By Joy Martin /


10 Traits of a Good Guide

For some, going guided is a no-brainer. These guests know the magic touch that a good guide brings to a trip and, more often than not, how a good guide can make a journey truly unforgettable.

Austin Adventures takes great pride in hiring guides specific to their region of expertise who also hold a bounty of gifts ranging from cooking skills to an ability to read group dynamics. If you’ve never gone on a guided adventure, then take a few minutes to consider this list of good-guide attributes we believe can add invaluable depth to your next experience-of-a-lifetime.

10. Logistics

Relax. You’re in good hands when you go guided. A true vacation is one where you can unplug and turn your mind off of the details, confident that someone else knows when you’re eating next, where you’re sleeping, how to get from the airport to the boat, what direction is north, how long it takes to hike six miles – and how much food and water you’ll need for that pursuit. You’ll never feel the need to question a good guide; they’re masters of anticipating needs!

9. Walking Trivia Books

Did you know that every step down you take in Grand Canyon takes you 100,000 years back in geologic time? Or that beer was illegal in Iceland till 1989? From the wondrous to the practical, knowledge deepens any adventure, and there’s no better vessel for expertise than a good guide. Because they’re also amateur geologists and naturalists, guides have the special gift of being able to distill complicated science into elementary anecdotes that make sense to you and your eight-year-old.dsc01888

8. Insider Knowledge

If it wasn’t for a guide, you never would have found that fern grotto under the waterfall on your own, nor would you have known to order that weirdly divine dish in Thailand. You would never have met those musicians in Cuba or been welcomed to that vineyard in Italy. It pays to get off-the-beaten-path and follow someone who’s done the hard work already, paving the way for life-changing encounters with hidden secrets the world over.

7. First Aid

Safety is a guide’s number one priority. All Austin Adventure guides are certified in CPR/First Aid training and sometimes even hold more extensive credentials, like a Wilderness First Responder certification. They also carry First Aid kits with them at all times. This doesn’t mean you should pick up a rattlesnake or decide to learn how to swim on a trip. Rather, it means your guide will harp on prevention as the best medicine, ensuring all guests stay hydrated, fed, warm, cool, dry, and out of harm’s way.

6. Gourmet Proficiency

pt6a5221You haven’t had a cheese plate till you’ve savored gouda, crackers and blueberries on top of a mountain. Grilled steak and asparagus by the spray of a turquoise-blue waterfall in Havasupai? No problem. A morning sunrise topped off with a platter of fresh fruit carved into boats, swans and all sorts of creative designs? That’s happening. And who knew you could make ice cream on a glacier? There’s no end to the culinary surprises a guide can pull from his or her pack on the trail.

5. Inspiration

Guides are a great resource for travel inspiration – especially once they get to know your interests. For instance, if you’re sea kayaking in Croatia but already dreaming of your next adventure, ask your guide about their other favorite destinations. That way, you can float in the Mediterranean and begin plotting your voyage around the San Juan Islands. But try to stay in the moment, would you?

4. Calm

No matter how detail-oriented or prepared a guide is for a trip, there is always the potential for a hiccup in the plans. Flash floods or natural disasters, travel delays or traffic jams, rockfalls closing a trail, reservation snafus, a sick or injured guest – you name it; they’ve dealt with it. One of the most valuable characteristics of a good guide is their ability to remain calm and see unplanned obstacles as part of the adventure – and of course have a Plan B or C in place for everything. Improvisation, after all, is a guide’s middle name.

3. Good Storytellersdsc01893

Whether you’re feasting your eyes on Torres del Paine or marveling at Scotty’s quirky Castle in Death Valley, a good guide can help bring to life the story behind the story better than any book or app. From tall tales of the Yukon to the complex biology of the Galapagos, good guides are experts at mixing the perfect blend of fact, humor and a dash of imagination to their interpretation of your destination. And sometimes the best souvenirs you take home are your collection of guide stories!

2. Helpful Hints

Most guides are not only gear junkies but also can’t wait to share their advice on anything from the best bike chamois to blister prevention. They’ll tell you the perfect temperature for brewing cowboy coffee on the trail (some guides even carry thermometers for precise digits), and they’ll teach you to adjust your pack to fit like a glove. Don’t worry: guides also know when their hints aren’t so helpful…

1. Service

Not too different from being served lobster at an elegant restaurant, a good guide has the unique ability and opportunity to serve a life-changing trip-of-a-lifetime. While they do get to travel, hike, bike, and snorkel for work, guiding is above all a customer-service-oriented gig rather than an adrenaline junkies dream job. A guide’s personal aspirations take the backseat while they focus instead on providing a safe, fun, transformative environment for every individual on the trip. All that’s left to do is see for yourself!


With over 40 years of adventure travel experience you can be sure that you’re traveling with the experts. Our in-the-field personal touches, local expert guides, and small group sizes allow us to pack exceptional quality service into each trip. See all of our destinations here.

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adventure with us!

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