6 Questions You MUST Ask Before Booking a Tour Package
So many options! How do you choose? Here are some key things to consider when booking a tour package:
1. Ask: Is this tour provider familiar with the destination? Some tour packages are put together by locals who know the area, who know what they’re putting before you; people who have “been there, done that.” They know how to get you into the best places. Others are planned by multinational companies driven more by their need to expand their revenue than delivering the best product for the guests. If you don’t know the area intimately yourself, you’ll want to go with someone whom you know does.
2. Compare all the options for their value-for-dollar. Put the options side-by-side. Some trips look cheaper before you add up all the extras that aren’t included in the package. Compare: how many meals are included? How many activities are included? How does the accommodation compare? When you add up the things that you will have to pay for yourself, the trip that looks cheaper may not actually be cheaper. Do the math; choose the one that gives you the best value for the dollars you will need to spend.
3. Ask: Do the tours have adequate staff to give you a great experience? Some packaged tours expect one person to be both tour guide and driver, while looking after 13 or more guests. And they keep that driver/guide going for ten or twelve weeks straight. Imagine the experience you will get from such an arrangement, especially in the back half of the season. Compare that with those tours that offer both a tour leader/guide and a driver. With which will you be better looked after?
4. Ask: What does the tour package around the main highlights? Most tours will take you to the major highlight attractions of a region. What differentiates the options available, is the other things they package around those highlights. For example, will they take enough time to get you into the natural environment and into the local culture? Or do they expect you simply to grab your cameras as you’re whizzing by in the motor coach? And if they do get you deeper into the region, will the activities that are both included and optional be those that appeal to you?
5. Ask: What happens when you get to your destination? Will transportation and guidance be available to you at the destination? Or will you simply be dropped off and left more-or-less on your own? Some packages explicitly state that the tour leader and the transportation are not available at the destination. Others make them available. Which would you prefer? Check the fine print before you spend your money.
6. Ask: Will the other guests be “your kind of people” so that you can have a great group experience? Or will they be just a bunch of people with contrasting interests? You can usually tell by going through all the information carefully. Does the online material emphasize those kinds of experiences you’re looking for? For example, if you love cycling or hiking, does it refer to that frequently among the activity options, or not? Will attract active or passive people? Or does it only give vague generalities that leave you guessing?
Do your homework! Know before you buy!