Haddonfield N.J. — Two South Jersey friends, Mike Carwile and Mark Simmons, who share a passion for travel, languages, meeting friendly new people, walking tours and the discovery of untold stories about Philadelphia history, have combined their interests to create Free and Friendly Tours.
Free and Friendly Tours is a free, tip-based company that offers walking tours of Philadelphia, run by people who love to travel and know the value of meeting friendly, knowledgeable locals when visiting a new place.
“I developed my first interest in free walking tours when I visited Budapest, where I was hired by Free Budapest Tours because of my enthusiasm and mastery of the English language,” said Free and Friendly Tour co-founder Mark Simmons. “I was actually desperate for a job, but my new-found interest as a walking tour guide became a passion when I was able to experience a free tour from the other side,” he says.
While working at a hostel, Simmons often overheard guests’ unfiltered comments and reactions to the tours. Being one who strived to master his skills as a tour guide, he quickly learned that the key to creating a great tour experience was to create an environment that makes tour participants feel comfortable in a new place.