the world's smartest travel social network
I'm wondering how other travellers out there feel about having a travel guide when they are going to popular tourist spots. There's nothing more stressful and annoying to us than having a restricted time schedule to see something we may never have another chance to see in our lives, or having to see something we don't necessarily want to see because it is on someone's pre-ordained list. This is one of the reasons why we never do "group travel". All our journeys are planned solely by us and we choose where, how long and what we will see. Occasionally we will take a small tour with as few people as possible. Yet, those times we have decided to "go it alone" we feel we have not been able to understand and properly appreciate some of the things we have seen because oftentimes you just don't have time to learn about these places beforehand. How do the rest of you out there feel? My travel blog http://ww.newjetsetters.com is waiting for you to visit! Hope you'll come and say hi!
I am sure glad I hired a guide for Saksaywaman in Cuzco...
Thanks for replying Tony! Just from the name of where you were travelling, I think you probably made a good choice too! Can you expand a little on what your guide was able to do for you that made it worth it? I'd love to actually research this a little so your reply would be helpful as well as interesting for others in the group!
You've stated the problem well. If I had customized my itinerary on trips to the Far East, I might have saved myself some time and spared myself from some boredom. No I don't want to stop in this store and shop a half hour.
Yes, it's a double-edged sword (so to speak!) When we do decide to go with the guide option though, we try to search for exactly what we think would offer the most specific itinerary or give us the most options to personalise that time. Not always easy to do.
Some of my best experiences were just that because of the great guides I've encountered; but so was the very worst. I had a trip to India, (somewhere I had always wanted to go) but the guides on our press trip were nothing other than related to the tour host - no experience handling a bunch of journalists at all, and they made a disaster of the entire trip. I wrote about it here: http://dbhas.info/HLObHm On my own, I found one totally inept guide and then one fantastic one for my last three days on my own. Had I found this guy the first day...I would have accomplished so, so much more.
Bottom line, get a recommendation from someone you trust, or try someone out on a very short contract to see how they work. Then, extend it if you like the way they do business. I tried to line someone up before hand, but no one responded to my posts that sounded like they had any idea what I really wanted to do. I took my chances and spend six days in India before I found the guy I was looking for on my last day there.
Best of luck to you.
Hi Doug - thanks so much for the great reply! Great information and advice! This topic is actually really interesting, and something a lot of people don't really think about until they encounter the same sort of situations you outlined - and by then it is often too late. This would actually make a great research project if only I had more time! I will head over to your blog, and look forward to interacting more with you on Tripatani and hope you will be visiting my travel blog and leave me some comments there too! Nice to meet you!
My husband and I also don't do group travel. We plan our own trips, often with good consultants who know the country we are visiting well, and we almost always hire private guides. Private guides let you go at your own pace. If you want to spend more time at a particular site, or want more in-depth information, it's yours for the asking. The trick is to make sure that the guides you (or your travel agent/consultant) choose are really good. I wrote a piece about choosing private guides, after we had a few surprises on one of our trips. http://adventuretravel.about.com/od/adventuretravelbasics/a/Find-Pr....
Thank you for your participation in the discussion, Lois. I couldn't agree more - I'm going to head over to read your article - thanks for attaching the link! We have certainly found that having a knowledgeable and trustworthy local guide can really make a huge difference in how much you enjoy your experience and even how connected you feel to the local people and culture.
I hope you will come over to check out my travel blog when you have some time! http://www.newjetsetters.com. Nice to meet you!
If you don't want to do guides, maybe open-top bus tours are an option? They take you to the places of interest, usually give a recorded commentary (which you don't have to listen to, if you don't want) and you can get off anywhere to look around at your leaisure, to get on a subsequent bus to continue the tour.
Hi Keith - Also a good option - one which we haven't really tried. We usually like to have more control over when and where we go, and also like to have the personal attention of a guide so that we can delve into more of the details than are provided by a recorded commentary. When time is of the essence though, and one does not have the luxury of taking advantage of a personal guide, this would probably be the next best thing.