A guest post by one of our travellers, Samith Pitch.

There is nothing as rewarding, enlightening and as inspiring as traveling to new locations and exploring new worlds.

Whether you’re staying for a short or extended period of time the absolute best way to maximize your experience and enjoyment is by hiring an experienced tour guide.

The value an experienced, knowledgeable and outgoing tour guide can offer, from lowering language barriers to recommending the very best non-touristy local restaurants, cannot be underestimated.

Not sure how to choose a great tour guide? We conduct an exhaustive selection process to choose the best tour guides so you can have the best travel experience possible.

However, if you need to choose your own here are 7 tips to choosing a great travel guide.

Cambodia Tour
  1. They should be passionate about being a tour guide.

What separates a great tour from a good one is passion. One sees it as a job the other sees it as calling. An average tour guide will be looking to get tips, a great tour guide will be giving them!

You can see it in their faces and mannerisms, nothing makes them happier than to serve others and help others have a positive and rewarding experience. They’re passionate about their home country and they treat you like a guest in their home.

One of our tour guides turned down another employment opportunity because he realised his passion was tourism and he loved the ethos of Hands on Journey. Another of our tour guides spends 20 days out of a month away from his family working as a tour guide. And the reason he chooses to do so is because he believed it was his calling to be the best tour guide he could be. Thats commitment!

  1. They are experienced

A great tour guide needs to have all the relevant qualifications but what they need most is experience is managing tours and groups. Managing travellers can sometimes feel like you’re trying to herd cats! (Not that your guide would ever admit it!) But everyone is different with different personalities and gaols. A great tour guide knows how to manage a group so that  powerful shared experiences and memories are made. But they also know when to give people space and alone time. Ideally you want a tour guide with atleast 5 years experience.

Hoi An Old Town
  1. They are respected and knowledgeable.

Qualifications and experience is one thing but knowledge is another thing. A great tour guide is a bridge between you and their countries and the communities you will visit. Their knowledge of the history, the landscape and the people will prove invaluable to any discerning traveler.

There’s nothing more exciting than feeling that you have an inside scoops on hot eateries, local attractions or insider knowledge.  Watch how your tour guide interacts with they fellow countrymen. Are they kind and jovial or do they bark orders and look down on them?

Many tour guides simply rattle off history that they have learned from their tour guide training which can be very dry. Does your tour guide have personal stories or history that can make their history lesson come alive?

  1. They listen as much as they speak.

Many tour guides stick very closely with the itineraries available to them, often they can be an oasis of order and calm in a travel calamity. But a great tour guide listens as much as they speak. Meaning they will seek to get to know you as a person and not just a tourist. They realise that to deliver the best experience possible they have to get clear about your travel goals and your personality.

  • Do you love history or do you crave live experiences.
  • Are you a party animal or do you want to engage in more meaningful activities.
  • Do you want to experience the finest things in life or do you want to get real and authentic with the locals?

A great tourist guide will seek to create a travel experience that caters to you.

Vietnam Markets
  1. They have excellent personal skills

As we said before a great tourist guide is more than just historical facts and a walking translator they are fellow travellers. It’s important that you get to know your travel guide, learn about what you’re passionate about and your story. Because a great tour guide will seek to do the same.

Having a tour guide you can trust, who is in control and in their elements allows you to relax and enjoy the ride. All our guides at Hands On Journey’s have excellent personal skills.

  1. They know how to have fun!

Every tour guide is different but the tour guides at Hands On Journeys know how to have fun. In Cambodia we have guides who know how to break out the dance moves in Pub Street! In Vietnam be aware that our guides know how to mix potent local drinks of Rice wine!

In periods of long travel a great guide can regale get stories, start running jokes and greet you with the warmest of smiles.

  1. They seek to inspire and give back.

We believe our tour guides at Hands On Journeys are some of the most special. They are excellent at what they do but its also what they do off the job that will inspire you. Our tour guides also spend a few days each month giving back to visiting and working with communities. This fits exactly into the ethos of Hands on Journeys of travelling, inspiring and giving back.

Some of our guides work in hospitals of the physically challenged, others go into remote mountain communities and spend time doing important charity work and others take care of impoverished communities and stay connected with the ongoing projects Hands On Journeys conduct there.

If you are seeking to be a truly worldly traveller it’s important you have the right guides by your side. At Hands on Journeys we’re so proud and inspired by our guides, who love their countries and the people who visit them. Why not come along and meet one them with us?