How to choose a tour that’s right for you.
There are so many tours out there - different companies, different types of tours, different destinations - that sometimes it can be hard to choose the right tour for you.
Your friends had a fabulous time in France, should you go? Your sister went to England and it was the best tour ever, is that the tour you should do? Still someone else went to India and fell in love with the country – should you go to India?
The truth is, there are many things to consider when deciding what kind of tour to do and how to get the best out of your holiday time and it all comes down to you.
While it’s great to hear about everyone else’s holidays, we all have our own preferences, our own unique tastes and travel styles that will impact what we like and don’t like in a holiday. Choosing something because someone else loved it or because it was on their bucket list, doesn’t mean it’s the right trip for you.
Before you venture out into the big wide world, take a look inside yourself, get to know your likes and dislikes, your interests and your quirks.
Here are some tips to get you started. And then relax, there may be a myriad of choices out there, but knowing your travel self better will help ensure you come back with your own amazing travel stories.
Reason for travel
Before you even start to think about where you might like to go, think about why you want to get away. Do you need a rest? Need time to yourself? Perhaps a beach trip, where the biggest decision is whether to lie next to the pool or on the beach is the right choice for you at this time. Do you want to experience a new culture? Embark on a food tour or try some adventure activities? Do you want to check out the arts, see a live show or take in some of the world’s great historical sites?
The type of holiday you want will vary depending on what stage you’re at in life. But if you know what you want to get out of your travel it will help narrow down where you might want to go. There’s no point going to a quaint village in Tuscany if you want real adventure, or to the Lakes District in England if you want to experience a different culture.
There is no right answer here, there is only a right answer for you.
Do you prefer city or country? Beach or lakes and rivers? Do you love the hustle and bustle of busy cities or prefer something a little quieter? Even if France is on your bucket list, think about what it is in France that you actually want to see. Visiting Paris is very different from visiting Chamonix, which is very different from visiting Bordeaux. You may simply want to visit the Eiffel Tower, but if you do a tour it will likely take you to other parts of the country and you’ll have a much better time if those other cities match your interests.
Do some research on the destination, if the political views clash with your own, will that bother you? Do you like the food? While you don’t have to eat the local food all the time, a big part of travel is experiencing the local dining culture. Also consider what the climate is like? Do you hate the cold? Hate it too hot?
Mode of travel
There are so many ways to get around once you’ve selected your destination. Depending on where you’re going tours may include walking tours, bus tours, train trips, flights between cities and boat rides. If you suffer from sea sickness or just hate boats you may want to select a tour that doesn’t include boat trips. Similarly if you really don’t like walking at home, it’s probably best to steer clear of trips that involve a lot of walking.
Think also about your own abilities. Are you capable of taking long walks over uneven ground, or walking up and down steep monuments? Do you want to do this on tour?
Different tours will cater to different age groups and different mobilities. Even bus tours through Europe can often require a lot of walking over uneven cobblestones. Make sure you know you’re abilities before you book. And if unsure, talk to the tour company, they’ll be only too happy to tell you how active you’ll need to be on any tour.
This will usually depend on your budget, how long you can get off work or stay how long you can (or want to) stay away from the family. Tours come in a range of lengths and options. Think about how long you can realistically stay away for and how much you want to see in that time.
Some tours cram a lot in to a short amount of time, you get to see all the highlights but may not get to spend as much time at each place as you’d like. Others spend a lot of time in each place giving you more time to explore, but you might get bored if you’re in one place too long.
Once you know where you want to go and have found some tours you like study the itinerary to see if you have enough time in the places you want to see. If you really want to go to India to see the Ganges but barely even stop in Varanasi, you’re likely to be disappointed with the trip overall.
Study the itinerary
You’ve picked your destination and know what you want to see. And you’ve found a few tours offering great deals, before you book, study the itinerary. How many people are likely to be on the tour, is that an important consideration for you? Some people prefer big groups so that there are more people to mingle with, while others prefer small intimate tours.
Consider what kind of rooms will you be staying in. If hotel choice is important you might want to check the hotel websites before committing to a tour. Would you prefer to camp or stay in a five star hotel? Do you want your own room or would you prefer to share? Different tours offer different options and the sleeping arrangements can have a big impact on your overall enjoyment of a tour.
Also, check what icons you will actually see on the tour and how long you get to spend there. Do you want to have free time in particular cities? Do you want to have time to shop? What activities are included in the tour? If the tour includes lots of gondolas or cable cars and you’re afraid of heights, you might prefer a different tour.
And finally, check what activities are included and what you have to pay extra for. All tours are different, some have lots of optional extras, some include all activities in your tour price, some have lots of dinners included, some have very few. If you know what you’ve already paid for, what’s included or not, you’ll have fewer unwelcome surprises on tour.
Now that you’ve done the hard work you can sit back and relax with the knowledge that by selecting a tour that suits your personality and interests you’re more likely to travel with like-minded travellers on the right tour for you.
Check out our latest tours to see what suits you.
*Diane Squires is tour host with Two’s a Crowd.