On Becoming a Freelance Tour Guide in the UK

On Becoming a Freelance Tour Guide in the UK

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Every year, the UK sees hundreds of thousands of visitors, some of whom come to get in a bit of history that they won’t get at home. Travellers from the United States and Canada, for instance, live in relatively new nations where their own history is steeped in Europe and the UK is where it all began for both the US and Canada. These are the visitors who want to see Big Ben, the London Bridge, Stonehenge and Buckingham Palace.

These are the tourists who want to travel to Ireland to hang upside down to kiss the Blarney Stone, visit the ancient Roman baths and generally see all those little cottages with thatched roofs that aren’t to be found on the other side of the pond. If you’ve a love of your history and a passion for sharing your love with the world, you just might be what the UK needs next tourist season. Why not become a freelance tour guide?

A Full Driving Licence Is an Absolute Must

While you might need to get a CPC driving licence if you are going to be transporting tourists in a vehicle, the minimum of what you’ll need is a basic driving licence for the type of vehicle you will be operating. You can check out which type of licence you’ll need on the gov.uk website but that is just the beginning. Once you’ve determined which category and/or professional licence you’ll need, it’s time to start studying to ensure you pass your test.

The written theory comes first and as a tour guide you will certainly need to know where you can park and when you can park along with any fines you may encounter for violations. Study for that portion of the written driving theory on Toptests before taking the actual exam. Then it’s on to the driving test, but don’t let that scare you. If you’ve a solid foundation in theory and adequate practice behind the wheel, there’s nothing to worry about. Relax, take a deep breath and begin driving using all the skills you’ve worked so hard to learn.

A Degree in History Would Be Nice – But Not Necessary

Since there is so much history throughout the UK and this is what most visitors come to see, a degree in history would be nice although it isn’t absolutely necessary. Your passion for all things British will lead you through what you need to know when working with tourists from around the world. The one thing you, personally, have is passion which you cannot get from a tour book and this love will shine through everything you say and do. This is what tourists are after, to submerse themselves in bygone days but not listen to some stodgy tour guide drone on like they are reading a script from a history book. Be yourself. Be personable and be 100% British!

The fact is, most visitors either come to visit family, friends and business acquaintances or they come to get in a bit of sightseeing as they walk through history. In either case, your passion for each and every era of British history is what your clients will love and remember. Year after year you will lead one tour after another because those you’ve travelled with will spread the word. Love is contagious and that’s really all you need to be a successful freelance tour guide – love for people and love for your history. All else will fall into place.

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