Why Becoming An Adventure Guide Is One Of The Best Jobs A Man Could Have

Maybe you’re twenty-something years old and you don’t like yourself. You don’t know jack shit, you haven’t got any money or prospects, you can’t get girls, you’re unfit and unhealthy, and you’re stuck in a rut. What’s worse is that you can’t see a way out, and you’re pretty sure that it’s you; you’re a loser and all the successful guys you see never had it as tough as you.

And you’d be wrong. The vast majority of us have been there, but very few bothered to make the most of those shitty times. You have few recognizable options. You could go to college and study some worthless degree while paying through the nose for doing so, all the while hoping that you’ll just luck into some dream job when you finish. But you know enough by now to realize that college is just a dead end to nowhere. You could get a trade, (which I actually think is an excellent option), but you’re no good with your hands and you don’t relish the thought of soldering electrical wires for the rest of your life.

I was where you are right now. And I lucked upon one of the greatest ways to get paid and see the world while having the time of your life; working as an adventure guide. For fifteen years I traveled the world from Australia, to Canada, Africa, and Europe, while I worked as a whitewater rafting instructor. My peers became friends for life, I got paid to go to places that regular people pay eye-watering amounts of cash to get to, and I learned numerous skills that I have put to use in other jobs to great effect. And we got a hell of a lot of tail.

And it doesn’t have to be rafting. You could be a SCUBA instructor, a climbing guide, a sea kayaking guide, a canyoning guide, a mountain bike guide, a ski instructor, the list goes on and on. You work in the great outdoors in some of the most beautiful places on the planet, your daily commute does not involve public transport, and you live and work in some of the biggest party zones in the world.

Surely this is hard to get into

mountain-bike-jumps-8

So now you’re sitting upright. You’re wondering what you have to do to get in on this action. You’re thinking that it must be blindingly hard to get one of these jobs; that people are lining up by the bucket-load to work in these industries.

Well, they’re always hiring, and they’re always looking for people to work for…not that much really.

And there’s the catch. The money is usually pretty lousy. In some locations I did make decent coin, but a lot of the time we were doing it for the love of the job. That translates to, “the love of the lifestyle.” And as I’ve tried to stress so far, the lifestyle is pretty bloody awesome.

This might turn you off, but think about it: right now your only option is to go heavily into debt for a useless college degree that you will hate. I’m offering you the chance to travel the world, get meaningful life skills, meet loads of girls, and get a really great tan. And you will make some money; just enough to get you a plane ticket to your next destination.

So what’s the best way to go about it?

mountainthrutrees

First, you need to get some basic skills in the discipline you hope to instruct. For example, if you want to be a rafting guide it would be a fantastic idea to learn how to whitewater kayak, which indecently is a macho sport that is great fun and healthy too. Find a club in your area, buy some second-hand gear, and get really good at it. By doing that you will make contacts, and through these contacts you will see doors start to open as possibilities and options emerge.

Isn’t that what we were talking about at the start of this piece? A lack of options?

Back to your new career. Often you’re offered a crappy job at this disreputable sounding outfit where you will be alternating between washing dishes and driving shuttle vehicles to the river. Take the damn job. When you get there you need to do a few things.

1. Work really hard.
2. Network, network, network.
3. Paddle your kayak only when you don’t have an opportunity to sit in a raft (you wanted to become a rafting guide, right?)
4. Get on with the team and be humble.

Number four is the most important. At this stage in your budding guiding career, your knowledge is less than zero. You will be surrounded by skilled and confident professionals. You will inevitably feel insecure. You may well be very tempted to talk yourself up so you can compete on an equal level with your colleagues.

Don’t, whatever you do, don’t do this. They know you don’t know shit. It’s okay, really it is. Just keep your head down, ask questions, actually listen to what people tell you, take constructive criticism well even if you don’t agree with it, and be humble.

Do you see what I mean about learning actual life skills? Getting on with the people you work with and being a valuable and contributing member of the team is what most of the dumb-shits coming out of college are missing. It’s the number one skill that employers want, (that and turning up on time and not stealing).

It might take you a season or two, but eventually you’ll get to the point where you’re in charge of your own raft. It’s like being a little mini-captain with your own passengers. They’ll want to hear your jokes, they’ll be depending on you to get them safely down the river, and you’ll suddenly be living the dream.

Side Benefits

rafting shot

I left the best part of this until last. Do you go to the gym and see all those middle-aged fat guys desperately working out in an effort to reverse the tide? And you know just by looking at them that it’s never going to happen. Because the fitness level that you obtain and keep in your twenties and early thirties is what you’ll be able to reach for the rest of your life.

Being an adventure guide gets you in really great shape. Really amazingly great shape. I stopped rafting over five years ago, and I haven’t really done that much exercise since then. I’m 44 years old and people ask me how much I work out. I never work out, but fifteen years of pushing a raft down a river gets you an amazing base fitness level.

Then of course there are the girls. Your frame will revolve around being an adventurer, world traveler, and rugged outdoors man. Women on holiday want to have a story to take back to work; they need to recount a juicy tale around the coffee machine. You will be the juicy tale.

If I had to return in time, back to my clueless twenty-year-old self, I would do it all over again. The years I spent guiding shaped my personality and made me the person that I am today. The question you need to ask yourself is, what sort of person do I want to be tomorrow?

Read More: The Greatest Adventure

93 thoughts on “Why Becoming An Adventure Guide Is One Of The Best Jobs A Man Could Have”

  1. Positive article. It is rough when you are young, smart, and have the mental potential to enter many fields, yet are told obsessively to pick one thing to support yourself. The disconnect between optimistic schooling and realistic day to day grinding is not often addressed and for the smart individual, this leads in to all sorts of detrimental behavior, simply because they don’t know what to do. This sounds like a decent opportunity for those simply wishing to explore life while looking for what they can settle on. I’m glad a site like ROK is building up the way it is.

  2. The broads that choose to go on athletic adventures are usually taut, sultry little numbers too.
    Hunting guides are the way to make bank. Dudes are willing to pay a ton of money to shoot exotic animals.

    1. & they go to these places to hound foreign dick while they’re at it, the fit/dark Central American surf instructor with the cute accent will bang it long before adventure Daryl from Missouri. You’d be better off trolling as a tourist, meeting them while suring/giving them a push into a wave, and telling them you work for Goldman Sachs stateside.

      1. Well that specific situation might be true, it incorrectly assumes that the point of the job is to get laid. The point of the job is that you get to raft/surf/climb/hunt/paraglide/etc every day and not be locked in a shitty Goldman Sachs cubicle.
        Also, I guarantee you that Adventure Daryl is getting plenty of tourist tail in places like the Grand Canyon, Alaska, Montana, etc.

        1. Correct, but all jobs at a more strategic level of thinking will be office oriented & where the real money is at. Jobs that help your physical well being are usually due to manual labor & blue collar-sad fact.

        2. Right, but we aren’t talking about day laborer positions. We are talking about niche markets in the tourism industry. And again, you focus on money. Getting to do an activity that you love every day for 30 years is arguably more fulfilling than all the paper you stack being a corporate whore in an office during that time.

        3. Or just marry a good broad from an adventurous third world country, stack your paper, then cash out and move to said third world country. As a spouse you’ll have more benies to own land there, can own it, then focus on a legit business in your new location. I just got back from Central America, and everywhere I went to eat it seemed I heard reggae music & the place had hoardes of dirty hipsters who thought they were really “going off the grid” & oh so original in their path. Tourism is a disgusting industry if you ask me, I’d avoid it like the plague.

  3. This is an absurd article.
    While some of these things might be great for a one year adventure while you are getting your head straight, advising that you look to this life for a career is ridiculous.
    Looking at this life as anything more than taking a year off and just exploring is nothing more than a foolish waste of time. You will wind up being “chip” who is forever stuck in peter pan land, living in some shit box with 5 other guys talking about the glory days.
    To be clear: you want to be a mountain bike guide when you are 19 for a year while you do some exploring and thinking about your life. Great. If you are seriously thinking about this as a viable alternative to an education or a trade then you are a fucking moron.
    If you want to do something physical and adventurous, join the military. You will make better money, be taught how to do something useful and will have money to put towards an education later.
    Being the guy at the hotel that I throw my spare change at to ensure I get the better dune buggy isn’t exactly aspirational thinking.

    1. You don’t live in a tourist area do you? There are many people where I am at who work the four summer months guiding/adventuring and make enough money to do whatever the hell they want the other eight. Tourists are the definition of disposable income. You do a good company going and the cash flows in.

      1. If you own the company and bilk the tourists then fine, great. Otherwise you are just a cabana boy. It will be fun and you will get by, but while you are doing that people will be doing an annoying slog through the early stages of building a solid and sustainable future.
        This is no difference than women wasting their prime years being stuffed full of sausage. It gives them the tingles and plenty of stories at the expense of their future.
        I could be wrong and I am sure someone will tell me I am an asshole for saying this, but to me this article isn’t just stupid it is dangerously stupid to young men who might think that this is actually a valid life.
        With some mild changes about how being an adventure guide for a year while you decide what kind of life is right for you and as a break before you go into slogging through building up a future for yourself it might have been helpful. But as it is, it really is just a lure into what assuredly will be a wasted life.

        1. How do you think one owns the company? As I said, the tourism industry is a valid life. Like working in a corporate world where you have to spend time as an intern fetching coffee and doing shit work, you have to spend time humping gear and learning the trade. Many people never make it past low level office jock. Some people go on to become CEO. Same thing in the tourism industry.
          Granted, the article could have mentioned planning for the future – getting a business or an hrm degree, starting your own business, but I don’t think a comprehensive career guide was the point of the article.

        2. & I’ll say most of the men who visit these places will see them for what they are, blown out tourist traps not worth visiting twice. The places to visit are the ones with good stuff that has yet to be discovered. I’d rather kill my NorCal dive spots on the cheap than go play tourist with retirees and get fucked on rental cars, hotels, exchange rates, yada yada yada. Good to visit the third world to see the pros/cons, but cabana boys are a joke. They likely dont get much pussy when you consider their sad living conditions. The dude with his crap squared away will always have revolving doors. Play cabana boy when you’re 55+ with cash. And dont give a fuck about whatever you had to do, they just want $.

    2. EXACTLY. Military = reitrement benies/savings, moving around, free flights, ability to go to these places and come back and appreciate what you do have going in normal society. Peter Pan land hahaha oh yeah, and free college via military.

    3. Not for everyone. Some people just do not feel well working a regular job and never will, and a LOT of us don’t like taking orders for a living.

  4. I cant quite make up my mind..
    On the one hand if there arent any great prospects then sure why not (but perhaps not for more than a year or two..)
    On the other, as a young guy whos worked damn hard since leaving college (english college age 18 not university age 22+) i interview people years older than me who have spent time basically putting off getting a real job. Maybe thats harsh, maybe its logical.
    Saying that i agree with points 1, 2 and 4- work really really hard, network, get on with team and be humble. Good life advice.

    1. My cousin’s fiance does this shit as a second job/hobby. It isn’t hard to do granted you aren’t some sort of wall street banker or engineer at a prestigious firm.

  5. I think this would be a fun profession to follow, assuming that nobody who worked in that kind of job drinks coffee. I don’t take jobs where people drink coffee.

    1. I had a job where people drank coffee. All the women in the office died of estrogen overdose. All the men became ladies. Gruesome.

    1. There’s only one way to get people skills for introverts, and that’s to continually expose yourself to people and force yourself into uncomfortable new situations.
      I’ve seen solo men hiking along mountain sides with camera rigs and setups that looked pretty professional to me. Could be a rather fun way to live.

      1. interpersonal skills are no different from any other skill. It’s not magic. With constant practice skill will grow. There will always be those few born naturals, but other than that level anything can be done.
        Hiking along a mountain isn’t for me…though I do see the appeal for others. I would suggest doing it as a get away from a stressful life.

        1. I’ve always been of this mind as well (except for the hiking part, I enjoy hiking up mountains and deep into the woods). Barring physical or mental issues prohibiting it, a human being can effectively reinvent his personality and preferences with exercises in free will and practice.

        2. I have had mixed experiences with bucolic hobbies. Nothing so bad as to make me swear them off and nothing so good as to have me desire to do them again. All things being equal, I enjoy a good concierge.

      2. Probably poseurs. Equipment is irrelevant unless you have a really really shittu camera.
        Yeah, true about the exposure. I guess. There are more insecurities beneath. I gotta figure that stuff out.

        1. Didn’t seem to be actually. They are generally older, as in 60’s+, alone and on rather difficult trails devoid of all except the occasional hard core trekker types. If they were doing it for attention I’d think they’d pick the kiddie paths down at the public park, not the side of a mountain where the chances of spotting another human being are slim bordering on none.

        2. Actually, that makes them seem even more like poseurs. Think. You can then tell your friends about how you went up the most difficult path with your super equipment.
          Truth is: It is a fool’s errand to assume that hard tours make for better pictures necessarily. Why should they?
          The age says nothing. I knew this guy – dad of my old boss – who proudly showed me his 2000 EUR camera. Now, I know something about photography and I know that he knew nothing, nada. He showed me some blurred, miserable photos. He said: Not bad, are they?
          He did not even really see them. He was blind to it. In his mind, there was the expensive camera and if he put that camera in automatic mode, whatever came out, must be good.
          My old boss himself was the same. I had been photographing for years and I was good. When I brought home good photos, he said: Damn, that is a fine camera, is it not? Such a fucking moronic asshole.
          I will tell you that I will make better photographs with an iPhone than Joe Average with a professional setup.
          The only indicator of a good photographer are good photos.

    2. Hiking is the best. Get a pair of boots and get out on the trail!
      Photography is a tough field to crack. With the advent of digital cameras, photographers are a dime a dozen. I dated a pretty talented photographer who dreamed of a Nat Geo photojournalist life and ended up whoring herself out for a real estate selling operation photoshopping up pictures of houses. She got a degree in another field and now photography is just a hobby.

        1. Thanks!
          Another mistake most photographers make is to pump up the colors and brightness in all images. Cause it is the ‘right’ way and you learn it in the online courses. You know, the 10 steps to a perfect photo bullshit.
          I like to leave some dark. Others with low contrast. I just look at the picture and decide what fits the scene best.

        2. Yeah, that is okay. If you share it with somebody, please let them know where it is from. If you want to use them for public stuff, drop me a message through my website and we will think of something.

        3. Nothing serious, I just like the green mountain valley. You can send the pic with the watermark if you suspect that I might use it for commercial purposes.
          Wanna use it as screen saver.

        4. Cool, go ahead. Glad you like it.
          The watermark is a part of the picture. That is my thing. Which is why I take effort to place it elegantly.
          But even if you would pay me a million dollars, I could not give you the original anymore. Police took my stuff. The website with the full quality pictures is all I have left.

        5. “I like to leave some dark. Others with low contrast. I just look at the picture and decide what fits the scene best.”
          You can thank HDR (high dynamic range) technology for the torrent of shitty pictures of landscapes that are everywhere on the net. Dark areas are needed in photos because every image needs depth-of-field. HDR makes everything too bright and flat, but the average dork with a camera with HDR mode doesnt understand this.

        6. The dork with the HDR camera does not even understand what HDR means. He craves the label ‘HDR’ to be fashionable, but does not even care to make a judgment whether it is an appropriate effect on a particular photo. And even when it is, you do not need to crank it up all the way.
          Used to give photography lessons at my university. Most people do not care about details. Just automatisms. Photography for them is about selfies and memories, not about craft and art.
          Oh well.

        7. Photography as an art, well in the hands of people who have a good sense of aesthetic one can see well done photos as well. What type of style of photography is of interest to you? I assume landscape ? I enjoyed the photos on your site. Do you have any interest in photo & digital manipulation? One current-day philosophy of art uses photography and other art techniques:

        8. I really despise the idea of following any art trend. Call me childish, but all I would want to do is exactly what I do. If anything, I would like to improve on that which I am doing. I believe my style to already be relatively unique, although I admit that I have not done any research.
          What I would like to see is an exhibition with my pictures, presented on simple bright LCD displays. Pure awesome nature photos with the phallic logo. Not very contemporary maybe, but the only thing I can do. People would come there not to feel smart, but to be taken to a cool place that is actually enjoyable.
          Another thing that I might do some day as a separate project is portraits with women in nature. I have not seen that done well yet, because most just focus on making the woman look super important and majestic. Barf. A woman is to be taken, not put on a pedestal.
          Although I do not like the kind of manipulation you suggest, I am quite fit in Photoshop. I prefer to use it subtly, though, so that the effect is not obvious. In the uploaded pictures, I often spent about an hour or more adjusting lighting, local contrast and nuances. All I want to do is enhance the impression of nature without making it look overly pompous. Rather, I want it to look full and real and I want it to tell a story. Not just ‘this is beautiful’, but ‘if I was there, what would I like to do there?’
          That all said, I am not actively working on any of it. Just a daydream. Having psychological issues to sort out right now.
          Glad you like my work.

        9. That video was presenting just a philosophy and a bit of an explanation as to why we see so much of this type of work today. What might work for you instead is to print your photo on an acetate that then is then use a lightbox behind it. This way you do not need to use sn lcd screen but the acetate prints have better detail than just a photo giclee. If you google the image lightbox method you can get more information about it.

        10. Yes but it seems that colors and detail tend to be richer when show via light-behind-the-image format. Viewing donething bia LCF is of course also the same method.

        11. The problem is that modern monitors do not have the necessary resolution. Say 4K. These exist, but they are way too expensive. Never saw any of those light-behind-the-image things.

      1. There is no money in art photography. Pro photographers take real estate or product photos or photoshop corporate profiles or photoshop the living hell out of wedding photos.
        The cheap ass and hard core way to take photos is use medium format cameras. A third to a tenth the price of that digital SLR. Much higher cool factor.
        And ALL THE GOOD LANDSCAPES ARE NOT NEAR ROADS. So learn to hike, bro.

        1. So, a lot of pictures of hills, valleys, and tunnels then? 🙂
          Seriously though, definitely go for it Epic Porn has a certain ring to it and should always be accompanied by Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna”.

        2. Epic Porn scares me. I have a cousin who suggested that since so many young people have beards we should do a 16 hour epic historical fiction called Gettysfuck

        3. O Fortuna is not subtle enough. I want a full range of emotional expression, not just a ‘desaturated, high contrast image with dramatic clouds’ cliche. An extremely good example is the old Bambi movie.

  6. Ski instructors get all the pussy. Her husband pays you to “teach” her while he goes off and skis with his male friends. lol

      1. I would expect you to be the one of last people on ROK to know of Adventure Time.
        I suspect you have little kids or nephews.

        1. You are correct, I know of it due to kids in my family. I don’t watch it, but the merchandising push is pretty strong from what I’ve seen transpire.

    1. They may sop up pussy with the cowokers working from exchange countries, but I don’t admire them. I laugh when I’m in these places and witness their holier-than-thou attitude. They’re the same jerk offs acting like they’re ten years younger, trying to sell you lessons at whatever bullshit they do. Sorry dude, I already know how to surf, flew here for free, and am just getting the free breakfast right now haha

        1. I am still not sure what happened in paris…mostly because I don’t care. I am, however, referring to it as Le 9-11

      1. Google Roubaix hostages! Not sure if it’s an actual terrorist attack but given Frances record,it looks like a terrorist attack

  7. Lame, these guys save nothing towards retirement. The owners of the bullshit adventure places are just using the tour guides and paying them jackshit, while the tour guides think they have it all figured out. Haven fun when you hit 40 after having not owned a house, saved anything etc.

  8. See: trying to make your hobby a business- usually fails miserably and is full of other people thinking the exact same thing. Have fun! Surrogate activities…

  9. If you’re any good at these “adventure sports” you go places where the crowds haven’t found them, don’t need a guide, and do it on the cheap. This is like going to Cozumel to play scuba instructor and thinking you’ll have it made. The locals are already doing it and barely getting by, you can’t own land there easily, and you’re disposable.

  10. One thing you can consider is medical/wilderness first aid training. I do volunteer ski patrol, while working my regular job. Once I retire from my normal job, I’ll shift into seasonal adventure stuff. Having experience with outdoor emergency response will make the transition easier. It is a marketable skill.

    1. “One thing you can consider is medical/wilderness first aid training.”
      A 1000x recommended. Every man should learn that (not just for job training either).
      Like a survival instructor of mine once said:
      “In a do or die situation, all you have is your body and brain.”

  11. It’s a false dichotomy. I’ve been a ropes course instructor and a ski instructor, all while going to college and having “real jobs,” too. Just go do it. Also, you can be trained to teach all kinds of cool stuff in the Army (sly-diving, repelling, skiing with guns, etc), the only downside is . . . the Army.

  12. For sure it’s an interesting lifestyle. Becoming extremely wealthy doesn’t have to be the goal of every man. Living the life like that sounds pretty good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *