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Types of Tours

The types of land tours can vary depending on the country, but the majority of tours follow a certain format.

There is a departure point where the tour group is collected from the airport. They then board a coach or tour bus that will drop them at their hotel, and continue to take them on various planned day trips around the city they are visiting.

Specialty land tours are increasing in popularity nowadays, including wine tasting tours to Napa Valley, or along the Stellenbosch Wine Route of South Africa, whitewater rafting tours, horseback riding tours in Alaska and more. These types of tours require a certain skill level for both the guides and travelers alike, but many tour companies will take your skills into consideration when planning future excursions, so be sure to disclose any special talents or skills you have when you apply for tour guide or tour escort jobs.

There are 3 main types of tours:

Sightseeing Tours

Sightseeing can be done in various ways, and although the most popular tends to be sightseeing by tour bus or coach, some companies offer sightseeing walking tours, like those through the streets of New York where areas like Harlem and the World Trade Center Monument will be on the itinerary. If you become a sightseeing tour guide, learning how to drive a charter tour bus is an essential skill to have on your resume and nowadays, you are more likely to be hired as a sightseeing guide if you can provide the narration and drive the tour bus. Long distance sightseeing tours often make use of step on tour guides. These are guides based in a particular town or at a specific attraction, who will join the tour at a specific point to provide narration for that part of the tour. For example, touring various parts of Alaska, a step on guide will join the group when entering the Denali National Park to provide detailed information specific to the park. Aside from coaches, sightseeing tours can also take place on city trams or trolleys adding to the atmosphere of the tour, and even trains.

Read more about tour bus driver jobs.

Shore Excursion Tours

Shore excursions are offered as part of a cruise ship itinerary which can include river cruise ships, charter yachts, and other boats. Travelling by sea will lead tourists to various ports along the coastline of countries, which are interesting to explore. Often, cruise liners will have deals with many of the vendors and resorts on shore at the ports to provide tourists with the ultimate day tour experience. Cruise liners hire shore excursion guides to provide the tourists going ashore with the best possible trip within a short timeframe. Most of the time, a shore excursion will last a few hours, and also includes a stop for lunch. The excursion should include trips to various attractions, local shopping hotspots, museums, and scenic areas for photo taking. The shore excursion tour will need to cater for adults and children, depending on the cruise liner and will have to be geared around the other activities on board the cruise ship. Shore excursion guides can either travel with the cruise ship leading the tour group at each port of call, or there can be different guides located at the different ports visited.

Adventure or Sporting Tours

Adventure tours are extremely popular and provide people with an exciting way of travelling. Adventure and sports fanatics can enjoy tours catered to their individual skills and are led by a tour guide highly experienced in that particular sport. When you apply to be an adventure tour guide, you will have to disclose your level of expertise in that sport or discipline and produce necessary qualifications if required, in order to take groups of people. For example, a mountaineering tour guide will need to not only be proficient in scaling mountains safely, but also have a mountaineering guide certificate in order to lead adventure tour groups. Special interest clientele are what most tour companies cater for nowadays, where women only tours, biking tours, river rafting tours, sailing tours, horse riding tours, and cycling tours are in high demand. Areas that are very popular for sporting and adventure tours nowadays are the Amazon Rainforest and other areas of South and Central America, as well as British Columbia and the Alaskan wilderness.

Other Types of Tours

Although these three are the main types of tours, there are various tours that fall under these categories including hunting tours, safari tours, eco-tours, architectural and fine arts tours, and even photographic tours. Tour companies generally select a specific type of tour to offer their clients, for example, Portland Walking Tours have various packages that they offer clients that are planned as walking expeditions to see the best of Portland including the Classical Chinese Garden and the Columbia River Gorge.  

Combining Tours

Many week or month long tours can actually combine different types of tours into one enjoyable experience. A typical itinerary of a European tour could begin with an exhilarating cycling tour of the countryside, leading to a port city where the group boards a cruise ship.

The tour continues to another country, and a shore excursion is planned. After rejoining the cruise ship, the group reaches their destination in yet another country, where a sightseeing tour of the city by coach is organized. The tour could end there, or it could lead all the way back to its starting point, travelling through different countries along the way. The tours do not have to only be combined when travelling to different countries, but many American tour companies offer more than one type of tour just visiting one large city, or numerous cities in close proximity to one another.

Many tours are designed to specifically highlight a historical aspect of a city, such as the trolley and tram tours that have been reintroduced to many cities showcasing the traditions and historical significance of these areas. Other modes of transportation unique to certain cities are normally used for sightseeing tour groups. Hot air balloon tours are a unique option for visitors, combining adventure and sightseeing. The different types of tours offer travelers more control over how they want to explore, and provide anything imaginable for an exciting, memorable trip, no matter what country they are visiting. As a tour guide you will get to work in each of these types of tours and will find out what makes each so special in its own way.