If ‘to tour or not to tour’ is your question, wonder no more. As our Tour Expert, Chelsea Gasko, points out, whether you’re up for trekking Everest or relaxing in a Tuscan villa, there’s a perfect escorted tour out there for virtually everyone. We sat down with her to pick her brain about organized tours, and what tips she has for those of you considering one.
I have been on eight organized tours.
How many countries have you visited (total) while touring?
I’ve seen eight amazing countries in total.
What makes travelling on a tour better than doing it on your own?
There are so many reasons why I recommend group tours; having a guide who knows the language and the ins and outs of a country by your side, safety and security, new friendships, no logistical stress or hassles, being able to see more in a shorter period of precious time, the list goes on and on…
What is the most common misconception about organized tours?
I think that sometimes, when people think about organized tours their first thought is of a big bus of 50 tourists being shuttled around without any real immersion into the country they’re visiting. Nowadays, there are so many different styles of tours to choose from. Smaller group sizes, from 10 – 16 passengers, are my favourite. It’s just big enough to meet some new friends and provide security but small enough to feel inconspicuous and spontaneous.
What surprised you about touring?
I am constantly amazed at just how wonderful my tour guides have been. I have never had a bad experience! Each and every one of my guides has been fun, organized and really open, with a genuine desire to show travellers their world.
What is your favourite tour company and why?
My favourite tour company is G Adventures. I love their approach to travel; their belief that travelling responsibly has the power to change the world. G Adventures operates small group trips with a handful of different styles to choose from. So, whether you’re up for trekking Everest or relaxing in a Tuscan villa, they have just the trip for you. I also believe that their Planeterra Foundation projects set an example of how the tourism industry can remain sustainable – and they’re a Canadian company to boot!
What are your top 3 tips for a client about to experience their first guided tour?
1. Pack light! I recommend travelling with a backpack, especially if you’re travelling on a tour that moves around a lot. Keep in mind that you may be checking-in to a new hotel every couple of days, and if you have a big bag, all that moving and packing can be cumbersome. You don’t need as much stuff as you think you do – trust me!
2. Make sure all of your travel documents are in order. You’ll want to check that you’ve got valid travel insurance, passport and any entry visas you may need for the countries you are visiting. We, at Flight Centre, can help you with this, of course.
3. Relax and enjoy the ride! One of the perks of travelling on a guided tour is that you don’t need to worry about the practicalities of getting from point A to point B. While you’re on your trip, be present, make connections and try to take it all in. Travel has the power to teach you new things about the world and yourself, if you let it.
What is your favourite travel memory from a tour you’ve taken?
My very first guided tour was a G Adventures 2 week trip through Morocco, back in 2008. We took a camel ride through the Sahara Desert and I remember thinking about how the desert looked like a movie set. I’d never been in a desert before. After riding all day, we stopped at sunset to enjoy dinner around a campfire. We told stories, sang songs and enjoyed a few beers around the fire, then slept on the sand under a clear blanket of stars. It was definitely a day I’ll never forget.