Tour guide keeps passion for travel alive by teaching

Editor's note: Until 2018-2019, Nguyen Dai Luong, 36, from HCMC, was one of the most popular tour guides, traveling to foreign countries on a daily basis, sometimes going to the U.S. even twice a month. However, for more than a year, he’s been staying in Vietnam. Not discouraged by these difficulties, Luong applied for a teaching position to “nurture” his passion and took up other jobs to support his family. Below is Luong’s story about what he’s doing to “keep his passion alive” sent in for the program, “Travel in the middle of the pandemic”. 

Nguyen Dai Luong poses for a photo – PHOTO: NGUYEN DAI LUONG

I was originally a tour guide, specializing in outbound tours (traveling to foreign countries with Vietnamese tourists) at a large travel agency in HCMC. Travel has been a part of my life ever since I graduated from university and has given me a lot of enjoyable experiences for the last 15 years.

Before Covid-19, I was always busy with my job. At times, I was only home for five days a month. 

I remember one time, my flight landed at the Tan Son Nhat airport at 7 p.m., then I had to take another flight at 10 p.m. Since I lived far away from the airport, I couldn’t get home in time so I had to ask my wife to bring me another suitcase to the airport and take my old one without having time to even talk. My life was constantly associated with such tours, from Asia to Europe and back to America.

Suddenly Covid-19 came, affecting almost everyone in the world. Tourism is one of the hardest hit industries, with a lot of unemployed workers and many businesses having to temporarily close. I am no exception.

At the beginning, I thought the pandemic would soon die down and saw this as an opportunity to take a break and spend time with my family after a long period of drowning myself in work.

However, after about six months, seeing that the situation was not improving much, I was forced to find other jobs to make a living.

I started taking advantage of my connections with friends and colleagues abroad to sell things online. Thanks to the love and support of many customers who toured with me before, the work was fine enough to help us during this tough time.

Not stopping there, I also joined the life insurance industry to earn more money to better my family’s life. Although it’s only been months since I joined, the job is relatively okay.

However, the pandemic reminds me of how much I love my job, despite having felt tired and, sometimes, bored of it. Staying indoors for too long and not knowing when I can resume my job as a tour guide, I grow restless easily, feeling uncomfortable.

In times like this, I can only relive those experiences through photos and videos clips which I documented during my trips or go online to look for more information about places I’ve been to in order to subside my longing.

I admit that I am very lucky to have a Master’s Degree in Tourism, thanks to which I was accepted to teach at the Faculty of Tourism at a university in HCMC. This new job brings me joy.

Sharing my knowledge as well as experience from 15 years of working with my students has helped keep my passion alive, all the while learning from my students. This also motivates me to invest in and do more research on many issues that I did not know before.

Having been away from my job for almost two years, my memories of my profession remain fresh as I relive the opportunities to travel to the far corners of the world. I still hope that this pandemic will soon pass, everyone will be safe and return to work at the earliest. Then, my colleagues and I will be back with more interesting trips.