As you know, or maybe you don’t my son is my Editor but as when he isn’t working at his day job and editing my books, he’s a London Tour Guide. He qualified years ago and is a Green badge Guide in London. I’d never really thought about the History of Guiding, so I thought I’d find out more about it. My personal gripe about Tour Guides for years has been at the speed they walk at. I’ve seen many people, including myself, who just can’t keep up with them. It’s fine if your’e completely fit but not fair if you need to walk slower. Sometimes I’ve found the Guide is halfway down the street before all the party are off the Coach even. Not much use if your’e in a foreign country and don’t know your way around. According to Jack a Guide should walk at the speed of the slowest person in their group.
Anyway, back to the History. The First Tour Operator went into business in England in 1758 and is still in business today. Pleasure Travel started in earnest in during the 1840s when Thomas Cook began conducting tours to Paris and then around Europe. By the 1850 Railroad tours were already in Operation.
Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctum (Pilgramage to the Holy Land) is said to be the Worlds first Written Tourist Guide. Written by Bernhard Von Breydenbach and illustrated by Reiwich it was published in 1486. The pair swiftly became the worlds first travel influencers.
Tour Guiding in the Renaissance and Grand Tour. A prescribed route through France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland to Italy was travelled by young men of the Upper Classes from Britain.
What are the Values of a Tour Guide?
- Knowledge of the Tour Area
- Ability to communicate
- Strong empathy and understanding
- Charismatic Personality
- Keen Ability to Improvise and Adapt#
- Focus of Building a raport
- Engaging Storyteller
I am so proud to say that my son ticks every one of these boxes.
When we look back now at the way we travel so easily, we have so much to thank the Ancient Tour Guides for because they were the front runners of the Guides we have now. Yes the Guides now are different because information for their walks is easier. My family went on a Guided Walk many years ago to Pompei. It’s the only walk I’ve been on that made me shudder inside because we were given time to walk around. I swear some of the ghosts of those poor people were still here. Now you can go on Private Tours with a Driver and Guide which is a Guided Tour by any other name. Guides take school parties around. Funny story Jack knows believe me. He took a party around St. Johns Gate in London. Lovely young boy who wanted the ins an out of a poor man who had died by having a sword stuck up his rear end – if you don’t my the phrase – he keep on and one Bless his heart!
Then of course there was a time in Russia where I’d hurt my knee. Don’t go anywhere in Russia with a man in a car alone if you are a woman! Be aware! was the advice. So my husband and son went off with our Guide. Next thing I knew Alex our Driver, who I imagine might have shot a few people in the Military along the way. Starts the car, drives off at a speed, me – alone – in the back – thinking he’s going to kill me! Was he heck! We had a wonderful time driving around all the sights!. He didn’t speak English, I didn’t speak Russian, but there you go. Don’t judge people.
So when a Guide meets his Party now does he have a few rules? It seems he does. If you are taking medication, tell him. He gives a safety briefing before each walk. If you are going to drop out of the walk tell him. From what I gather, each Guide is different. One thing I do know that every London Guide I’ve every come across is brilliant. Different but brilliant. My son writes a lot of his own walks. He does public and private walks. You name the subject and he will be able to take you on a walk around London on it.