Backroads Trip Leaders: Compensation, Benefits & Work Authorization


Why Backroads?

Where do we start? Dream job. Best job in the world. Recognized by Outside Magazine on their annual "Best Places to Work" surveys. Our leaders love their work so much, over 90% return to lead year after year. And that's just the start of it. Working for Backroads means you will:

  • Have an office that's constantly changing—in the most beautiful areas of the world.
  • Be outside on a daily basis, being active and healthy.
  • Challenge yourself, physically and mentally, developing leadership skills and friendships that will carry with you forever.
  • Be part of a continually growing company that provides extensive mentorship, embraces transparent management practices and provides dynamic career opportunities.

Now Getting Down to Business...

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

All of our Field Staff are legally authorized to work for one of our hubs. Learn more about our specific work authorization needs here.


Leaders based in the United States, 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 and pulling a trailer with guests in the van with you. Unfortunately, Backroads cannot sponsor an individual seeking a work visa. Work permits or visas must be obtained separately, on the applicant's own, prior to being considered for a Trip Leader position.


Leader Compensation & Benefits

The Backroads compensation and benefits package sets the standard in the active travel industry. The majority of Field Staff are hired as employees of Backroads, which entitles them to benefits not provided by companies that pay as independent contractors. On top of the most generous base pay rates in the industry, Backroads leaders receive a significant portion of their compensation in gratuities from guests. Our industry-leading position and higher average number of guests per trip translates into tips that usually double and occasionally triple a first year leader's per trip income. Additionally, many perks and benefits minimize out-of-pocket costs giving leaders the opportunity to save money. Here is more information to help you make an informed decision about whether or not being a Backroads Trip Leader is the right job for you.

Amount of Work

Trip Leader earning potential depends on the amount and type of work. 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 2023 New Leaders worked an average of 111 days from late spring through October. During this period of time, they worked an average of 5 - 6 weeks as a Trip Leader and 5-6 weeks as a Support Leader. The rest of the days were spent preparing for a trip, traveling, training, loading equipment, driving vans, becoming familiar with regions and maintaining equipment. During the same time period, high-performing second-year leaders worked an average of 12 weeks as Trip Leaders, and 2 weeks as Support Leaders (plus ancillary work, driving, etc.). Earning potential and opportunities to lead year-round grows in a leader's second year and beyond. While leaders aren’t working, they have the benefit of time off to explore the region they are in and go on their own outdoor adventures.

Trip Leaders are hired as "seasonal" employees and their season is a six-month period starting when they attend training. Seasonal leaders can expect to wrap up work on or before October 31. Some seasonal leaders are scheduled for work during our winter "peak" (generally late December/early January) based on performance and business need. On or before October 31, leaders will be notified of their status for the next year, and there are 3 possible status options: (1) seasonal leader (6-month or shorter season), (2) extended seasonal leader (greater than 6-month season), (3) year-round leader (leader works on a near year-round basis).

Pay & Gratuities
Detailed information about compensation will be provided during the interview stage process.

While on trip working as a Trip Leader or Support Leader, food is provided. Food allowances are also provided for travel days, drive days, regional familiarization days and some prep 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. Communal housing is also provided between trips, so leaders 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 all field staff 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 United States: Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Anacortes, Washington; Portland, Maine; Whitefish, Montana; Berkeley, California; Stowe, Vermont; Anchorage, Alaska; St. George, Utah; In Canada: Outside Banff; Nova Scotia; Quebec. And other international locales such as: Wanaka, New Zealand; San José, Costa Rica. While housing is communal, all Field Staff will have separate beds (sometimes bunk beds!). Standard with these accommodations are computers, wireless internet and access to bikes for personal use.

Backroads provides all work-related travel. It is a leader's responsibility to travel to their hub (Salt Lake, Canmore or Pernes-Les-Fontaines) at the beginning of the season and home 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. 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 generous discounts with brand-name equipment and clothing companies; Backroads-labeled gear (items vary each year); and Backroads trip discounts for family and friends and our favorite: Staff Ride. Select Field Staff in their second season and beyond are invited to our annual Staff Ride (our version of the company picnic). Staff Ride is an all-inclusive multi-day bike trip held in a different destination each year such as: Vietnam, California, Greece, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Provence, India, etc.. Trip leaders who have lead 50, 100, 150, etc. Trips also receive additional milestone gifts to celebrate their accomplishments.

The "Leader Lifestyle"
Perhaps the most valuable benefit is enjoying a lifestyle few can match. In addition to trips 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. Not to mention being a part of an incredible, kind, adventurous, friendly and tight-knit community that constantly inspires personal and professional growth. Being a Backroads leader allows for a lifestyle of flexibility, growth and experiences 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. Backroads provides a 20% match on employee contributions of up to 15% of pay, vesting over the five-year period from date of hire.
  • Medical, Dental & Vision Insurance: Backroads provides group medical, dental and vision insurance eligibility based on a leader's status. Leaders with extended seasonal status who work longer than six months are eligible on the first day of the month following their one-year anniversary if they work 1430 hours or more in their first 11 months of employment (or 1560 or more hours during the previous calendar year in subsequent years of employment). 
  • Flex Plan: This plan allows benefits-eligible employees to set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualifying health and dependent daycare expenses. 
  • Workers Compensation Coverage: In the unfortunate event of a work-related injury all Backroads Leaders are covered by workers compensation insurance which provides coverage for medical care, disability pay and medically necessary transportation costs. 

Leaders employed by our Canadian subsidiary enjoy these benefits:

  • Health/Dental Insurance Program: Backroads will reimburse up to $150 CAD 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 five years. 
  • Workers Compensation Coverage: In the unfortunate event of a work-related injury all Canadian Backroads Leaders are covered by a combination of workers compensation insurance and employer paid travel medical plans (when working outside of Canada) which provides coverage for medical care, disability pay and medically necessary transportation costs.
  • RRSP: Leaders are eligible to participate in our Canadian Retirement Savings Plan. This is a subsidy to your own individual retirement savings plan. Backroads currently matches 20% (on up to 15% of your total salary). Backroads will apply a five-year vesting period of 20% per year from date of hire. To receive a matching contribution, you must present a receipt for your retirement plan contribution by April 30th of the following year (e.g., 2022 RRSP contribution receipts must be received by the People and Culture department by April 30, 2023 and 2023 receipts by April 30, 2024).

Leaders employed by our French subsidiary also enjoy these benefits:

  • Medical Benefits: Leaders under the European hub benefit from either the national health plan from their country of residency, or from the French health plan depending on which country is in charge of their coverage (this will be determined by the country of residence). European health plans usually cover part or the entire cost of the cares, as well as financial compensation during sick leave. 
  • Holiday Pay: Time worked on French holidays is paid time and a half. Time worked on May 1 (Labor Day) is paid double. 
  • Vacation Pay: Vacation pay for European leaders is included in the paycheck and paid out at the end of each month worked. The amount of vacation pay is equal to 10% of the total gross pay leaders make during the month. 
  • European leaders also qualify for French government approved retirement and unemployment plans covered by Klesia and Pole Emploi.
  • An additional 10% of your total gross season income will be paid at the end of your contract/season.