Not just is it how you get to know secret spots of a city and learning how local people actually live, but it’s the perfect way to make new friends, have an amazing (and sustainable!) time while traveling.
But… Being a local guide is not that easy: you must make your travelers enjoy the moment while “teaching” them interesting facts and information about your village, town of specific activities you have planned. So if you’re in this situation and want to learn what the most common mistakes to avoid as a local guide are, read this useful list:
1. Being impersonal
The traveler you’re accompanying is like a friend, so treat him/her as so. The closer you are to them, the more they will involve in the activity you’re doing, no matter if it’s wandering around an isolated village or taking a dip in a lost beach. Don’t be shy, show everything you’ve got to make them love your work and come back to you in the future. Talk, smile and avoid any coldness possible.
2. Making your explanations too technical
Being a local guide always implies passing some kind of knowledge to your traveler, so try to tell a story instead of explaining a series of pre-learned facts. Your traveler will not just be interested in knowing historical or contemporary info, but he/she will also want to reach the heart of the destination itself, so leave some margin for questions and even personal experiences of yours to make the guidance/activity more interesting.
3. Worrying about being perfect
One thing is being professional and another is looking for perfection and strict organization at all times. It’s great that you plan your days and things to do with your travelers, but leave some space for spontaneity and random moments. This way, you will have a bigger chance to get to know them, to talk and share experiences of all kinds, reaching a higher level of connection.
Source: Carla Oliveira
4. Not being sustainable (in every way)
Traveling is a pleasure that should be enjoyed with respect for the environment (supporting nature and local society and economy). It’s your responsibility as a guide to increase awareness among your travelers about embracing eco-friendly and local resources. You can for instance plan some visit to local markets to buy locally produced goodies, encourage them to walk and use the bike, as well as heading to have dinner with people from your own town.
5. Planning the most usual activities to do/spots to visit
Of course your traveler will want to know what’s going on in your destination, what the most popular pubs, shops or things to do are… But being a local guide also gives you the opportunity to lead the journey, so make them know the secret corners in the city, the bar that has the most delicious weird typical food or the beach to catch the wildest waves that nobody else knows. It’s all about diving into your culture and letting the traveler be as insider as you are.
Source: I'm Priscilla
6. Not ending on time
You should keep in mind that the time your travelers is spending with you is not infinite. You two will enjoy it very much, but he/she will also want to spend some time alone just hanging or wandering around the area. So whatever activity you will do, try it not to be overwhelming. Some time “by his/her own” will be great for discovering new places or just resting and recharging energies.
7. Getting stuck in one place/activity
It’s normal that you want to share everything you know at once (places to eat, the history of the town, fun things to do outside…), showing how well informed you are. But regardless the type of plan you’re doing, try to keep it moving, maintaining a dynamic flow in the visit. Don’t spend too much time in one spot or doing just one kind of plan. A variety of options might suit the traveler expectations a bit better, making the trip much powerful and enriching.
8. Not having a backup plan
Unfortunately, things don’t always go smoothly when guiding, so if you were planning a nature-related activity and it rains, or you wanted to visit some local markets but they happen to be closed, a plan B will be perfect for not panicking. Creativity and organization are key for making the most out of your days, no matter how the weather is behaving or how many people you can find in the street. There's always something fun to do in a unknown city.
Source: Roman Arkhipov
Having a job that’s your passion is almost a blessing, but it’s also your way of earning a living, so keeping in touch with them and even asking to write a positive review about your work is totally normal. A following-up email to thank them for picking you will be great to strengthen the guide-traveler link. The more committed you are, the more eager they will be to recommend your work or book another activity with you.
10. Not facing the traveler
It may seem like a silly advice, but looking in the eyes when guiding is something really important that will allow you to create a stronger link between you and them. You’re communicating the past and present of your village, practising some adventurous sport or cooking like a local, so when explaining anything, always make eye contact and transmit the passion you feel about your job.
Source: I'm Priscilla