Earn extra money as a travel guide
A few months ago, I wrote an article for Moneyville about how you can earn extra money as a travel guide – and the more I think about it, the more I think it’s a fabulous idea. Think it’s a bit weird? Hear me out first…
Peer-to-peer travel websites are becoming extremely popular. You all know that I love accommodation websites like VRBO and AirBnB (not to mention options for couch surfing, or house/pet sitting gigs), and I’ve definitely considered peer ride share programs in Europe as well.
Now, a new trend is emerging, and websites are beginning to offer peer-to-peer travel guides. These websites connect local freelance guides or advisers with travellers who are looking for a unique or tailored travel experience. I’m not talking about those big walking groups, or cheesy double decker bus tour guides either. You can be a guide to just one person, a small group of people, or a large party if you really feel like it.
The best thing about being a tour guide (besides being your own boss and having a flexible schedule that works around your life), is that you get to decide what you want the tour to be about. For example, if you know all the local hot spots for microbrewery beer, or you love vintage cloth shopping, or you go on gorgeous runs every weekend – there are people that will pay you to tag along for an off-the-beaten-path travel experience.
A few days ago, I was browsing a few of the most popular peer-to-peer travel guide websites, and noticed that some guide have popped up in the neighbourhood where I live. I thought it was a bit strange, since I live in the suburbs (about 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver), but their tours looked interesting and seem to be popular, so it gives me confidence that I could potentially do this too when I get home. I know enough local hikes, good places to eat, and cool beaches to visit that I could do something like this once in a while.
Here are three of the top peer-to-peer travel guide websites, each offering a slightly different experience for both the guides and the travellers.
This is a way to earn extra money for sharing your favourite activities and things to do in the city. For example, one guide in Toronto is offering two-hour tours of Kensington Market for $19 per person. If she books a family of four, that’s $76 earned in just two hours of work!
Other unique ideas from other guides around the world include tours of local university and college campuses (perfect for prospective students who want a more personal tour than the free ones the university offers), ghost tours, pub crawls, and running routes.
Most guides charge between $15-25 per hour, with HipHost taking a 20% fee from the final invoice. HipHost also encourages travellers to tip, so you might earn a little more money at the end of your tour.
Vayable offers some extremely unique tours. For example, in New York City, you can participate in a midnight street food crawl, or take on a five-hour urban spelunking adventure. If you have a unique activity to offer, this might be the best website to showcase your services.
Guides are able to charge on a per person basis, or as a flat rate – and whatever you charge, Vayable will take a 15% service charge from each transaction.
This is a unique website because it doesn’t actually require you to take tourists on guided tours yourself. Instead, your job is to provide unique travel itineraries and travel advice to people who want tailored recommendations and don’t want to bother with Lonely Planet guidebooks.
Once you’ve created a free travel adviser profile, you can represent as many travel destinations as you want. So for example, if you live in Toronto, but spent five years living in Prague, you might feel comfortable providing travel advice for both locations. I know I would feel comfortable creating travel itineraries for my hometown of Victoria, and probably of Stuttgart, Germany (where I currently live) as well.
You can make anywhere from $20 to $200 for creating a custom travel itinerary, although it’s important to note that SnappyGo will take 30% of the fee that you charge to your customers.
Would you consider becoming a travel guide or adviser?
Author: Krystal Yee
I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.