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Get paid to travel

The boom in the tourism industry now makes it possible for you to turn your passion for traveling into a career. True—believe it or not—you can live your dream of traveling without paying a dime. In fact, on the contrary, you can make some good money too. Wondering how this is possible! Well, train yourself to become a tourist guide and traveling will become a part and parcel of your life. Yes, you can travel and make money by providing informative and entertaining commentary of the places you visit to the groups you accompany.

Tourist guides play an important role in any travel agency. They accompany tourists to their destinations, provide them with detailed information about the locations, take care of all their needs and organize various activities in these locations. 

Job nature

However, be warned that the job is not all beer and skittles. It is a very competitive job. One has to be in the know of all things to be able to converse and convincingly answer the queries from the tourists. You have to be well-dressed, well-mannered and well-informed. Punctuality and behavior count a lot and any adverse remark from the client to the travel agent can mean not getting any calls for work. It is not like dealing with school children. The British tourists are sticklers. They want deep and correct information, sometimes on as rare a thing as the species of a bird.  

Pros and cons  

Mostly, tourist guides are sought after only during the tourist season. Work only during the season gives one a lot of time to pursue household duties, to be with children and others. At the same time, one has to have something to do during the off-season, though, during the season, a guide can hope to earn a six-figure sum to see him through the off-season. A guide gets about Rs 1,600 per day for outstation tours but they also get tips from clients and commission from hotels, restaurants and shops.

Also, the work of a guide is limited to certain places. As compared to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and many other places in the North India, there are many other places like Kerala that does not have that many monuments. A monument is where guides are really needed. 


The Ministry of Tourism grants licenses to three categories of tourist guides: regional (east, west, north, south and northeast), state level and local guides. Every year, the Department of Tourism announces the exam through advertisements in prominent newspapers. All candidates are required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree or a Diploma in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology with proficiency in English.

The exam follows the short answer type pattern and questions from various related fields like history, geology, geography of India, current political scenario, knowledge of monuments, handicrafts and different cuisines are included.

After taking the exam, the candidates are screened through an interview and are made to go through an intensive training session for 16 weeks. On clearing all these stages, successful candidates are issued identity cards —red, yellow or green — depending on the course undertaken, which must be renewed every year by undergoing a refresher course and taking an exam, where they have to score a minimum of 40%. Only approved guides are allowed to take up assignments in archaeological sites, according to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

Knowledge of one or more than one foreign languages— French, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian and Japanese— is also essential for one seeking to become a tourist guide. With an increase in the number of tourists from China and South East Asia, candidates who are proficient in Chinese and Thai languages are preferred.

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