Here’s a look at four simple ways to get the most out of your guided tour.
Go on the Optional Excursions
While many of the sights, meals and activities you will experience on your trip are included in your adventure, each itinerary offers a variety of additional, optional excursions to choose from. These activities generally carry an additional fee but offer an opportunity to experience something unique at a special group rate. Optional excursions can include anything from a meal at a family-run winery in Italy to an evening cruise along the Seine in Paris.
"The trip exceeded my highest expectations in every way. The optional experiences were excellent and well worth the additional money each time. Would highly recommend this trip to anyone who has Italy on the bucket list!"
- Carol H., Wonders of Italy
We're often asked why these experiences aren’t included in the trip's main itinerary and overall price. This is because everyone has different interests and desires regarding their vacation. Our tour operators strive to offer guests the ideal ratio of guided sightseeing and time to explore at leisure – we’ve found that providing a selection of interesting and unique optional experiences is the best way to achieve this.
We recommend reviewing the list of optional experiences for your trip well in advance to come up with a plan and maximize your free time. And if you find that you’re undecided on a particular activity or experience, it’s okay to wait and ask your travel director for advice at the beginning of your trip.
Talk to Your Travel Director
A group tour has many great perks, and our outstanding Travel Directors are one of them. Your Travel Director will be an expert on the region you’ll be visiting – someone who knows the language so that you don’t have to worry and helps enhance your journey in many ways. Take advantage of time on the motorcoach, as your Travel Director will share fun facts and tidbits about each destination's history, cuisine, and attractions. This is a great chance to enhance your knowledge, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
"We were on the go, and our capable and entertaining Travel Director showed us things you'd never find in any tour guide book, along with all the highlights Spain is known for. I really can't say enough wonderful things about our tour. All in all, what an incredible way to get an overview and experience of a fantastic country!"
Margaret M., Spanish Wonder
Your Travel Director can also help you prioritize things that you may want to see or do that aren’t part of the itinerary – so you can come up with a plan and make the most of your free time. Ask your tour director for recommendations on local culinary specialties, must-try restaurants, local farmers’ markets, museums, attractions, and or specialty products and gift ideas in each destination you visit.
"My wife and I had a great experience. This was our first "group" vacation and we were a bit concerned. However, every aspect of the trip was planned and executed perfectly. Our Travel Director ensured that we knew where to be and when to be there. They also provided some small local touches at each main location that were perfect - warm baked goods, local cookies and even a sip of scotch."
Charles B., Britain & Ireland Highlights
Do Your Research
The absolute best way to make the most of any travel is to understand where you’re going. Knowing what makes each destination special will help you to understand where to go, what to see, what to eat, and what to skip altogether.
Researching your destinations in advance of your trip helps you get excited about the things you will see on your guided vacation. It also makes for a better experience when you already know something about the places you’re seeing and can ask questions to your guide. Take the Louvre Museum, for example: before your trip, maybe spend some time reading about the museum's history and identifying some pieces of art you want to see.
Top 10 Things to See at the Louvre
Knowing about the places you’ll be visiting also opens you up to make the most of your free time. Instead of wondering where to go during your downtime, you’ll have a plan that’s all your own. Use your itinerary as a guide, but write your own story.
Another way to get the most out of your travel budget is to consider adding an additional night or two either at the beginning or end of your guided tour. This is an especially good idea for travelers looking to spend more time in a particular destination or recover from jet lag before their tour begins.
Flying into the first destination on your tour a day or two in advance will also give you some wiggle room in case something unexpected should occur, such as a flight delay, cancellation, or lost baggage. And whether you spend your extra time sightseeing or simply relaxing and adjusting to your new time zone, you’ll be able to move at your own pace before the start of your trip.
Adding a few days at the end of your trip is another way to customize your guided tour. Some travelers allow extra time to go back and explore a place they visited in greater depth, while others make plans ahead of time to venture into a new city they’ve never been to.
If you’re interested in extending your trip, be sure to talk about it with your Travel Specialist, as they may be able to assist you in making your travel arrangements and even offer reduced rates at specific hotels where you’ll be staying on tour.