I know, I know. All I’ve done so far is recap my many months on the road. But don’t worry! I have a slew of tour guide posts coming up for you. But in the meantime, let’s reflect. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen a brief version of this.
It hasn’t even been a week since completely finishing up for the summer and I’m already feeling so nostalgic of all the ups and downs I’ve experienced. Two days since I’ve been back home and I’ve been scrambling around trying to find things to do.
So far, it’s been a lot of staring and trying to motivate myself to workout. I swear, it takes 3 times the amount of time for me to reach peak motivation than it is to work out.
Let’s take a look at the breakdown, shall we?
- Rescue trip: Santa Rosa -> Glacier National Park -> Yosemite -> Tahoe -> Santa Rosa (6 days)
- Santa Rosa, CA -> Wharton, NJ to pick up passengers (6 days)
- NYC -> New Orleans (1 week)
- New Orleans -> Las Vegas (11 days)
- Las Vegas -> San Francisco (1 week)
- San Francisco -> San Francisco (3 days)
- LA -> LA (2 weeks)
- LA -> San Francisco (2 weeks)
- Rode a helicopter into the Grand Canyon
- Swamp tour in New Orleans
- Countless sunset cruises under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
- Went to a free Martin Garrix concert in Las Vegas
- Lost my wallet + everything in it
- Drove 14,000 miles
- Saw 21/48 states
- 7 trips
- Slept under stars in Monument Valley x 2
- Met countless new friends
My favorite trip in terms of itinerary was definitely the one that ran along the south of the U.S. I just feel like the scenery there and the culture is particularly strong. And I particularly enjoyed experiencing Nashville, New Orleans, and Memphis for the first time!
Before I started, I had a huge list of concerns and doubts about me and this job. At the forefront of my worries was the concern that I wouldn’t be able to handle being with people basically 24/7. In Austin, I was in a different mindset. Most of it was my fault—I didn’t push myself to interact with my environment.
However, now that I had a job that forced me to not only have people with me at all times but to make sure everything was ok for them, to befriend them, to be there for them. And, not only did I not retreat to hole up in my own little room when I was finished with a trip, but I sought out other leaders to hang out with in my off time.
I was also afraid at the time that people wouldn’t like me. And to past-me, I say: who cares? I know this sounds completely cliché, but I think that it’s only something that you yourself can unlock. Some people just won’t click with your personality. But you know what? For every person that doesn’t, there are at least 3 others that love you. And those are the people that you do it for.
Now that I’m done, I can honestly say that yes, it is a challenge at times, but I can do it.
Anyways, within these last 3 months, I feel like I’ve grown so much as a person. My real-life friends will roll their eyes at what I’m about to say because I’ve been talking too much about this summer already. Good thing I have you guys, right?
I feel like I’ve grown mostly in confidence—only because all my passengers thought I was 29 so I think I hit peak maturity. Not only do I have more confidence in myself and my abilities, but I also can portray confidence better. It takes a lot of nerves to head out on your first trip. Despite the best training program ever, there’s no way of ever knowing how you handle yourself on the road. It’s not quite something that you can ever really train for. You need to be able to portray a level of confidence that leaves no doubt in their mind that you are completely capable of doing the job. After all, you are driver, tour guide, and friend all in one bundle! There you are, 13 faces peering at you in the mirror, looking to you for direction, safety, information, and entertainment.
Admittedly, I was not exactly there yet on my first trip. I was worried the entire time, stressed every single day that I might not be able to pull off yet another successful day. After a good streak though, you realize that what will happen will happen and that there’s no use in stressing about what hasn’t happened yet until it does. Still follow?
I’ve also been able to care less about what people think about me personally. It’s difficult when your personality is so closely linked to your job; and even more so when you get the occasional negative feedback to not blame yourself and wonder how you could’ve changed yourself to please them more. Sometimes, you just don’t click with people and the best you can do is mutually respect each other.
Surprise, surprise. Being a “tour leader” gives you leadership skills, right? I thought I was an ok leader to begin with—in the sense where I had the capability to do so but would rather just cruise. This, of course, was not an option on the job.
I really had to overcome the mindset that I had no authority, especially when I was the youngest one in the van. It was hard for me at first to imagine myself guiding a bunch of people who were older than me. But my last trip, I had three 50-year-old Estonian couples that were under my wing and it went fine!
As a leader, you’re expected to make decisions after considering what the group wants. Sometimes you ask verbally, other times it’s intuitive. Would the group like if I followed through with a surprise that I’ve been planning? Would they rather skip it and go do the BBQ instead? I’ve made plenty of mistakes on the job misreading the group vibe but like anything, you get better at it the more you practice.
All it really came down to is being capable of learning on the go and forgiving yourself for little mistakes that they may not even have noticed. Oh, and resilience. Lots and lots of resilience.
What was the job that pushed you the most to grow?