Travel On Your Own vs. Hiring a Tour Guide

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Are you the type of traveler who loves to travel on your own, grab your credit card, map or GPS and just take off to explore your destination?

When do you need to hire a travel guide?  Sometimes there is value in hiring an experienced, knowledgeable and fun tour guide.

As we have just finished traveling through Southeast Asia over the past month, I thought it might be helpful to cover when it might be a good idea to hire a guide, pay for a tour or simply go on your own.

1.  When visiting a destination for a longer period of time, a week or two.  In Rome for a week?  Consider hiring a guide, or taking a tour the first day or so.  Tours or private guides will give you a really great overview of the city, the sights and history.  Then you can explore the remainder of your time on your own if you prefer.  Also, if using a Travel Consultant talk to them, let them know what your interests are and what you want to see.  We have companies that we have built relationships with or personal contacts that can arrange private or indepth experiences. 

2.  When visiting areas of historic importance.  Destinations that are rich in history come alive when you hire a guide.  Guides in historic regions have a depth of knowledge and are passionate about sharing it with you, leaving you knowing so much more than you did in the beginning.  Going on your own can leave you missing some important information.

3.  When your time is limited in a destination.  You may be headed to New York City for the weekend, or London for a few nights.  If you have never experienced this bustling cities they can be very overwhelming.  This is another good time to consider a tour guide.  The guides you find in the cities will share neighborhood history, personal experiences, fun facts and are typically happy to share favorite restaurants and shopping spots.

4.  Traveling on a cruise?  Now this is the one time that your time in a destination is very limited, you typically have one day in each port.  I don’t know about you, but when I am on a cruise, the last thing I want to do is board a motorcoach with 50 fellow passengers and be herded through town or tourist spots.  This is another time that your travel consultant can help.  I love to find out what clients want to see in each port and then find a private guide or very small tour company to get you in and out of treasures that will enrich your vacation and give a personal experience.

5.  When you want to hand off all travel responsibilities.  Maybe you are frustrated trying to find tickets, make reservations, find reputable tour companies, operating hours and it may just be to overwhelming and you need help.  If you have decided you don’t want to do the driving, you want to sit back and enjoy the trip.  This is the time to get help from your Travel Consultant.

6.  When you are completely unfamiliar with a country or city.  Have you just landed in Costa Rica after you booked the vacation on your own?  You are planning on picking up your rental car and driving you and the family around the country exploring.  You quickly realize the roads are not easy to navigate and are in serious disrepair and you are in over your head, what to do?  You need to hire a guide to salvage the vacation.

Final tip:  I recommend to clients to at least get tickets to a city tour or a Hop-On Hop-Off tour the first day in your destination.  You can get on and off wherever you would like.  They also give a really good view of the city, hitting all the important sites, neighborhoods and history.  This will help you get a feel of the city and how it is laid out.  After that excursion, take off and explore.

Travel Smart…..Travel Safe!

I look forward to seeing you back next week when we will continue traveling the world. We are heading to Bali.

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