Packing up my belongings to start my second season on the road as an adventure tour leader this March feels like it was years ago.
Within that time period, I’ve lead eight trips, crossed the country three times and driven over 24,000 miles.
And it’s not over yet!
With some of the busiest months of the season in full swing, I’ll be leading three more trips until I’m finished for the year.
Sometimes I’ve felt like I was thriving, as if the second time around I finally got handle on the lifestyle, the chaos and the tour itineraries. Other times, I’ve felt just as tired, overwhelmed and exhausted as the first year.
Luckily, the former was more often true and some trips didn’t feel like work at all.
The highs and lows
Ups and downs can categorize a job like this. One trip can feel like the best ever, with the most fantastic, enthusiastic group of people. The next can feel like you’re doing everything wrong and everyone is hating the experience (and you).
Working in the service industry can be as equally rewarding as it is frustrating. This is especially the case when you know you always have the best of intentions. Regardless, sometimes you just can’t win with people no matter what you do, and you can never please everyone.
Coming to terms with that fact can be one of the hardest aspects of the job.
Another downside of being on the road for so long is the lack of free time. During a trip, any time away from my group is either spent planning out the rest of the trip, doing paperwork or running errands. Once those are done, naps and vegging out is a first priority. I rarely find any time to work on any other hobbies or projects, hence the radio silence on blogging.
While I’ve really tried to keep up with photography, especially when I’m somewhere new, anything else basically falls to the wayside.
At the end of the day, regardless of the hard-to-please people and the long hours, I still have an amazing job and work with an amazing group of people. Also, this year I’ve had the chance to run some new and truly incredible itineraries. I also love the fact that I am getting paid to learn as much as I can about places, and then share it with my passengers. Even if no one really listens, I love the new knowledge that comes from a role like this.
My favorite Itinerary
So far this season I’ve had the chance to run three trips which I had never run before. Each also brought me to so many new locations and national parks I had never been. Also, trading the desert for the mountains for a couple months was a refreshing change!
If I had to choose a favorite trip from this year so far, it would have to be the two week Mountain Trail. Not only did I have the best group of people I could ask for, every day we saw or did something amazing. Starting in Seattle, we headed south tracing the Rocky Mountains until heading through Utah and into the Southwest.
Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole, (all new places for me) did not disappoint. And while I fell ill with the flu in Yellowstone, I still managed to take the group to all the spots they wanted to see and search for wildlife in the meantime.
We had some of our most memorable moments in Arches National Park. While the group was initially hesitant about waking up at sunrise to hike, it ended up being one of their favorite experiences. Having the trails to ourselves as the sun began to fall onto the sandstone boulders was a perfect way to start a day. At Delicate Arch during sunset, I even hiked up three roast chickens and side dishes in my backpack for a surprise picnic at the viewpoint.
Posts to come detailing all the other new places I visited in the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains and in Canada!
Big moments and milestones
From a ‘$1 shots and $2 wells’ happy hour in suburban New Jersey, I got the news. My photo and advice was part of a two page spread in Glamour magazine! Although I had been in contact with the editor and knew I’d be part of the article somehow, I had no idea I’d get the largest feature.
I was ecstatic and instantly started balling in response. We paid our bill and rushed to the nearest grocery store to pick up the copy first hand. While it’s always fun to see your blog featured around the internet, nothing compares to in print of a nationwide magazine. I’ll never forget that feeling.
This summer I also celebrated my TEN YEAR high school reunion (that’s ridiculous) and my 28th birthday.
For the reunion I made it home to spend a long weekend of non-stop belly burning laughter with some of my oldest friends. It had been quite some time since we had all been in the same place at the same time, and it was even more fun than I originally imagined. While the official reunion itself was not my cup of tea, our smaller reunion was a perfect taste of familiarity within a summer of unfamiliarity (and sometimes impersonal interactions).
For the days leading up to my birthday, I was luckily going to be in Las Vegas for two nights. A few other tour leader friends were also in town and my boyfriend (yup, that is not a typo!) flew out to join us. We had an amazing couple of days including drinks, dinners and going to see my first Cirque de Soleil Show, KA!
It was all a dream come true, especially because my last birthday on the road was lonely and a tad depressing. I felt so lucky to be with such great people and coincidentally, in such a great place.
When the logistics are planned out, the reservations are made and the trip receipts logged, I often debate opening my computer and piecing together a blog post.
It frequently doesn’t happen.
After all, at the end of a trip, or even with any amount of free time, the only thing I want to do is nap, call my friends and family or just vege-out.
In some ways, my blog has become a silent stressor, alway there in the back of my mind making me feel guilty for abandoning. And in order to not completely go crazy, I’ve told myself I’ll only write a blog post when I feel motivated enough to do so.
With how busy life can be on the road guiding, I just can’t take on much more than I do already.
It still makes me feel guilty though. I’ve worked so hard on this blog, I can’t just abandon it right now. At the same time, sometimes I wonder if it is worth risking my sanity just to save myself the guilt.
I do see the end of the season in sight, and with that will come more free time. With this extra time I know I want to start putting more effort into the site. Hopefully with that extra time and effort, I’ll also be gifted more inspiration.
As for the rest of my trips, they are looking good. I’ve lead my last Trek America trip for the summer and it’s time to move onto some new brands.
First, I’ll lead a group of Australian high school students to Ivy League Schools around the Northeast for 10 days. Next, things get even more exciting. I’ll have a week off to do a practice run of a trip I’ll then be leading two times in a row– all alongside my tour leader boyfriend! These two trips will be for Grand American Adventures and will take us to Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. We will camp in national parks, hike the most scenic Appalachian trails and take in the changing of the leaves!
Regardless of the exhaustion, I’m happy to say I’m still excited for what’s to come!
And as for when the season is over, I’m thinking some slow travel in somewhere warm, cheap, colorful, nearby and delicious. Can you guess?