Guided Tour or DIY?
Say the term ‘guided tour’ and watch for the response…
Sometimes there’s an eye-twitch. Or even palpitations. People start imagining uncomfortable coaches with poor air-conditioning and complicated itineraries.
Now, unfortunately, tours like that do still exist…But all is not lost!
An increasing number of guided tours now focus on experiences that are intimate, friendly, informal and – most importantly – led by a Local Guide!
So what should you consider when deciding whether or not to do a guided tour?
Let’s say you’ve channeled your inner Shackleton – grabbed a map and compass, packed your phone and the Garmin, checked out all the online reviews, blogs and discussion forums and set off for your outdoor adventure.
Exploring somewhere new is an amazing and singularly unique experience. However, it’s important not to underestimate the work it takes to navigate over long routes! Cross-referencing a map, estimating distances, working out the logistics, checking for waypoints and getting a little lost can, along with all the planning, monopolize your time.
Consider this: how much time do you have available and, most importantly, how do you want to spend that time?
A guided tour simplifies the navigational aspects of your adventure.
Instead of furrowing your brows over a map, impatiently tapping your watch at the most relaxed member of your group or hurling abuse at your mobile phone signal (which has conveniently dwindled to zero just as you pass that suspiciously familiar hedge) – you’ll be on track, on time and in the moment. All of the responsibility will rest with your local guide.
2. Guaranteed fun
It’s quite ambitious to absolutely ‘guarantee’ people a good time…but that is tour guide’s raison d’être!
The place that you’re going, the route that you’re taking and all the activities – on a good tour this will all be very carefully crafted together. Pre-planned and optimized.
Sometimes a local guide will be happy to take you on a private tour. Sometimes you’ll join a small group. Either way, the focus of the local guide is to ensure your enjoyment as much as possible!
3. The FULL experience
Have you ever been somewhere that was absolutely lovely….but not been entirely sure what you’re looking at?
Each place is unique and a local guide is invaluable when it comes to enriching your experience. They are a source of abundant knowledge and whether it’s local history, famous people, sights, folklore, art and culture, or even special places less accessible to the public – they’ll make sure that you experience the area just like a true local!
Many guided tours are also tailored to particular types of experiences. So whether you’re looking to take landscape photographs or fancy the physical challenge of a tough ascent it’s worth spending the time investigating if there is a local tour to maximize your experience.
With local suppliers and group discounts, a guided tour can cost less than the individual items in the itinerary.
Don’t fall into the trap of paying extra for local attractions and activities separately!
Many rural areas also offer free local guides especially during summer events and festivals – so if it’s your first outdoor adventure in a location, have a look at what’s on when you visit.