NHA Lifestyle Blog

Why you don’t need experience to do something you love

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When I first began working as an overland leader for one of the largest tours operators in Africa, there was no end to the number of people asking how it was possible but the thing is, even I didn’t know this at the time and the same goes for pretty much everything I have done since then.

Maybe I’m a dreamer (actually I am a dreamer) and I most definitely do have a tendency to jump head first without looking but it hasn’t always been this way, you see I spent most of my life either worrying, procrastinating, strategising or planning and you know what I ended up doing back then? Nothing much.

How to become an overland tour leader

Firstly, there is no set way in terms of how to become an overland tour leader. People talk about having multiple languages, qualifications in tourism or some previous related experience, except I had none of this. Truth is, I had bombarded every overland company I could find in Africa with emails and pleaded with each of them to give me a chance. When I think back now, this was a very desperate strategy to use in any situation but it actually paid off and one day, following another miserable commute to the office, the phone rang. It was the perfect example of how quickly life can change with some perseverance and six weeks later I was sitting next to a campfire in Africa.

From my experience and to answer the question of how to become an overland tour leader, you simply do not need qualifications or experience to make it happen, you just need to want to do it and then apply.

How to become an overland tour leader


How to do anything without experience or qualifications

See, I’m not saying that qualifications are unnecessary because sometimes they are in fact a minimum requirement (Doctors, lawyers, accountants) but not always. I say this in a sense that I’ve spent the last three years doing everything people told me I could not do for one reason or another. When I set out to ride a bicycle through Africa in late 2013, I was told professional support, survival skills and cycling experience were all essential but I had none of these and 12 months later the great pyramids of Cairo were a sure sign that none of this was actually true. And then there was the aftermath, I decided to become a professional travel blogger and set out on a very uncertain path with very little idea of how to make this idea a reality but after numerous dark and depressing moments trying to earn any kind of online income, eventually I began finding ways and means of turning what was once a pipe-dream into what I now do for a living.

Attitude trumps know-how

This also makes me think back to 2008, I was studying marketing at the time and I remember our sales lecturer, named Will, speaking about curriculum vitae and job applications. Basically, Will made a point that you absolutely do not need qualifications or experience to successfully apply for most jobs, that most employers are just weeding out the weak by stating any of this and that the interviewers are hoping to meet an inspiring, passionate, capable person rather than the walking equivalent of a piece of paper with credentials.

“Whenever you see a mention of a degree, ignore it. If you see a requirement for previous experience, ignore that too. But if you ever happen to see something that you really, really want to do, that’s when you apply.”

I didn’t know it at the time but this would turn out to be one of the most influential pieces of advice I would ever receive. Yes, my sales lecturer had made it crystal clear what I now know to be the truth; that attitude is usually the only thing which separates us from most things in life and I would also find this out first hand while cycling alone across Africa, becoming an overland tour leader and living the nomadic life of a travel blogger.

You know, it seems to me that sometimes we just think about things too damn much because most often you absolutely do not need qualifications, you don’t really need to know how it’s done either and when you think of it, experience is the very reason you should be trying to do something you love in the first place.

How to become an overland tour leader

Ps. Deadly Content can help improve the online visibility of your business, website or blog. If your readers are not coming back as much as they should, your travel content may be substandard so check them out to start increasing traffic to your website.

I'm an Outdoor Adventure Blogger from Dublin, Ireland. In late 2013 I began riding a bicycle across Africa and it was during this adventure when I discovered a passion for the great outdoors and the general uncertainty of life on the road. Next April, I am hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.


  1. Tracy Chong

    December 6, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Really a good piece of advice. Imagining your life must be full of adventures! 🙂
    Tracy Chong recently posted…Vasanti Kuta Hotel: Have You Heard About It?My Profile

  2. Kristie

    December 6, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Love your go get ’em attitude Derek! I am also a fellow dreamer and agree 100% with you – hence why I live in Maldives half a year at a time! Thanks for the tips on how to become a tour leader!

    • Derek Cullen

      December 8, 2016 at 5:47 am

      haha cheers Kristie, nothing wrong with being a dreamer…I think!

  3. Abhinav Singh

    December 7, 2016 at 8:14 am

    I agree. We live life on such a set path that it becomes boring. How will we ever know the possibilities within us if we do not explore, if we do not break the pattern. I think it is very important to take chances and risks in life. I have also always jumped into things without thinking much.

  4. saurabh

    December 7, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Great post Derek and cool advice. I am greatly impressed and want to lead a life like you. Carry on your good work.
    saurabh recently posted…How travelling changed my life completelyMy Profile

    • Derek Cullen

      December 8, 2016 at 5:46 am

      Many thanks Saurabh !

  5. Abigail

    December 9, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    You’ve shared some excellent tips! The last one is what rings true to me the most – if you’re passionate about it, you will learn along the way!
    Abigail recently posted…Cozy Dinner in My AirstreamMy Profile

  6. Ami

    December 14, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Very sane advice. Indeed content is your key and if you are not able to create that, well! You just might have a problem. It is a good thing that you have written this post. Will definitely help a lot of newbies.
    Ami recently posted…A Guide to best places to pick Hotels in GoaMy Profile

  7. parveen kumar

    July 13, 2017 at 7:16 am

    great advice. thanks for sharing.

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