Touring Guide- STRESS or STRESS-FREE?
When guiding a tour there can be stresses on the leaders that can make for an uncomfortable time. A few tips may help reduce that stress. Good preparation of your event along with a little common sense is the key.
There are usually not many stresses on Tour Participants. As a Participant you just show up at the planned starting point, hopefully on time, and even better, plenty early, to mingle and meet new and old friends, enjoy a coffee or snack, and enjoy a beautiful morning. Some people could get stressed by meeting new people for the first time. Some people may get nervous about how to tour in a group if you haven’t done it before. Sometimes people have to adjust to someone else making all the decisions on a tour, and are stressed by just following along all day. Seems silly, doesn’t it?
As a Leader or Assistant you are responsible for the other people and vehicles and the situations that you are creating. One potentially dangerous situation that Tour Leaders face and Participants become a part of is the regrouping process. Keeping a small group of cars together can be challenging. Keeping twenty or more cars together can be chaos. Passing through a town with multiple traffic lights and possibly a turn or two can get cars or groups separated from one another. Add inexperienced or inattentive Participants and you have a circus on your hands. This is possibly the most critical part of a tour for stress and danger.
A few things that will make regrouping very stressful include not being able to get completely off the roadway and on a berm, not being able to communicate with the entire group, not being able to see the approaching traffic behind you, and not knowing where some of your group are.
If your group gets split up and you feel you need to stop, it is still better to keep moving ahead to find the right spot than it is to put yourself or your followers in danger. If you don’t have to make a turn, keep going. If a turn is necessary and everyone has directions, trust the group to look out for one another. It must be made clear in the drivers’ meeting that each car is responsible for the one behind them. That always happens in our Club. Not everyone understands it, but it is mentioned at every tour.
If the route makes a turn, you ALWAYS watch behind you that the next follower sees your turn signal or that the group has turned. Sometimes you can stop at the turn, or slow down and wait. This is why it’s critical to keep a group tight, especially in towns, villages, and cities. When you are out in the countryside, it’s much easier to wait, but it’s also when people tend to get distance between them when it’s more relaxed. I call it the Slinky Effect: you stretch it out when you can and then tighten up the group when you approach congested areas.
As Tour Leaders, you should anticipate regrouping-spots when you set up the route. You should find stretches of road after you pass through a town where you can see the road for at least a half-mile. You need to see the approaching traffic [from the rear] beyond all the cars you are leading. You don’t want to be on a blind curve! Remember that you need room behind you for all the cars to slow down and then get safely off the road and then they need to get back out on the road and up to speed without causing people to hate you and offer you sign language. Remember also that we are very vulnerable in these little cars. We are having a good time and maybe someone else isn’t so lucky on that day. They may not be relaxed or patient. This can be very stressing! We love the hills and curves but this is one time you want to avoid both.
If your group should get split up, relax and find a safe spot to call someone that’s missing and find out where they are. Sometimes you have to send out a scout to help. Usually it doesn’t take that, it just takes a few minutes of waiting. If you are the one who gets left alone for some reason, think back to the last time you saw the miata in front of you. Did you miss a turn or just get caught at a traffic light or busy intersection?
Miatas have been designed from the beginning to make your day and your drive fun and memorable. Don’t let poor decisions or bad judgment cause stress for your touring event. Tour Participants are reliant on Tour Leaders to not be put in danger and should always expect that stress is not part of the itinerary. Both have responsibilities on-tour that can make the day stress-free and memorable.