I’ve been a Backroads Trip Leader for seven years and one of the most frequent questions I’m asked by my guests is, “What’s the life of a Backroads Trip Leader like?” It’s a simple question, but not an easy one to answer. When I applied for a leader position at Backroads, I had no idea of the complexity of this job and how much it goes beyond any regular work environment.
I’m often asked how I found my job leading Backroads trips… Fate. Magic. Luck… Well, perhaps a combination of those things. It’s a unique story that involves a photography exposition, a small community in northern Chile and two random backpackers high in the Chilean mountains. And it’s a story that put me on a path to helping develop a brand new Backroads trip for this coming December in a corner of South American that is easily one of my favorite places in the world.
If the power of an engine can be measured by how fast it goes from 0 to 60, then a relationship with a Backroads co-leader runs at lightning speed. Meeting your co-leaders isn’t like meeting your average stranger. That first handshake says, “We are now friends, family, coworkers, confidants and sounding boards, and I have your back no matter what.” This is the best friend you just met.
At Backroads, we make a great big deal about hiring Trip Leaders. And today marks the start of our hiring "season." At 8:30 this morning, 43 hopeful candidates arrived at our Berkeley headquarters for what has got to be one of the world's most involved first interviews. Candidates are in our courtyard now--donning nametags, changing flat tires, showing off their public speaking skills and getting to know our staff. They've come from such far flung locations as China and Hawaii to interview with us. They've got degrees as diverse as MSc in Physiotherapy and BA in Elementary Education.