Think of your ideal job. Does it include miles of open road, a bunch of like-minded people as well as travelling around the world while earning cash?

Of course the answer is yes. Sure, it may sound too good to be true, but there are ways you can get paid while sightseeing around the globe.

Working as a tour guide, you could find yourself on safari in Africa, hopping cities around Europe or partying non-stop at the summer’s best festivals.

The options are limitless in terms of the countries you could visit and the activities you can do while on the road. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all fun and games – you’ll have to earn your wages.

Emma McMahon, 26, a tour manager for Contiki, says the pressure is on, as it’ll be up to you to make sure your guests have the trip of a lifetime.

“People could be on holidays that they’ve saved for years for – and whether they have a good time or not is in your hands,” says McMahon, who hails from Melbourne but is currently working in Portugal.

Tour managers come from a wide range of backgrounds, and don’t need to have specific qualifications, but being hard-working and confident is a prerequisite for the job.

“You need to be very organised, you need to be a people person, you need to love Europe – the more you’re into it, the more clients will be – and you’ll need to have a lot of energy as you don’t get to sleep very much,” McMahon says.

As a tour manager, you could find yourself looking after groups of up to 50 people, on tours ranging from 10 to 45 days.

“It’s our job to organise all the accommodation, travel and sightseeing, give clients maps and information of what to do in their spare time, where to take their meals, as well as socialise with them, and give talks every day about the country you’re in. You pretty much do everything!”

For your troubles and working around the clock, you can expect a daily rate of about £40 along with all your accommodation and meals paid for.

Anthony Banfield was employed as a trip leader with Topdeck for a year before being promoted to business development manager.

He has qualifications in travel and tourism and had worked in the industry for years, in both sales and as cabin crew, but, he says, nothing can prepare you for life on the road.

“My worst moment was a traffic accident in Berlin which caused a six-hour delay,” he recalls. “That was a massive problem for a tight schedule but I managed to keep everyone happy – and thank goodness for on board DVD players!”

During his 12-month stint, Banfield, 34, who lives in London, travelled most of Europe.

“It’s a passion for travel and customer service that will help with the role itself,” he says. “As well as an abundance of patience for when things don’t go according to plan.”

For Haytham Youssry, who started working as a guide with On The Go Tours in 2008, it’s the best job in the world. From Cairo, the 28-year-old takes groups around Egypt, making sure “each day is as good as it can be”.

Youssry has a degree in Egyptology, but adds: “You need to be qualified in taking care of people. Everybody is coming on holiday to have a good time so it is important you find out as much as possible about the individuals so they get the best holiday possible.

“I love to share facts about Egypt in an interesting way so that people remember as much as possible when they get home.”

Day-to-day, Youssry takes groups around tourist sites, but also performs tour manager duties, which include checking room allocations and organising schedules – as well as dealing with any other requests that pop up.

“I helped one of our passengers to propose. We kept it as a big secret – I was the only person who knew. Luckily, she said yes, so both had a holiday that they’ll never forget,” he adds.

If you’re thinking of working as a tour guide, Youssry says go for it: “It’s a brilliant job. It’s hard work, but lots of fun and you get to meet great people. It’s not like work at all!”

Useful websites:

Topdeck Travel places a strong emphasis on an interest in European history:

Working for Contiki, you’ll get to know countries as though they were home:

On The Go Tours cover the world and recruits locally, but not always:

First Festival Travel recruits about a third of the 150 applications it receives:

Busabout runs hop-on hop-off services all around Europe and recruits about 30 people each year:


Photos: Contiki, Thinkstock, Getty