Backroads Leader Profiles
"I may work every day in July, and none in January—and that suits me. I love the variety of this life—I can be drinking coffee in a European bistro, or tasting street food in Asia, or hiking on a Tuesday in Zion during a week off—and it's all just 'another day at the office.' I like the intensity of working hard and playing hard—and yet, in the end, quite often—it's all just one and the same."
Chuck Bartelt - Leader since 1998, India Trip Specialist, Hiring & Training Specialist
U.S. Trip Leaders
Leader since 2012
As a child growing up in Southern California, I was hard-pressed to find a summer that was not occupied by outdoor adventures and travel. My family was extremely active and always on the go, using the Southwest as our stomping ground. Whether we were hiking the Zion Narrows, kayaking down the Colorado River or mountain biking in Mexico, these were the vacations that made me want to explore more of what the world had to offer.
My first experience as an international traveler came at the age of 13 when I traveled to the UK as a student ambassador with People to People. However, it was the opportunity to play volleyball in Switzerland after graduating from college that solidified my thirst for travel.
Living as a professional volleyball player in Switzerland, I felt I had found the best job in the world. I got to play volleyball all day, speak French and use Switzerland's central location to travel all around Europe; what could possibly be better than that? Absolutely nothing. That is, until I saw the posting for the Trip Leader position at Backroads.
Working as a Backroads Trip Leader has given me the rare and unique opportunity to be one of the few who puts their passion into practice through their work. I get to meet like-minded travelers and learn form their experiences. I have the opportunity to challenge myself with new goals like learning a new language or climbing an alpine pass from the Tour de France. But most of all, I enjoy the opportunity to work with some of the most fun, diverse and active group of people I have ever had the pleasure of coming into contact with.
Leader since 2012
I rolled past a charming red farmhouse, yellowing oak trees, old grain silos and took a deep breath of the cool fall air from the saddle of my bicycle. That's when I asked myself "should people be this happy in their job?"
I've come to decide that the answer is yes, because happy people beget happy people. What makes me happy about working with Backroads is watching how active travel and the outdoors strengthens people's connections with others and (most interestingly) with themselves. And speaking personally, it's a job that forces me to use many of my skills, and we all love putting our skills to use—it's very fulfilling. Read more...
Contrary to popular belief, I wasn't born with a compass in one hand and a Lonely Planet in the other. I owe my love for travel to my family who've always placed a high value on travel and adventure. When I was two weeks old, we relocated to England for six years. I still think this is what started me down a long road of experiences that would lead to Backroads.
An impactful time in my life was at University. I studied Creative Writing and Geography with a focus in Sustainable Development. I was selected as an Udall Scholar for research on the environment and leadership in service. The scholarship enabled me to circumnavigate the globe on the ship-based study abroad program, Semester at Sea. Afterwards I spent a summer on rainforest preservation work and teaching English in Guatemala before finishing my undergraduate degree. In 2010, I was humbled to be named a finalist for the Department of State's Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. After graduation, I took an internship with Semester at Sea developing service-learning programs. When not working for Backroads I'm writing, recording, and touring as a singer - songwriter based out of the Bay Area. As you can see, my background is "all over the globe," but these experiences have shaped my interests that have happily found a home with Backroads.
Leader since 2003
I've always worked but somehow never really had a "regular job" as my friends call them. I got my degree in marine biology and imagined myself working alongside someone like Jacques Cousteau. But marriage and kids changed my priorities and flexibility suddenly became more important than adventure for a while. I spent the next decade and a half coaching swimming and teaching lessons in backyard pools, working for caterers, making wedding cakes, sewing active wear, guiding sea kayaking trips in San Francisco Bay, taking people on hikes and teaching kids cooking classes through the local park and rec. department and, of course, raising kids! You name it, I did it and I loved every minute of that time of my life. Read more...
For my 40th birthday I wanted to do a bike trip in Vermont in the fall. My husband wasn't a cyclist and my friends that biked couldn't go. So I set about to find a company to go with as a solo traveler. I had an amazing time and I remember thinking "What a cool job the leaders have!" Unknowingly that trip planted a seed in my mind. Sadly, several years later, cancer got the best of my husband. With both of my kids away at college and working away from home during the summers, I recalled that "cool job" that my trip leaders had in Vermont. I wanted to travel and have a fun job, too.
I looked into several companies but Backroads seemed to be the obvious first choice. I could see from the catalog that many of the leaders were younger than me, but...lots of the guests were my age. Hmmm... Well, seven years later, here I am; still loving the opportunity to travel to amazing places and meet amazing people all along the way. I loved the opportunity to learn a new language so that I could work in another country; to be able to work outside being active and doing what I love; and to share the wonders of nature and travel alongside other people who share that interest. I feel so fortunate to be able to make lemonade out of lemons!
Leader since 2010
I'm not what one would consider a "typical" Backroads leader. For one thing I'm older, (I got a Father's Day card from the other new leaders during training), I'm married, have a full-time job as a hotel manager and a son in college. But it works! I end up working a number of trips in the summer in an area I love and a region where I live. Read more...
While in college, I had the opportunity to work a summer in Yellowstone National Park. That one summer has turned into a lifetime. It was love at first sight with the Yellowstone/Teton area which has worked well with my career choice in hotel management. I met my wife while working here and we were fortunate enough to raise our son in the shadow of the Tetons.
Backroads started out as one of my best hotel customers. Their guests would stay or meet at our hotel before heading off on their adventure. One week later, they would return jubilant and I would watch the guests hugging, crying and laughing as they said their goodbyes: "this was the best vacation ever," "come visit us in New York," "we have to get the same leaders next year." I decided I wanted to be a part of that.
One of the greatest things about my job at Backroads is working with my fellow leaders. I'm convinced there isn't a better, more dedicated, hardworking, talented group of fun-loving people anywhere. Working at Backroads, not only have I have found a unique job fit for my lifestyle but I've found my own little fountain of youth. I am much younger now than when I started with Backroads.
Leader since 2012
I was born and raised in Southern California and spent most of my youth playing soccer or joining the family in outdoor adventures—skiing, hiking, camping, river rafting and the like. I have always found that I am happiest when I'm spending time exploring new places and cultures or getting wrapped up in a wonderful conversation. Prior to coming to Backroads, I earned my undergraduate degree in neuroscience and my graduate degree in business. I worked in various corporate environments including five years as a marketing manager at Microsoft. It wasn't until I joined Backroads that I realized you really can make a career out of doing something you love—being outdoors, staying active and engaging with people. Read more...
In college, I spent a semester abroad in Italy learning Italian, living with a family and soaking in the 'bella vita'. I never thought that 15 years later, I would live and work in Italy. In my first season, I led hiking and cycling trips in the Cinque Terre and Tuscany. What an amazing experience!
There are so many moments when I say to myself, "I can't believe I'm getting paid for this." Wine tasting at a Tuscan villa, reaching the vista overlooking a seaside town, getting lost in conversation with a co-leader, finishing a ride that you never knew you were capable of doing or eating a 5-course meal where every bite is fresh and delicious. Don't get me wrong—it's hard work—but that's also something I love. There's nothing like being covered in sweat and scrubbing bike grease out from your fingernails to know you've worked a full day. Every day that I work with Backroads, I feel so much appreciation from my guests with their smiles and thanks and I know that I'm helping make incredible memories for them. Now that's quite a job perk!
Canadian Trip Leaders
Leader since 2011
Having grown up in a mountaineering hostel in Canmore, Alberta, I was immediately immersed in the outdoor adventure culture. I was so fortunate to have an endless forest as my backyard and to be in the presence of so many travelers from around the world. A passion for adventure and travel was instilled in me when I was only five weeks old and my parents packed me up into their van and headed north to the Yukon for two months. Ever since, I have not been able to sit still and I spend as little time as possible with walls around me. Read more...
After graduating from high school, I worked with my dad doing maintenance on backcountry cabins. All summer we hiked and flew around the mountains in helicopters (not bad for one of my first jobs!). This highlighted my love of movement and nature. I later studied Kinesiology at the University of Calgary and then explored the fitness industry working as a personal trainer and wellness coach for several years. My favorite class to teach was an outdoor bootcamp class because it left me feeling so invigorated. My desire to work with people in an active outdoor setting, travel and speak other languages eventually led me to Backroads. Finally, a job that combines all of the things I love: travel, people, activity, culture, language and adventure!
Nothing could have prepared me for the amazing experiences that I've had since I've been working for Backroads. I've expanded my horizons, met and worked with incredible people and created lifelong memories. There has never been a dull moment, every day presents new challenges that have only enhanced my life. Being in the presence of so many people who share the same passions is such a unique feeling, one that keeps me coming back.
Leader since 1997, Trip Specialist Canadian Rockies & South Africa, Hiring & Training Specialist
I began working fulltime for Backroads almost 15 years ago and have never looked back! I think my parents noticed early on that my life path was going to be a little different from most. From about the age of 12, I started reading National Geographic magazines and spent most of my time outdoors poking around and looking for "critters." While I managed to earn degrees in Biology and Education and teach in the public school system for a while, it was on a soul-searching backpacking trip to Central America that I finally decided I wanted to explore a career path that would incorporate my love for adventure travel with education. I stumbled across a hiring ad for Backroads in Outside magazine and the rest is history. Working for Backroads over the last 14 years has exceeded every expectation I had in terms of experiences, co-workers and opportunities. Read more...
In addition to leading, I have helped manage trips in the field as a Trip Specialist in the Canadian Rockies and I am also very active in the hiring and training of new leaders in Canada and the U.S. I have been able to tailor my leading life to focus on regions rich in natural history, including South Africa, Costa Rica, Peru and, of course, my own backyard, the Canadian Rockies. I am a leader who loves to return to the same regions year after year. It is amazing how many new things you can learn about a region to pass along and our guests are truly appreciative of the authentic experience that we facilitate for them. I have been around long enough to have had repeat guests two and three times! Some might think that we just take people on vacation, but I wholeheartedly disagree. I have had more than one tearful goodbye from a guest that had achieved personal bests on the trip or simply had one of the best experiences of their life.
These days I am enthusiastic about the increased commitment to Responsible Travel at Backroads. As Trip Leaders and Trip Specialists, we are encouraged to design our trips so they contribute meaningfully to the communities that we visit.
From what I thought would be a few summers of work, here I am entering my 15th year more fired up than ever about my job and the amazing people I work with!
Leader since 1999, Costa Rica Regional Expert & Regional Support Specialist, and Peru Regional Expert & Regional Support Specialist
I grew up in a small town in Ontario and spent my summers playing on the shores of Georgian Bay. I’ve always had a love for the outdoors, adventure and being active. After five years at Queen’s University in Kingston, I completed my B.PHE as well as my B.Sc in Biology and my B.Ed. After graduating, I decided it was time to go for my B.Happy! Teaching jobs were a dime a dozen at that time, but deep down I was looking for something more. A friend was applying for Backroads—and when she told me about it I thought, "that is EXACTLY what I want to do." We both got hired and started as Trip Leaders in the Canadian Rockies. I had the best summer playing and working in the mountains—it was all one and the same to me. Read more...
After my experience in the Rockies, I decided that I wanted to make Backroads more than just a summer job. Speaking Spanish increased the chances of getting work throughout the winter, so I booked a flight to Ecuador to study Spanish. I ended up studying, traveling and spending four months as a volunteer in the Galapágos Islands, working with the National Parks Services and the Charles Darwin Station. The next winter I got a trip-leading schedule in Costa Rica. Since then I’ve been able to make my job at Backroads a career, and not just a part-time gig. I studied Italian in Venice, which gave me the opportunity to work in Italy. I’ve also designed and led trips in Nova Scotia, Switzerland, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Bhutan, South Africa, Botswana, Vietnam, Tibet and China.
Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with the "pura vida" lifestyle in Costa Rica. I bought a house outside of San José and after many years of living out of a suitcase, Costa Rica is now my home. It is the perfect combination of having a stable life in one region for part of the year, while still being able to travel, lead trips and explore new places. I took on the role of Regional Expert in Costa Rica, and I now take care of our field operations, monitor trip quality in the region, foster relationships with our subcontractors, design new trips and help mentor and train new leaders.
Although I didn’t go into conventional teaching, I believe that the world is my classroom now, and everyday is a new lesson. I guess in the end, you could say I got my B.Happy with Honors!
Leader since 2011
On the day I was born, my mother and father decided they would take a trip around the world. They spent the whole year exploring the far reaches of the globe and brought along with them a small, chubby, blue-eyed newborn baby. While that baby would one day resent the fact that he could not remember one moment of that incredible journey, he would also realize that it shaped the man he has become today. Read more...
Raised along the pounding surf and rugged coastlines of Nova Scotia, Canada, I quickly fell in love with the sea and decided to attend Acadia University in my home province. I studied global politics, philosophy, world religions and graduated with an honors undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Development.
A summer camp lover at heart, I worked for over eight years at various camps around Canada, the US and Australia. I am an outdoors lover and I'm always on the lookout for jobs that will allow me to see different parts of the globe or experience something new and exciting.
These jobs have included working as a wilderness trip leader in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, a dog-sledding guide in the Canadian Rockies, a youth volunteer coordinator in an Inuit community in Labrador, a cast member in a Halifax dinner theatre, and taking a summer to volunteer in Burkina Faso (sub-saharan Africa). I am a guitarist and singer-songwriter at heart and am passionate about my musical roots. This past winter I also spent five months writing my first travel memoir and experimenting with cold water surfing on the shores of Vancouver Island.
When I came across Backroads, I knew we were meant for one another. After a rigorous application process, I eventually tricked them into hiring me and now my life continues to be adventurous. In my first season, I have worked for Backroads in Bryce and Zion National Parks, the Canadian Rockies, Nova Scotia, Brittany and Normandy, the Loire Valley, Provence and Costa Rica. Not bad for your first year on the job!
The most incredible thing I have found at Backroads is a community of fun-loving, kind and adventurous people—of all ages—who are passionate about what they do. I look forward to many more worldly adventures with my new friends.
Leader since 2010
Looking through my family photo albums, it's clear how the mountains got into my blood. The impossibly high peaks of the Canadian Rockies, standing straight up and down in all of their rugged grandeur, provided the dramatic backdrop for album after album of family photos. My parents injected a heavy dose of mountain adventure into my upbringing, and now I am living with the consequences of those parenting choices. I am a mountain addict. Read more...
Throughout my university years, I spent summers working at a backcountry lodge in Yoho National Park in British Columbia. There I learned to climb, hike, ski and appreciate the solitude and beauty of the hills. I wanted every spare second to be filled with adventure, and every moment to be spent in the mountains. Then one day I had an epiphany. Instead of using only spare time to indulge my passion, I could make this a lifestyle, and attempt to find a career in the outdoor world. So, I finished my degree in political science, bought a new pair of skis, and hit the backcountry. I spent four years living in the Canadian Rockies, working seasonally from lodge to lodge, and loving every minute of it.
And then, I was introduced to Backroads through a couple of friends. Their descriptions of the job seemed too good to be true; you could actually make a living with your hiking boots on! You could spend your working hours in the same place you spend your leisure hours. You could indulge your passion, and be paid for it too! This was the job I was looking for! I went through the application process, the intensity of the interviews, and managed to land the job.
Working for Backroads has given me the ability to stay active, in a place where I am constantly inspired, while feeding my insatiable appetite to socialize with new and fascinating people. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of the Backroads team, and I can't wait to lead another season in the Canadian Rockies!
Leader since 2012
My first year with Backroads offered a unique opportunity for me to share my love for the mountains and region as we travelled through my hometown in the Canadian Rockies. Some of my earliest memories are on these very trails, hiking and biking through the timeless landscapes. I take great pride in welcoming people into the mountains, the same way my parents and my grandparents introduced me to the land. The companionship that comes with travelling in the wilderness is unparalleled and the bonds made between friends and family last a lifetime.
I have consistently found myself in a profession where I work with people, from serving in a fine dining restaurant to working at the Alberta Children's Hospital. In addition to my love of working with people, the workings of the human body astound me. I have completed two BSc's: one in health physiology and one in biological sciences at the University of Calgary. My time at university and hospital work, as well as volunteering at a cancer hospital in Bhaktapur, Nepal has fostered an interest in medicine and a possible career as a physician with Doctors Without Borders. My love of travel compliments this aspiration. It is yet to be seen where my future will lead but my desire to see the world, interact with different cultures, and meet interesting people is being fulfilled with Backroads.
In my time with Backroads, I have not only been able to lead at home but also overseas in Provence, who knows where I'll lead in the future! With the quality of character I continually see in Backroads guests, the high caliber leaders and a Backroads trip schedule that is literally a wish list of places to visit—let the good times roll!
European Trip Leaders
French, Leader since 2004, Argentina & Patagonia Trip Specialist
After receiving a B.A in Economic Sciences, I studied international commerce in Montpellier, France, and graduated in 1988. My first job was to sell software all over Europe for a company based in London. But I was dreaming of discovering the world... Read more...
So, I took a job abroad working for Club Med, and then for other companies throughout Europe. These summer jobs gave me the opportunity to save some money during the season and finally discover the world during the time off. I've traveled from Pakistan to Cambodia, through Tibet, China, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and trekked in Nepal, Ladakh and Zanskar. Then, I went on to discover Latin America and finally lived the last years of the 90's in Argentina where I was a teacher at the French Alliance of Cordoba, teaching managers working in multinational firms.
Upon returning to Europe, I've lived in Spain since 2000. Looking for a change from the mass tourism industry, I started working as a biking and mountain guide. I was looking to lead for an active company with a reduced number of guests on trips in order to get more individual connections. I was hired by Backroads and have enjoyed the chance to be part of an unbelievably organized team, where each and every individual is a source of help, knowledge, happiness and kindliness.
Italian, Leader since 2010
Though I am one hundred percent Italian, I spent many years bouncing all over the world, having new experiences, facing new challenges and meeting new people that enriched my life with joy and passion. I always felt incredibly lucky to be able to travel and enjoy the wonders of this world. However, when I realized that being able to share these beauties with someone is what makes them truly memorable and significant, I decided to become a Trip Leader. Read more...
Working with Backroads enables me to share the local knowledge, enthusiasm and the passion that I have for my country with others. Every time I lead a trip, even in the same area, there is always something new to discover, something new to show, and new questions to answer. Indeed, guests and nature are the elements that make this job so exciting and dynamic because both motivate me to look at life from a different perspective.
I love being a Backroads Trip Leader because it is incredibly enriching. My passion for the job is apparent. In fact, my friends have nicknamed me "Fire Ball." The nickname comes from the excitement I get when I share local knowledge, points of view and the amazing environment with our guests to create unforgettable experiences. It energizes my heart like a fire making me live up to my nickname.
Czech, Leader since 2007, Trip Specialist & Regional Support Specialist Czech Republic
Where to start? Growing up in communist country meant my family did not have many opportunities to travel in my early childhood. We were unable to visit the western world until years after the Velvet Revolution, and the furthest I had ever traveled by the age of 12 was neighboring Yugoslavia. I guess the memory of this limitation is still deep inside of every Czech. This might be one reason why you can find Czech natives in literally every country of the world. We're all compensating for the freedom we once did not have. Read more...
I finally set foot outside of my native country when I joined the Czech National Cycling Team in 1998. This allowed me to travel extensively around Europe and got me excited about learning languages. I quit pro riding in 2003 and went to live, work, and study in Australia. I learned English, went around half of Australia on a motorcycle and realized that this was what I wanted from my life: traveling, learning languages, staying active, and challenging myself. I became a ski instructor in Austria. I then traveled to New Zealand and taught skiing there. While in New Zealand, I was hired to teach in The Canyons, Park City, Utah.
By the end of my first season in Park City, I realized that I missed riding my bike and sharing my passion for cycling with others. Right then and there I knew what I was looking for: a job as a bike tour guide. I talked to many companies during that long winter in Utah and searched the web for days, but I didn't find what I was looking for until I came across an issue of Men's Health magazine. The cover advertised the "50 most adventurous jobs in the world" -- and that's where I first saw Backroads. I was hired in Salt Lake City two weeks after reading the article, and I still have that magazine.
After getting hired in 2007, I started working as a subcontractor because I could not be legally employed as a full-time employee by Backroads. Editors note: Trip Leaders without legal work authorization in our hubs of employment can work as subcontractors. See 'legal requirements' on the How to Apply page. This actually proved to be an interesting opportunity to learn about accounting, taxes and international employment law. Nowadays, EU law allows me to work freely in most countries within Europe as a Backroads leader and I am a regular employee.
Now let me tell you, I did not expect a biking guide job to be anywhere close to as challenging as my job with Backroads has been! But the challenges are worth it when you consider the opportunities available with Backroads. You can work anywhere in the world! You have the opportunity to study languages (I continue to improve my English, Spanish, German, and Russian). You meet the funniest, friendliest people in your co-leaders, and they inspire you to do stuff you have only dreamt about. You learn about cultures you have always wanted to know more about, and ride your bike in the most amazing places in the world! Knowing that these opportunities are all there for me is what keeps me rolling through rainy prep days, broken printers, and any number of challenging situations with my smile on my face! It's all up to you in this job. I am sure I am not the first to say this; but this job is a treasure.
Slovakian, Leader since 2006
Growing up in a post-communist country, the rest of the world seemed very inaccessible and mysterious. During my primary school geography classes when we had to memorize boring facts about the agriculture and industry production of different countries, I was always curious how people actually lived in the countries I was learning about. I dreamt about traveling to these distant destinations one day. Read more...
My opportunity to travel finally came during my university studies when I got to live, study and teach abroad thanks to scholarships and internships. I was completing my outdoor/environmental education internship with the Audubon society in Minnesota when I first heard about Backroads and I knew right away that I wanted to work for the company. However, I waited a couple more years to complete my Master in Political Science and French before I applied for the Trip Leader position. When I actually got the job, I didn't realize the job was much more than an opportunity to travel. For me, working for Backroads has been an education in people skills, problem solving, patience, creativity, flexibility and tolerance. I enjoy the diversity of our job: from working on a trip design and getting it set up to guiding people through amazing countries and sharing my knowledge of the culture, history, and food of each destination. There are many great aspects of leading, but it's very satisfying for me to take people on trips in Eastern and Central Europe and see how many prejudices and myths about this part of the world are dissolved by a better understanding of the history and culture. I believe this is exactly why traveling is so important: it leads to comprehension and tolerance.
And yet, the main reason why I feel very fortunate to work for Backroads is because of the people I have met. In my five years as a Trip Leader, I've met the most inspiring, intelligent, life-loving and caring individuals among my coworkers, guests and local people in different countries all over the world.
Irish, Leader since 2006
I came to San Francisco in 1999 for a software engineering job. It was a great career move, but the biggest payoff came in how my horizons expanded outside of work. I took up hobbies such as trail running, mountain biking, snowboarding and backcountry camping. I sampled cuisine from all over the world, and made friends from a multitude of backgrounds... Read more...
A few years ago, as I contemplated a career change, someone asked me what my ideal job would be. The answer was something that involved traveling, working outdoors and satisfying my inner cub scout, doing good deeds every day. I was also interested in spending a couple of months at home every year.
Six months later, I found myself leading my first Backroads trip - hiking through Ireland's fabulous Kerry mountains with 15 guests. Many things surprised me. As expected, the job was physically demanding, but it challenged me mentally as well. Both Backroads and their guests expect a lot of their leaders, and thanks to the intensive training and a great support system, you have the tools with which to excel. The guests respond in kind to your creativity and passion, making for new adventures every day. And, of course, all of the co-leaders are great "crack" (Gaelic for "fun").
I've now led in nine different regions worldwide, and have enjoyed every minute of it. I've brought guests to see glaciers in New Zealand, gypsy bands in Slovakia, cheesemaking farms in the Swiss Alps, and redwood forests in California Wine Country. I've had opportunities to take on more responsibility, and have grown with the job. I'm always excited to see what the next season brings.
American, Leader since 2010
I once heard traveling described as a virus, and once you get it, there is no cure - I guess that describes my experience. After spending my junior year of college studying abroad in Paris, I was unable to stay put. I wanted to be getting lost down new and tiny streets, trying foods that scared me, striking up conversations with strangers on the metro, and constantly putting myself in a position to meet new people. I graduated from UCLA in 2009 with degrees in History and Psychology and, while many of my friends joined consulting firms and entered law school, I found my way back to France to teach English in a small town. I fell in love with everything about being an expat in the French world, living life like the locals. Adopting the customs. Doing as the Romans do. Read more...
As the year rolled on, I began to search for a job that would allow me to stay and enjoy European life, and it was then that I discovered Backroads. It fit perfectly. You mean I get to bike throughout the most beautiful spots in the world, meet amazing people and then sit down for a Michelin-starred meal? I'm in.
Being one of the only Americans at the hiring event in Provence, I feared, why would they take an American if they could take this cute Italian guy with an accent? But in the end, being an American leader in Europe is a wonderful opportunity where you get to take the American perspective and add a European twist. You get to be the translator, the ambassador, the gate keeper to the local community. You are the one that chooses what the guests will come home remembering from the trip: what kind of foie gras they will try, what type of stories they will hear about the local culture. As a Backroads leader, it's you who bring the guests into the local life for a week.
But another great aspect of being a Backroads Trip Leader is your co-leaders and co-workers. They are people who challenge you to do and be better, but are also great people to share a glass of wine with at the end of the day. Backroads seems to know how to balance the idea of work and play perfectly. One moment you may be racking 24 bikes in a rainstorm, and the next, watching a beautiful sunset with friends. And while studying abroad gave me the desire to explore new cultures, it is Backroads that has allowed me to take my passions of traveling, exploring the outdoors, good cuisine and meeting interesting people into a job that I love.
French, Leader since 2007
I was a student in Paris, and I love busy cities. However, during my summers, I need some fresh air, new places to visit and new people to meet. Read more...
With Backroads you will be outside under the sun (and sometimes under the rain). You will get up very early to be sure everything is ready for your guests in a luxurious hotel from the 16th century which faces the countryside or the sea. As a Trip Leader, Backroads relies on you, trusts you and gives you responsibility. Every day you will have to deal with more than a few challenges, and you will love it.
Being French, I had a few questions when I applied. Will my English be good enough? Will I be able to share what I love about my country? Will it be easy to work with foreign guests and colleagues? I had nothing to worry about. The guests love your accent and your co-leaders support and encourage you and you do the same in return. After each trip, you have learned so much about yourself and your fellow travelers.
Today I am awaiting the beginning of a new season and the only question I have is which amazing part of the world will I work in next.
Other Trip Leaders
Australian, Leader since 2010, Work authorization for Canada
Growing up in a tiny farming/fishing community in rural Australia, I always spent lots of time outdoors on family camping and fishing trips or helping out with the family organic veggie patch. Consequently, I thought it was pretty normal when I started working as a commercial fisherman at the age of 18, straight out of high school. Over the next 3 years I spent 500 days at sea, fishing the waters of the southern ocean. Read more...
I later turned full circle and decided to study Marine Biology at the University of Tasmania, where I was able to find time to hike, bike, dive and camp my way across Tasmania, further instilling my passion for outdoors. During my studies I completed a one-year exchange program at UC Davis, and fell in love with the grandeur and scenery of the western U.S. After completing my degree in Australia, I moved to California and started work as a fisheries biologist aboard commercial fishing boats, from San Diego to Bellingham. As much as I love working on the ocean, when a good friend who worked as a Backroads Trip Leader started telling me about the job, I was intrigued. The job sounded like a great match for my personality and passion for being outdoors. I submitted an application and went though the rigorous Backroads hiring process and I was lucky enough to be selected for a position as a Trip Leader!
After being hired, the fun started. I had been living in the USA for four years at this point and I assumed that I would be leading trips in the USA for Backroads. However, I was unable to get a visa to work with Backroads in the U.S. I was worried that my new job would end before it began, but the helpful Backroads staff was willing to help me investigate other options. We discovered that, as an Australian citizen, I was able to secure a Canadian work visa and I was soon headed off to spend the summer working for Backroads in the Canadian Rockies. Of course, not without first getting a CA commercial drivers license (no mean feat in itself), Canadian social insurance number and bank account and moving to Canada!
While it wasn't always easy, I was so thankful that I was able to create the opportunity to work with Backroads, and it would not have been possible without all the support from Backroads staff every step of the way. I persevered and all the hard work paid off in the form of an amazing summer leading trips through the stunning Canadian Rockies, working with some of the most interesting, diverse, active people you are likely to meet anywhere. I am looking forward to working for Backroads in many more amazing regions across the globe in the future.
New Zealander, Leader since 1995, Work authorization for Canada
My Backroads journey has been a life-changing experience. I started as a subcontractor for Backroads in New Zealand for a number of years—leading the white water rafting portion of trips. Before long, I was also biking and connecting with guests before we began the white water rafting action. I applied three times to be a full-time leader and eventually I became the first 'foreign' employee (not Canadian or American). Backroads became my priority and I sold my company and became the New Zealand expert—bringing my knowledge and love of the country to our guests. When not helping develop walking trips in New Zealand and Australia, I work in countries around the world—US, Scotland, Norway and Canada to name a few. Read more...
I have recently taken on the additional role of Trip Specialist for our walking New Zealand trips allowing me to broaden my role at Backroads and bring my passion and expertise to specific trips. Not surprisingly, Backroads also helped me to meet a fellow leader and the woman of my dreams to whom I am now married and living happily ever after!