Why travel on escorted tours?
There are many reasons to travel on escorted tours. If you’re female and have no one to travel with, read this article, to see why an escorted group tour is an ideal option female travellers like yourself.
You’ve been considering travelling on an escorted tour to fulfil your next bucket list item but you’re not 100% sure it’s the right experience for you. Before you decide, you have a bunch of questions. Hopefully the answers below will help you decide whether an escorted tour is right for you.
What are escorted tours?
Escorted tours, or escorted group tours, are a type of travel experience in which everything is planned and organized by a tour company and involve a group of travellers being escorted to various locations at their travel destination, as opposed to guiding themselves.
How far do escorted tours go?
Unlike a resort vacation, escorted tours often travel vast distances (sometimes crossing borders between two, three or more countries) with one, two or three nights’ accommodation at each destination on route. Transportation is generally by private coach or mini-bus (depending on the size of the group and topography of the region visited), but can also be by rail, boat or air – or a combination of one or more transport types, depending on the distance travelled between stop-overs and geography of the area visited.
How long are escorted tours?
Many tour operators offer a variety of tour lengths within the same country or region to cater to different budgets and travellers’ available time. Tour lengths can range from as little as 3 days up to 45 days…or even longer. Which length you choose really depends on the destination and type of tour, how much of the region you wish to experience, how much time you have available and, of course, your budget.
How big are escorted tours?
Groups on escorted tours can range in size but the more immersive tours tend to be between 8 to 20 people. If you’re travelling alone, you have the opportunity to either find a travelling companion among the group to share the experience with, or to keep to yourself if you prefer.
When’s the best time to go on an escorted tour?
Environmentally-friendly and ethical tour companies, often schedule tours during the shoulder seasons not only to avoid crowds but also to reduce the impact on the destination. If peak travel cannot be avoided (such as for special events, Christmas, or to ensure the best weather conditions), tour operators will usually provide VIP access to popular tourist attractions so you’re able to bypass long line-ups. Or they may avoid the most crowded tourist hot-spots all together taking you instead to off-the-beaten track locations for a more immersive experience. Generally, you this is not something you can do easily if you’re travelling on a self-guided tour unless you hire a local guide (usually at a much higher cost than travelling as a group).
Aren’t escorted tours more expensive?
Not necessarily. Compared with all-inclusive beach vacations at budget resorts for the same number of days, perhaps it is. But when it comes to value for money, escorted tours are not expensive. A beach vacation cannot provide you with the same immersive, authentic and enriching experience you’ll get from escorted tours. Also, due to the number of people on a tour, tour operators are able to negotiate a lower rate per person from suppliers than individual consumers would pay. Often, the single supplement for accommodation on group tours is also lower than it would be when travelling solo, when you compare apples to apples. This means, the overall cost will be much lower than arranging everything yourself. If you compare apples to apples, not to mention the time it would take you to plan and arrange everything included on an escorted tour, the value of escorted tours can’t be beat.
What’s included in escorted tours?
The price of escorted tours generally includes all transportation at or within the destination, all accommodation, entrance fees to included activities and sites, plus some meals. Depending on the location, type of tour and weather, bottle water, other beverages and snacks may also be included. On tours that include hiking or biking, luggage and tents may be carried or transported to each destination on route. Transportation to and from the destination is generally not included as people tend to travel from different airports, but flights can often be booked on your behalf by the tour company and added to the tour package.
What meals are included?
Generally, at least one meal a day is included (usually breakfast) and, depending on the tour-company, tour style and itinerary, lunch or dinner may also be included on one or more days. Some tour companies, such as G Adventures, deliberately include fewer meals with their itineraries, and instead encourage you to eat and spend your meal dollars locally as opposed to eating in the hotel (especially if it’s a big chain hotel), and the guides or hosts will make recommendations as to where you can purchase locally grown and prepared meals.
Is there any free or down time on escorted tours?
Tours are generally designed to provide as immersive, authentic and enriching an experience as possible, no matter where you decide to travel. Itineraries therefore tend to be jam-packed with activities and experiences to maximise your time in the region. However, they usually include half or full days for optional activities or down-time when you can do your own thing or just relax and unwind.
As well, on hiking tours, such as the Camino de Santiago, if your luggage is being transported between locations, you can always opt to travel on the bus and spend longer at a particular destination if you’re still aching from the hike the day before.
If you need more down time, you can always book-end your tour with a couple of days to relax and unwind before or after the tour. Either choose a shorter tour, if you’re limited on time, or extend your stay.
What are the accommodations like on escorted tours?
Accommodations can range quite considerably; from a tent right up to 5-star quality hotels. Some tours may also include stays in farm houses, the homes of locals or other small local accommodations which not only give you a more authentic experience, but help the local economy.
Can a solo traveller go on escorted tours?
Most tour companies cater to mixed groups, while others specialize in women only or offer women only group tours as an alternative. Some now even provide escorted tours specifically for families. Knowing that there is a growing number of solo travellers looking for authentic and immersive experiences, if you’re travelling alone, tour companies usually allow you to choose to share a room with another same-sex traveller (matched in age as closely as possible) or, if you prefer your own company or privacy, you can choose to pay a single supplement and have your own room. The single supplement is often comparably less than it would be on a cruise or at a resort hotel.
What if I have a group of friends who want to go on escorted tours?
Escorted tours, especially women only group tours, are a fantastic option for female travellers who want an immersive and authentic experience and who prefer safety in numbers when travelling but can’t find anyone to travel with them (whether due to time, budget or lack of interest in the destination). But escorted group tours are also fantastic option for a group of women with similar interests.
Depending on the size of your group of friends and availability at the time of booking, you can generally join an escorted group tour. If the dates don’t work for you, the tour can’t fit your group or you’d like a slightly different tour, many tour companies will customize a tour to meet your group’s specific needs.
Many tour companies are happy to customize a tour to meet your particular group’s interests, travel style, comfort level and even budget. So, if you have a group of gal pals who wish to travel together, or you can gather a group of women with like-minded interests, many you can have a tour tailor-made to your exact wishes and desires.
If enough of you are travelling together, each traveller may receive a discount or the group organizer may even get to travel free! (Of course, it’s up to you if you’d prefer to split the cost.)
What if I want a custom tour but don’t have anyone to go with?
An escorted tour is an ideal way to indulge your interests, whether travelling solo or with a few friends, but if you don’t find a tour that meets all your specific interests and needs, a custom tour is another option. However, depending on the tour-company and/or itinerary, there needs to be at least 8-12 people in the group before they will create and run a custom tour.
If you know a couple of friends who share similar interests as you, chances are they each know two more and they may know two more, and so on. Before you know it, you could have a group large enough for a custom group tour. Mention to your friends that you’re thinking of organizing a tour that indulges their interests, share your idea on social media, create a Facebook group of all those interested, hold an information night and before you know it, not only will you find you actually DO have someone to travel with, you have a whole bunch of people wanting to travel with you.