Taking an organized tour while on vacation is sort of like going to see a movie. Sure, you’ve got reasonable expectations of what you’re going to see, you only hope you’re not sitting next to some jerk. The fear of annoying tour group-mates is only all too real and while it is fun to laugh about them after the fact, while you’re actually there with them as they ask ridiculous questions, hold up the group because they want to save an extra twenty cents on a souvenir, or step in front of you when you’re about to take a picture, it can put a real damper on your level of enjoyment. So how do you avoid such unwelcome company? Try arranging for a private tour.
The first step would be to find a travel agent or reputable tour operator that operates in the area you wish to see. Be sure to do your homework and look for reviews. What would be the use of avoiding that overweight couple from the Midwest if you wind up left in a ditch on the side of the road of some foreign country? You will also have to find out what their pricing options are. Generally, the more people in your group, the lower the per person price. Just be sure to remember that these are the people you’ll be spending most of your time with, so choose carefully.
One of the greatest benefits of having your own private tour group is the flexibility. While group tours generally have a set itinerary and exhaustive timetable, when it is just you and your group, YOU get to decide what to see, when and for how long. When visiting India, our group of 6 not only specified where we wanted to go, but also enjoyed being able to alter that on the fly. For instance, after taking in the incomparable Taj Mahal and also-very-impressive Agra Fort over the course of a morning, we opted to skip our next scheduled stop and press on to the next town so that we’d have some time to rest. Such a move would invoke mutiny on your average package tour if it were even possible at all.
Another benefit of a private tour which I’ve alluded to at the beginning is not only controlling WHAT you see, but WHO you see it with. Annoying people aside, seeing the amazing wonders this world has to offer with the people you care about most or get along with best will greatly enhance the overall experience. Like any other shared experience, it creates a bond and will likely serve as fodder for some great laughs at the next party or family get together.
Of course, not all destinations are best experienced as part of a tour. But if you like the comfort of being directed by those who know best, I recommend you at least consider the possibility of arranging a private tour for your group. That way, when the obnoxious, whiny, and culturally-insensitive pre-packaged tours shuffle past you, you can retreat to the safety of your own bus and laugh at them at your leisure.
Do you have a funny story about traveling with a group? Share it here!