FROM running her own business, to running around the world, 63-year-old Sue Stone changed her life when she became a tour manager.
And after seven years in the job, the Hayling Islander wants to share her knowledge with others by running tour manager trainee courses with reputable firm World Wide Travel Training.
Sue ran a recruitment agency in Chichester from 1986, which then expanded and moved to North Street, and got a second office in Southsea.
“That was my main career, so I had many, many years of recruitment,” said Sue.
“I decided it was time for a change, but I didn’t know what. I decided to sell and to take some time out.”
It wasn’t until three years later that she went on holiday to Perth in Australia – a trip which changed her life.
“There was an English group, and they were having a ball with a tour manager,” she said.
“I sat down and had a chat with her and said okay, you get paid to take people away.
“I came back to England and looked how to get into tour management.”
She was 56 years old and had decided tour management was the job for her.
“I knew nothing about tour management, but I have always had a passion for travel,” she said.
“I found this company called Worldwide Travel Training. I booked on the next course and it was three days that changed my life.”
She said the course taught her all about what tour managers do, how to deal with stressful situations, how to research the places you’re visiting and how to get jobs.
“Other girls on the course were from different backgrounds – one was a cashier from Tesco,” she said.
Sue passed the course and never looked back.
“My first time was to Amsterdam. Your first time is terribly nerve-wracking.”
Her next tour was in New Zealand where a well-known travel company asked her to do the tour.
“I had lived in New Zealand for five years. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and have not looked back.”
Sue does tours in the UK, tours for people from overseas, and of course, tours around the world.
“I have been all over Europe, I’ve been to America, to the Far East,” she said.
“The wonderful thing about it is you can do as much as you want to.”
She has been touring for seven years, and has been all over the world.
Now she is in the UK for around six months of the year, touring the other six months.
She recalled experiences like taking a 92-year-old woman back to Burma for the first time since she was 22, and helping her find her old home and school.
“That was a lovely thing,” said Sue.
“You don’t know who you’re going to meet.
“It is a huge privilege to take people to these countries and see people gain confidence so they get the real feel of the place.
“I will encourage people to use the local buses. I try to make it the best holiday for everybody.”
But she said although she loves the job, you have to be on the ball.
“You have to be organised, you have to know what you’re doing. You are on duty 24/7.”
She has had trips where things went wrong, but you have to get around the obstacles and solve the problem.
Now she will be training people to become tour managers in Emsworth, through World Wide Travel Training.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for people with time on their hands who want to travel,” she said.
“It has made a huge difference to my life.”
The next training course Sue is running is Saturday, March 15 – Monday, March 17. www.worldwidetraveltraining.com