If you are a solo travel addict, you know that you will not be solo all the time. No matter how much you love travelling solo, for sure guided trips and tours will be on your list. For some travellers a tour is the easiest way to get out and ignite their wanderlust, for others is a way to relax from their solo travel escapades.
Reasons for going on guided tours while travelling solo
While group travel is often regarded in opposition to solo travel, in reality they complement each other. Nowadays tours have evolved to such varied standards that it is nearly impossible not to find the right tour. And for many solo travellers tours are becoming an integral part of their travel style.
The reasons for this are many: Tours create a ready-made group of fellow travellers who are willing to share their knowledge. Going on a tour is not only a way to meet people, it can help improve your social skills and help become a better team player. In addition a guided tour is the fastest way to learn about a place and the local community. And most importantly you can see and do things that you will not do on your own.
So, if you are starting to travel solo and are unsure of what you can and want and see and do, here is a list of common situations and tour ideas that you can consider for your travels.
Guided Tour Ideas for the solo traveller
- Are you a Nature lover and like to get active in the outdoor? While you can bike, walk, go swimming, snorkeling, hiking a trail, by yourself, you must become aware of your surroundings too and do your research. An escorted day-tour in the deep forest can add immense value by learning from a local guide about the environment. It gives you the feeling of instant belonging, is fun and safe to get “introduced to a place” through a group tour.
- Explore remote regions. In many countries and in the Australian continent you will want to tour the Outback. Even experienced four-wheel-drivers are not advised to tour rough and remote areas on their own. For some regions is definitely better to go on Outback Guided Trips as a first exploration. I went on tours to explore these regions: the Flinder Ranges, Cooktown, the Kimberley and more.
- Get Adventurous. Australia and New Zealand are top adventurous countries in the world. If you like to try out something new and want to push yourself to the limits, then you will find some of the best adventure tours of the world. From water sports like snorkeling or scuba-diving, to sky-diving, to kayaking, jungle-surfing, to extreme adventures. The way to go is joining a local tour.
- Get to know the local culture with the insight of the locals. Probably no. 1 reason for many solo travellers is to join a local tour to get a taste of the place. From guided walking tours, to food tasting tours, to heritage tours. Options are endless to learn about the local tour attractions in a relaxed way.
How to search and book guided trips and tours
I love day-tours and food tours. I haven't been on many multi-day tours. 3-4 days or a week is for me the right length of time. While I will not survive on long-tours of 2-3 weeks, I'd like to experiment and try out new things though, like an extreme four-wheel-drive adventure or a cruise to a remote region.
While it is not easy to choose the right type of activities among the huge offer of guided trips and tours, there are ways to search for good quality tours. Here are my favourite tools I use in my travels:
1. Search online for tour booking agents before travelling. Almost all tour operators have a booking site. I recommend checking out these two tour companies:
♦ Viator.com for day-trips – on this comparing platform you can find day-tours and specialty tours from 1-3 days. They also list all discounted tours. I use it all the time to see what's on.
♦ TourRadar.com for multi-day tours This is a great website I recently discovered to compare tours from over 20 tour operators. They cover all types of travel styles: from backpacking to luxury travel. They also list tour reviews from travellers and have many details about each tour.
2. Word-of-Mouth is always a good way to find out about good tours. On FB Groups and Forums you can read tour reviews from travellers. However I would also make all necessary investigations, to make sure you book the right tour for you.
3. Visitors information Centres they always have a full list of all local tour companies, often listed by various categories, to make it easy to find what you are looking for. On the tourist information websites you will also find a list of small local tours and package tour operators alike.
Things to consider before booking guided trips and tours
As said before, nowadays tours are much better than what they used to be in the past. The quality of tours is higher and the fierce competition make tour companies increase their standards all the time. However there are a few things that you always must check before booking.
This is a checklist that I use and find it useful before booking my tours:
- Size of Group. this is the first thing I personally check cause I don't go like large groups. 8-15 people is the right number for me. The smaller the group the better, it's relaxed and easy get to know tour mates.
- Tour Pace and Activities. What am I going to see and do and how is the tour pace? Is it an active pace or a slow pace. Furthermore if a “you-time is included” is also a good thing. I once ended up in a 4 hours food tour with over 15 stops: not really what I expected.
- Inclusive and Extras. This is also a very important aspect that you must evaluate. Many tours do not include park entry fees and only offer basic meals, like breakfast, which means that additional costs are at your expense. So to avoid surprises, make a list of all important aspects before booking the tour.
- Tour Travel style and overall quality. What can you expect from the tour? A backpacking style tour or a luxury tour or anything in between. What type of food will you eat? For travellers with dietary needs, like gluten-free, diabetics, vegan, etc, knowing what they get to eat is very important.
- The cost of the Tour. One thing for sure that turns on or off people is the tour price. Most of the times a higher price is often a sign of more things included, like meals, extras, etc. But it is not obvious and sometimes you don't get what you pay, no. So finding out what you get for the money you pay is key.
- Tour Breakdown and detailed activities. While you should get one before booking, if not provided on the tour brochures or website, you can ask for a detailed tour plan. The more detailed the tour is, the more reliable the tour company. The more transparent the company is about how they will conduct the tour, the better. Will they use eco-friendly vans, and care for the environment? Will they use local tour guides and involve local operators etc. All this matters too.
- Travel Insurance Cover. Almost all tours prices will not include travel insurance. While some offer a separate coverage, you should get a good travel insurance plan to cover you for the entire time of your travels. On this page you can read more about how to choose the right the travel insurance plan for the adventurous traveller.
I hope you find this post about guided trips and tours useful for your solo trips. On this other page you can learn more about how to search for Australia Tours.
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