Have you ever been on a group tour vacation? As a kid I was a band nerd. I played the mellophone in marching band and part of my musical life meant competitions. On two occasions I performed in bowl games with my band- the 1999 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio and the 2002 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Part of those trips meant touring with groups which could be both good and bad. In New Orleans it meant eating red beans and rice for 5 meals in a row, because no one at our stops ever considered everyone else might be feeding those beans to us. On the good side, I got to go on a swamp boat, cruise the gulf, and see some beautiful things I never would have on my own.
When Tours Are A Good Idea
When You’re Short on Time If you are on a cruise at a port of call or have just a weekend, tours can help you get the most bang for your buck and see as much as you want. Plus, you know they won’t move on without you if you do it right.
When You’re Going Somewhere that Everyone Else is If everyone else is visiting a spot, how do you know you’ll get in? How do you know you’ll get the best information and the best spots? In a spot like the Vatican or Buckingham Palace, having a tour guide might mean seeing something the general public can’t gain access to.
When You’re An Introvert Introverts tend to be more adventurous when paired up with extroverts and then thrown into a group setting. Consider finding yourself an extrovert buddy and taking a trip with them to see a side you might never have tried on your own.
When You’re a Solo Traveler If you don’t have a travel buddy and are worried about your safety or even dining along, tours can be a great way to do stuff without that fear of feeling alone.
When You Are an Outsider If you don’t speak the language, don’t have a car, or even don’t know the lay of the land, tour guides can save your life and make your trip carefree.
When Tours Are A Bad Idea
When You’re An Introvert Yes, I said this one above but the flipside is also true. If you need time alone to recharge and your tour is all group and no time alone, you’re going to have a very rough trip ahead of you.
When They’re Wrong One of my friends recently took a trip to Egypt. Since Egypt has been her focus in education, she was excited to see all the things she’d been learning about for the past 7 years. What she wasn’t excited about was hearing tour guides tell her incorrect information about landmarks and history. Check to see if your tour company has a reputation for accuracy and how they stay current on their facts.
When You Want to Relax Some tours are constantly about keeping you moving…which can be a real pain if you just want to relax somewhere for a day. Consider scheduling tours the first half of a vacation but keeping your second half free for relaxation.
When You’ve Already Been Somewhere If you did a tour your first time in a location, consider dropping the guide to explore less popular areas.
When You’re Picky There’s nothing wrong about being particular about hotel and restaurant choices but chances are the touring company won’t have the same taste as you. If you’re goal in a country is to stay at a certain hotel or eat at a certain restaurant, drop the tour guide and make your own trip plan. You’re the kind of person a guide book is perfect for.
Have you been on a tour? What was your experience like? Did you have one too many meals with red beans and rice or was it something you’ll never forget?