Why are we even talking about whether you should take a tour? We’re independent travellers, right? Ambassadors of DIY, slow travel, travel that takes you off the beaten path, into narrow lanes, through the backstreets and the backdoors of cultures, homes and other such unrepeatable experiences.
That’s because as our travels have grown wider and more frequent, we’ve learnt a valuable lesson. And that is not to write off guided tours as the easy way out, reserved for lazy tourists who couldn’t be bothered to go below the surface. But with tour companies (like Unique Tours factory) who offer unique local perspectives for travellers looking for a rich and meaningful experience, we’re actually sitting up and taking notice! We’ve met some incredibly knowledgeable tour guides, had some extremely exclusive experiences, and have learnt that there are times when the decision to take a tour might end up being the best one you’ve made.
Q. When should you take a tour?
1. When it offers an exclusive experience
Whether it’s VIP access to places most tourists aren’t allowed (like the underground level of the Colosseum in Rome, or a tasting tour through Barcelona’s unique Catalan food heritage), we’ve enjoyed some once-in-a-lifetime experiences, that if we hadn’t taken a tour, we just couldn’t have wangled on our own.
2. When you want to ask questions
We like to read up and watch videos and documentaries before we visit a place, as well as listen to audio guides whilst we’re there, and generally act like sponges, soaking up all the history, cultural nuances and information about the place. But oftentimes when you take a tour, all of that one-way information just isn’t enough. Every so often, we’ve discovered guides who are an absolute encyclopaedia of knowledge in their chosen fields, enthusiastically willing to offer their insights. So if you’re brimming with pertinent questions about the extravagant life of King Louis the XV, check out the Royal Day in Versailles experience by Unique Tours factory. Oh, how we wish we’d explored it through the eyes of an experience like this!
3. When you want company
Take a tour if it’s an isolated area that you want to explore safely, or if you’re a solo traveller just looking to interact with others, or if you’re the kind of person that loves to exchange views and gain other people’s perspectives when you travel. Whether it’s to interact with other travellers or get a local guide’s perspective, we’ve enjoyed all of the above at some point or another, and it only helped us walk away with a richer, better experience.
4. When it turns out cheaper
A common misconception is that taking a tour means that you end up paying more than you would otherwise. It doesn’t always work that way. Especially if you include audio guides, timeslots, transport and other add ons, you may actually end up paying more. There are times when going with a tour has ended up being cheaper than if we were to attempt to do it ourselves.
5. When convenience matters
We haven’t driven through Europe yet, and until the day we decide to do so, we’re reliant on public transport. Whether it’s trying to navigate the system (and work around the schedules) of trains and buses or paying inflated prices for taxis, we’ve often decided to take a tour just because it takes the hassle out of commuting for us. This makes even more sense when it comes to day trips out of the city or to vineyards, wildlife regions etc.
6. When you haven’t had the time to plan
We’re pretty OCD when it comes to planning out our trips. Sometimes it is to ensure we know the right ticket to buy for the Vatican or the right entrance to use. Other times it may be to ensure we’re not headed to a major attraction on a day it’s shut or any other vital information we may need to. But it isn’t always possible to plan trips to this level, and sometimes it’s just more convenient to book with a tour company so you know the nitty-gritty is all taken care of!
So the next time you travel, think about it. Where appropriate, take a tour. It might end up being the most meaningful travel experience you’ve ever had! We’re definitely looking into something from Unique Tours factory for our upcoming trip to Portugal!
This post was made possible by Unique Tours. Opinions as always, are our own. I partnered with the brand to write this article but every word is mine.