What’s the number one thing you’re looking forward to on vacation? Chances are, it’s a fascinating and in-depth tour.
The best part of exploring a new place is learning the history, culture, and people. Tasting awesome food doesn’t hurt, either.
But, with the thousands of tour guide companies out there, how do you choose the right one? How do you avoid getting scammed? You want to get the most for your money and have a great time.
Rest assured, the right tour guide company for you is out there. You just need to do a little research. Keep reading for 10 tips to finding the best tour companies.
1. Transparent Costs
To avoid getting scammed by low-quality tour companies, look at the price details. Honest and reliable companies can explain every dollar they charge. Look for a detailed list of each cost and what it’s for.
Confirm that there are no hidden costs that’ll come up after you’ve committed. Be sure you understand what fees you have to pay, and which ones are optional.
2. Know Their Target Customers
All companies have a target customer. They may target Western retirees or first-time travelers and young adults. The itinerary and styles of these two tours will be very different.
Acknowledge what group you fall into and find a company that targets that group.
Many companies cater to certain lifestyles. For example, vegans, LGBTQ, and specific religions. If you want to be around people that share your lifestyle, find a company that targets that lifestyle.
3. Social Consciousness
Good quality tour companies know their impact on the community they tour through. They care about showing the city in an honest way. This means they may choose not to take your group to certain attractions.
Some animal attractions won’t be on the itinerary because they mistreat the animals. Or, they’ll recommend you avoid some areas because of the crime. They may take time to explain the inequalities and adversities locals face.
Companies that insist on working with social consciousness are better than the others. Yes, they want to show you the best of the city. But, they won’t hurt the community or sacrifice your safety in doing so.
4. Do They Hire Local Guides?
Tour companies often operate in tons of different cities. They should be outsourcing the tours to local guides.
When you go somewhere new, you want to learn about it from someone who lives there. Not a foreigner who has done a lot of Googling.
If the tour company doesn’t hire local guides, they may use audio guide software. Or, they’ll guide you themselves. You will have a more informed and enlightened tour if it’s led by a local.
5. Research Their Reputation
Always read the reviews online of any tour company you research. Make sure you’re reading the most recent.
Most companies will have at least some negative feedback. Read these reviews and notice if and how the company responds. Companies that want to improve their services are better than those that don’t respond at all.
Also look them up on social media channels, like Facebook and Instagram. More and more people are using their profiles to comment and review tour companies.
6. Choose Your Group Size
The size of your tour group determines the kind of tour you’ll have. Some people love big groups, from 30-60 people. These tours have a very social and party-friendly atmosphere.
Smaller tour groups, 8-15 people, are more intimate. They allow you to get to know each other more in depth as well as the tour guides. You also have more time to ask questions about the location.
7. Are They Licensed?
Every country has a tourism board that licenses business in the tourism industry. Companies that get licensed must live up to a set of standards set by the government.
If you choose a licensed company, you can be sure they’ll have safety precautions in place. They may also be more reliable, trustworthy, and transparent than non-licensed ones.
8. Check the Itinerary
This is your vacation; you should be doing what you want to do. Check the itinerary plan for the tour and see if you’d enjoy it. Some companies can have their group skip the lineups; you can discover more here.
On the schedule, see what time you’re expected to wake up each day. Will it affect how much you want to sleep on your vacation?
Then, see how much free time is on the schedule. Free time is great because you can explore things on your own that aren’t on the itinerary. But, too much free time means you aren’t getting your money’s worth from the tour.
9. Dining Options
Tour companies with large groups can’t always fit in the local, hole-in-the-wall joints. Unfortunately, these places often have the best food. Instead, they go to the tourist spots that accommodate large groups.
Make sure you have free time during some meals on the tour. This way, you can explore the smaller restaurants that the locals eat at.
Also, if you have dietary restrictions, make sure you’ll have food options. Letting the tour company know in advance is crucial.
10. Location and Type of Accommodation
Research the accommodation you’ll be staying at on the tour. Some tours opt for nicer hotels, others for home-stays with locals. Or, you could be bunking with the whole group in a hostel.
Neither one of these options is bad. But, if you have a preference, research the accommodation before you sign up.
And, compare where you’ll be staying to how much you’re paying. An expensive tour should not be putting you up in a one-star hostel.
Want More Tips for Finding the Best Tour Companies?
You don’t want to miss out on all the landmarks and attractions to see in your vacation destination. The best way to make sure you see it all is by signing up for a tour.
But, not all tours are equal. Use the tips above to find the best tour companies for your travel style.
For more tips on finding the right business for your needs, check out the blog.