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Backroads Seasonal Trip Leaders: The Roles of a Trip Leader

Backroads Leaders don't only lead trips. In reality, leading trips is too demanding to do every week. Leaders also perform other duties and take on other roles that allow them to fill out their season and increase their earning potential. Below you will find brief descriptions of the different types of work you may be doing if you are hired as a Trip Leader.

Trip Leader

This is the job you're imagining when you fill out your application. There is no "typical" day. Although there is a plan for each day, each day is unique. Surprises, challenges and opportunities come up all the time. There are, however, many principles and routines that guests expect when traveling with Backroads. For many, the nimble combination of stability and flexibility is what keeps them traveling with Backroads time and time again.

  • The day often begins before guests get up. It's up to you and your co-leader(s) to set the stage for a great day: tuning bikes, loading luggage, cleaning vans, preparing snacks and the day's lunch.
  • Just as you finish your preparations, it's time to start the day's activity, beginning with route talks and safety demonstrations.
  • Regardless of the activity, at least one leader will participate with the guests, providing route support. Another leader will provide support in the van, taking care of guest needs, preparing a picnic lunch, transferring luggage and attending to hotel details as needed. Throughout the week, leaders rotate these roles.
  • There will almost always be two or three Trip Leaders assigned to each trip. Camping Trips also have a Camp Chef and Camp Assistant who work behind the scenes with the Leader team. On top of that, Biking Trips have an additional Support Leader assigned to assist with logistics and shuttling during many days of the week.
  • In the evening, you will share a meal with your guests—it may be a gourmet meal prepared by your Camp Chef on a Camping Trip or at a fine restaurant if you are leading an Inn trip. After dinner it might be back to the van, trailer and bikes to tie up any loose ends, or sitting by the campfire. Naturally exhausted, you will fall into bed, to rest up for whatever tomorrow may bring.

Please note: When leading trips that stay in hotels, Backroads Leaders share a room. Each Leader has his or her own bed which occasionally may be a roll-away. If you have questions about these arrangements, please ask.

Support Leader

When guests are biking we have two vans available to support the activity (and this is true on some walking/hiking trips as well). This gives our guests options to shape their day however they'd like without having to wait for a van. With an extra van we're able to have one leader go ahead to set up a picnic or deliver luggage while the other continues to provide route support, along with the leader who is riding a bike. Providing this kind of industry-leading route support requires an additional Leader who we call the Support Leader. The Support Leader comes alongside the two Trip Leaders to work during the activity, generally starting their work day by attending the route talk and then finishing when guests are safely accounted for and near the hotel in the afternoon. Support Leaders are regular Trip Leaders who are working in a more limited role for the week which gives them the opportunity to earn extra income without the longer hours and added responsibilities of being Trip Leaders. Support Leading is also an excellent way to learn about a new region. New Leaders are often scheduled for more weeks of Support Leading than returning Leaders because it is an effective way to learn the job without the pressure of being a Trip Leader. For more information about the amount of work New Leaders can expect during their fist season, please visit our FAQ page.

Camp Crew

In North America we run a lot of camping trips. We staff these trips with three Trip Leaders and a Camp Crew of two which includes a Camp Chef and a Camp Assistant. Each year we hire 12-15 Camp Crew specifically for the jobs of cooking and setting up camp, however occasionally Trip Leaders also work as Camp Chef or Camp Assistant for a week. These weeks are busy, tough and a lot of fun! Like the role of Support Leader, working as part of the Camp Crew gives Trip Leaders work and increases their earning potential without the additional responsibilities of being a Trip Leader. For detailed information about what it's like to work as a Camp Chef or Camp Assistant, please visit our Camp Crew page.

Other Paid Activities

Backroads Leaders are paid for a variety of additional types of work, which like Support Leading or Camp Crew, increase earning potential and help round out a Leader's season. Some of these things include:

  • Backroads Leadership Training Program
  • Loading equipment, driving vans, trailers from one of our hubs to a trip start destination
  • Familiarizing yourself and doing light research in a region where you'll be leading trips
  • Working a "prep day," one day prior to the trip start, to prepare for the trip
  • Repairing or maintaining equipment during the season
  • Repairing, cleaning and putting away equipment at the end of the season

Additional Career Opportunities for Leaders

Backroads rewards exceptional performance with opportunities for career advancement throughout the company. Several leaders have spent a portion of their career with Backroads leading trips and then have moved into full-time office staff or management positions. Virtually all promotions start with the Trip Leader job.

Some examples:

Regional Experts and Trip Experts
These positions are leaders who oversee the design, development and all-important quality standards of a trip year after year. Trip Experts "own" specific trips - not only leading the trips themselves, but also conducting research for those trips, managing relationships with subcontractors in the field, and collaborating with regional managers in Berkeley concerning long-term trip development.

Regional Systems Specialists
This position supports our various technology and equipment systems in the field. Regional Systems Specialists work closely with our Logistics and Transportation Department as well as the Leader Development department in making field operations smooth for leaders in centralized regions.

Regional Managers
This position is an excellent opportunity for qualified leaders to expand their responsibilities at Backroads. Responsibilities include mentoring, providing feedback and evaluating leaders, ensuring smooth working systems within their regions, and working closely with all departments within Backroads to help ensure quality on trips.

Hiring & Training Specialist and New Leader Mentor
This work supplements Trip Leading and allows select leaders the opportunity to learn how to choose potential future Leaders from our candidate pool. It also creates opportunity to teach New Leaders how to proactively lead Backroads guests through exceptional trips. And, more than anything Hiring & Training Team members develop the lifelong skill of delivering kind, honest and actionable feedback as they mentor New Leaders through their first seasons on the job.

Office Positions
Full-time or seasonal office positions provide opportunities for leaders to extend their employment in different ways at our Berkeley headquarters or our hubs in Salt Lake City, Canmore or Pernes-les-Fontaines. Leaders have contributed their valuable talents to our Leader Development department as Hiring & Training Coordinators, to our Sales department as Trip Consultants, and to our Trip Development department as Trip Development Coordinators.

Part Time Opportunities
There are also occasionally part-time temporary opportunities between trips and during the winter to work in our office and warehouse.

We hope that the information we have provided gives you an understanding of the Trip Leader position and has allowed you to evaluate whether or not it would be the right fit for you. We look forward to addressing any additional questions that you might have during the interview process.

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