As a travel agent I often hear so many of my clients and potential clients cringe and dismiss the idea of going on an organized tour for their upcoming vacation. Why that is you ask? My guess would be that most Americans today associate tours with some crowded bus filled with tacky tourists that are all being herded to some market where the tour guide’s leader is waiting to sell you something touristy at the end. Or maybe that is just the worst fear when we hear “tour.” And while there are some operators who do practice some sort of this, if your travel agent is any good (see benefits of working with a travel agent) then they should be able to avoid such pitfalls on your next trip.
Tours exist to make it easier and more efficient for people to see the things that they really want to see while travelling. Consider this example, you are traveling to Rome and want to see the Colosseum, The Forum and the Vatican. OK well, a lot of other people (A LOT of other people) share this desire. There are long lines of those fellow travelers who are off on their own seeing the sights at each location. Lines at the Vatican alone can take hours to get through and sometimes you can stand there all day and not even get in. Oh and there’s many different levels of access, the general admission to the cathedral doesn’t get you in to the museum and so forth. Your travel professional (me in this case) can help you avoid the pitfalls of not getting the most out of your vacation. (See top ten reasons to work with a travel agent).
When you book a tour, you’ll get access to these sights much easier (or VIP access if you have a good travel agent and your budget meets the price). Why is that? Because the tour operator has customers that they want to make happy so that you enjoy your vacation and bring your business back to them. The travel agent wants the same thing. So the attraction, in this case, the Vatican, agrees for private, VIP, or some kind of special access for members of this tour. This streamlines the process so that people on the tour (I would call them “tourers” and not “tourists”) can see the attraction that they came to this place to see.
Now there are many different types of tours for all activities and interests. There are the traditional guided tours, self-lead tours with a local expert, go it your own with all of your access or tickets arranged ahead of time, or even tours where you live with a local family and learn what their life is like. There’s tours that drive on buses, ones that travel by river boat, ones that travel on the deep blue sea, and even ones where you’re walking from place to place. There’s coconut shrimp, pineapple shrimp, shrimp on a stick… Where was I… Oh yeah many different kinds of tours, all exist with the common idea, an organized way for you the “tourer” to see the things you wanted to see, and experience the things you wanted to experience without having to confront the masses.
Tours can even just be day trips or excursions. If you’re cruising on an ocean or river cruise, this might be the best way to see, experience, and learn about that particular port of call. For example, in Cozumel, one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world, there are tours offered for a range of activities and interests, ranging from visiting the ancient ruins at Tulum to snorkeling and/diving the world class reefs for a glimpse at the beautiful and varied marine life in the area. There are even culinary focused tours, where “tourers” can taste the local flavors and learn about local cuisine and spirits.
Finally, there has been a recent trend towards adventure tours in the younger generation (and the young at heart). Adventure tours are those off the beaten path, where you get to do some amazing things. It’s all not necessarily some extreme sport or 10 mile hike up Kilimanjaro (though those are available) adventure tours can also involve something as easy to do as staying for a few nights in a local village in a comfortable but simple tent or lodge that enables you, the traveler, to experience some unique cultures and a way of life in some remote place(think Amazon Jungle or Thailand). You can have a truly life changing experience by getting out there and doing the unexpected and maybe make the world a better place by seeing and experiencing something new and different form across the globe.
The “tour” has evolved from the cliché “Tour the Homes of the Stars” idea where people are crammed into a bus and driven from place to place. Those tours still exist, and in some cases, are quite enjoyable depending on what you’re wanting to experience. But there’s a great deal more out there for you to experience and many ways to do that. If you’d like to know more about the various types of tours or have a specific destination you’d like some expert advice in finding the perfect tour for you, contact us for an idea packet. Go There With Us.