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Tour Directing – A Labor of Love

Passengers often ask me the same question again and again… “Do you work full-time?”

I explain that being a Tour Director for Starr is not a full-time job. (Although some times it feels like it is – while I on tour I am working 24/7!)  As much as I like to think I could escort bus trips every day, in reality, there is no way I could.  I travel with Starr about 50 days a year; sometimes more, sometimes less.  But that doesn’t tell the whole story.  Before I even leave on a trip, there is information to be gathered, especially if I’ve never done the itinerary before or it’s been a long time since I’ve done it.  I have to check on all the stops we’ll be making – whether they are restaurants, hotels, attractions or even rest stops.  I call ahead to ask questions so I know what to expect. And even if I have been there before, I need to find out if there have been any changes since the last time I was there.  I also talk to the driver who will be driving the trip.  A Driver’s input is very important and helpful since we work as a team while on tour.

USS Constitution, Photo Courtesy of Greater Boston CVB

The history of a destination is also important and some require more study than others. For example, I enjoy going to Boston because I love the early history of our country. Seeing its historic places, such as The Old North Church and USS Constitution (Old Ironsides), gives me a thrill. I want to share that feeling with my passengers.  American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” is one of the things I entertain tour guests with on the bus ride north.  I only memorized half of it as a kid, so I have to read the rest!

Starr Tour Directors like to play games that have to do with the destination on trips to help the time pass by, and those games need preparation.

Preparation for a trip can take many days before we depart but it’s not done by day one. You’ve probably seen your Tour Director doing paperwork on the bus and there is also a paperwork and reports to be completed after the trip ends.  In approximation, as a rule of thumb, it takes as much time to prepare for a trip as the actual trip itself!

For other trips, such as the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, a favorite of mine, I already have a lot of information that I readily share with my passengers on the way into the city because I escort this trip so often. But, I am always reading and learning more about the history as well as finding out what is new in the area… and there is always something new in downtown New York City!

Oh, and one more thing I have to do before I leave on a multi-day trip: be sure that there is food in the house and go over meal suggestions for my husband, who will be home with our dog. “Who’s babysitting who?” I often ask!

Laurentian Mountains, Montreal

I started preparing for this year’s trips in the beginning of the year by going through my files from years past and going over the planned itineraries of any new trips I am escorting this year.  Montreal and the Laurentian Mountains, October 7-10, is new this year. I love the mountains, so I am really looking forward to this bus trip. I will be spending lots of time preparing by reading up on everything we will be seeing there.

Now that you know a little about what’s behind the average trip, perhaps you’ll see your Tour Director a little differently.

I would love to know what things you do before you depart on your Starr bus trip!

 

See you on the bus!
Bette Barr
Starr Tour Director

Join Bette in the Hudson Valley in August, Savannah in September, Atlantic City in October, and more. Click here to see a listing of where your favorite Tour Directors are heading.

Hey Baby Boomers! How about a 2nd Career as a Charter Bus Driver?

Hey Baby Boomers! How about a 2nd Career as a Charter Bus Driver?

According to Investopedia, Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are heading into retirement in droves (about 10,000 a day, in fact).  But what does retirement mean anymore? How many of you have celebrated the retirement of a friend, relative or coworker just to find out they have gone back to work? We can retire from one career and start another in a very smooth fashion. Here at Starr we hire lots of retirees on staff as Bus Drivers. We have retired Police Officers, Teachers, Firefighters, and many Veterans.  Driving a charter bus offers a lot of the perks that workers facing retirement seem to desire, such as flexible hours, a change of pace and scenery, and the opportunity to learn new skills. Folks who have held sedentary jobs often enjoy being “on the move” for a change; workers tied to one locale during their career may appreciate visiting new places; those who’ve worked alone—like accountants, lab technicians, or computer programmers—may enjoy the opportunity to meet and converse with many new people every trip.

Everyone knows Americans are living longer than ever so that means our ideas around retirement and needs going into retirement are changing. Although the U.S. Census Bureau data shows that the average retirement age in the United States is about age 63, many don’t retire until Age 70. And then there are those in good health, like Starr’s owner Alan Glickman, who are 75 and still going strong! The longer we work, the easier it is to afford a comfortable retirement. Longer lives and rising health care costs have made retirement more expensive at the same time that stagnant wages and the decline of the traditional pension have made it harder to save enough. Putting off retirement until later can mean less worry once you get there. Then you can relax and truly enjoy your golden years.

Bloomberg tells us that U.S. seniors are employed at the highest rates in 55 years which means that more and more Americans are spending their golden years on the job due to a number of factors. Many are healthier and living longer than previous generations. Some need the income, while others decide not to fully retire because they enjoy their jobs or just want to stay active.

While age discrimination is a very real consideration for older job seekers, a few gray hairs can actually be a plus for aspiring bus drivers.  Passengers might equate age with experience, authority, and sound judgment and they would be right.  A little life experience can go a long way on the open road.  For a generation pondering how to transition into the next phase of life, a stint as a bus driver might be the ticket.

Starr makes the transition into a new career as a motorcoach operator as easy as possible. First, we offer a full scholarship to qualified candidates to help get you the necessary CDL license you’ll need to operate one of our buses. Next, we offer a flexible schedule, premiere medical benefits, and full and part time options. Oh, and we also offer a $10,000 hiring bonus for full time drivers, and $2,500 for part time drivers, just to sweeten the deal even further.

Our drivers travel up and down the east coast and as far west as Michigan, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee. You work as a team with knowledgeable Tour Directors, and get to know many of our amazing passengers and groups – many of which have been traveling with Starr for years! If the idea of being paid to travel, see our great country, and meet some great people interests you, why not consider turning your retirement into an adventure and join our team? We’d love to have you!

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