I know that independent travelers tend to be fearless, but not everyone is that way, and for some, there are plenty of good reasons to take a guided tour. I have traveled in many different ways and although I like to pretty much do my own thing, I think there are some excellent advantages and reasons to take a guided tour. What are they? Read on to find out…
1. Perfect Planning with None of the Hassle
Sure, planning can sometimes be half the fun, but in all actuality, orchestrating your own private tour is often more work than play. One of the reasons to take a guided tour is it allows you to sit back, relax and enjoy being toted along, rather than pulling your hair out, wondering why that taxi you ordered has yet to show. With an itinerary prepared for you, a native-language guide, and transportation arranged, there’s no need to do a ton of homework for your vacation. Paying one flat fee, you’ll also likely avoid long lines and enjoy discounted entrance tickets to the tour’s attractions.
2. Expert Knowledge at Your Fingertips
The best tour-guides are locals, as they’ll know the area, the culture and its history like the back of their hand. Tour-guides can provide a special brand of insider knowledge that as tourist you wouldn't normally come about on your own. Not only does your local tour-guide possess a wealth of information about the famous must-see sites and attractions; but he/she will likely be able to unveil some of the area’s hidden gems and hole-in-the-walls as well...and really, these are the things you’ll remember, as they’re the “real” nitty-gritty stuff that you’ll later brag about.
3. Getting There is Half the Battle
Though traveling solo north to south, east to west, in a foreign country can be memorable, it can also make you want to SCREAM BLOODY MURDER! If you’re not used to the local’s form of public transportation, not only might it be too crowded for your claustrophobia, but being unfamiliar with the locale, you might miss a stop, and being unfamiliar with the language, you might not know when you’re being swindled. One of the sanest reasons to take a guided vacation is that you’ll bask in the comfort of your own private coach without the hassles of paying out of pocket. And the navigation is completely out of your hands...and in the hands of someone who knows the way.
4. A Chance to Play Nice
One of the greatest reasons to take a guided tour is that you’ll automatically be thrown together with like-minded people. Okay – you may not be THAT similar, but at least you agree on one thing: TRAVELING ROCKS! This common interest is enough to get fellow tourists off on the right foot, thus it’s easier for folks from all corners of the world to make nice and even become the best of friends. This will enhance your experience immensely; whether you make a bestie for life or simply a fleeting friendship, the pleasant memory of togetherness will be sharp as a whip all your life.
5. More Bang for Your Buck
At first glance, a guided tour’s flat rate might seem inflated, but when you factor in transportation, meals, and the oft-discounted ticket costs, a guided tour is often cheaper than if you go it solo. Additionally, take into account the true value of comfort and quality service. Not only do you receive an expert tour-guide, your fee also often covers a full meal (or many), comfortable, modern transportation, a straight shot to area attractions, and the added convenience of taking it all in stride, without having to worry your pretty little head. If that isn’t value, then I don’t know what is.
6. Dipping into Local Dishes
As previously mentioned, your tour-guide will possess the expertise to direct you to the most delicious authentic foods and local dishes. Partaking in local cuisine is an important (and sometimes the best) part of travel. One of the reasons to take a guided tour is so that you can avoid the tourist trap restaurants that’ll charge you up the wazoo, and instead be introduced to real authentic local cuisine, which is typically cheap, but scrumptious. (*side note: though tours often keep to authentic restaurants, some tours may try to lure you with other tourist traps along the way, so choose wisely)
7. Throwing out the Security Blanket
Oftentimes when traveling a country solo, where you don’t know the language or your way around, you tend to feel unsafe and insecure when you go it alone. Foreigners are particularly vulnerable, as whenever there’s a lack of knowledge about local laws and customs, a person is easily tricked, cheated or otherwise taken advantage of. A tour-guide will help travelers avoid falling prey to scam artists, and will also be ready and willing to help when other assistance is needed, whether in a health or legal predicament, or if you just need to find the nearest restroom PRONTO.
I doubt these reasons to take a guided tour will ever convince independent travelers to change their minds, but I think if you want to break away from the package tour or the simple stay in a resort hotel, guided tours are a step into independent travel in the future. There really are some very excellent guided tours available. Have you been on one, or even many?