A private tour guide is a person who leads tours with individuals or small groups of people in order to help them get the most out of their visit to a destination. They typically speak the local language fluently, have extensive knowledge of the history and culture of their country or region and are well versed in the logistics involved with planning a trip. They also have the experience necessary to make sure that all the needs of their guests are met, whether those are dietary restrictions, disabilities or other limitations.
A large number of travelers choose to hire a private tour guide when they want the benefit of a personalized itinerary that is custom-designed for them. This allows them to see more of the area than would be possible on a standard group tour and also gives them the opportunity to ask as many questions as they like without worrying about limiting their fellow travellers. They can explain cultural traditions, introduce them to new foods and take them to off-the-beaten-path places.
Some guides specialize in specific activities, such as hiking, trekking or adventure travel. Others are skilled at leading a wide variety of trips, from cultural to historical to culinary. Some are licensed as guides, while others work on a freelance basis.
In order to become a private tour guide, an individual must pass a licensing exam in their country. After that, they can either work with a tour company or they can choose to work on a freelance basis. A guide who works on a freelance basis will have more flexibility in their schedule but is likely to earn less per tour than someone who works with a tour company.
Both Victoria and John, both seasoned guides, tell us that one of the things they love most about their jobs is receiving referrals from past guests long after their tour has finished. Knowing that they are helping their guests have a truly amazing day makes it all worthwhile for them. Of course, it helps when their guests leave them gratuities that are reflective of the great job they have done.
If you plan to use a private tour guide, it is important to research them before you book. You can ask friends who have traveled to the destination before and received a great service, you can check online reviews or even talk with the concierge at your hotel. A good guide will have a reputation for providing excellent service and can answer any questions you might have.
When planning your itinerary, think about what you are most interested in seeing. Be honest with your guide about your preferences and what you might not enjoy so that they can customize the trip to meet your needs. They will also know when to avoid tourist hordes at popular attractions so that you can have the site almost all to yourself. They will also be able to recommend restaurants and activities that will be unique to your visit.