All tours have been cancelled for the 2020 due to COVID19. Fingers crossed for a better 2021.
Commencing in 2017, I’ve worked with Mile Zero Tours, a Victoria-based travel company, as a tour director on contract. I’ve led their clients to tours through the Yukon and the Arctic, Haida Gwaii, and Pacific Rim National Park. In 2020, I’ll be guiding them on tours through Southern Alberta and Newfoundland/Labrador in addition to Haida Gwaii and the Yukon/ Arctic.
- Provide a seamless and hassle free experience for our Guests while engaging them with information pertaining to a destination’s culture, history, flora, fauna, geography, geology, etc.;
- Ensure implementation of trip logistics occur, including: transportation, entertainment, luggage, porterage, meals, accommodations, and excursions as well as any special requests by Guests (room requests, dietary needs, etc.);
- Act as a liasion between Guests and vendors to ensure Guest satisfaction (e.g. prompt luggage arrival, room requests met, dietary needs considered, excursion concerns addressed);
- Communicate daily itinerary to all Guests; work with management to create and facilitate changes to trip itineraries as needed;
- Manage group dynamics and focus on building connections with everyone on the trip;
- Ensure tour remains on schedule;
- Manage Guest emergencies and crisis situations as needed with support of management while maintaining the highest regard for safety at all times; administer basic first aid as need; and
- Manage allotted budge, follow proper cash handling procedures, and pay vendors as needed.
In 2018, Orbridge, a US travel company, retained my services as a Tour Director & Expedition Leader on their signature. Their clients are entirely from university and college alumni from across the country. Group size ranges from 45 – 50 guests. Because of the relatively large group size, each tour has a tour director and an expedition leader; however, in recognition of my knowledge and expertise in this region of Canada, I fulfill both roles on this tour with an assistant.
The duties are much the same as those of Mile Zero Tours:
- Provide Program Guiding, Leadership and Guest Service for each day of the term of the contract;
- Provide in-field interpretation as set forth in accordance with the program itinerary and guest inquiry;
- Provide daily feedback, when possible, to Orbridge Operations to ensure guest issues are handled in a speedy and effective manner;
- Coordinate with local suppliers to support itinerary inclusions; and
- Provide Orbridge with sufficient accounting of monies spend in addition to any pre-arranged program activities and /or services.
I began working with Road Scholar (formerly known as Elderhostel) back in the early 1990s while I was teaching in the Department of Geography at the University of Victoria. Back then, I served as a “faculty” or guest speaker to groups passing through Victoria. I’ve always for these people, almost entirely from the US, a delight to work with. Their desire for learning is unquenchable!
So, it’s not surprising I jumped at the opportunity to work with them again in 2016 as a group leader. Over the past four years, I’ve led Road Scholars through the following excursions:
- Wildlife of British Columbia: Whales, Grizzlies and Ancient Forests;
- Signature City Vancouver;
- The Best of the Rockies by Rail: Western Canada’s Splendor;
- Canadian Explorer; and
- Great American Get Together in Banff;
Group sizes range from 25 – 35 generally.
Duties much the same as Orbridge and Mile Zero Tours.
In 2017 and 2018, Maple Leaf Adventures, a small-ship boutique travel company based in Victoria, BC, retained my services as a naturalist. What a remarkable adventure this turned out to be! Highlight trips were definitely through the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. However, I also thoroughly enjoyed the trips through the Southern Gulf Islands.
By small ships, I mean small! The sailboat accommodated max of 8 guests while the converted classic tug could handle 12 comfortably.
My duties as naturalist were primarily to provide natural and cultural history interpretation both on board and during shore excursions. I also prepared and gave illustrated presentations as well as contribute photos to the creation of a slide presentation to be given to the guests at the end of the trip. In addition, I kept a daily trip journal that was also given to the guests along with the slide presentation.
The duties of the naturalist also included assisting the deck hand with a variety of chores such as scrubbing down decks, tying up to docks, hanging up life jackets and putting away rubber boats.
Transport Canada rules dictated that naturalists be considered as crew members. As a result, I obtained certificates for Advanced Marine and Wilderness First Aid, Radio Operator, and Marine Emergency Duties.
“Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, wisdom & humour on this journey. It ranks as one of the best travel experiences in my life. I very much hope our paths will cross again.”“Rick Searle is an excellent guide – one of the best I’ve encountered, and I’ve done many trips, both with Road Scholar and Overseas Adventure Travel.”
“Rick Searle is in the elite top group of leaders we’ve ever experienced, and we’ve taken a lot guided trips!”
“We’ve never encountered anyone who gave so much of himself to make sure everyone was taken care of, answering all questions, suggesting restaurants and joining the group, watching out for the people who needed a little more watching when on the trail. All around wonderful human being and group leader.”
“Rick Searle is exceptional…his leadership, warmth, humor, knowledge, genuineness and enthusiasm far exceeded our expectations. We’d really like to participate in other tours with him.”
“We so enjoyed your expert guidance thru the Canadian Rockies. Your knowledge of the area was so amazing and made such a difference in our first experience in Canada! Thank you so much!”
“Can’t thank you enough for guidance and personal attention throughout our amazing week. We learned so much from you!”
“As Sue and I “decompress” from our amazing trip to the Canadian Rockies, we want to thank you again for your leadership. We could not have “hired” a more competent, knowledgeable, and humorous group leader. You were the “glue” to the whole journey. Your decision to reschedule the gondola trip due to the snow and cloudy conditions was a major decision. We had a perfect day for the trip up Sulphur Mountain (and we shared that trip with you). Your love for your profession comes out loud and clear! It is contagious! The bottom line: WOW! … what a great time and YOU made us very happy!”