A Day in the Life of a Tour Guide

Here at the GG we’ve referenced ad nauseum the impact of a tour guide on educational tours.  They are nothing less than vital.  Period.  But how much do you know about what they actually do for you and your students during your trip?  You just might be surprised at the scope of their duties.  At least for our guides.

Let’s take you through a day in the life of a Global Travel Alliance guide on tour with you and your students in one of our most popular destinations: Washington, D.C.…

6:00am – Check-in with the hotel breakfast staff to ensure the breakfast will be ready for the group.  Help in any way that is needed.

6:30am – Greet sleepy students and chaperones in the breakfast room.  Return to hotel room to finish preparing for the day, i.e. triple-checking cash, vouchers, tickets, whatever is needed.  

7:00am – Confirm with Group Leader (GL) that all students and travelers are accounted for; confirm with motorcoach driver that they are ready for pick-up time and location. 

7:15am – Depart for an amazing day in our nation’s capital.  

*Guide notes: Departing at 7:15am versus 7:30am means the group stays ahead of crowds the entire day!  It’s the little things that enhance our tours! 

Remind students of the fundamentals of touring:  safety, safety, and safety.  Always wear lanyards with emergency number; remind them of plans given to them if separated from group; always groups of 3 or more; counting chaperone groups every time the group departs somewhere on the motorcoach. 

8:00am-11:00am – Give unforgettable tour of the one and only Arlington National Cemetery:  Gravesites of Kennedy’s, Arlington House (Lee-Custis Mansion), Women in Military Service for America Memorial, Medgar Evars, John Lincoln Clem, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the changing of the guard.  

*Guide notes: request sentinel to speak with group in amphitheater following the changing.  A transcendent moment!  Ask anyone if they have relatives buried in ANC.  If yes, find the time to take student to that grave for a once-in-a-lifetime picture opportunity!

11:00am-12:00pm – Lunch at Pentagon City Mall.  Walk students and chaperones to bathroom;  tell Chaperones of the best restaurant; get meal for motorcoach driver; start the ‘48/24/day of’ rule (calling ahead to all reservations 2 days in advance, 1 day in advance, and day-of arrival to ensure that every reservation is ready for the group).  Buy treats from Garrett’s for chaperones.

12:30pm-2:00pm – United States Holocaust Memorial.  Bus briefing about the memorial and logistics of the museum – it’s a solemn place, important to act accordingly.  Get group into museum and into the best staging area, then into line at the right time. Remind group of meeting spot and meeting time. Return to Pentagon City via metro to retrieve lost student’s bag (with wallet in it!); find bag and wallet.  Return to the museum to meet group.  Get hug from student who lost bag/wallet.  Call motorcoach driver to confirm pick-up time and location.  Group walks out to find motorcoach right outside of the museum. 

2:15pm-4:45pm – Give fabulous tour of the National Mall, Smithsonian Museums, and the new Eisenhower Memorial and Native American Veterans Memorial.  Play the Washington Monument game.   

*Guide note – at National Museum of American History, make the group sing the national anthem; explain what ‘spangled’ and ‘bombs bursting in air’ means; walk them into museum and take them through the Star Spangled Banner exhibit, connecting what they just sang and learned to the actual history.  Remind them of their upcoming visit to the Star Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

While group visits museums, call dinner restaurant to confirm that all dietary restrictions previously communicated will be accommodated.

5:30pm-6:30pm – Dinner; make sure all chaperones and students have been served; confirm that all meals with dietary restrictions are correct; take meal to motorcoach driver; eat; confirm that all travelers are satisfied. Remind them to use the bathroom before they leave! Have driver pull up to restaurant for easy loading.

6:45-8:45pm – Give unforgettable tour of “the Big 4:”  Memorials to WWII, Korea, Lincoln and Vietnam.  

*Guide note – ask group if anyone has any connections to someone on the Vietnam Wall; use app to find name on wall; show students how to do an etching. Confirm with motorcoach driver meeting place and time.

9:15pm – Arrive at hotel. Make sure students and chaperones are all set for the evening and prepared for next day; review with driver the plan for tomorrow.

10:00pm – Verify with group leader that all students are in their rooms; check-in hotel security for the group

10:30pm – Confirm that all materials are ready for tomorrow i.e. cash, vouchers, tickets, etc

11:00pm – Double check that security is set for the night.

11:30pm-5:45am – Restorative sleep to be able to do it all again tomorrow!

What attention to detail!  And that’s what it takes to deliver unforgettable, enjoyable, and smooth days. From their 24/7 presence with the group to verify details like breakfast and check in with overnight security, to going above and beyond to retrieve lost items and coordinating myriad details behind the scenes that matter to your group, our guides work passionately to deliver excellent trips.  If you’ve ever marveled at how seamless everything appears, or, sometimes, not noticed anything but the sites you’re visiting, now you know some of the reasons why! 

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