Everyday is a holiday when you’re a TruTravels Group Leader, and I thank my lucky stars it happens to be my gig. If you’ve travelled with Tru before than you know we group leaders are (relatively) normal peeps who love a good adventure. I often get asked what it’s like to get to work hard and play even harder, and since I’m an open book I’ll just go ahead and give my group leader confessions.
Being a group leader inspires me to step out of my comfort zone! I've always been more of a Baby Spice than a Sporty Spice. When I was eight years old my daddy gave me permission to quit soccer (football...whatever) after I chose to chase my hair scrunchie rather than the ball.
Obviously adventuring with Tru means participating in oodles of adventures. Taking the plunge at Slip ‘N Fly or being bounced off the blob at The Challenge or trekking my way across the sky-high cliff at Bottle Beach viewpoint are so not in my nature, but I am ecstatic to have done every single one of those funtivities. Positive peer pressure is totes a thing, and I am so thankful for all the backpackers on tour who have encouraged me past old limits. Together we’ve overcome fears, experienced some not so graceful moments, and had a blast while doing it.
Quite honestly, I didn’t know much about Thailand before arriving. I had an inexplicable desire to come and thank Buddha (God, Jesus, Muhammad, the Cosmos, Beyoncé, whoever) I did because this place is a total heart throb. From its gorgeous mountains, to its beautiful beaches to its wild jungles, Thailand is most def the place to be if you’re trying to up your instagram game.
Of course it’s not all about what’s on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Come to Thailand and you’re sure to find out why this place is nicknamed the Land of Smiles. The people here are so, so friendly and eager to share their country with all. With over 90% of Thais being Buddhist karma keeps this land moving and grooving. What goes around comes around– since I’ve shown mad love to Thailand, Thailand’s shown mad love back to me. With average temps around 26°C, I think it’s fair to say things between us are heating up...
This may sound cray, but living life on vacation can be exhausting. I want to show each new crew the best time around, but Waterfall Parties on top of Jungle Parties on top of Full Moon parties can yield major fatigue... and/or liver failure.
I don’t have much say in my schedule and obviously the Tru Crew I wind up with for 8-23ish days is a total wild card. Oddly enough, the itinerary and accompanying guests for every tour I’ve led has served up exactly what I needed at the time.
On my first tour, I was super nervy. Ironically, a totally understanding ex-tour guide was on board and shared me in on her secrets (thanks Becca!). Then there was the time I felt a bit homesick and feared island life was transforming me into a beach bum. Then, voilà my bestie from home came along for my first Northern Tour. It was super convenient to have a familiar face help get me through the stress of ziplining and our shopping sprees in the night markets of Chiang Mai and Pai brought me back to my mall madness days. And oh yeah...before heading home for the holidays, I was hankering for a killer tan and to go out with a bang. Lo and behold, I was matched up with some serious soul sisters who know how to partay on an 18 Day Island Hopper.
Back in my U.S.A days, I was a compulsive perfectionist. Every minute of every day was efficiently planned. I always made my bed before leaving the house, I tended to be on my boss’ good side, and if a pal needed help, I was her go to girl. I trotted off to Thailand before I ever got around to being perfect.
Thailand creates questions even Google couldn’t answer. Everytime I think I know how something is going to play out, I’m thrown for a loop. So I no longer stress over precisely how long the jungle trek will take or whether or not we’ll see turtles on the snorkeling trip. As a group leader I’m constantly learning, and I’ve learned things on tour constantly change. Lack of preparation or knowledge aren’t to blame, things here just go with the flow, and now I do too.
The way I came about working for Tru as a group leader is a story for another day, but accidentally being in the right place at the right time was nothing short of miraculous. It just so happens the vast majority of group leaders got their start with the biz by way of ka-winky-dink. I have never met people who are more different than me (backgrounds, experiences, etc.), but who at their cores are so very the same. Our relationships all overlap in different ways, but at the end of the day we’re one big, crazy family. Since we’re moving around all of the time, I don’t get to see everyone nearly as much as I’d like, but side by side or miles apart, my Tru Fam is always close to my heart.
This may sound a bit hokey pokey, but what makes or breaks a tour isn’t the weather, smooth travel between points A and B, or even the itinerary– it’s the folks you experience it with. I firmly believe your vibe attracts your tribe and have thus met a bunch of used to be strangers I now call friends.
If you’ve toured with me, that means we’ve made a connection that’s 100% real. 8-23ish days doesn’t seem like much time, but it’s enough to create bonds that last a lifetime. When you’re stretching so far outside the limits of daily life, you need to connect with others in order to reach. Warning: cheesy line ahead...when a tour ends, the friendships continue.
I’m madly in love with Thailand (please see #2). One of my favorite things about the place is the collective belief in the unseen. History surrounding various landmarks and temples closely resemble mythology. The impossible seems to happen here because people believe in it. In Thailand trees house spirits and five people can fit on a motorbike and there’s a village underwater and a white elephant carried Buddha’s shoulder bone to the top of a mountain.
Being a group leader allows me to experience once in a lifetime experiences every single day. I have friends from all over the world, and they just so happen to be some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I will continue to cross paths with who knows who and go on adventures to find who knows what who knows where. Life with Tru is one big mystical adventure. If that’s not magic, then I don’t know what is...I never claimed to know all the answers anyway (please see #4).
So there we have it, the confessions of a group leader! Life isn't too shabby hey. And guess what?! We are currently recruiting! Check this link for more info and we may see you out in paradise very soon!
Follow Barbie on her travels with Tru on Instagram here.
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