Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Upside and Downside Of Picking The Right Travel Tours

The Upside and Downside Of Picking The Right Travel ToursThe Upside and Downside Of Picking The Right Travel ToursIf you're dreaming of seeing the world, you'll find that tour companies are in the dream-fulfillment business. They print up shiny brochures showing the world's wonders, which they will gladly wrap up for you in neat packages but they offer many advantages. On a prepaid tour, you can sit back and let somebody else take care of all the details of travel. A tour relieves you of the chores of getting around on your own in unfamiliar cities, choosing hotels, deciding where to eat, making restaurant reservations, or planning every day's sight-seeing. You'll never have to worry about transporting luggage or finding your way to a hotel. And if your luggage does not arrive, it's the tour manager, not you, whose job it is to follow through.

Tour buses generally offer comfortable seats and big windows that give you the best views as you travel. Not the least of the appeal of a tour is the cost. Because of the economics of group buying, tours almost always save money over trying to duplicate the same trip on your own. In peak season, the clout of a tour company often ensures room reservations that an individual cannot afford. Some tours also offer roommate matching services to avoid the single supplement, allowing a big saving for rolo travelers. Single travelers also enjoy the advantage of companionship, especially important at mealtime. Most often, a block of tables is reserved for tour members, and a single person would naturally join the other members of the group.

Despite the many pros of group travel, you should not sign on for a tour without understanding the negative points. In exchange for the advantages, you give up the right to set your own schedule. There's a set time that you must leave your bags outside your hotel room door each morning, as well as a designated hour for breakfast and departure and those times are likely to be early. The average tour is geared to covering as much ground as possible, so you have little opportunity for browsing or lingering.

Of course, just because you've paid for the full tour doesn't mean that you must climb every hill or see every sight on the itinerary. It's perfectly okay to decline and meet the group afterward. But when the bus is ready to roll, you'd better be on board. The size of the group also limits your choice of lodgings and restaurants. Intimate inns and cafes cannot accommodate a busload of tourists. So you'll be staying in larger commercial hotels chosen for their ability to handle a group well, and you'll will frequently be offered fixed menus in large restaurants, unless you want to pay extra to venture out on your own.

Despite these warnings, the makeup of any one tour is unpredictable, and sometimes you can luck out. The one element that makes or breaks a tour is the tour director or escort. It is up to the tour director to see that everyone shows up on time, to deal with the inevitable grumblers, and to set a tone of goodwill and fun for the group. Ideally, this person should be all things to all people. This person should be friendly, outgoing, humane, intelligent, articulate, witty, well informed, and even tactful. Directors are usually college educated and the better established the tour company, the better the chances that you will have an expert tour director.

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