What Does It Take to Be a Rick Steves Tour Guide?



After sharing the fun of our annual guides’ summit, we wanted to answer the most common question we hear: “What does it take to be a Rick Steves tour guide?”

To be honest, we don’t have a set procedure. We have about 130 lead tour guides. Most are Europeans, but plenty are Americans. Many are already professional guides working with (or fleeing) other tour companies. Some are friends of our company who have been with us since they were kids, packing boxes in our mailroom.

For an insight into the way our guides are managed, here’s an interview with Steve Smith. Steve was one of our very first guides (#4, to be specific), and now he oversees our entire team.

How did Steve start? Back in the 1980s, he was nicknamed “pack man” for the phenomenal way he sold our suitcases and backpacks. He’s our in-house Francophile, who single-handedly established our France program (co-authoring my France, Paris, and Provence guidebooks, and turning this sandwich-munching Viking into a person with a love of France). And all along, I count him as one of my best friends.

With this short interview, I’d like you to meet Steve Smith.

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9 thoughts on “What Does It Take to Be a Rick Steves Tour Guide?

  • August 17, 2020 at 7:29 am
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    classical music, opera, theatre, ballet, sports, folk tradition need to be given priorities too along with the more typical art and palaces, and ancient ruins. composers homes, authors, chances to attend concerts, theatre both spoken and sung, piano, organ, orchestral, choral, art song, dance performances…..

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  • August 17, 2020 at 7:29 am
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    Nobody can be Rick Steve!!! You need a lot of courage, passion, positive thinking, and luck to become another Rick Steve!!

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  • August 17, 2020 at 7:29 am
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    I am thinking a lot of energy, a lot of brain power and organization, and being extremely physically active. I am thinking those guides have sore feet!  Glad to hear Steve uses Excel! 

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  • August 17, 2020 at 7:29 am
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    My husband and I will be on a 14 Day Rick Steves Ireland tour in the early fall.  We can't wait. Our last two trips to Europe (Italy) were not guided, however my Rick Steves Italy guide book was our constant companion.  So much valuable information, tips, and suggestions.  I can only imagine how informative, interesting and fun our Ireland tour will be.  

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