others.
  • It is an opportunity to interact and relate with people from diverse walks of life and learn about different cultures.
  • You are constantly learning about the history, culture, and geography of the places you guide.
  • It is an opportunity to assist people in having memorable experiences and creating lasting memories.
  • Tour guides may have to give the same tour multiple times daily, leading to repetition and potential monotony.
  • Career growth and advancement opportunities may be limited for tour guides, as it’s often a front-line, customer-facing role.
  • Sometimes, tour guides must work in various weather conditions, which can be uncomfortable and challenging.
  • Guides may need to work with tourists who speak different languages, creating communication challenges.

Useful Tour Guide Skills to Have

  • Communication Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Public speaking Skills
  • Storytelling Skills
  • Multilingual Skills

Popular Tour Guide Specialties

  • Historical and Cultural Tours
  • Culinary Tours
  • Wildlife and Eco-Tours
  • Religious and Spiritual Tours

Tour Guide 3 Steps to Career

Do I Need A Degree To Become A Tour Guide?

You only need a high school diploma to become a tour guide. However, different tour guide jobs need a degree. For example, to become a tour guide in a museum, you might require a degree in history-related fields.

Here are some key points to consider in determining whether to get a degree or not:

  • Location and Regulations : The requirements for becoming a tour guide can vary by country and region. Some places may have specific regulations or licensing requirements for tour guides, which may or may not include the need for a degree. It’s essential to research the rules in your specific area.
  • Type of Tours : The tours you want to guide can also influence the educational requirements. For example, leading historical or cultural tours may require more specialized knowledge and may be more likely to necessitate a degree in history , art, or a related field.
  • Tour Company or Organization : Some tour companies or organizations may have specific requirements. Some may prioritize experience, personality, and local knowledge over formal education, while others may prefer candidates with relevant degrees or certifications.
  • Tourist Demands : Understanding the needs and interests of the tourists you plan to guide is crucial. Some tourists may prefer guides with in-depth knowledge, which a degree can provide, while others may prioritize guides that offer a unique and engaging experience.
  • Language Skills: Fluency in one or more languages can be a valuable asset for a tour guide. Language proficiency may sometimes be more important than a formal degree.
  • Local Knowledge : For tours in a specific location, deep local knowledge, history, and cultural insights are often precious. This kind of expertise doesn’t necessarily require a formal degree.

What are the Benefits of Getting a Degree in Tourism?

Getting a degree in tourism can be important for several reasons, depending on your career goals and the specific context of the tourism industry in your region.

Here are some reasons why obtaining a degree in tourism can be beneficial:

  • Knowledge and Expertise : A degree in tourism provides a comprehensive understanding of the local culture, history, geography, and other relevant information about the destinations you’ll be guiding people through. This knowledge can enhance the quality of your tours and make you a more informative and engaging guide.
  • Professionalism : A degree can help you develop the tour guide skills and professionalism required to excel in the field. You’ll learn about customer service, communication, and safety protocols, which can enhance the overall experience for tourists and ensure their safety.
  • Legal and Regulatory Requirements : Tour guides must be licensed or certified in many places, and a degree in tourism can help you meet these regulatory requirements. It can also provide a strong foundation for passing required exams or assessments.
  • Career Advancement : A degree can open up more career opportunities within the tourism industry. For example, you might qualify for higher-paying positions, such as managing a team of guides or working as a travel consultant or planner.
  • Networking : While pursuing a degree, you’ll have the opportunity to network with other students, professors, and industry professionals.
  • Global Perspective : Some tour guide programs cover international tourism, which can be especially valuable for working in a worldwide or cross-cultural context. It can help you understand the needs and expectations of tourists from diverse backgrounds.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Degree In Tourism?

The time it takes to earn a degree in tourism can vary depending on several factors, including the degree level and whether you’re pursuing the degree full-time or part-time.

Here’s a general overview of the different types of degrees in tourism and their durations:

  • Certificate in Hospitality and Tourism : It takes at least two weeks to complete a certificate in tourism and hospitality, where you will also get on-site training.
  • Associate’s Degree : An associate’s degree in tourism or a related field takes around two years of full-time study. You will find these programs at community colleges or vocational schools.
  • Bachelor’s Degree : A bachelor’s degree in tourism or hospitality management takes about 3 to 4 years of full-time study. The exact duration can vary by country and specific program requirements.
  • Master’s Degree: A master’s degree in tourism or a related field usually takes 1 to 2 years of full-time study after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Some programs may offer accelerated options, and the duration may also depend on the specific master’s program.

How Much Does It Cost To Study Hospitality And Tourism At University?

The cost of studying Hospitality and Tourism at a university can vary widely depending on several factors, including the region where you choose to study, the specific university or college you attend, your residency status, and the level of the program, whether undergraduate or postgraduate.

On average, public colleges charge $9,300 per year for in-state students, whereas out-of-state students pay $26,400 for a bachelor’s degree . 

Here are factors that can influence the cost:

  • Location : Tuition fees can vary significantly from one state to another. 
  • University : The reputation and ranking of the university can impact tuition costs. More prestigious universities may charge higher tuition fees.
  • Degree Level : Undergraduate programs are typically less expensive than postgraduate programs such as a master’s program.
  • Duration of Program : Longer programs will cost more than shorter ones.
  • Additional Costs : Consider other expenses, such as housing, textbooks, transportation, and living costs, when calculating the total cost of your education.
  • Scholarships and Financial Aid : Many universities offer scholarships and financial aid to help students offset the cost of their education.

Can I Become A Tour Guide Through Online Education?

Are you researching how to become a tour guide and wondering if you can study online? Yes, you can . And, it is cheaper to study online to become a tour guide.

Here’s a general outline of the steps involved in becoming a tour guide and where online education can fit in:

  • Research and Familiarization : Start by gaining in-depth knowledge about the area where you wish to become a tour guide. This may involve online research, reading books, and watching documentaries or online courses related to the region’s history, culture, and geography.
  • Formal Education : Many universities and colleges offer online degrees or certificates in tourism , hospitality, history, or cultural studies, which can provide you with a strong educational foundation. 
  • Customer Service and Soft Skills : Effective communication, people skills, and customer service are crucial for tour guides. You can improve these skills through online courses, workshops, and books on customer service and interpersonal communication.

What Are Some Web Resources To Learn Skills To Become A Tour Guide?

Here are some web resources to help you develop the necessary tour guide skills and knowledge related to tourism and hospitality:

  • National Tour Association (NTA) : The NTA provides resources, education, and networking opportunities for tour professionals. Their website offers webinars, articles, and publications on tour guiding and tourism.
  • International Tour Management Institute (ITMI): ITMI offers online courses and resources for tour guides and directors. They cover various aspects of tour management, from group dynamics to destination knowledge.
  • Tourism e-Lab : This e-learning platform offers a wide range of online courses related to tourism and hospitality. Courses cover tour guiding, travel management, and customer service.
  • World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA) : The WFTGA website provides information about professional tour guiding standards, international tour guiding events, and educational opportunities.
  • Tourism and Hospitality Schools’ Websites : Many universities and colleges with programs in tourism and hospitality offer free resources, such as lecture notes and presentations, on their websites. These resources can help gain a more in-depth understanding of the field.
  • Forums and Online Communities : Joining forums and communities of tour guides can be a great way to learn from experienced guides, exchange tour guide tips, and get advice. Look for platforms like TripAdvisor’s forums forums or dedicated tour guide forums.

Practical Experience

What are internship opportunities for a tour guide.

Internship opportunities for a tour guide can be a great way to gain practical experience and develop the skills necessary for a career in tourism and hospitality.

Here are some internship opportunities that can help you on your path to becoming a tour guide:

  • Tour Companies : Many tour companies offer internships for individuals interested in becoming tour guides. These internships may involve shadowing experienced guides, learning about different tour routes, and assisting with tour logistics.
  • Museums and Cultural Institutions : Museums and cultural institutions often offer internships related to guided tours. These internships may involve researching and developing tour content, leading tours, and interacting with visitors.
  • National and State Parks : If you’re interested in nature and outdoor activities, consider internships at national and state parks. These opportunities can provide you with experience in guiding hikes, wildlife tours, and educational programs.
  • Historical Sites : Historical sites and landmarks often employ tour guides. Interning at such locations can give you hands-on experience sharing historical and cultural information with visitors.
  • Travel Agencies : Some travel agencies offer internships that involve assisting clients with tour bookings, creating itineraries, and learning about various travel destinations.
  • Cruise Lines : If you’re interested in working as a tour guide on cruise ships, consider internships with cruise lines. These internships may involve assisting with onboard tours and excursions.
  • Hospitality Industry : Some internships in the hospitality industry can also be relevant for tour guides. Working at hotels, resorts, or hostels can help you gain customer service and guest interaction skills.

What Skills Will I Learn as a Tour Guide?

Here are some of the critical skills you’ll develop as a tour guide:

  • Knowledge of the Destination : A tour guide must have in-depth knowledge about the location they are guiding in. This includes historical, cultural, and geographical information and up-to-date information on local events and attractions.
  • Communication Skills : Effective communication is crucial. You need to convey information clearly and engagingly to your clients. This includes public speaking, storytelling, and interpersonal communication.
  • Adaptability : Tour guides must be flexible and adapt to unexpected changes or challenges during tours, such as weather, transportation issues, or last-minute schedule changes.
  • Leadership : You will lead a group, manage their behavior, and ensure they follow the tour’s rules and guidelines.
  • Time Management : Tours often have tight schedules, so keeping the group on time and track is crucial.
  • Safety Awareness : Ensuring the safety of your clients is paramount. You need to be trained in first aid and emergency procedures and understand the local safety regulations well.
  • Cultural Sensitivity : Be aware of cultural norms and differences to respect the traditions and customs of your clients, especially in a multicultural environment.
  • Navigation : Familiarity with the area’s layout and understanding of maps and GPS systems are valuable for navigating destinations.
  • Storytelling : Being able to tell engaging and informative stories about the location’s history, culture, and landmarks can make the tour more enjoyable and memorable for your clients.
  • Knowledge of Tour Logistics : Understanding the logistics of organizing and conducting tours, such as transportation, entrance fees, permits, and other administrative tasks.
  • Conflict Resolution : Dealing with client disputes or conflicts within the group diplomatically and effectively is an important skill.
  • Technology: Proficiency with technology, including audio equipment, multimedia presentations, and mobile apps, helps guide the tourists, thus enhancing the tour experience.

What is the Work-Life Balance of a Tour Guide?

A tour guide’s work-life balance can vary depending on several factors, including the type of tours they lead, their company, their experience, and their personal preferences.

Here are some key considerations:

  • Seasonality : Tour guides often work in a seasonal industry. Summer seasons and holidays, for instance, have long, busy workdays with limited time off. In contrast, during the off-season, they may have more flexibility and free time.
  • Hours of Operation : Some tours, like day tours or city tours, have regular working hours, while others, like multi-day or specialized tours, may require irregular or longer hours. Evening and weekend work is common in the industry.
  • Flexibility : Independent tour guides may have more control over their schedules and can better manage their work-life balance. On the other hand, guides employed by larger tour companies may have less flexibility and be subject to fixed plans.
  • Physical Demands : Tour guiding can be physically demanding, as guides often spend long hours on their feet and may need to keep up with a fast-paced itinerary. This can impact their work-life balance and overall well-being.
  • Personal Preferences : Some tour guides may prefer a more flexible, on-the-go lifestyle, while others may value a more structured work schedule. The balance between work and personal life can vary based on individual preferences.
  • Time Off : Tour guides work when others have time off, such as weekends and holidays. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage, as it allows them to meet tourists during these high-demand periods but can limit their leisure time.
  • Burnout : The nature of the job, with its long hours, repetitive information delivery, and the need to cater to tourists’ needs, can lead to burnout if not appropriately managed.

What’s the Career Outlook for Tour Guides?

According to BLS, the projected employment outlook for a tour guide will change drastically from 2022 to 2032, with 4,300 new jobs each year and an 8% growth in this industry.

However, the career outlook for tour guides depends on the location, the type of tours offered, and economic conditions. 

Tour Guide Popular Career Specialties

What Are The Job Opportunities Of A Tour Guide?

Job opportunities for tour guides can vary depending on their location, specialization, and skills.

Here are some common job opportunities for tour guides:

  • City Tour Guide : City tour guides lead tourists on tours of urban areas, providing historical, cultural, and architectural information about the city’s landmarks, neighborhoods, and attractions.
  • Museum Tour Guide : Tour guides work in museums and art galleries, offering explanations and insights about the exhibits and artifacts.
  • Nature and Adventure Tour Guide : These guides lead outdoor tours, such as hiking, wildlife safaris, or adventure activities like rafting or zip-lining. They share their knowledge about local flora, fauna, and outdoor experiences.
  • Cultural Tour Guide : Tour guides showcase a region’s local culture, traditions, and customs. They often lead tours to festivals, historical sites, and cultural events.
  • Wine Tour Guide : Wine tour guides work in vineyards and wineries, leading tours that include wine tastings and education about the winemaking process.
  • Food Tour Guide : Food tour guides introduce tourists to local culinary delights, taking them to restaurants, markets, and food-related events to sample regional dishes.
  • Historic Tour Guide : Historic tour guides specialize in providing insights into the history of a particular location or landmark. They may lead tours of historical sites, battlefields, or architectural wonders.
  • Educational Tour Guide : Educational tour guides work with school groups or educational institutions, providing informative tours focused on history, science, or culture.
  • Cruise Ship Tour Guide : Cruise ship tour guides organize and lead shore excursions for cruise passengers at various ports of call.
  • Language-Specific Tour Guide : If you are proficient in a foreign language, you can be a language-specific tour guide for tourists who speak your language. This is especially valuable in regions popular with international tourists.
  • Private Tour Guide: Some tour guides offer private tours tailored to the specific interests of individual or small groups of travelers.
  • Virtual Tour Guide : With the rise of virtual tourism and online experiences, there is a growing demand for virtual tour guides who lead tours via video conferencing or virtual reality platforms.

What Type of Organizations Hire a Tour Guide?

The type of companies or organizations that hire tour guides can vary based on the tours’ nature and the guiding services’ specific focus.

Here are some examples:

  • Tour Operators
  • Travel Agencies
  • Museums and Cultural Institutions
  • National and State Parks
  • Cruise Lines
  • Historical Sites and Landmarks
  • Zoos and Aquariums
  • Adventure and Eco-Tourism Companies
  • Walking and Segway Tour Companies
  • Bus and Trolley Tour Companies
  • Language Schools
  • Event and Conference Organizers
  • Educational Institutions

Should I become a Tour Guide?

Looking at all the information we have discussed above, becoming a tour guide will help you develop new skills such as adaptability and communication skills. There is a chance to grow and move from entry-level to CEO based on your specialty.

However, the annual average wage is relatively lower than other occupations, which might challenge some. Therefore, look at your skills, passion, and lifetime goals to determine if the career works for you.

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Alyciah Beavers

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Most tour and activity providers find themselves embracing a career in the travel industry through an appreciation for certain cultures or destinations. But to be successful in this role, you need to know which tour guide rules to keep in mind.

As a tour guide, you have a profound impact on how a guest interacts with their surroundings. And you also have the power to offer guests a life-changing experience through your charm and wit.

Sure, you don’t have to become the expert on the komodo dragon or shark mating rituals, but does it hurt to have a few fun facts at the ready? 

Nope! 

Ultimately, a skilled tour guide will know when to turn up the charm and dial the facts back to match the bandwidth of their audience. And as a tour guideline, you should adjust your performance based on the feedback and social cues you receive from your audience.

TL; DR: To be a fantastic tour guide, you should be full of enthusiasm, knowledge and kindness.

tour guide training with hand holding compass

What are the golden rules of tour guiding

For many, guiding tours is an ideal way to see the world while getting paid to travel.

However, the role of a tour guide can be highly impactful, if you focus on making it fun and entertaining. Not only do you have endless opportunities to meet fascinating people from all over the globe, but you’ll never stop learning. 

It makes sense that some of the best tour guides are hungry to connect with new people and enjoy reciting fun facts about what makes a place special. And whether you’re a pro or just starting out, it helps to know which tour guidelines to follow. 

1. Be present, punctual and full of personality

There are few things worse than a tour guide who isn’t engaging, especially when guests arrive with high expectations. Show a vested interest in your guests during the first meeting — especially if you have a few early bird arrivals.

And since this role is equal parts education and entertainment, people with big personalities tend to do well as tour guides. This is a credit to having the ability to add a little extra zest to an experience.

Personalize the experience

The reason why people still book live tours is that in-person delivery is better than reading a guidebook. Ultimately, you have the power to transform an ordinary encounter into something more memorable. To do this, you’ll want to become a storyteller.

Do you know what’s worse than being a tour guide without a funny bone? Being hard to hear! If guests are straining to follow what you’re saying, they’ll likely tune you out. 

And, even better if you can drum up fodder that travelers will not be able to find in a guidebook. Whether it’s because it’s new, insider knowledge or off-the-cuff — fun facts can send your guests into a fit of laughter and keep them engaged.

2. Know your stuff — as a tour guide rule

What do travelers often rave with tour guides? Approachability and good candour tend to show up in 5-star reviews, highlighting how a good attitude goes a long way.

You’ll need to stay up-to-date on the subject matter because guests are going to expect you to have all of the answers. With that said, you do not need to fib if you receive a curveball question. Instead, invite the audience to chime in if they have an answer or commit to finding out and responding at a later time.

Still, no matter how much you prepare, some travelers will throw some quizzical questions your way. Lean into your ability to charm and dazzle people with your local knowledge to escape these encounters unfazed.

Take time to prepare

Understandably, tour guides should have all of their ducks in a row once the tour starts. Dedicate time to doing a dry-run of your tours in advance to avoid potential hiccups that might pop up en route.

Typically, guides know where they are going, have a good sense of direction, anticipate when local restaurants and popular landmarks will be open and busy while also gauging optimal times for travel overall. 

3. Engage with guests while sharing tour guidelines

Get to know your guests by striking up a conversation. There’s something known as the “third thing”. I learned about it from a brilliant architect friend who shared that wherever two people can find an item or topic they are familiar with, it helps to strike up a conversation. 

In reviews, tour guides who are engaging and entertaining receive high praise. We know that becoming a 5-star tour guide takes work, but the added effort will pay off through reviews and word-of-mouth referrals.

Becoming a skilled communicator

Guests want a tour guide is confident and fun to be around. You’ll want to conduct the tour at a pace and tone that’s easy to follow. What does this sound like?

Use inclusive language to make guests feel welcome. The best way to brush up on your communication skills is to use them on a regular basis. Invite discussion and provide context for your guests to ask questions.

4. Offer helpful and timely insight

When leading a tour group, you’ll likely be commenting on things you’ve seen many times before. Imagine yourself in the shoes of a traveler. 

So while you may find yourself constantly searching for new ways to talk about the same thing, it’s the first time for many — if not all — of your guests. When you share stories or recite unconventional facts, small details like these kick the experience up a notch.

Try changing up your route or focusing on different sensory receptors to offer fresh and fun ways of re-visiting the same places.

You want to create an inclusive guided experience that welcomes all types of travelers — including kids, visitors with mobility challenges and slower-paced adventurers. 

tour guide rules with a miniature travel figure on map

5. Address guests and answer questions

Some travelers might initially be nervous to ask you questions because they will yet to have a rapport with you. 

Think about common questions guests have and aim to proactively address them with your guests. And determine which facts you believe will be most advantageous for guests to know, then share them — openly. 

To combat this, position yourself as a friendly and approachable guide who’s here to do just that — guide their experience. Reiterate how the tour is theirs alone, but your role is to facilitate the best experience possible.

Speak loud and proud

Annunciate. Broadcast. Project. This is not a time to use your library voice. I mean, there’s a balance, but aim to be vocal enough that passersby find themselves eavesdropping on what you’re sharing. 

An added benefit is if your tour heads somewhere quiet, guests will be tuned in to your voice and more likely to lean in if you’ve been using inflection to command their attention.

Aim to be full of charisma

While hard to define — charisma is a core element of becoming a successful tour guide. 

It can be summarized as one part charm, one part knowledge and one part wit with a dash of humour for good measure. 

6. Demonstrate good time-management and organizational skills

Leading by example is one of the most effective ways of gaining the trust of your audience. Sure, you’ll probably contend with a few latecomers on tours — but don’t let this derail the entire group.

For visitors arriving at a new location, they tend to have a lot of questions. On your tour, aim to proactively answer them and allow space to respond to your curious followers. 

To better frame the experience, give your tour a dry-run. Without the pressure of a tour group, you can see when certain dining spots, viewpoints or transportation routes will be busy, and adjust your plans to maximize the visitor experience.

7. Infuse storytelling as part of your tour guide rules

There are plenty of advantages to becoming a skilled storyteller. First, as travelers, we thrive on stories. They help to forge new neural pathways and turn ordinary encounters into something more relatable.

And second, while it can feel intimidating to share personal anecdotes and memories, storytelling elevates the tour for your guests. Plus, you can ad lib and you’ll have guests who are none the wiser.

Peter Syme shares something called the Peak Design Rule , where he suggests tour guides identify elements throughout your tour that is most helpful, entertaining and valuable, and design your tour around that. 

Travelers develop a greater capacity to recount their adventures in a favourable light with personalized tours.

8. Keep things moving

When you step into the role of tour guide, you assume the responsibility of educator and entertainer .

There will be times when you have a restless audience member or guests that tune you out. Don’t panic — instead, aim to keep a consistent pace throughout your tour.

Account for buffer time throughout your route, giving consideration to guests of all ages and mobilities. And once a tour begins — keep that trust going by letting visitors know what to expect next and offering reasons behind each stop you have planned along the route.

9. Offer breaks

If you’re leading a scenic tour, note a few stopping points en route where guests can expect to have a few minutes to snap photos and take in the view. Allow ample time for breaks while on tour. They allow guests to feel refreshed and ready for the next stop on the tour.

In addition, short pauses help guests rest up, so they have the capacity to mentally digest more information.

Bring some snacks along

Instead of waiting until the eleventh hour to lead your guests to a dining location, bring snacks and water as a safety mechanism. This is especially useful for guests traveling with young children. And while it’s not expected, it can absolutely save the day for a family who just needs a little extra support.

Food can act as a bridge between cultures. You’ve probably heard the term “hangry” or been on the receiving end of a guest who’s coping with low blood sugar.

Ultimately, you’ll have some guests who are keen to see the next vantage point and a handful of tour guests that are more inclined to take their time meandering along the route. 

10. Start and end tours on time

There will always be guests who misgauge timing or location and show up late to a tour. And while travelers might visit a location for the first time and find themselves running behind, this should not take away from your fellow guests who arrived on time. 

One thing you should have control over is whether your tour or activity ends on time. Instill a walking pace that accounts for little ones and more mature travelers, by building in some buffer into your schedule. 

This way you can feel good about pausing to talk more in depth throughout your tour. 

Research proves people tend to remember negative experiences more readily than positive encounters.  It could be that guests are hardwired to weigh bad encounters differently than positive ones, but it’s also a way of keeping them safe from repeating the same mistake in the future.   

Helpful tour guide rules to keep in mind

Ideally, you want to create opportunities for guests to feel included and listened to throughout your tour. If it works for your style, ask questions in advance and help them to feel involved in the experience.

But, one thing to keep in mind is that your job isn’t done when the tour ends — you’ll want to bookend the tour for guests with options for learning more along with prompts for a review.

  • Guests don’t know what you know — overshare information to keep visitors in the loop
  • Include a safety overview whether it’s related to gear, the location or the route
  • Provide guidelines for what to expect and how they can expect to interact with you/others
  • Let guests know where to find washrooms en route
  • Build in buffer timing in case guests are late

As a general tour guide rule, the greater amount a guest pays, the more they will expect from the lead tour guide. You may find that tipping is activity and location-dependant.

But with guests visiting from all over the world, make sure you share how tips indicate that you’ve done a great job and while not required, are greatly appreciated.

Set a tone of curiosity, competency and confidence early on. This way, travelers arriving bright-eyed and bushy-tailed — will be ready to trust you to show them the world.

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What Does a Tour Guide Do?

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As their title describes, tour guides offer guided tours to individuals or groups of visitors. Tour guides undertake research and plan tours, provide sightseeing advice, and organize excursions. They transport and accompany their guests to the tourist spots in specific destinations. They are expected to be experts on the historical background and culture of an area. A useful tour guide must be equipped with enough enthusiasm, punctuality, keen sense, strong communication skills , and a steel-trap memory.

Tour guide responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real tour guide resumes:

  • Manage the canoe landing including guests, workers, and canoe traffic in a way that all run smoothly and safely.
  • Aid clients with matters regarding passports and visas.
  • Receive multiple positive reviews on the company Facebook page.
  • Complete extensive training as well as first aid, CPR and a certification.
  • Maintain alertness for any problem solve calls via radio and communication with management.
  • Spearhead all creative activity for online marketing (Facebook), and other social media sites5.
  • Master coursework, absorbing tens of rescue procedures, as well as CPR and first-aid operations.
  • Perform clerical duties such as filing, typing, operating switchboards, and routing mail and messages.
  • Used skills such as memorization and recitation while staying in a cheerful mood on a moving trolley car.
  • Instruct guests on the proper way to ride a Segway so that each guest is safe and comfortable.
  • Train newer team members on in-house software, vendor booking systems, and phone etiquette with clients and vendors.
  • Perform EMT medical per pack proto call unassist or with team.-Perform SAR and EMTs as regular part of duties.
  • Serve as a university ambassador to lead campus wide tours to prospective students, faculty, alumni, and other visitors.
  • Work extensively with public scheduling reservations.
  • Vacation ownership, timeshare, surveys presentation, verification

Resume

Tour guide skills and personality traits

We calculated that 22 % of Tour Guides are proficient in Local History , Customer Service , and Safety Practices .

We break down the percentage of Tour Guides that have these skills listed on their resume here:

Guided visitors through a half mile of passages informing them of both the geological and local history of the cave.

Executed premium customer service by accommodating the guests with positive energy, organization, extensive knowledge and flexibility.

Monitor visitors' activities to ensure compliance with establishment or tour regulations and safety practices.

Exercised public speaking and guest relation skills through energetic tours of baseball bat factory Perceived audience's interests and tailored tour accordingly

Assist in front desk operations and the application processing department of the Admissions office on an as needed basis.

Handled promotion of the business through online channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Search Engine Optimization, and TripAdvisor.

"local history," "customer service," and "safety practices" are among the most common skills that tour guides use at work. You can find even more tour guide responsibilities below, including:

Most common tour guide skills

The three companies that hire the most tour guides are:

8 tour guides jobs

  • Anheuser-Busch 7 tour guides jobs
  • Travel and Transport 6 tour guides jobs

Choose from 10+ customizable tour guide resume templates

Tour Guide Resume

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Compare different tour guides

Tour guide vs. river.

Escort is a service provided to accompany an individual, group of people, or vehicle to provide guidance and protection or mark of honor. Military Escort services accompany deceased military personnel to show respect--a healthcare escort sometimes accompanies patients to their destination for ongoing care safely. A Security Escort, commonly called close escort duties, is performed by bodyguards to accompany individuals like VIPs, Celebrities, Sports stars, Heads of State whenever they make an appearance and travel around. A Security Escort usually has special training in evasive driving, close combat, firearms, and first aid.

We looked at the average tour guide salary and compared it with the wages of a river. Generally speaking, rivers are paid $9,464 higher than tour guides per year.

Even though tour guides and rivers are distinct careers, a few of the skills required for both jobs are similar. For example, both careers require front desk, facebook, and vip in the day-to-day roles and responsibilities.

These skill sets are where the common ground ends though. The responsibilities of a tour guide are more likely to require skills like "local history," "customer service," "safety practices," and "public speaking." On the other hand, a job as a river requires skills like "pos," "css," "charles," and "epa." As you can see, what employees do in each career varies considerably.

On average, rivers reach similar levels of education than tour guides. Rivers are 1.4% more likely to earn a Master's Degree and 0.8% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

Tour guide vs. Museum attendant

Museum attendant positions earn lower pay than tour guide roles. They earn a $5,804 lower salary than tour guides per year.

A few skills overlap for tour guides and museum attendants. Resumes from both professions show that the duties of each career rely on skills like "customer service," "front desk," and "conduct tours. "

Each career also uses different skills, according to real tour guide resumes. While tour guide responsibilities can utilize skills like "local history," "safety practices," "public speaking," and "facebook," museum attendants use skills like "patrol," "cash handling," "museum visitors," and "museum events."

Average education levels between the two professions vary. Museum attendants tend to reach similar levels of education than tour guides. In fact, they're 2.3% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.8% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

Tour guide vs. Escort

On average scale, escorts bring in lower salaries than tour guides. In fact, they earn a $3,071 lower salary per year.

By looking over several tour guides and escorts resumes, we found that both roles require similar skills in their day-to-day duties, such as "front desk," "cpr," and "vip." But beyond that, the careers look very different.

Some important key differences between the two careers include a few of the skills necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of each. Some examples from tour guide resumes include skills like "local history," "customer service," "safety practices," and "public speaking," whereas an escort is more likely to list skills in "patients," "emergency situations," "safety hazards," and "law enforcement. "

Escorts earn the highest salary when working in the manufacturing industry, where they receive an average salary of $35,462. Comparatively, tour guides have the highest earning potential in the education industry, with an average salary of $37,620.

Escorts typically earn similar educational levels compared to tour guides. Specifically, they're 1.8% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 0.1% less likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

Tour guide vs. Docent

Docents typically earn higher pay than tour guides. On average, docents earn a $8,448 higher salary per year.

While their salaries may vary, tour guides and docents both use similar skills to perform their duties. Resumes from both professions include skills like "public speaking," "front desk," and "conduct tours. "

While some skills are required in each professionacirc;euro;trade;s responsibilities, there are some differences to note. "local history," "customer service," "safety practices," and "facebook" are skills that commonly show up on tour guide resumes. On the other hand, docents use skills like natural history, educational programs, aquarium, and museum visitors on their resumes.

Docents reach higher levels of education compared to tour guides, in general. The difference is that they're 5.1% more likely to earn a Master's Degree, and 0.8% more likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

Types of tour guide

How to become a guide, how to become an escort, what similar roles do.

  • What an Escort Does
  • What a Guide Does
  • What a River Rafting Guide Does

Tour Guide Related Careers

  • Art Museum Aide
  • Campus Tour Guide
  • Driver/Guide
  • Escort Service Attendant
  • Fishing Guide
  • Hunting Guide
  • Mountain Guide
  • Museum Attendant
  • Museum Guide
  • Outdoor Guide
  • River Guide

Tour Guide Related Jobs

Resume for related jobs.

  • Docent Resume
  • Escort Resume
  • Guide Resume
  • Zippia Careers
  • Personal Care and Attendants Industry
  • What Does A Tour Guide Do
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How to Become a Tour Guide

Last Updated: August 6, 2023 Approved

This article was co-authored by Angela Rice . Angela Rice is a Luxury Travel Specialist and Co-Founder of Boutique Travel Advisors, a luxury travel advising business in Phoenix, Arizona. Angela specializes in consulting and curating highly customized and unique travel itineraries for clients seeking luxury, group, and multi-generational family travel. Angela studied at Arizona State University and The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. She has prior consulting experience in accounting and business, which helps her run her business behind the scenes. Angela has been featured in The Washington Post, Reader's Digest, Travel Weekly, USA Today, Travel Market Report, Phoenix Magazine, and MSN. She is also a frequent guest on WBBM News Radio 105.9 FM's Travel Tuesday show. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 100% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 534,832 times.

Being a tour guide can be a great career option for people who love to travel, enjoy being in front of a crowd, and are masters of multitasking. If that’s you, then start looking for job opportunities online and in your area. You can improve your chances of getting hired by becoming professionally certified or getting a degree. Once you’ve found a job, be ready to meet the challenges of this fun and unique but sometimes hectic position.

Looking for Opportunities

Step 1 Look online for a variety of job postings.

  • To get started, enter something like “Be a tour guide on a cruise ship to the Caribbean” into your favorite search engine. You can then browse through tour guiding jobs with different companies, job requirements, and salaries.

Step 2 Take tours to see which ones you like.

  • You may need to space these tours out, as some could get expensive. Budget in one tour every two weeks or so. While you’re looking for jobs, go on tours instead of going out to eat or doing other fun activities.
  • Invite friends and family to take tours with you. They’ll be able to share their likes and dislikes with you, which will help you be a better guide once you find a job.

Step 3 Take notes to record your thoughts about different tours.

  • For more information and to find a list of associations located around the world, visit: http://www.beabetterguide.com/tour-guide-associations/ .

Step 5 Visit your local travel agency to pick up brochures.

  • Be aware that travel agents may tell you they love a certain company if the two are in a partnership together, even if they know the company has some issues. Be sure to do your own research by going online or visiting the company’s offices.

Step 6 Contact major sightseeing companies in your area.

  • You can also look online to see if the companies have open jobs, as many will list these positions on their websites.
  • If you’re hoping to become a tour guide to travel, this might not be your favorite option. Remember that doing work locally can help you build your resume and gain experience while staying in your comfort zone. You can always keep looking for travel-oriented jobs while you’re working!

Getting Hired

Step 1 Pass any necessary exams for your area.

  • You can also look online to find details about the test, study guides, and registration information. Enter something like “Professional licensing examination for sightseeing guides in New York City” to find everything you need to prepare for and take the test.
  • Take the exam seriously. If you fail, you’ll need to pay the fee again!

Step 2 Get training to gain experience and contacts.

  • Be sure to register for courses meant for tour guides rather than tour directors. Tour directors are responsible for logistics and management, while guides lead groups and provide narration about places the group visits.
  • These programs are great for meeting people in the field. Your teachers, in particular, could connect you with people they know are looking for guides.

Step 3 Take classes in relevant fields to expand your knowledge.

  • Be sure you have the time and money to dedicate to the classes. If you’re currently working a full-time job, look into taking night classes.

Step 4 Get a hospitality or tourism degree if you can afford it.

  • Most reputable companies will run a background check before hiring you.
  • If they like your application, most companies will contact you for one to two follow-up interviews before hiring you.

Step 6 Be prepared to answer tailored application questions.

  • These questions could be things like, “What would you do if the bus broke down?” or “What makes you excited to be a tour guide with us?”

Step 7 Accept the best offer you receive.

Meeting the Challenges

Step 1 Embrace being around people when you’re working.

  • You may want to schedule alone time during your days off to balance out your work schedule.

Step 2 Absorb and memorize lots of information to be a good guide.

  • Attendees will ask you questions that may be slightly off-topic. Knowing these answers will impress your audience and make you a better guide.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Tell your audience you’re not sure, but that you’d love to know the answer and will be looking for it as soon as you can.

Step 3 Act fast when something goes wrong.

  • You can always contact your company for assistance in these situations, but you’ll need to keep a cool head. You’re the leader of the group when you’re out on a tour, and they’ll look to you for guidance.

Step 4 Be prepared to be a freelance worker.

  • This might be hard if you’re leading groups in beautiful and relaxing locations, but stay strong! You’re getting paid for this work.

Step 6 Understand the physical requirements.

  • You also need to make sure that you and your group respects the environment you’re visiting. You’ll be responsible for enforcing the rules.
  • Always face your audience when giving tours. [14] X Research source

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • If you are looking for a job in a country that has an official language you do not speak, you should learn the language by signing up for a course or using language learning software. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Take a training course on first aid and CPR. Depending on the job you land, this may not be necessary, but as a tour guide, you will need to know what to do in emergency situations. It’ll also look good on your resume. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

what tour guides do

  • Be aware that while you may be working in a vacation spot, you are not on vacation yourself. The majority of your time will be spent working. Thanks Helpful 40 Not Helpful 9
  • As a tour guide, you may be working long hours. Your job may be in an exciting location, but you must make sure you are capable of working a difficult schedule. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 0
  • Be aware that many tour guide jobs are seasonal. This may mean you will not have consistent work in one location. However, if you don't mind traveling, you can always travel back and forth between hemispheres. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ http://www.academicinvest.com/arts-careers/linguistics-careers/how-to-become-a-tour-guide
  • ↑ https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/how-to-become-a-tour-guide
  • ↑ http://www.beabetterguide.com/tour-guide-associations/
  • ↑ http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/2013/01/22/so-you-want-to-be-a-tour-guide-afitz/
  • ↑ http://www.besthospitalitydegrees.com/how-to-become-a-tour-guide/
  • ↑ http://learn.org/articles/How_Can_I_Become_a_Professional_Tour_Guide.html
  • ↑ https://savingplaces.org/stories/10-tuesday-tips-good-tour-guide#.WV-TudPytol

About This Article

Angela Rice

If you want to become a tour guide, you should research opportunities in your area by searching online and visiting attractions where you might want to work. Depending on your city, you may need to pass an exam, so check out tour guide associations’ websites and search online to see if there are licensure requirements. If you can, take classes relevant to your field or class, or even pursue a degree in hospitality and tourism. If you can't go to school, apply to tour guide jobs that provide training. For more information about the application process and what you can expect as a tour guide, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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So You Want to Be a Tour Guide

Here's how to travel for a living.

When people say “I wish I could travel for a living!” I start talking about the sheer number of opportunities out there.

Before settling into travel blogging and journalism (I’m actually using my college major!), I spent some time as an international tour director and guide, learning firsthand what goes into leading groups of people through some of the world’s most famous sights. It can be a dream job if you know what you’re getting into. I felt like I earned my master’s degree in European history from everything I learned, and often served as a makeshift therapist for travelers. We’d even come up with nicknames, like “QNE” for Questions Never End.

The truth is there’s no one way to go about landing your dream job. But it does help to pick as many brains as possible.

I sat down and chatted with Carrie Fitchett , a sought-after tour director working with Educational Travel Adventures , about what to know if you’re thinking about pursuing her line of work. “When I researched jobs that said ‘TRAVEL FOR A LIVING!,’ they were all things where people go, stay in the hotel, drink bad coffee all day, and wear heels,” she said. “I didn’t want to do that or sit in an office with a headset and sell places I’ve never been to. That’s why this job made sense,” she said.

Know the Lingo: Tour Director vs. Tour Guide A tour director is the one responsible for logistics, confirmations, planning, damage control, and group dynamics. They also give commentary on history and culture. A tour guide gives specific narration in a place, often joining the tour group for just a couple of hours. If  you want to dip into this world, local guiding is great, and perfect if you want to go home each night. There is also long-term contract work available on cruises, from big ships to smaller river cruises.

Know the Pros If you’re in a rut at your current job, here’s a chance to do something different each and every day. This is a job that can take you all over the world to events like the Olympics and the World Cup . “It’s the ridiculous things I get to do every single day — whether it’s museums, shows, or eating dinner in the Eiffel Tower — but it’s also the dynamic of people,” Fitchett said. “When someone waits their whole life to go to Paris, I get to take them. It’s the look on their face as they experience it for the first time, and I’m a part of that memory.”

Know the Cons Most tour directors are freelance, which brings its own set of challenges, like needing independent health insurance and struggling to cobble together enough work — especially at the beginning. You’ll also be getting very little sleep when you’re confirming the next day’s activities and studying commentary. “True colors come out on tour,” Fitchett said. “Sometimes people are ungrateful or bossy or think they know more about a place than you…But even if I think it’s the silliest question I’ve ever heard in my life, I have to answer it so they feel good about it.” Scheduling may keep you away from home for weeks or month at a time, so you might have to skip important events, like weddings or funerals.

Consider Training The International Tour Management Institute (ITMI) is a well-known guide program, offering two-week trainings in San Francisco and an annual symposium to connect tour companies with guides. The high price tag (around $3,500 for tuition) doesn’t include housing or meals, but the pay off can be well worth it. “The money will come back to you in your first couple of tours,” Fitchett said. “Plus, I made amazing friends and priceless contacts.” There is also the International Guide Academy in Colorado, as well as many online options.

Adults vs. Students Most tour directors choose to work a mix of adult and student tours. Student tours provide a way to make money in the spring in places like Boston, New York, and D.C., when adult tours run less frequently. Adult tours, usually clustered in summer and fall, can take you all over the world. But there’s a difference: “With kids, you affect and change lives. Maybe they’ve never traveled and you show them what’s out there,” Fitchett said. On the other hand,with adults, “the whole trip is more chill, but in the downtime you might be freaking out over what question they’ll ask next.”

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Going Off Road You may burn out or get tired of always being on the road. That doesn’t mean your career in the tour business is over. There are behind-the-scenes roles to be played at tour companies — like developing product, which involves choosing the right hotel, transportation, and activity partners, as well as sales, event planning, and social media.

Bottom Line: Is It Right for You? “For this job, you have to love every part of travel, and know you will be living out of a suitcase and never sleeping,” Fitchett said. “But I absolutely love what I do, and I don’t need the stability right now.” But, like anything, timing is everything. “In the meantime, love the job you have!” she said. “Try a class, start locally, and talk to as many people as possible who have done it or are doing it.”

Annie Fitzsimmons is Intelligent Travel’s  Urban Insider , giving you the dish on the best things to see and do in cities all over the world. Follow her travels on Twitter  @anniefitz .

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What education do tour guides have?

Most tour guides have a certificate or associate degree. The most common area of study is History .

Certificate or associate degree

Degree level, most common degree, what degrees do tour guides have.

The most common degree held by tour guides is History , held by 6% of tour guides.

Get a detailed breakdown of tour guides and the different types of degrees they hold:

Degrees that tour guides hold

What level of education do tour guides have.

Tour Guides often have similar levels of education. 36% of tour guides have a certificate or associate degree, with the second most common being a high school diploma at 29%.

Level of education that tour guides have

What does a Tour Guide do?

Photo of Brenna Goyette

Published November 1, 2022 4 min read

A tour guide is someone who shows visitors around a place. They might work at a museum, a historical site, or a tourist attraction. They might give tours in person, or they might make audio or video recordings that visitors can listen to or watch.

Tour Guide job duties include:

  • Greeting guests and providing them with information about the tour
  • Answering questions from guests about the tour or destination
  • Keeping track of the group and making sure everyone stays together
  • Making sure everyone stays safe throughout the tour
  • Pointing out interesting facts or landmarks along the way
  • Providing historical or cultural context for the tour
  • Helping guests take photos or videos
  • Dealing with any problems that may arise during the tour
  • Saying goodbye to guests at the end of the tour

Tour Guide Job Requirements

A tour guide is someone who provides guided tours to groups of people. They are responsible for providing an enjoyable and educational experience for their guests. Tour guides typically work for tour companies, museums, or historical sites. Many tour guides are freelance and work on a contract basis.

Most tour guides have at least a high school diploma, although some jobs may require a college degree. Certification is not required to be a tour guide, but many companies prefer to hire guides who have completed a training program. Many tour guides have several years of experience working in the tourism industry.

Tour Guide Skills

  • Flexibility
  • Good memory
  • Excellent public speaking skills
  • Ability to keep a group together
  • Ability to deal with difficult people
  • Knowledge of history and culture
  • Passion for your work
  • Good organizational skills
  • Physical stamina

Related : Top Tour Guide Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Tour Guide

A tour guide is someone who shows visitors around a place, providing commentary along the way. Tour guides typically work in popular tourist destinations, such as museums, historical sites, and natural attractions. If you’re interested in becoming a tour guide, there are a few things you need to do.

First, research the requirements for becoming a tour guide in your area. Some places may require you to have a certain amount of knowledge about the history or culture of the area. Others may require certification from a professional organization. Once you know what’s required, you can start working on meeting those requirements.

If you need to brush up on your knowledge of the area, consider taking classes or attending lectures at local museums or historical societies. If you’re not sure where to start, ask a museum staff member for recommendations. Once you feel confident in your knowledge, start practicing your commentary. A good tour guide is articulate and engaging, so work on speaking clearly and concisely.

It’s also important to be able to handle groups of people. Practice leading small groups of friends or family members around your neighborhood or local park. Pay attention to how long people can walk or stand without getting tired, and plan your routes accordingly. As you gain experience leading groups, you’ll be able to gauge how much information people want and how long they’re willing to listen to your commentary.

Once you feel ready to start working as a tour guide, look for opportunities in your community. Many museums and historical sites offer volunteer positions for docents or tour guides. These positions can be a great way to get started and gain experience in the field. You can also look for paid positions with tour companies that operate in your area.

Working as a tour guide can be a fun and rewarding way to share your love of history or culture with others. With a little preparation and practice, you can become an excellent tour guide and help visitors enjoy their time in your community.

Related : Tour Guide Resume Example

Related : Tour Guide Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

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10 Tips for Being a Good Tour Guide

  • More: Preservation Tips and Tools
  • By: Emily Potter

In the spring of 2013, when a hint of warmer weather got us ready to think about being outside, we put together a toolkit with ideas to help you organize a tour in your community . But don’t let the current chilly winter season stop you from giving―or going on―tours.

Instead, use these 10 tips, compiled by Johns Hopkins, Executive Director of Baltimore Heritage , to help you be the best tour guide you can be. (Not a tour guide? These tips can also give you insight into being a good tour goer.)

1. Face the crowd, not what you’re talking about. Tour guides often get so wrapped up in their subject they forget to face the people they are addressing. One secret to avoid this is to designate somebody in the crowd to interrupt you if they can’t hear you.

2. Be personal. No matter how much we love buildings, it’s a fact that people connect with people. So it’s good to have a few personal anecdotes ready, even if they’re just about past tours you've done. You’ll build a more personal connection to your group and create a memorable tour.

3. Tell a story (historical or contemporary). Make sure you have a few fun and compelling stories to tell about the buildings and sites you’re looking at. People are more likely to feel engaged when they are listening to a story, rather than a list of dates and names.

Tour guide leading group

photo by: Marcin Wichary, Flickr

Tell a story, share your passion, get your tour group engaged in the places and sites you're excited about.

4. Get moving right away. Tours often get bogged down before they ever begin with tour guides doing the “big wind-up”―introductions, setting the theme, providing context, etc. Plan to scrap 90% of it.

Hint: If you have a script, the first line should tell you: “Move thirty feet up the street before you say anything.”

5. Don’t worry about being perfect. People don’t expect you to be perfect. Set the stage for human imperfection by acknowledging that people who may know more than you should speak up and share their knowledge with the group. The more interactive the tour is, the better!

6. Get help to get organized. Try to get a volunteer to check people in so you can chat with tour goers. People give tours for many reasons, but a big one is to meet new people, and the time before the tour is a great chance to get to know your group.

Hint: If you don’t have a volunteer beforehand, ask somebody on the spot. (They’ll love it!)

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7. End on time. (Or try very hard to.) Try like crazy to end on time. Nobody wants to feel like they are in tour jail. Tours on paper always seem too short and on the ground are always too long. Two hours is the absolute maximum. An hour to an hour and a half is better.

8. Limit your number of speakers. It’s hard to talk for just five minutes, so when you have multiple guides talking about different subject areas, it’s easy to lose track of time. Avoid it if you can, but, if you do have several different guides with you, designate one as the lead guide and the others as experts in a specific area.

9. Send a follow-up email. Follow up with an email―it can be as simple as a “thank you” note. If you can follow the tour with another contact, by email or otherwise, that’s another step towards creating a better link between the tour taker and your organization.

10. Avoid these traps:

  • “12 (or 20…) people on the tour is the max.” Rather, let the space and tour guide set the scene.
  • “You MUST plan everything out ahead of time.” In fact, a little spontaneity is good.
  • “Don’t do outdoor tours in the winter.” People will still come, even in the snow.
  • “Always have a backup plan in case it rains.” Don’t worry, people will come out in the rain, and it’s much easier than rescheduling.

A version of this story was published on 1/5/2016.

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Why good tour guides are important.

Anne de Jong

  • July 28, 2023

Why good tour guides are important

The importance of good tour guides for a successful travel experience

When customers book a travel experience with your business, they come with expectations. They rely on your expertise, your local knowledge, and your ability to provide them with an amazing experience.

In case they booked a travel experience that involves a tour guide, they want to travel worry-free. With someone else having the responsibility. The quality of the guide is therefore essential for satisfied customers. A good guide is able to boost the travel experience and add additional value. While a lesser guide does the opposite: leaving customers disappointed and dissatisfied.

A good tour guide does not only boost the travel experience for customers. But they are also responsible for making sure the trip creates positive impact on the destination and minimises negative impact.

“Local tour guides and drivers are the principal interface between tourists, the travel experience, the local community and the environment, and therefore have a huge responsibility.”

In this article

  • The importance of good tour guides

The qualities of a good tour guide

Tour guides and sustainability, sustainable tour guide training, reminder guidelines.

  • The significance of personal connection

Value your good tour guides

Tour guides have a huge responsibility during the travel experience. Not everyone is or can become a good tour guide. We’ve listed six most important qualities for a good tour guide to take into account.

1. Outgoing and engaging

To make travellers feel comfortable during a travel experience, the tour guide needs to be enthusiastic, outgoing, and engaging. Their task is to involve all people in the group and to create a happy and safe environment. They should be easily approachable for questions or concerns and also invite travellers to be curious and ask more questions.

2. Good communication skills

Besides being outgoing and engaging it’s important the tour guide has good and clear communication skills. This is necessary to make sure everyone is aware of the (day) planning and what’s expected of them. Good communication skills also come in handy when explaining specific do’s and don’ts in a sensitive destination.

3. Knowledgeable and passionate

The true added value of a good tour guide is their local knowledge. When visiting a destination, travellers are interested in for example local habits, foreign fruits, and history facts. They will always look at the guide first for further explanation and background information. Preferably, the tour guide is an expert and passionate about the destination.

City tour guide

4. Organised and punctual

Travellers having to wait on their tour guide because they’re late, are often stressed. And might be dissatisfied about the start of the travel experience. So, it’s important for the guide to always be on time, to have a clear structure and to follow the set itinerary . In case the customer requires a change, this could be possible but only when feasible and well-planned.

5. Patient and able to manage a crisis

Not all travellers are easy-going and flexible. A good tour guide knows how to take care of slower or difficult people. They have to remain patient at all times. They also know what to do in case of an emergency: handling the crisis while maintaining a calm atmosphere where possible.

6. Trained and qualified

It’s not a fundamental quality of a good tour guide, but it does add value to have trained and qualified guides. Guides with an official guide training and/or license are professionally trained to be a tour guide. They are able to organise and run a travel experience following official guidelines.

“We know that it’s not possible to provide an unforgettable travel experience without an excellent tour guide” – Anna Grodzki, manager of Matoke Tours Uganda.

When you are invested in good tourism , you want your travel experiences to be operated in a responsible way. Your tour guides are at the front of the operations and responsible for what actually happens during the travel experience. Therefore, it’s important they are aware and trained on your sustainability policy and practices.

In terms of sustainability, there are five main tasks of a tour guide during a travel experience. By adhering to these guidelines, they’re ensuring a responsible and good travel experience.

1. Treating local communities respectfully

Especially during community-based travel experiences, but also when simply visiting a local market, treating locals with respect is key. Tourism should benefit the local communities and provide positive impact. The tour guide sets the right example by treating locals with respect and ensuring the travellers do as well. A good guide also encourages authentic interaction.

2. Protecting the natural resources

Same as treating locals with respect, natural resources should be protected and well taken care of. This entails not touching and taking any protected flora and fauna from the environment, staying on the tracks, and always taking (plastic) waste out of nature . The guide is responsible for making sure travellers adhere the same guidelines.

Masai guide

3. Ensuring animal welfare

Travel experiences with wildlife are always sensitive and for the sake of the animals, tour guides have to make sure they’re treated well. Not only do they again set the right example, they’re also responsible for reporting mistreatment of animals. Their role is to explain to travellers why certain (captive) animal travel experiences are a no-go and highlight the animal-friendly alternatives.

4. Driving safe and responsible

When driving, the tour guide needs to follow responsible and safe driving guidelines. Keeping to the speed limits, staying on the designated roads, and turning off the engine when standing still are basic aspects. Also, the use of mobile phones is not responsible driving behaviour. In case of safaris , the guide is expected to keep a clear distance from wildlife and to always give them right of way.

5. Raising awareness and educate travellers

During the travel experience, it’s the tour guide’s responsibility all travellers behave responsibly. Even though they should already be informed before their trip, the guide’s task is to remind them and to explain certain rules and regulations. It’s about raising awareness and encouraging travellers to contribute to good tourism during their travel experience.

Nature tour guide

The most efficient way to make sure your tour guides are following your good tourism practices is training. Provide them with your sustainability policy and explain its practical implementation. Include tasks and guidelines they can relate to and also easily put into practice.

Tour guides are more likely to comply to (new) guidelines and rules if they’re part of the development process. And if they feel they’re contributing to a good cause. Organise a brainstorm session or workshop, ask for their opinion and give them a say. They have more local knowledge and can come up with interesting practices that are useful for everyone.

Best practice example

Matoke Tours’ specialised travel guide training program helps local guides excel in cultural tourism and outdoor adventure tours in Uganda.

To remind them about their training, develop a short one-page document with the practical sustainability guidelines. These guidelines can either be a reminder or a supplement of the actual training. It’s also very valuable to provide to new or freelance tour guides you’ve never worked with before.

By providing tour guides with physical guidelines, they’ll know exactly what’s expected of them on the job. Include the guidelines in their contract but also place them in the vehicles. Not only are they be reminded of it all times, but travellers also notice your effort and their commitment.

If you don’t work with local tour guides directly, make sure your local partner informs and trains them on your basic (good tourism) principles.

“90% of travellers want to experience a destination ‘like a local’ – GetYourGuide”

The significance of authenticity and personal connection

Tourism today is all about authenticity and personal connections, making incredible travel experiences possible. Beyond having knowledgeable and responsible guides, it’s the genuine stories they share that truly captivate travellers. People no longer just want to sightsee; they yearn to experience a destination “like a local.”

A recent survey by GetYourGuide revealed that 90% of travellers express a strong desire to explore a destination from a local’s perspective. Notably, over 60% of millennials emphasize the importance of authenticity in their experiences. This highlights the growing significance of genuine encounters that resonate deeply with travellers. And who could be better suited to foster these connections than knowledgeable guides who possess unique insights into the destination?

Establishing a personal connection with travellers is essential. When travellers bond with their guide, they feel at ease, allowing them to immerse themselves in local culture with curiosity and enthusiasm. The guide becomes a cherished companion, sharing personal stories, historical backgrounds, and adjusting narratives spontaneously based on the travellers’ interests.

To cultivate this essential connection, we present four key tips:

1. Showcasing guides on your website

Provide potential travellers with a glimpse into the personalities and expertise of your guides by featuring them on your website . Introduce each guide, highlight their unique backgrounds and experiences. When travellers can familiarise themselves with the guide beforehand, it boosts excitement and comfort right from the beginning of the journey.

2. Inquiring about travellers’ interests

Prioritise understanding your travellers by asking about their interests after booking. A brief, optional survey with multiple-choice questions about their favorite foods, animals, and other relevant preferences can offer valuable insights. Armed with this knowledge, your guides can create personalised experiences tailored to each individual’s interests.

3. Embrace flexibility in itineraries

To foster authentic and personalised connections, avoid strict scripts and itineraries. Allow your guides to integrate the travellers’ interests gathered from the survey and tailor the experience accordingly. While ensuring essential experiences are covered, the flexibility to accommodate spontaneous detours, such as visiting a local food market or discovering a hidden gem, will enhance overall satisfaction.

4. Encourage engaging conversations

Motivate your guides to engage in meaningful conversations with travellers throughout the experience. By actively listening to their needs, preferences, and curiosities, guides can better understand the group dynamics and adjust their storytelling accordingly. This creates an environment where open dialogue is valued, fostering cultural exchange and authentic connections.

Good and responsible tour guides are hard to find but worth so much if you have found them. Invest time or money in working with reliable partners or train guides yourself. Taking good care of your guides benefits your business and make you more successful long-term.

Committed and happy guides do their best to provide your travellers with the trip of their lifetime by taking that extra step. When done well, this results in satisfied and hopefully repeating customers.

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You have been working all days and you have been good to me and helping me with your good institution learning and guide me through good profession

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Great to see you’re benefitting from our content. Looking forward to support you in completing the online course Samuel!

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Good article on tour guide. I personally liked this article and will train our local tour guides as mentioned in this article. Once again thanks for sharing this article.

For ur kind information I’m a tour operator based here in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Very good to hear you liked the article and that you’re going to put it into practice. Good luck!

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Very practical and informative guidelines. Ii has added alot to my knowledge as tour guide.

Very good to hear Adam!

Anne de Jong

Anne de Jong

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You asked: How do I find a local tour guide I can trust?

By the way concierge asked tour guides and travel experts how they find guides on their own trips.

what tour guides do

Traveling has always come with complications. Our By The Way Concierge column will take your travel dilemmas to the experts to help you navigate the new normal. Want to see your question answered? Submit it here .

“We’re stopping in Casablanca, Morocco, for one day on an upcoming cruise. How can I find a reliable local guide? I’ve found several sites promoting local guides, but I don’t know whether any of them are trustworthy.” — Edith G., Laurel, Md.

A quick Google search will turn up the major tour companies operating in a city — or the ones paying for ads and searching juice — but you’re looking for the right guide to transform your understanding of a new place and avoid tourist traps .

This has become even more challenging as third-party companies and unauthorized guides have proliferated in tourism hot spots, scooping up tickets and driving up prices. Travel is already complicated; a guide should make it easier.

I’ve found plenty of reliable tour guides through social media and Airbnb Experiences . Before a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, I went down rabbit holes on Instagram , looking at local food influencers and tour companies. Along the way, I ended up on the account of Lily Palma, a guide who founded Zapotec Travel by Lily . We coordinated a custom experience over WhatsApp, I sent a deposit in advance and paid for the rest in person, and I had a magical time with one of her guides.

Third-party tours have made Europe a maze. Here’s how to avoid them.

Using Airbnb Experiences required far less trawling. For food tours on a trip to Southeast Asia , I looked for local guides and strong reviews in Phuket , Thailand, and Vietnam , and I was delighted with the outcomes. In Bangkok, I took a risk on a new tour that looked unique but had no reviews; it paid off, and I had a spectacular time learning to cook with Prawit “Wit” Chankasem and his mom, Maew, at their coconut farm.

To get you started on your hunt, I took a spin through the Casablanca Airbnb Experiences options and thought this history and food tour sounded like a solid pick. In the many detailed reviews, customers described the Moroccan guide as flexible, adaptable, informative and in-depth. You could go on one of his small group tours for $60 per person or book a private one for about $300. Another guide had similarly strong reviews, so strong that his tour is described by customers as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.

I was curious what other travel professionals do, so I reached out to some hotel concierges, travel planners and tour guides for their advice. Multiple industry insiders warned against using mass-market sites such as Viator or Tripadvisor — which aren’t tour operators themselves but search aggregators.

“The challenge with some of those big-box operators is that it is hard for them to vet every experience provider, and so there’s a lack of consistency,” said Annie Sim, founder and CEO (chief eating officer) of the Table Less Traveled .

“We recently had a guest of who booked through a big website,” said Sue Yoon, VIP concierge supervisor at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver, Canada. “They prepaid and everything, and the driver never showed up.”

Yoon says her hotel always opts for local guides it has personally vetted and recommends travelers always ask their hotel for input — even if the traveler has already booked something. Many will be happy to double-check your pick. In your case, you could ask your cruise concierge.

Katie Parla, a tour guide in Rome and a cookbook author, says to seek out locals who specialize in a field that interests you. If you’re more into food than museums, search for a food historian or a food writer in town who may do tours on the side. Look for expert titles in your guide searches. “Certified guide” doesn’t tell you as much as “art historian” or “former chef.”

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Aaron Millar, a British travel writer and the host of the “ Armchair Explorer ” podcast, said some of his best experiences were with people who were experts in their field, including a biologist in Costa Rica and a paleontologist in Utah.

“You’ll get next-level insight, but also passion,” Millar said in an email.

You can also skip the search yourself and turn to a well-established travel adviser or planner to help coordinate a custom trip with one of their preferred guides. Such companies tend to have decades-long relationships with independent guides and can vouch for their services, says Haisley Smith, vice president of product development at Internova Travel . They’ll be able to handpick the right guide for your travel style, “for example, one who specializes in food or architecture or history or maybe that is good with families,” Smith added in an email, recommending you try Abercrombie & Kent’s Morocco office .

It usually won’t cost you more to go through a professional. However, Clio Morichini, head of travel and events for Italy Segreta , a magazine and travel planning company, says you can usually expect a higher price point with a locally based or boutique operation vs. ones you might find on Viator. But you get what you pay for, Morichini says, because they’re more likely to have vetted their guides several times before — not only to be qualified, but also entertaining.

Lastly, Seda Meral, director of the front office for the Hotel Nikko San Francisco , recommends crowdsourcing information through Facebook travel groups or Reddit , or going to a city’s tourism office. She plans to check in with London’s to find tours for her upcoming trip to the United Kingdom.

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This Stunning Island Chain in the Bahamas Has Epic Scuba Diving, Luxury Beachfront Hotels, and Delicious Seafood — and It's Just 50 Miles From Florida

Paradise awaits in Bimini.

Best Hotels and Resorts

Best things to do, best restaurants, best time to visit, how to get there, how to get around.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

Located just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, Bimini is a collection of cays and islands in the Bahamas that offer a mix of adventure and rest. Cerulean waters house bygone shipwrecks, bonefish flats, and a coral reef system teeming with wildlife and tropical currents, making it one of the most attractive diving and fishing spots in the region. “I’ve spent most of my life exploring Bimini’s beautiful waters. The thrill of being out on the shallow, sandy flats and reeling in the catch will never get old,” said Ansil Saunders, a renowned native boat builder and bone fisherman, as well as a local legend who once went boating with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his visit to the island. 

The main tourist areas of North and South Bimini are separated by a narrow ocean passageway, with ferries connecting the two islands. Alice Town, located on the larger North Bimini, hosts the island’s major tourist attractions and hotels, including the 750-acre luxury beachfront property Resorts World Bimini . “Bimini is also rich in history, and there are many local gems worth exploring. The island was home to famous figures like Ernest Hemingway and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and you can learn all about its past from local historians like Ashley Saunders, a local artist who spent more than 25 years constructing the Dolphin House Museum entirely out of found objects and recycled materials,” said Grace Giste, officer of the Bimini Tourist Office, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation. Whether you choose to fish for yellowtail or snapper, dive off historic shipwrecks, or try your luck at a casino, there are plenty of options on this small yet mighty island. Here's how to plan an unforgettable trip to Bimini.

Top 5 Can’t Miss

  • Made from salvaged and recycled materials, the dolphin- and ocean-inspired Dolphin House Museum was created by artist and historian Ashley Saunders, who offers daily walking tours of the colorful space. 
  • With a prime oceanfront location, Resorts World Bimini has 305 rooms and a popular casino to try your luck. 
  • Enjoy fresh conch prepared a number of ways at Stuart’s Conch Salad Stand, an open-air, well-loved seafood shop in Bailey Town.
  • Get up close and personal with all the marine life Bimini has to offer, thanks to a number of excursions available at Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center . 
  • Pair your cocktail with enviable ocean views at Ebbie and Pat's Bar & Grill , situated directly on the water. 

Courtesy Hilton at Resorts World Bimini

Resorts World Bimini

For a prime location with plenty to do, check into the expansive Resorts World Bimini . The 750-acre luxury beachfront property spans approximately half the island and features miles of white-sand beaches, three pools, 10 restaurants, and a world-class casino. All accommodations come with balconies, some with ocean views.

Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina 

Situated in the tourist-friendly center of Alice Town, Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina is a boutique hotel that first opened in 1947. The 51 accommodations here range from deluxe rooms and cottages to penthouses, and the property is also home to Bimini Seafood Company & Conch Bar, Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center, and a full-service marina, which boasts 75 slips that can accommodate boats up to 140 feet.

Visit Dolphin House Museum. 

Step into a prismatic world constructed of recycled and salvaged materials and created by artist and historian Ashley Saunders, a fifth-generation local. Built in 1937, the Dolphin House Museum is a popular attraction for daily walking tours. Conch shells, sea glass, and other materials make the structure glow with detail, each piece serving as an homage to the dolphins that have inspired Saunders’ life. 

Explore Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center.

As the first dive operation in Bimini, Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center employs several dive boats, including a 60-foot glass-bottom vessel that can accommodate divers, snorkelers, and sightseers. In addition to diving and snorkeling, the center offers great hammerhead and wild dolphin safaris. It's also a member of the Reef Rescue Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the condition of coral reefs. Popular activities to book include a half-day snorkel tour that makes stops at the crystalline Honeymoon Harbour and SS Sapona shipwreck .

Relax at Radio Beach.

A popular spot for both visitors and residents, Alice Town’s Radio Beach offers some of the island’s most beautiful sunsets and sapphire waters. It’s also the only beach in Bimini that has public facilities such as vendors and toilets. “If you're looking to indulge in local food and drinks, Radio Beach is a great place to start. It's lined with Bahamian restaurants and bars, where you can try local favorites like conch salad, fresh seafood, and island-inspired cocktails, according to Giste. 

Hit the casino at Resorts World Bimini.

Whether you’re a high roller or a low-stakes gambler, the 10,000-square-foot, live-action casino at Resorts World Bimini features popular table games and more than 160 slot machines. Plus, you’ll be mere steps away from a number of restaurants.

Bimini Seafood Company & Conch Bar 

Located in the Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina, this restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a marina setting overlooking the island’s famous bonefish flats. Dishes include both American and Bahamian cuisine, with house favorites such as coconut curry shrimp and grilled ribs. 

Smitty's Beach Bar & Restaurant

Enjoy beach views and a lively atmosphere at this casual outdoor restaurant. You’ll be able to enjoy a number of Bahamian classics, including conch, of course, alongside diners belting karaoke tunes. 

Nate’s Bimini Bread

A family institution and popular bakery, Nate's Bimini Bread is the place to go for outstanding mounds of coconut rolls, guava and cream cheese loaves, and cinnamon raisin buns, all baked fresh every morning. 

Stuart’s Conch Salad Stand 

Enjoy fresh conch and lobster salad alongside a house-made hot sauce — if you can stand the heat — at this renowned stand , which has been in business for more than 20 years. Try a bowl of the roughly chopped conch, elevated with citrus juice, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers.  

Though temperatures in the Bahamas are warm and pleasant year-round, the most popular time to visit Bimini for temperate, dry weather is mid-December to mid-April. This time of year brings more crowds, though, typically resulting in higher hotel prices. Visitors should also be mindful of hurricane season, which falls between June and November.

Bimini is about 50 miles east of Florida. The most affordable option is to take the two-hour Balearia ferry from Fort Lauderdale, which offers charters three days a week. There's also a high-speed FRS Caribbean ferry that departs from Miami for a two-hour ride to Bimini. To arrive via air, take a 25-minute flight on Tropic Ocean Airways from Fort Lauderdale or Miami.

Jeremy J Saunders/Getty Images

If arriving by plane, you’ll land at South Bimini Airport. Most visitors stay on north side of the island. To get there, flag a taxi at the airport; it's a five-minute ride to the South Bimini ferry dock ($5 per person). Then, take the public ferry to North Bimini ($8 per person). Note that most vendors throughout the Bahamas only accept cash.

Once on Bimini, travelers can arrange a golf cart rental, which is the main mode of transportation on the island. Book one starting at $90 per day with Bimini Golf Cart Rentals . Meanwhile, guests staying at Resorts World Bimini can reserve a golf cart provided only to hotel guests. There are no car rentals on Bimini, and many places are accessible via walking. 

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Kamala Harris kicks off abortion rights tour on 51st anniversary of Roe v Wade

Vice-president is expected to announce support for more access to abortion as she begins tour in battleground state of Wisconsin

Kamala Harris kicked off her much-vaunted abortion rights nationwide tour in Wisconsin on Monday as Joe Biden convened a meeting of his taskforce on reproductive healthcare access, in a tag-team effort to double down on what is likely to be a key campaign issue this year.

The vice-president chose the 51st anniversary of the Roe v Wade ruling to begin the Reproductive Freedoms Tour, announced in December, in the battleground state of Wisconsin, which the president won in the 2020 presidential election by just over 20,000 votes .

Roe v Wade, the supreme court decision that enshrined the federal right to abortion, was overturned in June 2022 after the then president Donald Trump nominated three conservative justices to the nation’s highest court.

The decision was a major blow to supporters of reproductive rights, but since the ruling seven states – including the conservative strongholds of Kentucky, Kansas and Montana – have held ballot referendums where voters chose to protect abortion rights. The issue also appeared to hurt Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections.

Wisconsin is a notable starting point for Harris’s reproductive freedoms tour. Last year, abortion rights propelled a Democratic victory in a critical election for the state supreme court.

In the first of many similar scheduled events, Harris is expected to announce support for increased access to abortion and contraceptives through the new emergency care law, Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (Emtala).

She will also denounce Trump, the runaway frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, for his hand in overturning the federally protected right to abortion.

“Proud that women across our nation are suffering?” Harris will say, according to excerpts from her speech obtained by the Associated Press. “Proud that women have been robbed of a fundamental freedom? That doctors could be thrown in prison for caring for patients? That young women today have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers?”

The following day, Harris will be joined by Biden for another abortion-focused event, along with their spouses, Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff.

Biden’s re-election campaign also rolled out a new campaign ad on Sunday, titled Forced , which aims to tie Donald Trump directly to the abortion issue.

In Dobbs v Jackson, the 2022 supreme court case that overturned Roe, a Mississippi law that banned most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with certain medical exceptions was upheld, negating the constitutional right to abortion and overruling the precedent set by Roe more than half a century ago.

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In a statement on the 51st anniversary of Roe v Wade, Biden said: “Fifty-one years ago today, the supreme court recognized a woman’s constitutional right to make deeply personal decisions with her doctor – free from the interference of politicians. Then, a year and a half ago, the court made the extreme decision to overturn Roe and take away a constitutional right.

“As a result, tens of millions of women now live in states with extreme and dangerous abortion bans. Because of Republican elected officials, women’s health and lives are at risk.”

When announcing her tour in December, Harris said: “Extremists across our country continue to wage a full-on attack against hard-won, hard-fought freedoms as they push their radical policies – from banning abortion in all 50 states and criminalizing doctors, to forcing women to travel out of state in order to get the care they need.

“I will continue to fight for our fundamental freedoms while bringing together those throughout America who agree that every woman should have the right to make decisions about her own body – not the government.”

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How to buy madonna tickets for celebration tour 2024.

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Madonna is still on the road for another three months throughout 2024 as she embarks on the remaining concerts in The Celebration Tour. Madonna tickets are still available for those trying to see the Grammy-winning singer as she celebrates her more than 40-year-long career as a recording artist. Let us walk you through how to get Madonna concert tickets at the best prices. 

The first leg of The Celebration Tour originally ticked off in October 2023, which took Madonna across ten European countries for 27 performances before concluding in December. That same month, Madonna began the second leg and final part of her tour in North America. Before taking her final bow of the concert series in April 2024, Madonna will have performed 52 shows across 27 cities in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

  • More events: U2 Sphere tickets | Olivia Rodrigo tickets | Taylor Swift tickets | Adele tickets | Rolling Stones tickets

With the concert series being a retrospective celebration of her iconic career, The Celebration Tour's setlist unsurprisingly includes plenty of Madonna's timeless hits. Songs like "Like a Prayer," "Vogue," "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," and "Like a Virgin" have been performed across various dates on her tour.

We've got you covered if you're still looking for tickets to Madonna's Celebration Tour. Here's our breakdown of Madonna's 2024 tour schedule, purchasing details, and original and resale ticket prices. You can also browse the available tickets for sale on StubHub and Vivid Seats at your leisure.

Madonna 2024 tour schedule

Madonna still has plenty of shows left in her Celebration Tour throughout 2024. The Grammy-winning artist will take her final bow of the concert series on April 26 in Mexico City, Mexico.

All concert times are listed in local time zones.

How to buy tickets for Madonna's 2024 concert tour

While Madonna tickets have been on sale for a while, plenty of original tickets are still available for her 2024 concert dates. You can buy original standard, premium, and VIP tickets for Madonna's Celebration Tour through Ticketmaster .

Madonna tickets are also available through verified resale vendors like StubHub and Vivid Seats . You may have better luck on these platforms, as the prices are generally lower, and there tends to be more variety in seating.

How much do Madonna tickets cost?

The price for standard original tickets to Madonna's 2024 tour varies depending on date, location, and demand. For example, concert dates in major cities like New York City tend to be more expensive.

Standard original tickets still available on Ticketmaster are comparable to prices on verified resale platforms. However, the remaining original tickets are limited, so prices will typically be lower through resale vendors.

The lowest prices for tickets to Madonna's 2024 tour on StubHub range from $56 (February 5 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) to $276 (March 13 in Palm Desert, California). For most dates and locations, the least expensive Madonna tickets fall around $100 before taxes and fees. Similarly, the cheapest available tickets on Vivid Seats begin between $56 (Pittsburgh) and $356 (Palm Desert) before additional fees.

Original tickets on Ticketmaster start from approximately $70 (February 13 in Saint Paul, Minnesota) to $168 (February 27 in San Francisco, California). However, there are several concert dates where original tickets are already sold out.

The Celebration Tour also has VIP tickets available for premium prices, though many packages are sold out across various locations. Madonna's 2024 concert series has The Immaculate VIP Package, Iconic VIP Package), You Can Dance Premium Ticket Package, and Where's The Party Premium Ticket Package. The prices for original tickets for each package on Ticketmaster start at $1,750, $895, $545, and $475, respectively.

Who is opening for Madonna's tour?

Madonna has not announced any additional opening acts for her 2024 concert dates. However, the artist is joined by Bob the Drag Queen, a special guest in each of her shows, who helps introduce the concert and interacts with Madonna as the emcee.

Madonna's 2024 tour began with the international leg in Europe, so the only remaining concerts in The Celebration Tour outside the United States are in North America.

On February 21, Madonna will perform in Vancouver, Canada. In April, she'll have five performances in Mexico City, where she'll take her final bow of The Celebration Tour on April 26.

You can purchase logo and accolade licensing to this story here . Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected] .

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  • Section 10 - Egypt
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Saudi Arabia: Hajj & Umrah Pilgrimages

Cdc yellow book 2024.

Author(s): Salim Parker, Joanna Gaines

Destination Overview

Infectious disease risks, environmental hazards & risks, other health considerations, safety & security, availability & quality of medical care.

Hajj and Umrah are religious pilgrimages to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Islamic religious doctrine dictates that every able-bodied adult Muslim who can afford to do so is obligated to make Hajj at least once in their lifetime. Hajj takes place from the 8th through the 12th day of the last month of the Islamic year (Dhul Hijjah). The timing of Hajj is based on the Islamic lunar calendar; its dates shift relative to the Gregorian calendar, occurring ≈11 days earlier each successive year. In 2021, for example, Hajj took place from July 17–22, but in 2022, Hajj occurred from July 7–12. Muslims can perform Umrah, the “minor pilgrimage,” any time of the year; unlike Hajj, Umrah is not compulsory.

Normally, ≈2–3 million Muslims from >183 countries perform Hajj each year, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) continues its efforts to allow an even greater number of pilgrims (hajjis) attend. In a typical year, >11,000 pilgrims travel from the United States. Due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, however, only 1,000 pilgrims received permission to perform Hajj in 2020. In 2021, 60,000 were allowed, and in 2022, 1 million pilgrims made the pilgrimage. In both 2020 and 2021, because no cross-border entry into the country was permitted, KSA limited Hajj pilgrims to residents of Saudi Arabia.

Performing the Pilgrimage

Most international pilgrims fly into Jeddah or Medina and take a bus to Mecca. Although the actual pilgrimage lasts only 5 days, most foreign pilgrims visit Saudi Arabia for 2–7 weeks.

On the first day of Hajj (8th day of Dhul Hijjah), hajjis travel by foot or by bus ≈5.5 miles (9 km) to Mina, the largest temporary city in the world, where most stay in air-conditioned tents.

At dawn on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, hajjis begin an ≈7.75-mile (12.5-km) trip by foot, shuttle bus, or train to the Plain of Arafat ( Map 10-03 [all distances shown are approximate]). During the summer months, daytime temperatures can reach 122°F (50°C). The walking route features mist sprinklers, but the risk for heat-related illnesses is high, and ambulances and medical stations are positioned along the way to provide medical assistance.

Hajj climaxes on the Plain of Arafat, a few miles east of Mecca. Pilgrims spend the day in supplication, praying and reading the Quran. Being on Arafat on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, even for only a few moments, is an absolute rite of Hajj. Any hajji who fails to reach the Plain of Arafat on that day must repeat their pilgrimage. After sunset, pilgrims begin the ≈6.5-mile (10.5-km) journey to Muzdalifah, where most sleep in the open air. Potential health threats in Muzdalifah include breathing the thick dust and inadequate or overcrowded washing and sanitation facilities.

At sunrise on the 10th day of Dhul Hijjah, pilgrims collect small pebbles to carry to Jamaraat, the site of multiple deadly crowd crush disasters. At Jamaraat, hajjis throw 7 tiny pebbles at the largest of 3 white pillars—the stoning of the effigy of the Devil. Afterwards, pilgrims traditionally sacrifice an animal. Some purchase vouchers to have licensed abattoirs perform this ritual on their behalf, thereby limiting potential exposure to zoonotic diseases. Other pilgrims visit farms where they sacrifice an animal themselves or have it done by an appointed representative.

The next morning, on the 11th day of Dhul Hijjah, hajjis go to the Grand Mosque, which houses the Ka’aba (“The Cube”), and which Muslims consider the house of God. Pilgrims perform tawaf, 7 complete counterclockwise circuits around the Ka’aba. Because each floor of the 3-level mosque can hold 750,000 people, performing tawaf can take hours. In addition to tawaf, pilgrims have the option of performing sa’i, walking (sometimes running) 7 times between the hills of Safa and Marwah, then drinking water from the Well of Zamzam. Hajjis can travel between Safa and Marwah via air-conditioned tunnels, which have separate sections for walkers and disabled pilgrims. At the end of the day, pilgrims return to Mina (via Jamaraat) pelting all 3 pillars with pebbles.

The next day, the 12th day of Dhul Hijjah, pilgrims pelt all 3 pillars in Mina with pebbles again and then, after performing a final tawaf, some leave Mecca, ending their Hajj. Other pilgrims stay an additional night, pelt the 3 pillars with pebbles once more the next day, perform their final tawaf, and end the pilgrimage. Although not required, some hajjis include a trip to Medina, where they visit the Mosque of the Prophet, home to the tomb of Mohammed.

Map 10-03 Hajj / Umrah pilgrimage

Map 10-03 Hajj / Umrah pilgrimage

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KSA can elect to restrict the entry of travelers coming from countries experiencing infectious disease outbreaks. In 2012, for example, KSA did not permit anyone from Uganda to attend Hajj due to an Ebola outbreak in that country; the same restriction applied to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in 2014 and 2015.

Required Vaccines

Current Hajj vaccination requirements are available from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the United States. As part of the Hajj and Umrah visa application process, KSA requires proof of vaccination against COVID-19 and meningococcal disease (for all pilgrims), polio (for pilgrims coming from countries where the disease is reported), and yellow fever (for all pilgrims arriving from yellow fever–endemic countries).

Coronavirus Disease 2019

In 2020 and 2021, KSA only permitted Saudi residents <65 years old to apply for pilgrimage permits. In 2022, the Saudi government reopened Hajj to pilgrims (<65 years old) from countries outside KSA. Priority was granted to those who had not previously performed the pilgrimage. For the 2020 Hajj, because COVID-19 vaccines were not yet available, KSA required Hajj pilgrims to have a negative PCR test. In 2021 and 2022, hajjis also had to provide proof of immunization with an approved COVID-19 vaccine. The Kingdom recognizes vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Oxford/Astra Zeneca, and Pfizer/BioNTech.

All travelers going to Saudi Arabia should be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines .

Meningococcal

The Hajj has been associated with meningococcal outbreaks. In 1987, serogroup A was responsible for an outbreak and carriage by returning pilgrims to certain countries that resulted in disease among local contacts. Serogroup W was responsible for similar occurrences in 2000 and 2001.

KSA requires all pilgrims to submit a certificate of vaccination with the quadrivalent (ACYW135) vaccine against meningitis, issued no more than 3 years and no less than 10 days before arrival in Saudi Arabia. The conjugate vaccine is preferred because it is associated with reduced carriage, unlike the polysaccharide vaccine.

The KSA Ministry of Health currently advises people who are pregnant and children not to travel to the Hajj; if these groups choose to travel, however, they should receive meningococcal vaccination according to licensed indications for their age. For more details on meningococcal disease and its prevention, see Sec. 5, Part 1, Ch. 13, Meningococcal Disease .

Although KSA’s requirement for polio vaccine does not apply to adult pilgrims from the United States, ensuring full vaccination before travel is best. All pilgrims traveling from countries where polio is reported are required to show proof of vaccination ≤6 weeks prior to departure. KSA also administers a single dose of the oral polio vaccine to pilgrims coming from countries where polio has been reported, this in addition to any polio vaccine the hajji might have received in their country of origin. About 500,000 doses of polio vaccine are given at ports of entry, representing >90% of eligible pilgrims.

Bloodborne Pathogens

After completing Hajj, men shave their heads. KSA limits barber licenses and requires barbers to use only disposable, single-use blades, to limit transmission of bloodborne pathogens between customers. Remind male travelers to patronize only officially licensed barbers whose establishments are clearly marked. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all travelers to KSA, particularly health care workers or other caretakers participating in Hajj, be up to date with routine immunizations, including hepatitis B vaccine.

Enteric Infections & Diseases

Diarrheal disease is common during Hajj. During the pretravel consultation, inform travelers about prevention, oral rehydration strategies, proper use of antimotility agents, and self-treatment of travelers’ diarrhea (TD) with antibiotics. Most TD in hajjis is bacterial (≤83%), with smaller proportions caused by viruses and parasites. More information on TD can be found in Sec. 2, Ch. 6, Travelers’ Diarrhea .

The World Health Organization recommends that travelers visiting farms, or other areas where animals are present, practice general hygiene measures, including avoiding contact with sick animals and regular handwashing before and after touching animals. Travelers should avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products, including milk and meat.

Respiratory Infections & Diseases

Respiratory tract infections are common during Hajj, and pneumonia is among the most common causes of hospital admission. The risk for respiratory infections underscores the need to follow recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for pneumococcal conjugate and polysaccharide vaccines for pilgrims aged ≥65 years and for younger travelers with comorbidities.

Although not a requirement, the CDC strongly recommends that hajjis be fully vaccinated against seasonal influenza. Behavioral interventions, including regular handwashing with soap and water, properly wearing a facemask, cough etiquette, and, if possible, physical distancing and contact avoidance, can help mitigate the risk for respiratory illnesses among pilgrims. Assess travelers for respiratory fitness, administer necessary vaccines, and prescribe adequate supplies of portable respiratory medications (inhalers are easier to transport than nebulizers) as needed.

Crowded conditions, even outdoors (densities can reach 9 pilgrims per square meter), can increase the probability of respiratory disease transmission during Hajj, including COVID-19 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). At the time of writing, no Hajj-associated cases of COVID-19 or MERS have been reported. Many pilgrims come from areas highly endemic for tuberculosis (TB); some arrive for Hajj with active pulmonary disease. Educate pilgrims about the risk for TB, and instruct them to follow up with their doctor if they develop symptoms of active TB.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

MERS, caused by the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), was identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012 (see Sec. 5, Part 2, Ch. 14, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome / MERS ). Domestic cases in and around the Arabian Peninsula and exported cases, including in the United States, have ranged from mild to severe; ≈35% of reported cases have been fatal. Close contact with someone who has confirmed MERS-CoV infection, exposure to camels, and consuming raw or undercooked camel products (e.g., milk, urine, meat) are all considered risk factors for human infection with MERS-CoV.

Skin Infections

Chafing caused by long periods of standing and walking in the heat can lead to bacterial or fungal skin infections. Advise travelers to keep their skin dry, use talcum powder, and to be aware of any pain or irritation caused by garments. Travelers should disinfect open sores and blisters and keep them covered. As a sign of respect, pilgrims enter the Grand Mosque with the tops of their feet uncovered; while most hajjis perform tawaf in their bare feet, encourage travelers with diabetes to wear appropriate, protective footwear.

Vectorborne Diseases

Aedes mosquitoes, vectors for dengue, and Anopheles mosquitoes, vectors for malaria, are present in Saudi Arabia. Travelers should follow mosquito bite prevention measures outlined in Sec. 4, Ch. 6, Mosquitoes, Ticks & Other Arthropods . Dengue has been documented in Mecca and Jeddah, but not in association with Hajj. KSA conducts extensive spraying campaigns before Hajj, and especially targets the housing units of pilgrims from malaria- and dengue-endemic areas. The cities of Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Riyadh (the capital of KSA), and Ta’if have no malaria transmission, and prophylaxis against malaria is neither recommended nor required for pilgrims.

Animal Bites

Pilgrims bitten by animals should seek immediate medical attention to address any potential rabies exposure (see Sec. 4, Ch. 7, Zoonotic Exposures: Bites, Stings, Scratches & Other Hazards , and Sec. 5, Part 2, Ch. 18, Rabies ).

Climate & Sun Exposure

Heat is a threat to the health and well-being of all travelers; both heat exhaustion and heatstroke can cause incapacitation and death among pilgrims (see Sec. 4. Ch. 2, Extremes of Temperature ). Travelers are particularly at risk when Hajj occurs during summer months; the average high temperatures during June–September are ≥110°F. High temperatures combined with high humidity can lead to a heat index indicative of an extreme heat warning. High heat alone can exacerbate chronic conditions.

Depending on the exact location of their lodgings within Mina and whether they use trains or shuttle buses to get from one location to another, hajjis might walk up to ≈35–40 miles (≈55–65 km) over the 5 days; about 45% of pilgrims walk during the Hajj rituals. Counsel pilgrims to stay well hydrated, wear sunscreen, and seek shade or use umbrellas when possible. Religious leaders have ruled that it is permissible for hajjis to perform some rituals after dark. In addition, except for a pilgrim’s required presence on Arafat on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, most other compulsory rituals can be postponed, done by proxy, or redeemed by paying a penalty.

Chronic Health Conditions

Hajj is arduous, even for young, healthy pilgrims. Because many Muslims wait until they are older before performing Hajj, they are more likely to have chronic health conditions. Travelers caught up in the experience of Hajj or Umrah might forget to take their usual medications. People with chronic medical conditions should have a health assessment before traveling to Hajj. Tailor a plan for each traveler’s unique risks, including adjusting the usual medical regimen if necessary, ensuring an adequate supply of medications, and providing education about symptoms that indicate a condition requiring urgent attention.

Pilgrims with diabetes should have a customized management plan that enables them to meet the arduous physical challenges of the Hajj. They should bring adequate amounts of all medications, plus syringes and needles if they are insulin dependent. They also should carry an emergency kit with them on their pilgrimage; the kit should include easily accessible carbohydrate sources, glucagon, a glucometer and test strips, urine ketone sticks to evaluate for ketoacidosis, and a list of medications and care plans. Emphasize the importance of wearing durable and protective footwear to reduce the incidence of minor foot trauma, which can lead to infections.

Menstruation

Muslim law prohibits a person who is menstruating from performing tawaf. All other rituals are independent of menses. Because pilgrims generally know well in advance that they will be making a pilgrimage, those who intend to manipulate their menstrual cycle should consult with a physician 2–3 months before the journey.

Fire is a potential risk during Hajj. In 1997, open stoves set tents on fire, and the resulting blaze killed 343 pilgrims and injured >1,500. In 2015, a hotel caught fire and >1,000 pilgrims were evacuated. KSA no longer allows pilgrims to erect their own lodgings or prepare their own food; permanent fiberglass structures have replaced formerly makeshift accommodations.

Traffic-Related Injuries

As in other countries, motor vehicle crashes are the primary safety risk for US travelers to KSA. Remind Hajj pilgrims of the importance of seatbelt use in any vehicle, including buses (see Sec. 8, Ch. 5, Road & Traffic Safety ). Encourage pilgrims to be mindful of their own safety when they walk long distances through or near dense traffic.

Trauma is a major cause of injury and death during Hajj. Hajj is associated with dense crowding, leading to crush disasters or stampedes. Thousands of pilgrims were killed during a crush at Mina in 2015, making it the deadliest Hajj disaster on record. Death usually results from asphyxiation or head trauma, and large crowds limit the movement of emergency medical services, making prompt rescue and treatment difficult.

Travelers who become ill during Hajj have access to medical facilities located in and around the holy sites. An estimated 25,000 health care workers are typically in attendance, and medical services are offered free of charge to all pilgrims. For safety reasons, KSA advises that children, the frail elderly, seriously ill, and pregnant people postpone Hajj and Umrah.

The following authors contributed to the previous version of this chapter: Salim Parker, Joanna Gaines

Bibliography

Aldossari M, Aljoudi A, Celentano D. Health issues in the Hajj pilgrimage: a literature review. East Mediterr Health J. 2019;25(10):744–9.

Alsafadi H, Goodwin W, Syed A. Diabetes care during Hajj. Clin Med. 2011;11(3):218–21.

Alzahrani AG, Choudhry AJ, Al Mazroa MA, Turkistani AH, Nouman GS, Memish ZA. Pattern of diseases among visitors to Mina health centers during the Hajj season, 1429 H (2008 G). J Infect Public Health. 2012;5(1):22–34.

Assiri A, Al-Tawfiq JA, Al-Rabeeah AA, Al-Rabiah FA, Al-Hajjar S, Al-Barrak A, et al. Epidemiological, demographic, and clinical characteristics of 47 cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus disease from Saudi Arabia: a descriptive study. Lancet Infect Dis. 2013;13(9):752–61.

Benkouiten S, Al-Tawfiq JA, Memish ZA, Albarrak A, Gautret P. Clinical respiratory infections and pneumonia during the Hajj pilgrimage: a systematic review. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2019;28:15–26.

Memish ZA. Saudi Arabia has several strategies to care for pilgrims on the Hajj. BMJ. 2011;343:d7731.

Memish ZA. The Hajj: communicable and noncommunicable health hazards and current guidance for pilgrims. Euro Surveill. 2010;15(39):19671.

Memish ZA, Al-Rabeeah AA. Health conditions of travellers to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj and Umra) for 1434 (2013). J Epidemiol Glob Health. 2013;3(2):59–61.

Memish Z, Zumla A, Alhakeem R, Assiri A, Turkestani A, Al Harby KD, et al. Hajj: infectious disease surveillance and control. Lancet. 2014;383(9934):2073–82.

Yezli S. The threat of meningococcal disease during the Hajj and Umrah mass gatherings: a comprehensive review. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2018;24:51–8.

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