If you’ve ever searched for a tour company on the internet you will remember that the choices are innumerable, sometimes overwhelming. Travel is an investment in our lives that can bring us momentary pleasure as well as long-term, joyful memories and therefore deserves careful consideration. But how does one find the perfect tour guide or company that fits our own expectations? Italian Excursion is pleased to be part of a group of small group tour operators who offer diverse options for everyone’s travel needs.
First, it’s important to know a few things about yourself. Some questions to ask oneself would be 1) Do I enjoy being part of a large group, probably all strangers or am I more comfortable interacting with small groups? Does the median age of the group matter to me? 2) What level of physical comfort is important to me? Simple lodging and food or more luxurious? 3) What are my interests in the country I am visiting? Art, history, cultural influences, food, wine, or archeology and anthropology? 4) What is my budget? 5) How long can I be away from home, comfortably and in consideration of my responsibilities and obligations?
These are all essential questions to ask before choosing a company or guide to travel with. Once you have narrowed the focus from this vantage point you have some strong criteria for choosing who to travel with as you will be spending quite an extended, intense period of time with folks who are essentially strangers to you. Of course, that’s part of the travel adventure and a great way to meet new friends, as we have discovered over the years.
One recommendation I make to potential guests on my tours is to clearly define their current interests and motivation for the trip under consideration. If someone is interested in learning more about art to further their own technique or love for it, then a tour that offers the experience of actually drawing and painting while vacationing is ideal. If it’s the actual history of art and one does not feel inclined toward the experience of creating then I might suggest traveling with a guide who is experienced in art history. This sort of distinction can have a profound effect on the ultimate experience and memories of the trip but I find that many travelers sign on to tours without preparing for satisfying their own special expectations. Another example might be that of food. Many people enjoy eating and savoring the food of a certain culture but have no interest in learning to cook it, so taking cooking lessons might be a big disappointment.
There is also the consideration of who is leading the tours. Are you more comfortable traveling with a group of couples and being led by such or are you a solo traveler who enjoys meeting others who are doing the same? Does the age of the guide have an impact on your expectations? Or the gender of the group leader? Do you like traveling with groups of families, including children or just the opposite? How much activity will the guide expect? Hiking, lots of walking, lots of sitting? Does it matter to you if the guide is a native of the country or not? These are things to ask before making your final choice to sign on with a tour as you will have to “live” with the result of your choices and expectations for at least a week if not longer.
So, when making inquiries of tour companies don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as it takes for you to be comfortable with your final choice. This is YOUR trip, so you get to create an experience for yourself that meets or exceeds your wildest dreams. Happy New Year from all of us at slowtraveltours and may all your travels in 2012 be enjoyable, safe and memorable!
Cheryl has been traveling to Europe, particularly Italy, for more than fourteen years. Her interest in Italy, its history, art and rich culture led her to purchase property near Orvieto, allowing her to spend more time there. Cheryl’s exploration of Italy include the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, as well as the areas around Venice and south towards Sorrento. She continues to travel into Italy’s less traveled regions, and enjoys sharing her discoveries with others. Relaxed, leisurely tours are her specialty with an emphasis on the comfort of her guests.
Cheryl spends the rest of her time near the beach in San Diego, cavorting with her two small grandchildren. She’s an avid reader, health advocate and community volunteer. Her career as a social worker brings an understanding of people’s needs to the tour business.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.