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Backroads Seasonal Trip Leaders: Compensation, Benefits & Work Authorization

About Backroads, Work Authorization & Our Hubs of Employment

Backroads began in 1979 as an innovative active travel company. Now the industry leader in active travel, we offer more biking, walking and multisport trips in more locations worldwide than any other company. In order to accomplish this, in addition to our company headquarters in Berkeley, California, Backroads has created three logistical hubs: Salt Lake City, Utah; Canmore Alberta (near Banff) Canada; and "801 France" in Pernes-les-Fontaines (in Provence) France.

To be an employee of Backroads, an individual must be legally authorized to work in the U.S., Canada or France. Our European subsidiary (located in France, and our legal working hub for all Europeans), can only employ citizens of countries in the European Economic Community (EEC)* or people who hold a French work permit.

Leaders based in the U.S., Canada and Europe are eligible to work in Europe, and we do send a small number of new leaders overseas in their first season. The key factors in determining European trip leading schedules are language skills, European travel experience, and the ability to confidently drive a manual transmission van, pulling a trailer with guests in the vehicle with you. Unfortunately, Backroads cannot sponsor an individual seeking a work visa. Work permits or visas must be obtained separately, on the applicants own, prior to being considered for a Trip Leader position.

* The following countries are in the European Economic Community (EEC): Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, UK.

Leader Compensation & Benefits

Backroads sets the industry standard for the total leader compensation and benefit package. Backroads enables field employees to both work and play through many perks and benefits that mitigate out-of-pocket costs when leaders are on the road. Most leaders find that they are easily able to save money while working for Backroads. Of course, your individual savings potential will ultimately depend on your personal lifestyle. Here is some more information to help you make an informed decision about whether or not being a Trip Leader is the right job for you from a financial standpoint.

Amount of Work
Trip Leader earning potential depends on amount and type of work. This means, for example, that New Leaders who graduate from earlier Leadership Training Programs have greater earning potential because they will be available for work sooner. Time off requests can limit earning potential, for more information visit the FAQs page. In 2014 New Leaders worked an average of 90 days from late spring through September. During this period of time they worked 5 weeks as a Trip Leader, 4 weeks as a Support Leader and 0-1 weeks on the Camp Crew. The rest of the 90 days were spent training, loading, driving, becoming familiar with regions and maintaining equipment (we're actively working on strategies to increase the amount of work available for New Leaders in 2015). During the same time period, high performing second year leaders worked an average of 10-12 weeks as Trip Leaders, and 3-4 weeks as Support Leaders (plus ancillary work driving, etc.). Earning potential and the ability to lead year-round grows in a Leader's second year and beyond.

Pay & Gratuities
Backroads Leaders are paid an industry leading rate for all of their work. In addition to base pay, they are eligible to receive gratuities on trips from guests as part of their overall compensation. Tipped roles include Trip Leading, Support Leading and working on Camp Crew. Trip Leaders receive 80%-90% of the overall gratuity depending on trip type (Camp Crew split 20% on camping trips and Support Leaders receive 10% on regular trips). In 2014, fully available New Leaders earned on average $12,500 US/CDN and €13,500 (base pay plus gratuities) from late spring through September. Our New Leaders who worked the most during these months earned over $18,000 USD, €18,000, and $16,000 CDN (the season in Canada is shorter). During the same time period, some of our higher performing leaders in their second season earned over 20,000 USD/CDN/Euro. Further detail about pay rates for 2015 will be available for candidates advancing to the interview stage.

While on trip working as a Trip Leader, Support Leader or as a member of the Camp Crew, food is provided. Food allowances are also provided for prep days, travel days, drive days, and regional familiarization days. On top of these allowances Backroads leaders receive phone stipends and have access to Backroads' computers.

Lodging is provided while Leaders are on trips, either in hotels or at campsites depending on the trip type. Housing is also provided between trips, so Backroads field staff will not incur any out of pocket expenses for lodging during the entire season. Many of our regions worldwide have leader houses in wonderful places that are available to leaders free of charge while working, and in between trips. In Europe: Tuscany, Puglia, Provence, Loire Valley, Dordogne, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Ireland, Switzerland. In the USA: Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Anacortes, Washington; Portland, Maine; Whitefish, Montana; Berkeley, California; Stowe, Vermont; Anchorage, Alaska; St. George, Utah; In Canada: Outside Banff, Nova Scotia, Québec. And other international locales such as: Wanaka, New Zealand; San José, Costa Rica. Standard with these accommodations are computers, wireless internet and access to bikes for personal use.

Backroads provides all work related travel throughout the course of the season. It is a leader's responsibility to travel to their hub at the beginning of the season and home from their hub at the end of the season. Leaders enjoy keeping their own frequent flyer miles for personal travel, and may choose to stopover or extend their stay in desired locales within work-sponsored itineraries. While it's a leader's responsibility to cover travel costs to and from a hub at the start and end of a leaders' season, Backroads provides all travel to trip destinations during a working season.

Recreational Benefits
Backroads also offers several benefits to leaders that are of a more recreational nature, including (but not limited to) generous discounts with brand-name equipment and clothing companies; Backroads trip discounts to family and friends; and a multi-day social and outdoor staff party at the end of the year… our version of the company picnic? A weeklong "Staff Ride" in Northern Thailand, Slovenia, Crete, Spain or the California coast (to name a recent few).

Joie de Vivre
Perhaps the most valuable benefit is enjoying a lifestyle few can match. In addition to itineraries that feature some of the worlds' best hotels, restaurants and scenery, imagine having time off in some of the most desirable locations around the world, and having the freedom to explore on your own. Being a Backroads leader allows for a lifestyle of flexibility and variety that many value above all other benefits of the job.

Additional Benefits Based on Hub of Employment

Leaders employed by Backroads Utah enjoy these benefits:

  • 401k plan: Leaders are eligible to contribute (up to 75% of their income) to a 401K plan after six months of employment, and Backroads will match 20% of an employee's contributions (up to 15% of pay). Employees become 20% vested in the employer match each year and are fully vested after five years of employment.
  • Medical, Dental & Vision Insurance: Leaders in their second year (and beyond) who are employed on a year-round basis are eligible to join Backroads' group medical, dental and vision plans. Backroads covers 80% of group health plan premiums during any month that a leader works 10 days or more, or on a year-round basis when a leader works 120 days or more.
  • Flex Plan: Leaders are also eligible to join our "Flex Plan" after three months of employment. This plan allows employees to set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualifying health and dependent daycare expenses.

Leaders employed by our Canadian subsidiary enjoy these benefits:

  • RRSP plan: Backroads will provide 20% match on leader RRSP contributions made during the year, up to a maximum of 15% of a leaders' Backroads salary. Employees become 20% vested each year and are fully vested after five years of employment.
  • A health/dental insurance program: Backroads will reimburse up to $120 USD per month for provincial medical and/or supplemental medical insurance beginning the first day of the month following the first day of training. Leaders are eligible to receive this reimbursement during months in which they work 10 days or more.
  • Holiday Pay: Canadian Leaders receive paid holidays in accordance with Canadian Labour Code.
  • Vacation Pay: Canadian Leaders receive vacation pay at the rate of 4% of pay for employees who have been with the company for one to five years, and 6% of pay for employees who have been with the company for more than 5 years.

Leaders employed by our French subsidiary also enjoy these benefits:

  • Medical Benefits: "801 France" Leaders qualify for the basic French Social Security coverage since they are employed by a French company. Coverage is effective as soon as the Leader is under contract (first day of work). Leaders are 100% covered in case of a work injury, and up to 65% for all other medical expenses.
  • Holiday Pay: Time worked on French holidays is paid time and a half. Time worked on Sundays or on May 1st is paid double.
  • Vacation Pay: Vacation pay for European Leaders is paid out at the end of each contract. The amount of vacation pay is equal to 10% of the total gross pay Leaders make during the entire duration of their contract.
  • European Leaders also qualify for French government approved retirement and unemployment plans covered by Groupe Mornay and Pole Emploi.

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Backroads Seasonal Trip Leaders

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"I can't think of any other job that could connect me with 20 new people each week, all excited to be exploring and experiencing a new destination...what a poignant and rare opportunity to bring people a vacation experience that they'll never forget."

Matt Fletcher
Leader since 2004, Hiring & Training Manager