A tour guide is someone who shows visitors around an area, with the guide using extensive local knowledge to share the area with visitors. Tour guides are hired to help people navigate unfamiliar areas, and to make trips special, as a good tour guide sets a positive tone for a trip and shows people things they would not have discovered otherwise. Using a tour guide while traveling can also be useful because tour guides are very knowledgeable, and they can provide facts and information which help visitors interpret and understand the places they see.
Some tour guides work primarily locally, focusing on providing services to tourists by request. They may work in museums or similar locations, or they may work with or for companies which take tourists out on day trips of an area. Tour guides might lead visitors on tours of local religious sites, castles, gardens, or other sites of interest, tailoring the tour for the visitors. Locally-based tour guides are also often able to open doors which would otherwise be closed, and their local knowledge can be helpful for people who are unfamiliar with the culture and traditions of an area.
Other tour guides travel with their clients, guiding them to, around, and from various locations. For example, a group of people who want to hike in the rainforest might hire a tour guide who travels with them, guides them through the forest while providing information and assistance, and travels back. Tour guides of this type often work with travel agents, with the agent handling the logistics of transportation, lodging, and so forth, while the tour guide focuses on caring for the clients.
Guided tours with groups can vary in cost, from free tours in many cities in the world provided by public service organizations to much more expensive organized trips such as treks in Nepal. It is also possible to hire a private tour guide who works with a client or group of clients to develop a customized tour, which tends to be more costly, but includes personalized and detailed attention, which some people enjoy while traveling.
Being knowledgeable in several languages is useful for a tour guide, as tour guides may work with multilingual clients, or may need to translate for clients while traveling in a country where a foreign language is spoken. In addition to having language skills, tour guides also need to have excellent interpersonal skills, and the ability to work tirelessly for their clients from the moment the engagement begins to the time that the clients are safely seen on their way.