I’m a believer in making the best of your given circumstances. Things happen, and there’s not much to do except laugh about your mishaps and misadventures. As a traveler, you know that few things are within your control… but finding a good tour guide should be one of them. How can you ensure that you won’t set out on a much-anticipated tour only to find yourself gazing longingly at a nearby group whose guide seems so much more personable, knowledgeable, and fun than yours?
Here are 5 tips to help you avoid tour guide envy on your vacation:
Tip 1: Research.
It is important to research and rely on the recommendations of other travelers as you put together your itinerary. Lonely Planet‘s Thorn Tree Forum and TripAdvisor traveler reviews are excellent places to browse. And people aren’t only posting when they’re either ecstatic or appalled – you’ll find your fellow wanderers are happy to share their knowledge, and you can field a specific question on the forums to receive some helpful advice. Local publications in your destination can also give you some insight into the events happening in the area that you might enjoy.
Tip 2: Share Stories.
Not only is it fun to share stories of adventure with other like-minded travelers, but these connections can provide very helpful information to make your trip even better.
Tip 3: Find a Licensed Guide.
As a rule of thumb, always make sure your tour guide has a valid license. This not only puts you in good hands, but it also supports the efforts of tourism authorities to enforce licensing requirements.
Still, an individual (licensed) guide might be suited for one traveler and a total mismatch for another. One vacationer’s glowing review could turn out to be your worst nightmare. Savvy travelers know to consult multiple sources for suggestions and read between the lines of reviews, especially concerning activities that could potentially make or break their valuable vacation time. Think about your own preferences before you start reading reviews:
Do you prefer a guide who narrates your tour, providing information about the area as you go?
Or does a more taciturn guide allow you to respond deeply and meaningfully to your environment?
Are you looking for an animated, energetic tour guide to get you going, or do you need someone who lets you amble at your own pace, pausing where you please to take it all in?
Tip 4: Trust Your Instincts.
As the saying goes, first impressions count. Only you really know yourself and your preferences. Given the numerous options you’ll have as you explore your destination, I suggest shopping around and talking to the various guides and agencies offering their services in the area. Each of them may promise an amazing, life-changing adventure, but wait until you find a guide who clicks with you.
Tip 5: Go With the Flow.
Finally, the golden rule for preventing tour guide envy is to keep an open mind. After all of the research that goes into an organized and well-planned trip, the savvy traveler knows to put their trust in a qualified guide, take a breath and go with the flow. Your guide will share with you the sights, sounds, and flavors that they find special about their home. Allow yourself to be challenged by the unfamiliar. You’ll find yourself in exciting new situations beyond your wildest imagination. With the right guide, you can venture into this new territory feeling safe, well-informed, and ready for adventure.
Heading to Belize? Check out my special tips on finding the best tours in Belize!