Having been on over six tours all over the world, our Tour Expert Brianna knows a thing or two when it comes to guided vacations. She shares her favourite tour memories, why they are great value for your money, and some tips on what you can do to make the most of your next tour experience.
1. How many times have you been on an organized tour?
I’ve been on six tours so far, and have a few more planned for this year.
2. How many countries have you visited (total) while on an organized tour?
3. What makes travelling on a tour better than doing it on your own?
Having someone there that knows the ins and outs of the destination (plus the hidden treasures that you wouldn’t know where to find!). It is structured to a point that you see far more than you would on your own, but you still have time on your own to go off and explore in more depth.
4. What is the most common misconception about organized tours?
That they are overly regimented, with no personal time – but his is not the case at all!
5. What surprised you the most about touring?
How much I enjoyed it overall. I loved having a guide in each of the destinations that could tell us about things we wouldn’t have discovered on our own. These locals are proud of their countries and want to show off the best aspects to visitors!
6. What’s your favourite tour company and why?
Honestly, I don’t have one favourite. The company I choose depends where I am travelling and what I want to experience. For adventure style trips, I love On The Go Tours, G Adventures and Intrepid Travel. For higher-end experiences, with the soft landings, I love Insight Vacations and Globus. Every company offers something unique and I put a lot of thought in when I am booking tours for myself and my clients. When I travelled through Europe in 2012, I did 2 tours with Topdeck Travel and had a brilliant time. It was great to be with people my age and looking for the same cultural experience, with a side of adventure and fun!
7. What are your top 3 tips for travellers about to experience their first guided tour?
1) Don’t plan too much before you go! It’s hard as a travel agent, to wait until I arrive in my destination to plan out my days, but a tour guide will have so much insight, and will give you suggestions that you likely haven’t thought of yourself.
2) Be open to new friendships within your group. You don’t have to be best friends, or even keep in touch afterwards, but opening yourself up to conversations with others allows you to see the destination in a different way.
3) Relax! The tour guide is there to do any stressing, so you don’t have to. Let them take care of the details so you can focus on seeing the sights!
8. What’s your favourite travel memory from a tour you’ve taken?
I have so many incredible memories from my tours, it’s hard to choose one! I was on a tour of Turkey in May 2015, and our last stop was Cappadocia. The first morning there, we were meant to go hot air ballooning at sunrise, however when we got up in the morning, it was wet and windy – terrible conditions for hot air ballooning, so it was cancelled. We were incredibly disappointed but agreed to be up at 4:30am again the next morning (our last day in Cappadocia) to try again. The next day it was perfectly clear, with not a cloud in sight. We got out to the launch site, and as we drove up, we saw balloons everywhere being prepared.
We were one of the first balloons up in the sky, and got to witness the most spectacular sunset and the view of hundreds of balloons floating in the area. It was truly one of the most amazing moments and I had to pinch myself a few times! To top it off, our balloon pilots were exceptionally skilled and landed our basket on top of a trailer!
9. What made you fall in love with touring?
I was skeptical of tours until I went to China on my very first tour. I’d never travelled to Asia before and I was terrified! I had no idea what to expect and I was vegetarian – quite the daunting experience. Our tour leader ensured there was always delicious local vegetarian food available (if you are ever in Xi’An, make sure to try their speciality noodles!!) He also navigated us through the madness that is Tiananmen Square with ease! Touring allows me to visit countries that I wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable exploring on my own. After a week in Russia with our expert leader, we were confident enough to jump on the metro, making on our way all the way out to Domodedovo Airport in Moscow (2 trains and a bus!)