Attention independent travellers wary of joining an escorted tour; our very own Tour Expert, Katie Griffin, dispels the myth about the lack of personal time and how to get the most out of your guided tour whether you’re alone or not.
1. How many times have you been on an organized tour?
I’ve been on five incredible tours.
2. How many countries have you visited (total) while on an organized tour?
I’ve seen eight breathtaking countries in total while on tour.
3. What makes traveling on a tour better than doing it on your own?
The worry free aspect. You can truly enjoy everything you are seeing as you are not constantly thinking about the little details.
4. What is the most common misconception about organized tours?
That there is no free time. This is absolutely not true. I spent many hours and sometimes full days exploring cities on my own or with my new friends.
5. What surprised you the most about touring?
That I didn’t feel like I had lost my independence. I was nervous to go on a tour as I thought I would just become one of many but it was simply not the case. I still got to experience each place in my own way. I just had the added benefits of actually learning about the destination from an expert and having the details taken care of for me.
6. What’s your favourite tour company and why?
I really love Intrepid. I love the idea of a small group and their huge focus on cultural activities really makes you come away from a destination with a better sense of what makes it unique.
7. What are your top 3 tips for a client about to experience their first guided tour?
1. Listen to your guide. They are the pros and they know what they are talking about. Ask questions to get the best information but ultimately use the benefit of having that expert with you.
2. Make friends. Talk to the people on your trip. Find out what interests them so that way when it comes time to choosing an activity you might have someone to join you! This is a huge benefit when going alone so you have a social aspect but even when going with a partner who might have a different travel style from yours.
3. Enjoy yourself! This is your vacation. Yes, you may be with a group of people but this trip is still about what you make of it. Relax. Go with the flow and enjoy the peacefulness and simplicity that comes with a guided tour.
8. What’s your favourite travel memory from a tour you’ve taken?
Arriving into Rome after a series of delayed flights late into the evening. Struggling with the language barrier and arriving at my hotel upset that I had missed the group meeting and worried about what I was going to do. The front desk agent promptly informed me that the tour director was waiting at a restaurant for me. She gave me the tour directors cell phone number and put me in a taxi to meet the group. I finally arrived to a group of people that were genuinely happy to see me and excited I had finally joined them. I immediately knew I had made the right decision in booking this tour as opposed to trying to do it all myself.
9. What made you fall in love with touring?
It’s hard not to fall in love with touring once you’ve tried it. How amazing is it to get to a new destination and immediately have a best friend who knows everything about the place and a ton of other friends wanting to have a great time with you? The value is pretty great too. Touring feels like meeting up with family all over the world, about maximizing your time enjoying your trip and minimizing your time worrying about how you are going to make it to the station in time for your next train.