9 Tips to choose your next trip
How will you choose your next trip?
Psychologists tell us that we make judgement calls mostly by emotions and gut instinct rather than reasoned analysis. Then we invoke such analysis to justify those judgement calls.
But they also tell us that after-the-fact reasoning can lead to an adjustment of those decisions and, more specifically, influence the gut reactions we have the next time we’re confronted with that choice.
So how do you decide on your next trip? Clearly, those pretty pictures are a big factor (emotions, gut instinct)—every operator knows that pictures are the best marketing tools for travel. So, do you go by the prettiest picture?
I like to think that reasoned analysis, and specifically, comparison among options plays a big role, too—if not on the current trip, then at least on your next decision.
So what are these reasoned considerations that help us to make great decisions when it comes to travel? There are two preliminary ones, and then it comes to the detail.
#1 What destination tops my bucket list?
Or is at least high on it? Travellers tend to have a large number of destinations because, by nature, they’re curious. That’s a good thing. But we all have preferences that vary widely. We’ll likely be happiest when we start high on the list.
#2 Is it the right season for this destination?
Few destinations are equally good year-round. If you have a restricted time-frame for your next trip, make sure you choose a destination for which that is a favourable season. No one wants to escape a chilly or rainy winter for a tropical vacation only to arrive there during their monsoon season.
So, having chosen a specific destination and a time, you now need to choose from among the variety of operators who offer trips to that region in that time period? It’s time for detailed comparison. What are the factors that will determine whom you choose to deliver the experience you’re seeking?
#3 Does this trip meet my personal travel style and goals?
Some travellers prefer culture, others history, or geography or culinary or wildlife, or simply uniqueness. Some prefer comfort, others like to rough it. Some prefer bucket-listing the main highlights of a region, others like to get behind those highlights for a more in-depth exploration. Some want active adventures, others a more relaxed pace. Where are you with respect to these variables? You have many trip providers to choose from, each with their own style and trip culture. Make sure that the one you ultimately choose to deliver your experience will fit your personal goals. It’s not good for you, nor the provider, if there is a mismatch.
#4 Overall Cost
Generally, you get what you pay for in a trip because the various operators need to remain competitive with each other. Higher-end trips with 4-star hotels will cost more than modest trips with 2 or 3-star hotels, and those trips will cost more than camping trips. So you need to compare what you get for the dollar you’re going to spend. Your budget may immediately rule out a whole section from the range of options. Your personal style may rule out another segment. Now it’s time to get picky.
4b Hidden costs
What’s included in the various options? Does the cheaper priced trip include the same number of meals, or will you be paying extra for meals? What about activities? Are they included in the price, or will you have to pay a whole bunch more for the activities you want to do? If you’re camping, is the food included in the trip price, or do you have to contribute to a “food kitty.” Or the proverbial “local costs,” that some operators add to the basic trip costs and others include. Sometimes the lower priced trip will actually cost you more when you add up the things that you’ll need to shell out for in addition to buying the basic package.
#5 Group size and make-up
Some like to travel in large groups, some in small groups. Some like to meet new people from around the world, others like to stick with their own cultural groups or demographic. Of all people in the world, travellers tend to be the most accommodating and adaptable to associating with others; it is the “shared travel experience” that predominates. But you have a right to your own inclinations. Learn what you can from the operators published content, then weigh for yourself how your preferences are met through each option.
Can you rely on the staff the operator is offering for the trip? Are they knowledgeable and competent? Some operators of small group tours, for example, provide both a tour leader and a driver, while others staff a similar trip with only one person who serves both roles. Which will you trust to give you a better experience? And, are they simply facilitators and organizers or integral group members?
Here you’ll want to consider two things. First, what do the reviews say? An overall star-rating gives you a pretty good idea. But reading through the reviews will give you more insight. A good “rule of thumb” that many follow when reading reviews is to ignore the best and worst reviews (they’re probably from someone who has a strong bias for or against the operator, or a bone to pick), and look at only the others; they’re the ones that will give you the real insight. How the operators have responded to criticisms may also be helpful.
Second, there’s the reputation of the brand itself. Are they credible? Are they experts in the region? Are they recognized worldwide? Are they trustworthy? Are they accredited? Look for symbols and associations, such as consumer protection memberships, that give you confidence in the operator.
#8 Avoid uncertainty
All credible operators have great websites with tons of information. Read it–all of it that relates to your trip, including “the fine print.” Then, if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact the operator. They all have staff to respond to queries, and take out the guess-work. If you don’t get satisfaction in your replies, that may be a hint as to whether or not you should choose that operator.
#9 Circle Back
At the end of your comparative analysis, what does your gut say? The same as before? Which option will best satisfy the question you started with (#3): “Does this trip meet my personal travel style and goals?”
West Adventures welcomes you to compare. We’re confident that we can compete favourably with any operators to provide the best value for your dollar. And we’ll all be happiest if we have a great match between what we offer and what you want to achieve in your bucket-list travel experience.
Interested in one of our Western Canada adventure tours?