Tours get a bad rap. People envision a crowd of people following in a line behind a tour guide holding up a flag. But this is not your grandparents tour. Tour companies have been revolutionized over the last fifty years. There are so many options now. There is truly something for everybody.
My parents did a European tour in the early 1970’s. They were whisked from place to place on a large motor coach barely having the time to see the sights and not getting the chance to really immerse themselves in the culture. They ended up leaving the tour at some point and finishing their European adventure on their own.
My dad just finished traveling in Portugal & Spain after his recent competition in Pontevedra, Spain and had a ten-day gap in his itinerary until we would meet up with him in Greece. I mentioned that he should do a tour as I have done quite a few over the years. The scars from his last tour experience were apparent as he informed me that he had no interest in doing a tour. I explained to him that there are now so many types of tours to choose from and that I would show him some small group options. There would be no motorcoaches this go around!
Spain and Portugal are so close to Morocco, and I felt this trip might be my dad’s only chance to see North Africa or a Muslim country. He has been all over the world but has not experienced this culture. There is so much beauty in the architecture, the call to prayer, the way they pour tea, and so much more.
I did not feel comfortable him visiting Morocco (or anywhere really!) on his own. Once I explained how fascinating the country is and that this tour would be less than twelve people, he was on board.
The photos my dad is sending me at the end of each day has confirmed that my travel advisor intuition was on point. He is seeing amazing things every day, like nothing he has ever experienced before. What more can we ask from our travels?
I have been on six small group tours and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. What I really appreciate is that you are given the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the culture with activities not afforded most travelers.
I have stayed at homestays in Southeast Asia.
I have eaten a three-course meal inside of a cave in the Cappadocia area of Turkey.
I have visited a local village on a floating island in Peru.
These activities can often be arranged as part of a private tour, but at the time, I could not have afforded to do that. Even now, I can afford to do some of these activities as private tours with my family, but I feel like we may get more out of the experience if we enjoyed it with others. There is something about sharing the world with others that creates a bond.
I have met some amazing friends during my tours. In this age of social media and electronic communications, we have stayed in touch and continued to advise each other on our travels. Sometimes, we even visit each other which recently happened when Kye and Reece from my Vietnam tour and who live in Sydney came to visit me in my hometown of Savannah. We were able to visit with my friend Cari in Savannah who was also on the same tour.
Speaking of my Vietnam tour, let me just say, it was magical. We were a group in our 20-30s from the United States, England, Scotland, Switzerland, and Australia. Everyone got along fabulously, except the one night we played UNO at our homestay along the Mekong Delta because apparently, every country has its own UNO rules!
During our Vietnam tour, my tour guide mentioned that his previous tour had been a family tour where all activities were created with children in mind. I thought this sounded fabulous even though I was far from having children at that point. I have talked to parents who have taken their children on family tours and they marveled at how much better their children behaved when other children were around. The parents were able to relax with the other parents while their children played. Now that my boys are old enough, I look forward to participating in some family tours.
There are tours for pretty much every type of traveler – solo, single parent, couples, families, and retirees. There are also tours for pretty much every price point from budget to ultra-luxury staying in five-star properties and dining at critically acclaimed restaurants. The possibilities are endless.
I like to mix up the type of travel that I do. It allows me to experience the world in different ways. Sometimes it is nice to stay at a resort and not worry about anything else, sometimes it is nice to create a custom itinerary for a destination, and sometimes it makes sense to do a tour. Tours are not for everybody, but they are a fantastic alternative for those wanting a deeper connection with their destination.