Top 10 Reasons to Take a Guided TripSeptember 15, 2014
If you're hesitant to take a guided trip because you've always traveled independently, fear not: today's guided trips are a far cry from the images of overcrowded bus tours of yesteryear. Here are the top ten reasons why taking a guided trip makes sense today:
You don’t have to spend a lot of time and frustration planning your trip and can leave the flight bookings, hotel and transportation reservations, and the details of the itinerary up to someone else. All you have to do is pack, remember to bring your vital travel documents, and get to the airport (ship, etc.) on time.
With the convenience of letting others sweat the details, you still have an incredible variety of choices as to which guided trip to take. Tour operators can transport you almost anywhere in the world at a wide range of prices and levels of physical exertion and cultural immersion. In fact, because of the difficulty of reaching some remote destinations and engaging in some hard-to-arrange activities, you may well have more choice than when going it alone.
If you’ve ever hired a local guide who recites nothing but rote facts or steers you toward his brother’s souvenir shop, you know that not all guides are experts. But those who are can bring local history, culture, and places to life, offer far more insight than most guidebooks. The trick is to find those expert guides – and traveling with a knowledgeable tour operator helps you do just that.
4. Road Relaxation
Not sure you want to drive on the opposite side of the road, or tackle unfamiliar roundabouts where cars may be coming from the left...or the right? Concerned that an unfamiliar GPS system might lead you up a mountain road of no return in some far-flung location? On a guided tour, you can settle back and let someone else – who knows the way and rules of the road -- do the driving.
5. Special Assistance
Want to bike through France or the western U.S.? A guided bike trip will provide van support to carry your gear or help change a tire. Did your luggage miss the flight, or did you sprain your ankle in a foreign country? Your trip leader and guides can ease the strain by helping you get the assistance you need.
6. Cultural Immersion
These days, many guided tours include visits to schools or to family homes in other countries, where you can meet and talk with locals beyond the usual traveler interactions with hotel personnel, restaurant servers and, of course, other travelers (not that there’s anything wrong with that – see below). Well-run tours also know how to scope out the out-of-the-way local inns or bistros that guidebooks may miss. You may well find yourself having a more authentic local experience than when traveling on your own.
If you’re a solo traveler or even traveling with a spouse or friend, it’s always fun to find other travelers who have mutual interests to your own – and on a guided trip, that’s likely to be the case. Companions – who may well become friends -- come ready-made on a guided trip (especially welcome in restaurants that may frown on solo diners).
8. Time Saving
A good tour will hit the top highlights of a region that you might not be familiar with. Rather than wandering around aimlessly trying to get your bearings, arranging complicated transportation, or waiting in long lines for tickets, a well-organized guided trip will get you to the church (museum, archaeological site, castle, etc.) on time.
Not even the best guided tour can guarantee total safety on a trip, but chances are that when traveling with a group, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding scam artists or thieves who prey on lone travelers. Trained guides can also help you navigate a mountain trail or safely cross a glacier that might otherwise prove hazardous.
If you fear that guided trips will cost more than going on your own, consider the fact that tour operators can arrange group discounts on flights, lodging, meals, and admissions to various attractions. When you add up all your expenses, you may well find that a guided trip saves you money and provides the best value – regardless of the level of luxury you choose.