Have you ever taken a vacation that made you feel like you wanted to go home? Do you get the itch to ditch boring tourist traps but don’t know how to find a reputable tour company?
Every year, only 50% of all American workers use their vacation time. If you’re going to invest in a big trip, it’s worth nailing down every single detail to make sure you have a good time.
If you’re looking for a tour company, this article’s for you. We’ll help you narrow down the kind of tour you’re looking for and give you some tips for taking mini-breaks close to home.
Pick Your Destination
The first step toward finding the best tour companies is to figure out where you’d like to go. Is there a particular country or state that has always fascinated you?
Start by reading reviews of tour companies and take notice of bad reviews. Large cities could have dozens of competing tour companies that all want your business. Once you have a list of potential tour companies, it’s time to think about your “vacation style.” Do you prefer a packed schedule with lots of local trips, or would you like time to go explore on your own?
If you’ve done a lot of traveling in the United States, it might be time to branch out and go explore Europe. These tours in Venice take you away from tourist traps and into a centuries-old food scene.
Travel at the Right Time of Year
As you’re booking travel tours, you might come across some deep discounts. They may seem attractive, but ask yourself why those tours are so inexpensive. Traveling to Southeast Asia, for example, is much cheaper during the summer. That’s because it’s monsoon season.
Don’t get fooled by discount prices. A reputable tour company will always let you know about extreme weather before you book your tour. If you’re traveling within the United States, the same rules apply. Some Southern states have tornado season in the late summer and early fall.
The good news for European travelers, however, is that they have an off-season without the hurricanes and tornadoes. If you book a tour to Amsterdam, you can save big by going in the fall or spring.
Book Your Tour
So once you’ve decided on a destination and asked for time off of work, your next step should be to commit to a tour company. The great thing about touring with a group is that you can stay safe while you’re traveling. Group size can vary, so make sure that you don’t get stuck in a crowd of 40 or more people.
Here are a few things to think about when you’re finalizing your vacation plans…
Finding the right hotel can make or break your travel plans. If you’re booking with a tour company, make sure they have you staying in a hotel rather than a hostel.
Hostels work well for younger travelers, but if you’re traveling with children, you definitely need a private room in a hotel. Ask your tour company if they can guarantee the hotel accommodations. You don’t want to book a three-star hotel only to find yourself staying in a one-star dump.
Booking an Airbnb may be better than staying at a hotel, so again, just ask the tour guide or tour company you’re going with.
One of the benefits of travel tours is having access to local experts. Do you want to take a hike or go kayaking? Look for an experienced local guide.
Is your idea of fun taking a guided tour through a city’s museums and restaurants? You’ll need to find a tour group that has knowledgeable tour coordinators.
Another benefit of having a local show you the sights is that you can practice your foreign language skills. The best tour guides are fully bilingual and can help you find opportunities to speak in your target language.
No Hidden Fees
When you’re booking your trip, you should always make sure that there are no extra fees. Some travel groups charge extra for single people to have their own hotel room. If you’re using a travel agent to book your vacation, you may get hit with some outrageous fees. You shouldn’t have to pay a fee to book by phone, and you shouldn’t have to pay a “foreign currency” transaction fee.
Find travel companies that offer you meals, hotels, and trips for a single fixed price. Ideally, try to book your trip about six months in advance to get more of a discount.
Free Time to Explore
Even if you love to have a packed schedule when you travel, look for a tour company that gives you some free time. Whether you’d like to rest in your hotel or just sit at a cafe and watch the world go by, free time is a must for any traveler.
If you have a few hours on your hands, ask a local where they would recommend that you eat. No matter where you’re staying, avoid taking a purse with you when you travel alone. Carrying a backpack will let you stow souvenirs, your camera, and a rain poncho or umbrella.
Also, make sure to wear comfortable shoes! Vacation isn’t the time to break in a new pair.
Hire a Local Tour Company
Did you know that you can have an adventure without leaving home? Most cities have walking tours and docents who give tours of museums. Take a mini-break from your job and take a guided tour of a few local landmarks. You may be surprised at how much history is hiding right under your nose.
Another way to plan your getaway is to book a short trip to a larger city. You won’t have to travel far and you’ll have the excitement of being in a new place.
Above all, take your time and find the right tour company. Investing in a vacation is key to avoiding work burnout and maintaining your peace of mind.
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