Underneath that smile, your tour director is beyond annoyed. (Photo: Corbis)
You thought the confessions from adventure guides were bad? Well, the following is a collection of candid complaints from four tour directors with at least 15 years experience apiece in the tourism industry.
“Jane” — Tour director in Orlando, Fla.
This is a job
When people hear that our job is to lead large groups on bus tours around the world, they all have the same reaction: “Wow! That must be so much fun! You actually get paid to travel!” We just groan in unison, because there is nothing at all romantic about hauling a bunch of armchair tourists across thousands of miles while dealing with their endless demands along the way. That’s the reason why most people who become tour directors run away from the profession faster than an anorexic from an ice cream truck.
You’re just one person on one trip
If you don’t like us or like the trip, we don’t get too emotional about it, because in a week, you’ll be gone, and we’ll be hauling another bunch of travelers to the same places we’ve seen dozens of times. When your trip is over, we won’t think about you again, unless you are the rare creature who shows extraordinary appreciation, which is expressed with a great evaluation form, a glowing letter to the company, and a generous amount of money. That’s all we really want from you!
We do not — I repeat, do not — want to be your friends
Our job is to make sure your trip runs smoothly and that you get to see what you came to see. We do not want to have a beer with you, hear about your families, or tell you about our lives. If we spend any amount of our free time with you, it means we really, really like you. And if we sleep with you, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re attracted to you. It just means that we are feeling frisky, because life on the road is very lonely.
If you’re not happy on your tour, it’s almost always your own fault
We know you want more than you’ve paid for and that you were too cheap to pay for it. Would you buy a house in Omaha then complain you don’t have a view of the Pacific Ocean? Why would you buy a cheap trip that doesn’t include four-star hotels or any meals then spend the whole time complaining about how you got ripped off? Maybe you couldn’t afford to go on your dream vacation.
Let your tour director be the only one talking on the bus. (Photo: Getty Images)
“Sam” — Tour director from Boston, Mass.
The person running your tour may be doing it for the very first time
Sure, we all have to start somewhere, right? However, you will never know if you paid thousands of dollars only to be stuck with someone who’s right out of “Tour Directing School,” because they will never, ever tell you. Tour directing is a high-turnover profession, mainly because newbies immediately realize that they are not “getting paid to travel” and that managing a crowd on a bus is a losing proposition.
There’s a special place in hell for the adult passengers on student tours
Let me say this loud and clear. On any student tour, the students are never the problem; the adult chaperones are the problem. They only care about one child — their child. Those frisky, middle-aged mommies haven’t been on vacation in a long time, and they are going to have some fun regardless of how it affects others.
We are totally disinterested in your small talk and constant questioning
Here are some things you should never ask: Are you going to bring us good weather? When’s your next tour? Do I need to wear my coat? How many times have you been here? Have you seen my husband? What time are we leaving again? Seriously, stop talking so much!
Make sure your health is in tip top shape before booking a trip. (Photo: Corbis)
“Emily” —Tour director from Nashville, Tenn.
You might be too old or too sick to be taking this trip
Most motorcoach tour passengers tend to be on the older side, and a good portion of them haven’t figured out that it’s time to find a different mode of travel. They take an inordinate amount of time to get on and off the bus, and they bring along their wheelchairs, walkers, even scooters! A good amount of time is lost simply accommodating them. It’s just not fair to expect everyone to vacation at 50 percent of the speed because you are determined to see Yellowstone National Park before you head to The Great Beyond. Everyone in the group will pay for it by spending less time at great places and seeing fewer things, so please reconsider before signing up for this kind of trip.
We judge you by your nationality
Yes, my friends, stereotypes exist. We know that Australians love to talk endlessly about Australia (even more than Americans love to talk about America). We also know that people from England are stuffy and cheap and that they complain about everything. Americans are excessively talkative, and they eat too much.
Weird stuff happens
Passengers disappear then reappear in other cities. People get amorous in the back of the bus. One passenger once said the man sitting next to her exposed himself… so she returned the favor.
You don’t know everything, so don’t expect your tour director to. (Photo: Roger Howard/Flickr)
“Maria” —Tour Director, Miami, Fla.
We don’t want to dislike you, but you make it so easy
Think about it. You’ve paid to have one human being spend two weeks running around like a crazy person to ensure that you have a spectacular vacation. Then you choose to reward that dedicated individual with some exaggerated insults on a tour evaluation form and $5 in an envelope. This is why it’s hard to remember most of you fondly.
We sincerely want you to enjoy your vacation, but you often make it impossible for us to do our jobs
You ignore clear and repeated instructions. You leave stuff behind like passports, phones, wallets, underwear, and… assorted sex toys. Then we have to spend a considerable amount of time trying to get them back (The underwear and sex toys, you won’t see again.). You ignore our pleas to be on time. You overstuff your baggage to the point where the driver can barely lift them. You throw trash all over the bus and overuse the onboard toilet. Your questions and complaints never end. We get so tired of listening to you gripe about our coffee, our food, our money, and our tipping rules while telling us how amazing your own country is.
We don’t know everything, so stop expecting us to
You expect us to know about every statue, river, flower, office building, year everything happened, and the size of everything — all while taking a bus full of vacationers across hundreds of miles. Please don’t ever say, “Well, you’re the tour director, you should know!” That’s really offensive.