6 Pro Tips for Booking Guided Tour Packages
What are the benefits to booking a guided tour package instead of trying to piece it together on your own? You know you NEED a vacation, but you can’t find the time to plan one.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
- Your email is hitting its storage limits reaching back to 2010.
- Your calendar looks more like a game of Tetris with appointments blocking out weeks in a rainbow of color.
- The boss is demanding longer hours to meet quarterly deadlines.
- Your best friend is having a baby and you not only get to host the shower, but you have to make 60 cupcakes topped with pink icing.
- The Board of your Community Council can’t seem to get by without your marketing expertise.
- The refrigerator is not set on a self-stock mode (come on Kenmore!).
- The laundry hamper has erupted and your floor is in danger of being devoured by clothes!
Planning a vacation means choosing the perfect location, scouring TripAdvisor reviews, researching hotel amenities, asking friends for referrals, ordering your Lonely Planet guide, booking excursions ensuring you see all that your perfect location has to offer.
This takes hours upon hours of time! Time is that elusive creature you can never get your hands on. Just when you think you’re closing in, it takes off once again out of your reach.
Vacation is meant to be relaxing. A time to detox and discover new areas of the world. A chance to get out of your box back home and unwind. An opportunity to sip a Mojito at an inappropriate time of day. It’s a time to run wild in the great outdoors. Yet, you can’t seem to find any time to make time for these times. Ughh….
Cue the guided group tour operators. These companies make it their business to curate tour packages with exceptional itineraries for the busy who’d rather be traveling and exploring. Tour operators bundle together excursions, accommodations, meals, and more to wrap up into one, easy package topped with a pretty bow.
This is the numero uno reason for booking a group tour package. Group tours are available the world over. Just pick your ideal destination and plug it into Google. Maybe tour type or activity is more important. Then just throw that in Google. Love Photography? Great! There are tours for that! Always wanted to learn how to surf? Awesome sauce! There are tropical vacations to check it off your bucket list! Desperate to mountain bike Death Road in Bolivia? You guessed it! With just a click of the mouse (okay, more than that), you’ll be booked for your next adventure.
Your tour package will be inclusive and detailed on the tour’s booking site. The tour company has done all of the research, curated an itinerary to maximize your trip, and knows the best spots! No need to spend your valuable time researching vendors. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.
Pro Tip: Thoroughly read through what is included in the trip before booking. Companies will keep inclusions at a bare minimum to keep the advertised price lower. You might have to pay extra for the “Adrenaline Adventure” or the “Pampered Goddess” packages to experience the exciting stuff that’s plastered all over their website.
I’ve personally traveled with a tour group and loved it. It was my first time traveling solo, so I was nervous about traveling abroad by myself to a new country. I booked a packaged trip and made several life long friends. This is often the case when you travel with groups. You already have one thing in common with everyone: You love to travel!
The more specific your trip, the more likely you find even more lifelong friendships. An all women’s trip with an itinerary full of challenging adventures is going to attract like-minded women who love adventure and thrills. Boom! New, crazy friends!
Pro Tip: Wondering who you’ll encounter on your group travel vacation? Take cues from the photos posted on the Tour Operator’s website. In most cases, their galleries will be filled with photos of travelers on previous trips and of their targeted demographic. Be sure to check out their Social Media too! You can estimate the “age” of group tours by the platforms and language used.
3. Quality of Service
Tour companies have spent years and time developing relationships with vendors in your destination. They are well aware of who provides excellent service and who to ditch. Why? Their livelihood depends on it. And, it’s a two-way street. Vendors generally take extra special care of groups in package tours, because the tour operator is a nice chunk of business for them! This can mean upgrades, front of the line access, exceptional service, the occasional freebie, and more. Basically, you’re treated like a rock star.
On a more individual level, traveling with an escorted tour means a higher quality of service for you! You’ll have a manager from the tour company traveling with you. They take care of check-ins, transportation, reservations, confirmations, complaints, and issues that arise. They are also there to answer questions, make recommendations, and book additional activities for you. They work around the clock in the background ensuring your vacation is carefree.
Pro Tip: Read outside reviews of any tour operator you plan to book. Google reviews and Facebook reviews are a great start! Explore their Social Media and read the comments. These can all be clues to the service they render. Learn more about the hosts too. How are they qualified to deliver an unforgettable vacation for you and squash any problems that may arise during your trip?
Of course, there is never a guarantee of safety in anything that you do. However, group travelers take solace in the idea of safety in numbers. This is particularly true of solo travelers, travelers going abroad for the first time, and travelers going to a developing country. Traveling with an experienced company and manager who is fluent in the local culture and practices is reassuring. It allows travelers to sideline their worries, and simply enjoy their vacation.
Pro Tip: Ask if your tour manager will review all cultural practices and safety measures during a Welcome on the very first day. Some may even send you a travel guide outlining what to expect on your upcoming travel. An exceptional Travel company will outline travel procedures helping you get through international airports and reach your destination safely.
Chances are the tour manager has been to your destination quite a few times. Although, they may not be the expert tour guide for your activities, they will have a working knowledge of the locale. This may be from their personal experiences or from their research. They will be a great source offering tidbits of information throughout your vacation. If they don’t know an answer, well, they’ll be quick to find out for you! (Remember, that Service benefit?).
Pro Tip: Your tour manager will most likely know where the locals eat and play. This means a more authentic, cultural experience for you based on first hand knowledge. Best place for a fish burrito? Where do the locals dance Bachatta on Saturdays? No need to sort through whiny reviews of never satisfied customers online when you can ask an experienced traveler.
In the age of the internet and online booking, some folks love to piece together their own trips. There is that challenge in finding the lowest price and best deal possible. It’s exciting to brag to your neighbor about the stellar deal you found. And if that’s your thing, then go on with yo’ Bad Self. But some people find incredible value in the saved time and lack of stress in decision making by booking group tour packages.
Included in the packaged price is the service of a tour manager who is traveling with you during your entire vacation. Sounds like a service reserved for the rich and famous, right? Yeah, guided group travel means having a tour manager who genuinely cares about you and your vacation. Her only goal during your trip is to make sure you have an incredible experience. (Okay, maybe not the only goal. She will try her best to make sure you make it home in one, happy piece). Depending on how you personally value this service, then that packaged price might blow the DIYer’s price out of the water.
Pro Tip: Find out how many people your Tour Operator books per trip. Would you rather be a small fish in big ocean or a big fish in a small pond? The smaller the group, the more personalized experience you can expect. Plus, the greater the likelihood you’ll walk away with new best friends.
Explorer Chick’s Small Group Guided Tours
Ready to choose your own adventure? Whether you’re looking to lounge by the beach, yell “Mush!” as you glide on a dogsled through a winter wonderland, or hike some of the most iconic trails in world—we’ve got you.