It’s easy to skip over guided tours when you’re planning your vacation, thinking you’re keeping flexibility and spontaneity intact by going it alone. But that could be a mistake. Save for large-group bus tours where you’re herded around on someone else’s timetable, many of today’s guided tours are small, intimate groups of travelers guided by a local expert, and include a mix of guided days and free exploration. Still not convinced? Here are eight reasons to book a guided tour for your next vacation:
1. Save time planning
Doing the necessary prep work and research to visit a new city is time consuming, not to mention the tedious organization of details. When you book a guided tour with companies through NEA Travel Guided Tours, someone else takes care of all that planning, from lodging and transportation to meals, attractions, airport transfers and gratuities. You don’t have to do anything but enjoy your trip as you’re taken care of you from start to finish. Many tour operators offer VIP entry (read: skip the long lines) to iconic sites around town.
2. Reduce on-the-ground stress when problems arise
Unfortunately, things happen when you travel—you lose your passport or forget your camera, flights and trains get delayed, you get lost. But on a tour, your guide will help you figure it all out and take care of everything for you. No guidebook can ever teach you how to get out of an issue. This help can be a real time-saver, as you’re not standing outside a bus station trying to figure out how to get somewhere.
3. Gain insider knowledge
There’s nothing worse than traveling a long way to a foreign land and then not understand what you’re seeing. Education is perhaps one of the most important reasons to book a guided tour—an expert can put the sites into context. Though many companies fly out American guides, we recommend booking with companies that use local guides. Local guides are incredibly knowledgeable about their city, from the major sites to one-time local events that you’d never know about if you were on your own. Plus, during your free exploration days, guides can provide local insight and recommend the best places to go.
4. Add comfort and safety in unfamiliar places
There are likely a few destinations that you’d love to visit, but you wouldn’t feel safe traveling solo.
5. Be more adventurous
Not only do guided tours allow you to visit places you may have been reticent to visit independently, but once you arrive there’s a reverse mob mentality that gives you a courageous boost, whether it’s zip-lining or bungee jumping for the first time or simply hiking to the top of a mountain. Group tours give you an extra sense of energy and desire to explore giving you the ability to do things you wouldn’t have done on your own. You'll also be able to socialize with the locals and other travelers.
6. Support local economies
Just as important as experiencing a local culture is giving back to them. For every $100 spent in a developing country, only $5 actually stays there. By staying at locally-owned, boutique-style hotels (rather than big chains), employing local guides and booking with local transportation companies, more money stays within the local economy.
7. Save money
When tried and tested local accommodations and recommend neighborhood restaurants are booked, the savings are passed on to you through affordable prices and positive experiences.