Somehow, the holidays always tend to sneak up on us, and we end up scrambling to find last-minute gifts for family and friends. But as you quickly make your way down the list, checking it twice, don’t forget to include your tour guides.
After all, this is the perfect time to show how much you appreciate everything they do for your tour company beyond a generic Christmas card or swag bag. Along with unique employee perks, a thoughtful gift can make them feel valued, boost morale, create a happy work environment and keep them coming back season after season.
That said, it can be nerve-racking shopping for employees compared to loved ones. You might not necessarily know what they like, even if you regularly engage with them on a personal level. There’s also the question of cost: what if you spend too little or too much?
No need to stress; I’ve compiled a list of the best tour guide gifts at a reasonable price that you can refer to anytime, for work anniversaries, appreciation days, or International Tour Guide Day — why isn’t this an official holiday yet?
Just bookmark this article to your browser and get inspired by one of the below categories, sure to bring a smile to any tour guide’s face:
6 thoughtful ideas for tour guide gifts
1. Something useful for on the job
Okay, I know what you’re thinking — isn’t gifting something work-related kind of impersonal? Not exactly! Going this route is the best way to keep the middle ground and avoid buying anything inappropriate or unwanted.
Besides, you already know the ins and outs of tour guiding, and what could make their job easier and more enjoyable. They’ll love the fact that you understand the job’s unique challenges, which they usually try to compensate for out of their own pockets.
Just promise me you won’t bedazzle their clipboards.
Tour guide gift ideas
- Notebook: for funny tour guide jokes that come to mind out of the blue
- Stainless steel water bottle: to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for guiding in the snow, rain, and sunshine
- Waterproof backpack cover: to keep their tour supplies and valuables dry
- Comfort insoles: to give them the support they need leading tours by foot all day
- Five-year memory book: for writing down memorable tour moments, one line at a time, to reflect on the same day one to five years later
- Disposable camera: to introduce some nostalgic fun to the tour and remind them of their childhood vacations when they first fell in love with traveling
2. Something sweet, savoury, and local
You can’t go wrong with a local goodies basket. Your tour guides tout guests all over your destination, and even if you don’t offer food tours, they probably enjoy baked goods and sweet treats along the way, something your guides miss out on because they’re busy running the tour!
For the holidays, consider spoiling your tour guides to a curated box of their favourite (or yours, because you have good taste) local products. If you don’t have the time to go around collecting the items, check to see if a nearby food tour operator is selling gift boxes this year. Let’s support each other.
Local gift box themes
- Artisan cheese, cured meats, and crackers (can you say charcuterie?)
- An assortment of decadent chocolate and creamy fudge (cookies and cream is the best flavour, just saying)
- You might as well add some quality wine to go with either of the above boxes
- A brunch basket with homemade pancake mix, maple syrup, and fruit jams
- Fresh produce from the local farmer’s market
- A festive basket brimming with shortbread, caramel corn, sugar cookies, peanut brittle, and chocolate truffles
- The Baker’s Best — cinnamon swirls, lemon loaf cakes, and butter tarts
3. Something to fuel their wanderlust
Many tour guides get into this profession because they want to see the world. And frankly, they should fuel this wanderlust in the off-season as it exposes them to unfamiliar people and places, helping them become culturally sensitive tour guides.
Whether or not they’re already seasoned globetrotters, here are a few must-have items they can pack for a short or long-term trip (when travel gets back into full swing).
Gifts for the travel lover
- GorillaPod: to capture Instagram-worthy shots while being able to star in them
- LifeStraw: for safe access to clean drinking water, no matter where they travel
- Packing cubes: to keep everything in their backpack or suitcase neat and organized (and to fit more stuff in)
- Solar charger power bank: so that their smartphone never runs out of battery while they’re out exploring
- Scrubba Wash Bag: for long-haul trips, multi-day treks, and camping adventures where there’s no laundromat in sight
- A fun luggage tag: so that their luggage is always easy to spot and let’s be honest, it’s a nuisance filling out paper tags at the airport every departure
- Travel books: to pass the time on long plane, train, or bus rides with a little entertainment (anything by Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson, Will Ferguson, and J. Maarten Troost is a page-turner)
4. Something they’ll never, ever forget
That’s right; experiences make the best tour guide gifts! You know it, I know it, we all know it. While tangible gifts are well-received, there’s nothing better than a new, fun, and exciting experience they can cherish in their memories for a lifetime. Plus, they get to be the guests for once!
As you know already, booking an experience for someone else has its challenges — you might not be 100% sure when they’re free, even if you glance at their scheduled shifts. Can you see where I’m going with this?
Gift certificates! You’re probably no stranger to this flexible booking solution. So, why not support another tour operator in town by buying a gift certificate your guides can look forward to using in their spare time, whenever? As a bonus, they’ll get to see first-hand what makes a good tour guide from a guest’s perspective.
5. Something to soothe their soul (and sore feet)
Your tour guides are on their feet all day long. While they’re probably used to walking on concrete for hours on end by now, their muscles and joints could still use some TLC. And who doesn’t love a little self-care time?
Similar to the local gift basket, you can put together a home spa kit so that they can kick back, relax, and scrub off a long and tiring day of guiding. You can even step it up a notch by attaching a humorous sticky note to each item, relating how it can help relieve stress from the job.
The home spa kit essentials
- Foot scrub: to pamper their tired feet after miles of walking
- Hydrating lip peel: for the chapped lips from nonstop hours of talking
- Eye peel: to brighten the eyes for those early morning bookings
- Face sheet masks: to relax that permanent guest smile
- Hair mask: to nourish damaged hair from enduring all kinds of weather conditions
- Bubble bath: to melt away and forget about the most cringey tourists
- Candles: to remind them that they’re the shining light of your tours
6. Something to grow professionally & personally
One of the best things you can give a passionate tour guide is the gift of learning. If they’re serious about pursuing this career, they’ll be eager to fine-tune their skills and discover new tricks of the trade to help them get better at what they do — like learning how to become a good storyteller.
Now, you may not have the budget for professional development throughout the year, and that’s okay. You can treat your tour guide gifts as the perfect opportunity to show them that you see their potential and want to invest in their future.
Check out these top online tour guide courses and programs!
That said, it doesn’t have to be all about work. Your tour guides are more than just tour guides. They have hobbies and interests outside of tourism. If you know what they’re specifically into, you can contribute to a fulfilling work-life balance by supporting their passions and dreams with a related online course.
As I mentioned, a thoughtful gift can go a long way in showing appreciation for your tour guides, no matter the occasion. However, if you have a BIG roster, freelance tour guides included, an intentional and personal message in a card will have the same positive impact without breaking the bank.