It can be tempting to agree to follow a tour guide on your vacation. Guides can show you the best places in your destination with their local knowledge. They handle all of the transportation and logistics for you to make sure that you’re getting to those awesome places. And they can handle language barriers for you and sometimes make you feel more immersed in the culture.
Booking a guided vacation sounds like the “right” choice until you find yourself spending a beautiful sunny afternoon pretending to be interested in the museum you’re wandering around instead of soaking in some sunshine on a rooftop patio bar.
Having a tour guide sounds wonderful until you hear your guide knocking on your hotel door at the crack of dawn, telling you that it’s time to go, when you want more than anything to stay in those comfy sheets and pitch black room.
Following along with a pre-arranged tour seems like the thing you’re supposed to do until you find yourself, for the second time, getting stuck sitting next to the lady on the bus with the obnoxious voice that literally never stops talking.
I definitely see the appeal of booking a guided vacation. They are super easy on you to arrange because all you have to do is find a package, book it, show up and go along for the ride, following the itinerary that was created by your tour guide.
All guided vacation experiences are different, but most are fast-paced, non-flexible when it comes to your daily activities and excursions, and shared with other tourists. It could be a good option for you if you don’t hate sharing your vacation experience with strangers and don’t care to have relaxation, downtime, and flexibility in your schedule.
But I’m willing to bet that you’re reading this because that is most definitely not you.
Did I get it right? Well you, my friend, are what is known as an independent vacationer.
Independent vacations are ones where you and your personal travel group are traveling around on your own (without a guide or escort), at your own pace, following an itinerary that y’all created and control.
They are, in my opinion, the only way to spend your precious vacation time. If you need any more convincing than that, here are my 3 rock-solid reasons why you should ditch the tour guide on your vacation.
You get to spend your vacation time doing exactly what you want to do.
When you go on an independent vacation, you literally get to spend every single minute on your terms. You can piece together only the exact activities that you actually enjoy doing, and have total control of how you spend your precious vacation time. Because really, what is the actual point of going on a vacation if you spent it doing things that you don’t really want to do?
Guided tours are “semi-custom” experiences where you might have to compromise and make some tradeoffs because the activities are pre-determined as part of your tour. For example, you booked a tour because you want to visit the castle, but you don’t care to watch a 25-minute film about the history of the castle. You booked an excursion because you wanted to go ziplining, but part of it includes snorkeling too, which you don’t enjoy.
You control the pace of your vacation.
Want to sleep in every day? Go for it. Want to spend an entire day wandering around and discovering things as you find them? You totally have that flexibility. You can literally stop and smell the roses for as long as you want. You can plan downtime into your vacation so that you can leave opportunities for spontaneity, relaxation, and taking in the moment.
On the other hand, don’t expect a slow or easy-going pace with a guided vacation. They are designed to move you through the destination as fast as possible, and are jam-packed with activities because they want you to feel like you get your money’s worth.
You get small-batch experiences
You get to experience a destination with your people, not strangers who will very likely get on your nerves after a couple of hours. You can enjoy a more intimate time and enjoy the hassle-free perk of traveling with a small amount of people instead of waiting on the tour guide to herd a large travel group back on the bus.
Tours are almost always going to hit the main tourist trail. And not only will you be surrounded by other tourists in your tour group, but you’ll be surrounded by other tourists in other tour groups, too. Amazing destinations are on the tourist trail for a reason, but being surrounded by swarms of tourists can take away from the awe or charm of the place.
How to Plan an Independent Vacation
Because traveling without a tour guide on vacation is a truly custom experience, planning this type of a vacation requires a lot more research, organization, and time to successfully get it arranged. Just because you prefer to go on vacation without a guide, doesn’t mean that you have to plan your vacation without one.
I am a travel advisor who specializes in planning independent vacations. Because I prefer to vacation like this too, I understand how you like to travel and also understand that you may want a lot of input on your travel plans. Working with me is a unique one-on-one experience where I do all of the research, planning, and booking, but you are with me every step of the way to make sure that what we’re planning is truly personalized to you and your travel group.
Get started with a free consultation and I can help you take the first steps in getting your vacation planned!