Author Topic: Full Time Tour Leader?  (Read 3619 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Boris_159

Full Time Tour Leader?
« on: October 02, 2016, 01:21:13 pm »
I'm looking for some detailed information on being a tour leader.  I've done hours of research and can only seem to find vague information.  I'm looking for specifics like pay rates, insurance/legal issues, and the practicality of being a tour guide as my only job.

I'll provide some background on myself.  I'm about to finish up a military career due to medical reasons and I am looking to be a full time tour leader.  I realize I'll need to take the ACA course etc.  I have a lot of personal experience both riding long tours and wrenching my own bikes.  From the biography page, it looks like most folks are retired or lead tours part time.  I'm 31 years old and my wife and I live in an RV so we are very mobile and could easily relocate often.  I'm not quite sure I want to start my own guide business, I think I'd prefer to start working for someone else, at least at first.  Making a lot of money is not a priority, I think life is for living, not racing to see who can get the most cash before they die, but I would like to be able to make a reasonable amount to live on.  The ACA site simply says "All tour leaders are independent contractors".  Do you start an LLC and get waivers/legal issues taken care of personally or is ACA involved in the process?  Do you work for larger companies like Cycle America?  Perhaps a combonation of both? 

I read the info on ACA but I am looking for more details.  Is there anyone out there who does this full time?  What is the day to day like?  I'm open to any and all comments whether it is from people who have been on ACA led tours or those who have led them personally.  Thanks in advance.

Offline BobG

Re: Full Time Tour Leader?
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2016, 06:49:58 am »
Evan, I've taken the ACA Leadership course and have led several several tours for them including four TransAms in the '90s and 00's. Nobody leads trips "full time" for ACA. If you are selected for a long trip, that may last for 2-3 months. Some veteran leaders may lead several shorter trips in one season that don't conflict in dates with one another.

The ACA "pay" for leading tours is more like a volunteer compensation. The last tour I led in 2009 it was $50/day plus the tour, food and also re-imbursement for getting home from the trip. I don't think you will consider that "a reasonable amount to live on" beyond the duration of the tour itself. Certainly not if you are paying rent, taxes, mortgage, or in your case RV expenses while on tour.

ACA leaders are not employees but at $50/day it's hard to consider oneself as a serious "contractor". We sign a contract with ACA that states that they will not hold us liable for unforeseen events however that contract does not cover any future problems between leader and individual group members. Leaders are expected to be good enough mechanics to get a rider to a bike shop. Often this requires road side wheel removal and brake work, thus there is some risk  leaders must assume hoping the rider doesn't have an accident resulting from his/her mechanical work then holding them personally responsible. $50/day does not pay enough for leaders to have private insurance unless they have income from other sources. That said, I've never heard of leaders having legal action taken against them by participants.

If there are any ACA Tours staff in the audience, please correct me if the above information has changed since 2009.

Day to day? You share the same wonderful trip as your group is experiencing and the camaraderie of that group becomes intense on the longer tours such as the TransAm. After dinner you can't relax as much as the others as you need present a brief summary of the next day's ride and you need to be constantly on the phone planning ahead. You also need to enter and balance the day's expenses into an account book. There is a certain level of stress being on duty for 93 days continuously.

Offline arlenhall

Re: Full Time Tour Leader?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2016, 03:30:56 pm »

Arlen here, Tours Director at Adventure Cycling. BobG is spot on with what it means to be an Adventure Cycling leader. The pay is $80/day and we use web technology to manage the tour and finances, but otherwise BobG captures the essence of the job. Passionate about cycling is great, but being passionate about facilitating others cycling experience is what is required.

Offline Boris_159

Re: Full Time Tour Leader?
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2016, 12:54:32 pm »
Thank you very much, this is exactly what I was looking for.  Are there any tour leaders out there who do a dual duty type situation with a significant other ie. 2x tour leaders? 


  • Guest
Re: Full Time Tour Leader?
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2016, 09:32:50 am »
When I did Cycle Vermont in 2010 the leader and his wife worked the tour along with others.