Finding the “tour to die for” when you are planning an international trip can feel like a coin toss. This is especially true if you are not traveling with a large group under the guide of a large company. While there are certainly advantages to the “just show up we’ve got everything planned” types of trips, there’s something really rewarding about planning your own tour. Here are some ideas for helping you get out there are really SEE your destination.
1. Be honest with yourself. If you are a high energy person, you aren’t going to want a tour that moves slowly and is lower activity. On the flip side, you are more introverted you want to choose something more suited for your ideal pace. Sometimes when we travel, we imagine ourselves different than we really are and capable of things that normally overly tire us or drive us nuts. Stay true to you and there’s no way to go wrong.
2. Search all types of places for tour options. Online, trip apps, blogs, traditional tour sites and hotels suggestions (and then steal them), Facebook, etc. This process shouldn’t be rushed or you’re likely to regret it. You never know what you’ll find if you spend a little extra time doing your research.
3. Once you decide on your tour or day trip, call them in person. Don’t let all your communication be digital, even if you live in a drastically different time zone. Make time to call the tour and ask to speak to a guide/driver. You learn a great deal about how your day will go from speaking to someone whose boots are on the ground. You might even discover that the language barrier might be too great to ensure a nice experience.
4. Read the reviews, and not just the top three. Scroll down in trip adviser, or on the website to get a well-rounded sense of what went right and wrong for other people. Knowing that can help you fine-tune the tour by asking to skip or amend parts, know you need to bring your own water or snacks, and other little details that might ruin an otherwise great sightseeing day.
5. You are in control. If things go poorly, you feel unwell, your tour guide seems untrustworthy, you can end the tour at anytime and return to your hotel. Don’t be afraid to assert yourself in any situation that leaves you feeling unsettled.
Jodi and I immensely enjoyed the tour of the Bishnoi Village we took with our guide Chhotaram. We were both interested in meeting local people and learning about the culture of the Bishnoi. They offered both full and half day tours which gave us the ability to go at a pace that suited our energy level. Chhotaram was a knowledgeable guide about both the local wildlife and culture. In fact he and his family are still members of the community and are weavers by trade. He was willing to answer every question, stop by any roadside, and explain any custom we didn’t understand in perfect English. THis was one of the many great tours we took in India.