I received notice of my termination today
After 20 years of working for a small tour operator (ten of those full-time) I'm finally going back to freelance guiding. Covid slammed the tourism industry pretty hard and I've been floating in furlough limbo since April 2020, but the government bail-out ended a few days ago in Italy so employees like me can now be fired. And that's fine. When one door closes another opens, and I feel a big world of possibilities waiting for me on the other side.
A Lifelong Passion for Travel
My first real taste of adventure was climbing the Great Pyramid of Cheops when I was 18 (yeah, it was illegal, but five bucks got me a ride on the back of a horse and a guide to take me and my friends to the top).
I had no idea that that climb would lead to a lifetime of exploring and climbing to new heights. Here below, my younger self gazes across at the giants of the Himalayas (Tibet, 1993; I'll do a blog post about it some day!) as my current self confronts the challenges of a new future.
After getting advanced degrees in French, Philosophy and Comparative Literature I realized I didn't want a career in academia and was thrilled to find out about guiding "active tours" in Europe. 25 years later I am still passionate about my job, about travel, and sharing my passion with others. Indeed, one of my favorite parts of travel is meeting new people along the way (below: Tibet with young monks, Yunnan China, Lombok Indonesia)
So what do I do now?
After twenty years at one company, always following the same formula, I'm ready for a CHANGE. I want something MORE, something different. I want to offer more tour experiences to more people: active or non-active; cultural deep-dives (you know I'm a huge history nerd!) or lazy afternoons on a beach; party-van road-trips or urban trekking around Florence, Rome, Venice, etc.; multi-sport adventures; budget tours that allow everyone to travel; off-the-beaten-track explorations or a fresh look at the classics. Though I specialize in Europe (Italy, France, Greece, Croatia, Spain) I could take on more exotic destinations based on my own travels (top of the dream list: Jordan and the ruins of Petra!).
Want to sip Prosecco from a rooftop bar in Venice? Have a soak in an open-air thermal pool in Tuscany? Or get lost in the backstreets in the Greek Islands? Let's talk!
What I bring to your experience:
* 25 years of experience guiding over 200 tours
* itineraries tailored to your interests
* a variety of activities: hiking, road cycling, e-biking, or classic "road trips" * genuine enthusiasm and curiosity about the places we visit
* a selection of my best digital photos post-tour
* in-depth knowledge of history and culture
* and the rarely mentioned but crucial personality traits that make a good guide: patience, empathy, and a positive outlook 🙂
* optional extras: dirty jokes, 70s music sing-alongs, and tales of Mongolian ponies 😉
One of my favorite quotes is from the 1955 film "Auntie Mame," where Rosalind Russell plays the eccentric, well-traveled aunt who says:
"Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"
If you'd like to join me at the banquet table (or barefoot on a red sand dune in Jordan), drop me a line at CLDuiker@gmail.com or my classic firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's do this!
I'm still getting prepared for 2022 but you can consult my Travel Services page to see what I'm working on. You can also support me in these difficult times by dropping a few coins into the tip jar (click here). As the bail-out is ending I now have to apply for unemployment (ugh), but I hope I won't need it for long!!!
A huge, heartfelt grazie mille to everyone who has supported me during the pandemic -- emotionally and/or financially -- through your emails, your comments, your social media presence (I'm @claire_in_the_world on Instagram if you're there), your friendship, and your virtual hugs. They sustained me through the difficult times and gave me the courage to take these next steps. Enough "working for the man," it's time to channel my inner goddess! ❤️