The Outdoor Biz Podcast Episode 150 is live with Austin Coop, Founder and lead tour guide at Guided Route 6 Tours. Austin has personally traversed the 2,400+ miles of Route 66 dozens and dozens of times. His love for the Mother Road led to lifelong friendships and partnerships with the small businesses and funky roadside attractions along the way.
First Exposure to the Outdoors and Adventure Travel
Like a lot of us in this industry, I’ve probably taken the long and winding road to get here. I had no idea this world existed in the way it does. I went to a great college and had a great experience, but it was very traditional in terms of what was offered. You know you picked a major and you just went and did it and then afterward you went to a job fair and you got a job. So that’s what I did. I had a management job that I hated, but I ended up at a travel startup that just needed help around the office with that management background. That transitioned into travel writing which transitioned into being on the road.
Then when the startup started to have some trouble I went out on my own and was trying to figure out “how do I stay in this travel space that I like, and enjoy being on the road. And that’s when I thought I’d go back to college. My favorite job was when I was an orientation leader. I thought, what’s the travel adult version of that? Then I sent some very generic emails to a couple of the big tour operators and a guy took a chance on me. really. If you would have told me six months prior, I didn’t even know the industry existed in the way that it does. So next thing you know I’m working as a tour director and getting to go out west and getting to go through the national parks and being on the road about 200 days a year. It just ended up being an incredible fit.
Things we talked about
There are just so many ways to do this. Look at what you love, but then also look at what you’re good at, what you’re gifted at. What, what are the things that you not only enjoy but can also be a value add. A lot of people think, oh man, it must be great being a tour guide, actually just getting to go all these places. I bet you have to be like an encyclopedia. And I tell them, 70% of my job is back in logistics. My job is managing with a customer service aspect to it. So think about what you’re good at, where you slot in?
Then don’t be afraid to take a chance. And always assume if you’re doing something just totally from scratch, don’t expect to make any money for a year or two. But again there are so many other ways to do it. If you’re young spend your summer being a raft guide in the Tetons. If you’re retired, they take volunteer rangers at the national parks. There are just so many ways to do it that aren’t necessarily just jumping off a cliff.
Route 66, The Mother Road by Michael Wallace
Route 66, America’s Longest Small Town by Jim Hinckley
Favorite Piece of Gear under $100
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