Tour Guide, Needed or Not?

What are the Benefits of a Tour Guide?

Image of Do you need a tour guide? - Cruise and Tour PlannersTour guides on a motor coach have changed a lot in the last 2-3 years.

Here is what you can expect from a guided tour:

  • You are met with a sign with your name and they speak your language.   They are so welcome after a long flight.
  • You are gently led to baggage claim.
  • You are directed to a vehicle, perhaps given a cold drink and cold towel and a comfortable seat
  • Next you are guided to the check in desk at the hotel, given your key and shown to your room.  Depending on the time of arrival, you may go to bed for the night, take a nap or go for a walk.  That evening, or the next if you arrive a day early, there may be a welcome party to meet your other companions for your journey.  Then you get your instructions for the next day.

From this point on, you have a guide with you throughout the whole trip, until you are dropped at the airport for your flight home.

The advantages

  • You have someone who speaks your language.
  • Someone who knows the history of every place you visit
  • Someone will tell you great places to shop and places to avoid.  What to buy and what is a scam
  • You save so much of your precious time not having to study maps and figure out which street to take and what you are looking at.
  • Often you have some parts of days when you are on your own to shop, take optional excursions, catch up on sleep or do laundry
  • Many tours now will spent more than one day in a city that has a lot to see and do.  You won’t feel so rushed from city to city.
  • You get to meet the locals, hear their stories, meet their families, hear their music and learn a bit of a new language.
  • Many times you eat in interesting places such as museums, villas or local restaurants you would never know about.  Those are often the highlight of the trip.

Challenges you may face

I have done escorted tours and been on my own.  It depends on how much time you have, can decide which is best for you.  Learning public transportation on your own in a foreign language can take time.  Reading a map and figuring out where you are and where you want to go can be daunting.

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You might drive around in circles for a few hours just trying to leave the airport.  Some cities have streets so crooked, that even a map doesn’t show every twist and turn.  And where to eat?  I have followed guide books and before the door of the restaurant shut behind me, I was backing out.

Depending on the season and any special events in a city, finding a bed might take a few days.  How does the train station sound for the night?

Tours for all ages…

We used to hear the comment “I don’t want to ride around with the blue hairs”.  That is what tours used to be because they were all seniors.  The “blue hair” was what my grandma had from using “bluing” to whiten her hair and it turned it blue!.  Now there are tours for every age group.  Better yet, bring your own group of friends or family and make your own tour.

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I can do custom tours to fit anything anyone can dream of.  From adventure-active tours to totally non active.  There is something for everyone of every age.

Even families with children now have companies that gear the tour just for them.  It is fabulous to take those children into the world and learn to make friends all over the world.

If you just have 2 to 4 people, a private car and driver is wonderful.

Want to travel on your own?  That’s fine.  Here are my suggestions:

  • Get a train pass before leaving home.
  • Secure a rental car, if you will want one
  • At the very least, book a hotel for the night you arrive and the night before you leave
  • Pre book a transfer, both at the beginning and at the end
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    Tourist Office

    In every city, find the Tourist Office, often with a big “I” on a sign, and schedule a tour.  Either partial day or more than a day.  I can also prebook those before you leave home, if you know the days you will be in what cities.

  • Read guide books – Fodor and Frommers are good.  But there are many others
  • Make an itinerary and stick to it.  Build in a day here and there to roll over in case something comes up or you decide to stay longer somewhere
  • Don’t bite off too much.  See one area in full rather than jumping around
  • A Spoke and Hub is a good way to see an area.  Go out during the day and back at night.  Many cities work well with that.
  • Talk to the desk at the hotel.  They are usually good tour guides and speak your language
  • And MOST of all, be flexible.  Things just have a way of getting messed up.  Always have a plan B in your pocket.  Don’t have very high expectations and if something goes wrong, you can roll with it.

However you see the world, just make sure you see it before you leave it.  Call me at Cruise & Tour Planners to help you

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