Sometimes a tour is the right choice. Perhaps you want to consider a tour if it is your first time abroad. Maybe you can’t find travel partners. A tour is an easy way to travel with others. It is also possible that there are sights you want to see, but you’d feel more comfortable going with the experts. There are great tours. The trick is to find one that fits your personality and style of travel. Some things you may want to consider include:
Some tour companies are great at offering low costs…up front. I’ve seen some tours that don’t include entrance fees, food, or other basics necessary for travel. It is great if you can go on a 20+ day tour for around $2,000, but investigate what you are paying for. That budget trip may become a credit card buster in the end.
Spending a vacation on a bus is not traveling. It may seem like a great idea to see a lot of new places, but if a major chunk of your time is spent getting to those destinations, then you may not return home with much more than a sore rear end. On my tour last summer, we never spent more than 2 hours on a bus at a time. Look at the specifics. Some tours require you to sleep on the bus. Imagine how tiring that would be.
There are a few items to consider when looking at the itinerary.
-Number of nights in locations: Spending only one night in each location can be exhausting. Make sure you have some time to truly visit a place.
-Balance between city and country: The city can wear you down after awhile. Having some time along the ocean or in the countryside can recharge your batteries.
-Amount of free time-If you are paying for a tour, you should take advantage of the guides. Sometimes it is nice to explore on your own. Having a good balance between time with the group and time on your own is important.
-Visited Sights-Make sure the tour is visiting sights you actually want to see.
Sleep is very important while traveling. Tours book accommodations ranging from campgrounds to 5 star hotels. I prefer family run hotels. Some people are fine with hostels, and others want to stay in Americanized hotels. Some groups stay outside of the city. This a major limit for exploration. Determine what works best for you and be sure to see what tours offer.*Do try to immerse yourself in the new destination when possible.
Many tours have approximately 40 tourists on one bus. A 1:40 ratio is not good for a tour. I am a teacher and the same idea applies in a school. The bigger my classroom, the less effective I can be. With smaller groups, the tour guide can provide a more individualized experience. It is also beneficial for gaining access to sights that may not be available to large groups. I’ve been on both types of tours, and I have noticed much stronger bonds between the travelers in the smaller groups.
You’ve probably noticed that I am a Rick Steves fan, but I know there are other great tour companies out there. Have a recommendation? Please share!