Touring has shaken its reputation for just being hordes of people following a paddle in a whirlwind of buses, bright coloured lanyards, audio guides, and rushed photo stops. Being an intuitive industry, the travel space has evolved to offer more tour styles and group touring options so that there is truly something for every traveller, from the fiercely independent to those wanting more guidance and support.
It’s great to have so many options, but, how do you choose?
Here are some things to consider when deciding on the right tour company and itinerary for you.
Every tour is tailored to a certain demographic. It may cater for youth and the young at heart, the middle aged boomer, older travellers, or intergenerational families. Find your fellow travellers’ likely age group in the tour operators’ overview.
Tour demographics vary not just in age, but in interests too. Some tour companies tailor trips for a certain travel style or persona, regardless of age. Tours might be geared towards ‘adventurers’ where age is immaterial. Read the trip details before deciding on the tour, if demographic is important to you!
Operators are focusing more energy on conscientious travel and supporting the environments and communities they visit. They are working hard on reducing their footprint, eliminating activities that are at the cost of the wildlife, environments, and people they are showcasing.
Some tour companies are ahead of the game in this respect. If this is important to your choice of tour, take the time to research the projects they are working on and how much of your tour cost is filtered back into the communities you visit.
You might prefer every moment accounted for on tour, or perhaps you are happy to have the logistics taken care of and the rest left up to you. There is a tour that ticks the boxes and each escorted tour company offers a different balance.
Some brands offer more day trips and sightseeing inclusions, so your time is filled with scheduled activities. Other brands have less pre-paid day tours and you have more free time. You can choose to add optional extras on the tour or do your own thing. Consult the day by day itinerary of the trip you are considering, to ensure the balance feels right for you.
Sharing unique and memorable experiences with fellow travellers is a big part of group travel. Choose a small group tour for an intimate experience, or a larger tour size to get to know more fellow travellers on your journey. Every tour company has a different idea of what constitutes a “small group” so to look at the maximum number of travellers for the operator and the specific tour you are considering.
Are you fit enough for the tour you want to take? It is important to read the trip notes to know how active you will be, and the fitness levels required. An itinerary may hit all the destinations you want to see, but it might mean hiking or biking to get there. If you are not after that level of exertion on your escorted coach tour, then it is not the right pick for you. Likewise, if you like to be active, choose a guided tour that meets your thirst for outdoor activity and adventure.
Do you want a porter to carry your luggage or are you happy to throw on a backpack? Do you prefer all your meals are included and to not have to budget to eat while you are away, or do you want to shop the local markets and eat at cafes and food stalls? Do you want all your day tours pre-arranged and pre-paid, or do you want to play it by ear on the road and pay as you go? Be sure to check the individual trip inclusions for an accurate gauge.
For some, accommodation is just somewhere to rest your head after a day of sightseeing, but for you it might be a key part of your journey. Each tour is different. You can choose a tent under the stars in Africa, a multi-share hostel in Amsterdam, a homestay in the mountains of Vietnam, a private room in a local gem in Cuba, or a luxurious lakeview room at five-star hotel on the banks of Lake Louise.
Read a tour company’s overview to get a taste of the accommodation style they offer. View this in conjunction with the specific trip that has caught your eye.
There is nothing like reading the feedback from other travellers for insight into what the tour looks and feels like on the ground. Put yourself in the picture from the perspective of the travellers who have taken the tour before you.
Keep in mind that this picture looks different through everyone’s eyes, and everyone’s experience is different. After all, we all know the weather can impact how we view a day! Weigh up the reviews alongside the other considerations when choosing your guided tour.
Some tours take you on a whirlwind trip jam packed with rapid-fire highlights. Spend an evening drinking in the glittering panorama atop the London eye, be whisked from London to Paris on the Eurostar, and finish the following evening sipping champagne from the heights of the Eiffel Tower. A perfect way to tick off some bucket-list items, but not your idea of a holiday?
If you prefer to go a little slower or delve a little deeper, choose an itinerary that gives you more time in each destination. Tour companies offer different tour paces, hand pick the one that is right for you.
Guided travel gives you an insight into the people, history, culture, architecture, cuisine, landscapes and wildlife of the regions you visit. There is so much to see but sometimes you just can’t fit it all in. So, don’t.
If history makes you yawn and you are just in it for the food, get the most out of your holiday with a culinary tour. Why trudge through museums if it is garden shows that get you going? Consider a special interest garden itinerary for your trip. From European Battlefields to the Jazz streets of New Orleans, there’s a range of special interest itineraries.
No matter what lights your fire, you’ll find a spark with one of our guided tours.
Discover your perfect match.