This is the second post about escorted tours. In our previous post, we explored Trafalgar Tours and identified what makes Trafalgar special. But should you believe it?
Marketing hype or real?
Trafalgar uses a third party feedback platform to provided real, unedited reviews. You can see it here. It’s hard not to be impressed with a company that puts unedited feedback right on their website. But I guess they don’t have to worry since their satisfaction rating is typically between 92 and 97% (varies with feedback). When I looked it was based on almost 37,000 reviews gathered over the past year. Did you know there were so many escorted tour goers? Did you realize there were so many escorted tour positive reviews?
Types of Trafalgar escorted tours
Trafalgar offers lots of different types of tours. Here’s how they classify them
- Country intensive: Spend lots of time in a single country – meet it’s people.
- City Explorers (5 – 6 days in one city). Lots of behind the scenes tours in which a typical tourist would never see (offered only in Madrid, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome)
- At Leisure: Slower pace, feel like a local, stay for 2 – 6 nights each destination, later starts, more spontaneous activities.
- Discoveries: multiple countries, see it all, covers lots of ground.
- Cruise or rail combo where it makes sense
- Regional explorers: two or more countries in a single region.
- Family experiences: fun for all, lots of activities, multi-generational travel
- Hidden Journeys: Small groups off the beaten path (<26 people). Away from crowds. Unique experiences.
- Special interest: Themed trip (cooking for foodies, follow TV shows, etc)
Is an escorted tour for you?
For many people, the term escorted tour conjours up a bunch of old people being led around all day and night, spending hours on end in a bus, spending 5 minutes at each spot before being whisked away, lest they be late for their group dinner. As you can see above, this is far from the truth. Escorted tours have evolved over the years. People that enjoy river cruises definitely will enjoy many escorted tours. Foodies will enjoy certain tours as will those that want to explore specific cities, countries or regions at depth. Many of these trips attract much younger guests than the old days since they save so much time and effort than a do it yourself experience. Those looking for authentic experiences will be well served by an escorted tour; you can’t possibly know as much about a local spot than a local.
As for my client who booked the Cost Saver tour mentioned in this post – they were interested in a special event – the Oberammergau Passion Play. This is a once every decade experience. By booking the trip the client was able to secure great tickets (which sell out fast) as well as combine the trip with great European cities to maximize on the airfare and time commitment. What a smart choice.
But don’t all these services cost a lot? It depends – like lots of other things. Some things to consider:
- The hotels. We all know the difference between a Motel 6 and the Ritz Carlton, right? Hotel choice matters and the better the hotels the more expensive it will be. What’s better? Location is a big deal, but so is room quality and services offered or included. You’ll pay more for hotels conveniently and centrally located.
- Food: the more meals included and the better quality those meals are, the more expensive it will be
- Tours: the more tours included and the more inclusive those tours are, the more expensive it will be
- Volume: These tour companies do a lot more business than any one individual and are therefore able to negotiate much better rates than you or I could do ourselves.
- Shared transport: Most times this will be a bus (motor coach in tour company parlance). The fact is, this is a very cost effective mode of transport.
So going on these escorted tours are likely to cost less than doing it yourself – all other factors (meal and hotel quality for example) held constant.
We’ve highlighted Trafalgar here but there’s plenty of choices including Tauck, Collette, Insight, CIE, Globus and plenty of others. How to choose? That’s something your trusted travel agent can help you with. My experience is that these are all quality tour operators. The choice comes down to how much you want to spend, duration, inclusions, quality expectations, specific itinerary, amount of time on your own included, availability, family oriented or not, and local expertise. Some of the tours are offered in small groups, some can be customized and others offer some unique experience. What’s the best choice for you? Let me help you with that one.