‘I was a rookie tour manager at age 60’ – NTA Courier – July 2021

Original Article Published: NTA Courier – July 2021

What happens when you arrive with your group at a four-star hotel in Greece only to find the lobby in disrepair, the bathrooms dirty, stained linens on the beds, and electric receptacles hanging by wires from the walls?

What happens when your flight with an impossibly short connection is delayed by weather in Toronto and you and your group of 55 miss your connection in Montreal? Or a carrier rebooks your group on a homeward-bound flight in Paris three hours earlier than expected … and doesn’t tell you?

What happens when an elderly lady falls, experiencing internal injuries, and must be left behind in a hospital in Belgium? Or worse: One of your travelers passes away on the battlefield while re-enacting the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo?

What happens when your new bus breaks down on the Amalfi Coast drive? Or another new coach gets stuck under an overpass in Istanbul, blowing out the windows in the coach and leaving your group stranded?

What happens when your travel bag—with all your tour information, personal documents, and cash—is stolen outside of Paris on the second day of a tour and you have 52 people to take care of?

These are all examples of the challenges I faced while on the road as a tour manager.

Editor’s note: What’s termed “tour manager” in Canada is called “tour director” in the U.S.

I was a rookie tour manager at age 60. I had spent 35 years in high school classrooms teaching history and the social sciences—mostly in Southwestern Ontario, but one year in Nottinghamshire, England, and three and a half in Abruzzo, Italy. Throughout my teaching career, lesson planning and designing and carrying out student tours became second nature. So I thought I was ready for this new career challenge.

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