I was bit by the travel bug when I started dating Mr. Scout and have been itching to see the rest of the world with him since getting married. Everyone has a thing (or things) they are willing to save and splurge money on, such as home additions, car details, high-fashion clothing and accessories, spa treatments, the latest technologies, shows, and sports events; ours is international travel.
Over the years, we’ve booked travel through an agency and have been delighted with group tours. They take the stress out of arranging the best flights, transfers, hotels, meals, and activities when you’re too busy or tired from work and home life to do it yourself. They also relieve you of the worries that come with navigating through a foreign country on your own. Group tours are convenient and make you feel safe, but certain actions must be taken to enjoy them to the fullest. So based on personal experience, here are our tips on how to get the most out of group travel tours.
1. Know Yourself & Your Fellow Travelers
First, it is necessary to know if you are more of a vacationer than an explorer and can travel harmoniously in a group. A vacationer hoping to get rest and relaxation on a tour that calls for early mornings and non-stop activity may say they need “a vacation from vacation”. A private, less social person may feel awkward about traveling with strangers. Knowing this about yourself and any loved ones you are traveling with is key to choosing a package that best fits you. It also prevents tiffs and regrets while traveling together. Reading tour reviews and asking the agency questions can provide you with greater insight.
This is not to say that a vacationer won’t be able to cope or ever become an explorer. The beauty of traveling is not just seeing and doing new things in a different place. It’s challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone and learn and grow from experiences — good and “bad.” A private person can cope, become more social, and find advantages to traveling in a group, such as voicing needs and wants together, influencing and helping each other, making friends, and sharing experiences and lasting memories.
2. Buy Travel Insurance
Travel insurance gives you peace of mind and compensates you for any tour interruption due to a flight delay or cancellation. Always check the plan details, though.
3. Read. Your. Travel Documents.
Travel documents provide important reminders, specifics on arrangements, and general tourist information, such as:
- passport and visa validity; vaccination proof
- baggage weight restrictions
- transfer vouchers, hotel list, and itinerary
- where to meet tour representatives and guides
- country history and profile
- climate, packing, and cuisine
- etiquette, travel phrases, gratuity guidelines
Be sure to read your travel documents before, during, and at the end of your trip.
4. Do Extra Research
Fill gaps in essential information, such as how to dress based on cultural standards, which plug adapters to use, and what the currency conversions or exchange rates are. Take note that public restrooms may require a small fee, and toilets may differ greatly from what you’re used to. Read up more on historical sites, museums, and churches. Travel guides are useful to read before trips and during downtime —while flying on a plane, riding a coach, or hanging out at a hotel.
5. Envision Your Trip
Bring life to your vision by fastening travel brochure, catalog, or magazine clippings to a poster board or pinning internet images using an online planning tool.
6. Budget Extra Spending
In your budget, include the costs of additional excursions, gifts and souvenirs, and gratuities. Consider eating breakfasts and snacks that have a longer staying power so you can save money by skipping lunch and take part in special dinners. Choose foods that are rich in fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats. Pack non-perishable snacks, such as dried fruit, nuts, seeds, trail mix, jerky, and energy bars in your coach carry-on. Before buying products at demonstrations or markets, take the time to calculate prices and decide if they are fair.
7. Back-Ups & Back-Up Plans
Don’t let your camera run out of storage space or your camera battery die. Delete unwanted photos and charge your camera battery during downtime. Avoid attracting stares at bare legs or a broken, noisy heel. Remember to dress appropriately for the culture and for touring on foot. Consider packing an extra camera and camera battery or resort to your phone camera. Consider packing a cover-up or leggings and an extra pair of shoes in your coach carry-on.
8. Boot Camp & Long Rides
Occasionally, it is necessary to get up in the wee hours of the morning to catch the best transfers and avoid crowds at major tourist attractions. If a trip is short and packed with as many activities as possible, it is not worth unpacking all of your belongings to get settled in at hotels. Be prepared to fly on a plane several times when visiting multiple countries that are far apart and ride on a coach for hours when visiting multiple countries that are close together.
Usually, there is lots of water to drink but no restroom to use on coaches and limited restroom stops. Coach rides are often long and uneventful but the perfect opportunities to review travel documents, do extra research, reorganize belongings, charge batteries or devices, and delete or edit photos. You may also take some interesting pictures along the way.
9. Tour Teases & Free Time
Sometimes, you’ll visit a place and feel like you’re only getting a taste or don’t have enough time to snap a good photo. Speak up and ask, “Are we coming back here later?” If not, ask if anyone else wants to stop or how you can return another time. “At leisure” days or passing up on an additional excursion you’re not interested in can be used to make up for this. You can explore areas, take pictures, or shop at a more fulfilling pace.
10. Keep An Open Mind
Once in a while, you may question an excursion. If you’re patient and keep your eyes, nose, and ears open, you will find something to gain. Pleasant surprises can pop up where you least expect them. For example, we collect landmark figurines and could not find one until we stopped at a gas station of all places! It turns out that gas stations in some countries are much nicer than others. Take advantage of coach stops and think twice about spending all of your cash to avoid having leftover money — you never know what you’ll find!
Well, we hope these tips show you how to get the most out of group travel tours. Traveling in a group has enriched our lives! We have not done so amidst the pandemic, but we feel these tips are still helpful. Consider them while planning your first or next tour. If you’ve had a recent experience with group travel tours, we’d love for you to share it by commenting below.