When Americans discuss their life dreams, they often mention travel. But too many people never see the pyramids, the Taj Mahal or New York City.
Some Americans feel tied down. Others have insufficient funds for international plane tickets, or they put off traveling until they feel it's too late.
But Americans can travel, through their state, across the nation or internationally -; if they know their options.
Some travelers work in other countries, in everything from bartending to business. Many countries seek qualified teachers to teach ESL (English as a second language) courses in elementary schools, colleges and offices.
For aspiring travelers with a passion for helping others, tour directing can be a rewarding career. Yes, tour directors earn up to $200 a day and get their meals and hotels for free, but successful tour directors want more than a free trip -; they also want to learn, explore and communicate with friends from around the world.
Tour directors lead tourist groups throughout America and abroad. They set schedules, arrange events and collaborate with local guides. They learn and communicate facts about local cultures, art and history. They answer questions and inspire their groups to explore.
Individuals with business or teaching backgrounds, or experience raising a family, can find themselves qualified to direct tours. To start people-who-love-people on a new path, Ted Bravos co-founded the International Tour Management Institute, a San-Francisco-based school that teaches two-week tour-directing classes. "You've been training to be a tour director your whole life," says Bravos.
Many believe that tours lead to "canned" experiences. But Bravos, as he describes guides on African elephant safaris, puts that rumor to rest. "There are many types of tour companies. There's something for everyone."
Tour directors set their own schedules. They can work full- or part-time. They can stay close to home or travel to remote areas. Bravos adds that his school has turned passionate travelers from ages 18 to 80 into tour directors.
"The more Americans travel, the more they understand the world that we inhabit together," says Bravos. "Every tourist is an ambassador."
For more information about the International Tour Management Institute and its classes, visit www.itmisf.com.