Journey begins

A winters day in the life of a Tour Leader – Part 1

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Day 1- A winter challenge!

The Tour Leader’s morning process

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Everything needed to bring on the first day

You’ve spent yesterday briefing, preparing, planning, calling, packing your tour bag, and going through your passenger list trying to get an insight to what your group might be like. You spent almost the entire after noon getting ready for the 34 day adventure coming up. You made sure you hit the local newsagent and stocked up on pens, markers, paper, Vitamins, packets of Ibuprofen and anything else that you can add to your arsenal. People looked at you strange as you dropped down 5 packets of pens, a couple packets of markers, 4 packets of Ibuprofen, and all the good 1 dollar dvd’s you could find on sale! You’re ready for the day ahead.

Its 5:00 am, winter in the UK. The sun still won’t be up for about 2 or 3 more hours so you know you’ll be meeting your passengers at your pick up point, which is a carpark in front of your company’s office, in the dark! It’s going to be cold and miserable as light rain is falling still. You know you’re going to have to put in real effort to excite your passengers this morning who will be already there waiting for you.

Trying not to wake others in your hostel room, that you chose because it’s a 10 min walk to pick up point and as the metro was too much of a risk today, you dress yourself half asleep with your outfit you pre laid out the night before. You brush your teeth, do your hair and a quick recheck of the breath and double up on the deodorant, all the while stumbling in the dark. No matter how many times you do this you always get nervous of the unknown in front of you! Anything could happen today, a million thoughts run through your head. What will the group be like? Will everyone turn up on time? Will the coach be on time to pick you up? What’s the traffic like out of London?  Are the ferries running? Will customs be an issue today? Can you take an earlier ferry if you make it in time? Your mind is racing, but you’re going to keep your cool and be in control today from start to finish.

The Tour Leader’s long walk

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As your stomach flutters with nerves, your throat is dry and as you find it tougher to swallow, you do a quick double check of the room before leaving. Last time you forgot and left 300 dollars’ worth of jeans on the floor under the bed. It’s not going to happen again!! Out the door you go and as you exit the hostel you take one deep breath and get welcomed by the darkness, drizzle and the cold wet air that hits your lungs like heavyweights boxers smashing fist. It’s a massive jolt to your system and no matter how many times you’ve hit the early morning, there is just no real way to be prepared for that kind of cold. It would be lucky to be 1 degree right now! A 10 min walk in this is already hard work, but you need to keep your energy up and mind focused on the long day ahead.

As you struggle down the street with a backpack containing your life’s contents (literally) with a huge bag hanging down on your shoulder containing everything else you need for your tour, your breathing gets faster even though it is freezing and cold rain is stinging your face. You start to build up a sweat in that heavy winter proof jacket you’ve decided to wear for the day. You’re still optimistic of a great day as you get closer to your pick up point. Walking a little faster now, as you look at your watch and realise it’s close to meeting time.

Turning the final corner you see the coach is still not in sight, but you think ‘that’s ok there is time’. You notice people already in the car park, sitting on their luggage and all spread in different areas trying to avoid the rain and that strong London wind that cuts through you like a knife.

Tour leader’s nervous moment of your first contact

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Those Bright lights coming around the corner

As you enter the car park already tired from carrying the world  made of paperwork  and clothes on your back, you start to grow a big smile in the anticipation of meeting these people. However, in the back of your mind you are still hoping that they are the coolest people on Earth, and you won’t have anyone in a bad mood who’s going to make the day harder than it needs to be.

You drop your items on the ground next you and pull out your pre prepared trusty, yet looking a bit worse for wear, clipboard. This little guy has been with you for almost a season and you keep it only because you’ve had great tours with it, and it always seems to bring you luck (not that Tour Leaders can be superstitious 😉 ). With the drizzle still hitting you in your smiling face, you call out in a booming voice and with lots of energy to all the new passengers,

‘Good Morning!!! I’m David and I’m your Tour Leader for the 34 day adventure starting today. Apart from this drizzle I hope you’re all looking forward to today like i am?? So can every one come in nice and close as its time to sign in and get the adventure started! Have your passports and insurance out at ready as you sign in and say hello, ok?

As they start to fumble through their bags with cold hands you see two big booming lights, the most reassuring sight you’ve seen all morning. Its your coach and driver. As he pulls into the coach park your smile grows a bit bigger. It is John who you have worked with many times, you both get on like a house on fire and are great mates rather than just co-workers. You now have great news to tell your passengers as they can jump straight on and keep warm after leaving their bags with John.

The sign in

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The sign in starts!

You mention to all the great opportunity to keep warm is coming and to leave their bags by the luggage bin and jump on the coach and keep warm until 7am departure time.

They begin to come up to you with passport in hand smiling, but clearly frozen! You smile back and being to sign off their names, check their passports and insurance. Trying to Guage them the whole while and work out who might be difficult. You just pray they are on your list to sign off.  Today is to be as smooth as possible and don’t need the challenge of unlisted people on this frosty morning.

While you’re signing in you find the names are flying, some you can remember, and others you struggle to wrap your tongue around! The colours of passports handed to you could make a rainbow and as you sign them in you realise you have one of the most multicultural group you’ve ever had. Some struggle with your English and to communicate with you and you know already it could be an interesting tour, let alone the first day. You’re saying a silent little prayer in your head aswell as take in all the info overload trying to learn everyone’s name.

One by one they jump on the coach until  the last person standing around you is in the coach. Feels like such a relief, but you know through experience to make sure all the names are marked off on your list first before you celebrate. Today is a massive Success!! All names are marked off and present and accounted for.

You grab your stuff and head over to John at the loading bins give him a huge hug, as you would your brother, and tell him that it’s all green lights for the morning! You both give a reassuring look to each other in anticipation of a big tour coming up.

It’s almost 7am and you know you can leave on time. This definitely calms some of those nerves for now as you hop on board and prepare that first departure moment on the tour. Your mood is excitable and you try hard to control your movements. This tour is off to the perfect start. You’re getting excited for the rest of the day and already thinking ahead to the thousands of things that you still need to do, all the while giving off a confident aura as you prepare to close those coach doors and start your journey.

 

 

To be continued….

 

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3 thoughts on “A winters day in the life of a Tour Leader – Part 1

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