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Life on the Road as an Overland Ireland Guide

Being a travel enthusiast and having spent many years living out of a suitcase, I thought having a job that required me to travel was going to be easy – oh how wrong I was… Working with Overland Ireland, I quickly learned that it is possible to find a job that you absolutely love with all your heart. I also learned that just because you love your job, it does not mean your job is going to be easy or stress free.  

Having fun yet staying focused…

The biggest issue, for me, is trying to keep focused on the job when I’m having so much fun. All Overland Ireland tours are small-group tours of Ireland. All the guests on board know that they have signed up for a small group tour and when everyone meets on day one, people are usually excited and eager to get to know each other. That energy and excitement spreads quickly on the bus during that initial introduction and tends to set the tone for the whole tour.

Guests are eager to know where their co-travellers are from and happy to share their reasons for wanting a small group tour instead of a large bus tour through Ireland. Usually, people will quickly admit that they’re happy to not have the responsibility or worry of driving on the left-hand side of the road. The truly honest folk will admit that they want to enjoy all of Ireland – especially its pub culture ?.

On the road with Overland Ireland

Life on the road with Overland Ireland has its highs and lows – in the very literal sense. From hiking to the top of Croagh Patrick to chilling at sea level when kayaking with the guests. It’s these highs and lows that make it easy to forget that you’re working. Not many people get to have so much fun during their average working day. Another “struggle” of being an Overland Ireland guide is being the first one to leave the party. When the small group are dining out or checking out some of the many fun and quirky pubs in the small towns and villages, the Overland guide must head off to get a good night’s sleep for the following day. The lucky guests can party into the early hours, if they wish and stumble, half-sober onto the bus the following day. That is clearly not an option for the person driving the bus ?

On any average morning of my tours, I am the first one out of bed and the first one to breakfast. There are two reasons for this:

1) Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I would hate the thought of missing the great breakfasts offered by each accommodation provider.

2) While the guests are finishing their breakfast, I run off to get the bus, do the safety checks and paperwork, and then bring the bus to the door to load up luggage and collect my guests.

The average day involves me making phone calls to clarify all bookings and activities of each day. Everything has been pre-booked and arranged by the office superstars and then double and triple checked, making sure that everything runs smoothly.

Most evenings, once the guests are checked into their accommodation, I head off to refuel and clean the bus. This is another task that ensures the guests are having fun, fun, fun and not waiting on the bus while I refuel throughout the day.

The great guests on Overland Ireland’s tours

For me, one of the highlights of my job is the amazing and fun characters I get to spend my days with. There is no shortage of crazy careers and endless stories to hear about. The great thing about people is that everyone has a story to tell and everyone is an expert about something. You would not believe the diverse groups that I have had the pleasure of taking around Ireland. Having never been on a 52-seater coach tour, I cannot compare the different dynamics, but I highly doubt you would get such a personal connection in a huge group. Small groups allow a personal experience for everyone.

Another major highlight for me is the questions that are asked that have never been asked before. People’s perspective on things or their curiosity about different subjects always amazes me. Because I’m not an expert on everything, when people ask me something I don’t know the answer to, I will make it my business to find out the answer. Some people might shrug their shoulders and say they don’t know, but I look at it as an opportunity to learn something new. I love that my job is ever changing and always teaching me something. As I often say to my guests: “Every day is a school day”.

What it’s like to be a tour guide in Ireland

An castle on the coast of Ireland

The role of a tour guide in Ireland does have its downfalls. Sometimes, okay a lot of the times, the weather does not do what you want it to do. Luckily, people coming to Ireland are rarely hoping to leave with a tan. On very rare occasions, the rain falls in buckets and yet people are still up for a hike or a bike ride. As the saying goes “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes”. So, when planning your trip to Ireland, do not believe the weather apps and bring clothes for all weather variables.

With Irish weather, and in life, you must take the good with the bad. The rain that Ireland is famous for also provides the forty shades of green that Ireland is even more famous for. I have seen a lot more sunny and clear days in my guiding job than rainy days. Ireland on a clear weather day is the only place to be! It is a picture-perfect place.    

Saying goodbye at the end of a tour

One of the most difficult parts of the job is saying goodbye – and this difficulty is shared by the guests. Having spent anywhere from 5 to 10 days on holidays with like-minded, fun-loving holiday makers, people quickly build a rapport with each other. They share experiences, meals and drinks with each other. They share holiday pictures and inside jokes along the tour. These small groups make lifelong memories with new friends on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. So yes, on occasion, there have been tears at the end of the tours. If those tears are the biggest complaint from my guests, it has been a truly wonderful tour. That is a level of job satisfaction that I have not had in many other jobs!

If you want your own personal Ireland tour like the one I’ve just outlined in this blog, please contact us for more details, or browse through the website for information about our specific Ireland tours.

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