Cool Summer Job: Trip Leader with Backroads

We're highlighting great ways to get outside this summer—and get paid for it

On a cycling tour of Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks.

One of the widest reaching adventure travel companies on the planet, Backroads leads hiking, biking, walking and multisport trips on five continents and 38 countries.

Working as a trip leader during the peak summer season, from May through September, can take you just about anywhere—Alaska, Yellowstone, Italy—provided you have the right fitness level and language skills, of course.

Eileen Spillane, founder of The Balanced Nurse and a part-time nurse based in San Francisco, applied last year because she wanted to add balance to her life after spending 25 years at an indoor job. “I was looking for a change in my career, and I looked at that book What Color Is Your Parachute that they give to graduating college students. I was thumbing through that and read that if you like the outdoors you might enjoy working as a guide. I thought, 'Why don't I check out a company that does that?'”

After doing her research on the best tour companies to work for she landed on Backroads and successfully applied. Spillane went through a two-week training session, during which she listed her top destination preferences, and was then given her assignment for the season: Yellowstone and the Tetons. (Her first choice was Alaska.) “You don’t always get your first preference, but everywhere they go is a desirable location,” she said.

She was part of a three-person team that led small groups on hiking, biking, kayaking and horseback riding adventures. Asked what the best part of the job was she said, “Honestly, spending time in nature in gorgeous locations,” but added: “What I was surprised by was how much I loved the guests and how much I loved my co-workers. You’re attracting people who are so outdoorsy and interesting. …It’s a really fun workplace.”

DATES: seasonal through the end of September; check website for recruitment events
Apply Now

This post is part of a series highlighting interesting outdoor jobs in partnership with the seasonal jobs board Cool Works. For more listings, visit and see our slideshow.


No votes yet

Let's Be Friends. Follow The Active Times on Facebook!