By combining her love of travel with the organizational skills she picked up as a teacher and business professional, Susan Aris now gets paid to explore the destinations she loves most. Specifically Spain, Ecuador, Italy, and Brazil.
She creates and runs tours and charges between $4,000 and $6,900 per attendee, depending on the tour and the level of accommodation she’s providing.
“There are eight people in each group and I take around seven or eight trips a year,” she said. “If I were looking for more profit, I could increase the number of people to 12 and double the number of trips. But I have other income streams and I like the pace I work at.”
Susan focuses on giving her fellow travelers the “local experience,” taking a slow pace and allowing everyone to really immerse themselves in the culture of a place.
She says “I always felt that a real connection and understanding were more important than a “five countries in four days” or “this is Tuesday—it must be Rome” attitude to travel. So I sought out small operators or organized my own tours that focused on an area of a country we could walk in and experience the culture at the local level. Scents, flavors, colors, and the cadence of a language are accessible only at this pace. As more and more people yearn to slow down and smell the roses, those of us who live overseas are in a perfect position to introduce this lifestyle to visitors or newcomers.”
Of her first trip she says, “I led five highly diverse couples on a trip in Andalusia, Spain. We found our way across the mountains and stumbled into pre-arranged accommodation (well mostly). It was long before the advent of the Internet. But the mail system, the language, and my Fodor’s Spain on $25/day got us habitacion(es), helados, cerveza, and vino. By the end of the trip, nine of the 10 people were asking, “Where are we going next, Miss Susan?”
She followed that first tour with a 15-day walking trip in Italy and soon started attracting all sorts of new travelers to her trips.
She says “I have now walked in over 40 countries and all seven continents. My husband, Terry, and I have homes in Ecuador and Brazil, as well as Canada. Our travels have given us investment opportunities in Brazil and a relaxed lifestyle in Ecuador—2 acres of avocados, citrus, flowers, and tranquility.
As our Canadian commitments wind down, we plan on spending more time in our garden in Ecuador, eating fabulous fresh food and sipping wine.
I will continue to do destination tours to magical Peru and charming Colombia. As the saying goes, when you walk in someone else’s world (if not their shoes), there is a connection and awareness that simply cannot be duplicated through the window of a tour bus.”
If leading tours to places around the world — about things that interest you — sounds fun, then you should take a page from Susan’s book and try it, here!