5 Reasons to Consider a Guided Tour for your Next Vacation
If you're used to making your own travel plans, you may have decided that you're just not the kind of person who takes guided tours. I used to feel that way too, until I finally took my first guided trip before the pandemic and experienced firsthand the advantages of this kind of travel.
There are many reasons to opt for an organized tour, starting with the price. At Travelzoo, we vet every deal before we publish it, and we typically find that group trips cost hundreds (sometimes even thousands) less than the same package pieced together independently, thanks to the buy-in-bulk discounts available to tour operators.
So, booking a guided tour on Travelzoo will always get you more for your travel dollar, but that's not the only reason it might be the best option for your next big vacation. Here are five other advantages to taking a guided tour.
1. They'll take care of transportation
It's one thing to book your own plane tickets and jump in a cab to your hotel. It's another level of work and worry to find, book, pay for and rely upon unfamiliar transportation options in a multi-city or multi-country itinerary. Logistics is one of of the biggest advantages of guided tours. Travelling with a group is safe and convenient, letting you skip the hassle of public transit options or the risks and expense of driving a rental car. Plus, trips such as Exoticca's multi-city Morocco journey take you to areas that are challenging to reach on your own, much less to fit into a shorter trip. Add the convenience of international and in-country flights, plus in-destination transfers, and you're all set to concentrate on having fun the moment your trip begins.
2. Language won't be (as much of) a barrier
On a guided tour, you'll typically have a leader in each city who can speak both English and the local language, as well as people in head office who can talk to locals on your behalf if necessary. (Explore India boasts a 24/7 concierge team, for example.) Obviously, this is a huge advantage for sightseeing, but the benefits can go well beyond having someone to describe the sights in English. During my independent trips, I've had my share of mishaps — from ear infections to stolen wallets to missed ferries — and it's taken a lot of time and stress to figure out how to deal with them when I don't speak the local language. An unexpected crisis can still happen on a guided tour, but if it does, you'll have a go-between right there to help you deal with logistics and communicate with officials.
3. You'll benefit from insider knowledge
When I visited the tunnels of Cu Chi near Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, our tour company, Citron, sent us off with the most remarkable guide — an older man who'd actually sheltered in the tunnels with his mother when he was a boy. Unsurprisingly, he, and his harrowing accounts of life during the Vietnam War, are what I remember most from that trip. A good tour company will have guides who know the destination inside-out, whether it's a bustling city or a steep mountain trail. They can tell you where to get the best photos, find the most delicious local food or spend any unscheduled time, and they can provide insight into what it's really like to live in the place you're visiting.
4. Seeing the sights is easy and efficient
Going to Italy with a guided tour? Chances are you won't have to wait in the hot Roman sunshine to enter the Colosseum or visit the Vatican. Tour companies typically arrange skip-the-line access to major attractions, potentially saving you hours of time in line or the disappointment of finding that the place you want to see is sold out for the day. The more popular the sight (hello, Egyptian pyramids!), the more it can attract people looking to make a profit from tourists, and the more you may appreciate the structure and safety of a guided tour. Plus, don't underestimate the amount of time it can take to get from place to place; travelling with a group on a bus or van can be the best way to pack in the most sights on a short trip. Plus, some tour companies (such as G Adventures) are known for offering unique experiences that can be hard to arrange on your own, like meals with locals or community service activities.
5. Travel buddies are built-in
Ask anyone who takes group tours regularly and they'll say that making new friends is one of the most rewarding elements of this kind of trip. Even people who like travelling solo or as a couple can enjoy the safety and company of a group trip; socializing is entirely optional and you'll always return to your own room at the end of the night. It's not hard to find group trips that cater to specific age groups (like Contiki's trips for the 18-35 set), foodies, LGBTQ+ travellers or people with specialized interests, from ancient history to modern art. Trafalgar even offers women-only tours. Approach a group tour with an open mind, and you can leave with a list of future travel companions and a much livelier social media feed.
Ready to consider a guided trip? Check out these tour options vetted by Travelzoo's Deal Experts.