Globetrotting Seattle resident is an adventure guide with Adventures by Disney and an assistant expedition leader with TCS World Travel.

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ADVENTURE GUIDE/EXPEDITION LEADER
Giselle Gonzales

What do you do? I work in the travel industry as an adventure guide with Adventures by Disney and as an assistant expedition leader with TCS World Travel, which, along with offering its own luxury jet expeditions, partners with organizations like National Geographic and Four Seasons. With these companies I travel (literally) around the world, often multiple times a year, to help lead elaborate expeditions across six different continents for families and couples who want to see and experience the world firsthand.

How did you get started in that field? I started traveling internationally on volunteer trips when I was 16 and got hooked on travel after living overseas for two summers, working with a nonprofit while in college. Prior to graduating, I applied for a job with Adventures by Disney, and after seven months of interviews was selected as one of a very small group of new Adventure Guides out of thousands of applicants. Soon after I was recommended to TCS World Travel, which brought me on its expedition staff. While in between work trips, I also found ways to travel as a writer/social media storyteller, so my travel résumé kept growing!

What’s a typical day like? My work takes me to about 25 countries a year, so no day is ever the same!

With Disney, a day on the job might include hiking to an ice cave in the Austrian Alps, swimming at the base of waterfalls in Laos, or a private, after-hours visit to the Sistine Chapel. While leading these trips as a guide, storyteller and “logistics queen,” I get to share the world with families to explore new destinations with children who are often traveling overseas for the first time.

With TCS World Travel, our jet-setting groups arrive in a new country every few days in far-flung places like Easter Island, Tibet and Iran, so as soon as the plane doors open the world outside becomes my office for the day. Talk about an adventure!

What’s the best part of the work? Easy! It’s the people I meet and get to know all over the world. There are Bedouin women in Petra, Jordan and Maasai warriors in Tanzania who treat me like family every time I return — experiencing that sense of international belonging is precious beyond words. In this line of work I sometimes feel like an ambassador, a bridge between cultures, in the way I am able to encourage understanding and curiosity with every traveler and culture I encounter. I am constantly humbled by the opportunity to hear stories from people who have led lives quite different than my own, and to have the privilege of sharing those stories with others — which is why I always document my travels through photography and writing at seehearexplore.com.

What surprises people about what you do? That it’s hard work! When I share the details with friends and family they’re often amazed to hear about the long hours spent organizing logistics and problem solving. In the pursuit of an excellent experience for our guests, there are many late nights with only a few hours of sleep for my team and me, coupled with a constant need to balance personalities and cultural differences around the world. It can be glamorous for sure, but it is by no means easy. That being said, I love a good challenge and my work always pushes me to learn and grow.

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