By Jessica Russo
If you’re like most people, you might experience some travel anxiety. Before you book a vacation, you might think: How am I gonna deal with the language barrier? How will I get around? Is the area safe? Will I be able to travel outside the city? I don’t want to drive on the other side of the road!
Hey, you – relax. Instead of worrying, imagine a world where traveling means no stress, no language barriers, no fear of getting lost, and no fighting over directions. Surprise! That actually exists: the world of Escorted Vacations. By hopping onto a group tour, you’ll be able to experience a new place without the inconveniences that come with a DIY trip. With transportation included and a guide by your side, escorted vacations are no work and all play.
Escorted Tours Make Difficult Trips Easy
Let’s take the beautiful country of Scotland, for example. While its capital city of Edinburgh is an easy-to-navigate medieval masterpiece, Scotland’s countryside is ehh let’s say... not as easy. Not only do the Scots "drive on the other side of the road," but those roads are narrow. Plus, many of them skirt the edge of mountainous cliffs in the Highlands. Some road signs are written in Gaelic and once you get to the really remote areas, you may not see a village for miles and miles.
Now, while some people love the thrill of venturing around the vast greenery and adventuring from one B&B to the next, there's nothing wrong with taking the back seat - literally! Instead of navigating through hilly terrain and spending your drive frantically reading maps, sit back, relax, and let your driver take care of the dirty work.
Planning? All taken care of.
Hotels? Check. Transportation? Check. Sightseeing? Check. With all of the nitty-gritty details in place, your biggest concerns will be figuring out where to eat dinner and snap the best photos.
Traveling is a little bit like the holidays. You spend months preparing for an event that's over before you know it. Our theory? Don't spend energy on preparation. By allowing your guide to take the reigns, all you need to do is pack your bags, get to the airport, and focus on being present in a new destination.
Don't worry about transportation
While it may be fun to feel like a local on a train, or to take your own road-trip through the countryside, there's nothing quite like being driven through spectacular scenery by a knowledgeable guide. Don't waste time figuring out trains or making a wrong turn; your tour guide will minimize travel confusion and maximize sightseeing time.
Meet new people
While you should always be fond of the person you travel with, it's kind of nice to get a break from each other. On escorted tours, new voices and personalities become blended in the mix. Chat about your hometowns, learn about new cultures, and bond over shared experiences! Naturally, you may not love everybody on your tour, but sometimes the non-favorables make the best post-trip stories.
Tours are safe and convenient
Face it: your local guide knows the lay of the land way better than you do. He or she will know which areas are safest, and which areas should be avoided. Another perk? Your guide speaks the local language and lingo. If you get yourself into a confusing situation, your guide will be there to rescue you.
You'll actually learn about what you're seeing
It's one thing to see a pretty castle. It's another thing to learn all about that castle's legendary history! Your expert guide will teach you the stories behind every structure you visit and your scenic drives will be sprinkled with interesting facts. Places feel much different when you know more about them!
Your guide knows the local spots
It's likely your tour guide grew up near the area you're visiting. While some say escorted tours won't give an authentic experience, the truth is usually the opposite. Not only will guides bring you to well-traveled hotspots, they'll also show you hole-in-the-wall gems only they know about. Your guide will recommend authentic restaurants and will steer you far away from "tourist traps."
While some escorted tours include optional attraction admissions and excursions, many do not. Most tour operators choose to exclude added values in order to keep costs of tours down, while still providing luxury options to those who are interested. While bonus amenities are not always included, large tour groups often get "group rates," meaning the cost of traveling with an escorted tour group can often cost less than taking the same trip on your own.
You will get time to explore on your own
Contrary to popular belief, guided tours do offer ample amounts of free time. Usually, guides will bring the bus to an interesting city or town and give you part of the day to roam and create experiences without a guide. While your trip will stick to a scheduled itinerary, your vacation will still feel like your own.
You're not on a bus the whole time
"On tours, you sit on the bus the whole time." This is another myth that's simply untrue. As you drive from city to city, your tour guide will likely stop a few times per hour. These stops won't be your everyday rest stops, either. They'll be castles, scenic views, waterfalls, short hikes, or other exciting mini adventures! Some of travelers' best memories are made during these stops.