Of course we all believe in the fundamental fun and value of hitting the road as an independent and free traveler with only our wits and experience. And yet, do you ever wonder travel guides could enhance the travel experience of even the most fiercely independent backpacker? Wondered if you are missing out on information that tour guide is sharing?
Having said that, maybe it’s time we acknowledge the value an experienced, knowledgeable and outgoing tour guide can offer, from lowering language barriers to recommending the best non-touristy local restaurants. Here are our top 10 reasons why you should opt for a Travel-Guide:
1. When you have very little time
A knowledgeable guide can give a laser focus to any sightseeing visit, and this may never be so valuable as when you have very little time in one place.
2. When visiting dangerous or chaotic locations
If your destination has a reputation for dangerous or unpredictable street life hiring a good tour guide can not only save you time, but also keep you safe and out of tight spots.
3. When visiting extremely popular locations
A good tour guide will always know the best hours to visit attractions, when prices are best, which places you can skip, how to avoid rush hour, what is closed or under construction, and any number of tricks and tactics that will help you get the most out of travel to a heavily visited location.
5. When visiting historic destinations
In places that are exceptionally rich in historical or cultural significance, an educated tour guide can offer a depth of experience and knowledge to which no guidebook, audio guide or plaque-reading will come even close. A good guide can explain the stories behind the complex carvings on an Indian temple, or veer away from the canned history of Thomas Jefferson to describe what life at Monticello was really like.
6. On an adventure trip
Safaris, mountain climbing, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, white-water rafting … unless you are an absolute expert at your chosen adventure, hiring a guide may be a matter of life and death. Even if you are an old hand at the particular skill in question, it’s still a good idea to hire a guide who knows the local area and can help you navigate an unfamiliar place.
7. When language barriers are likely to be severe
When visiting a place where you do not speak the language and the locals are extremely unlikely to speak yours — for most of our readers, that will mean places where exposure to the English language is minimal — a local tour guide who does speak your language can be invaluable in countless ways.
8. To hand off the logistics of travel
The hassles of obtaining tickets, making reservations, checking operating hours, figuring out options when you have problems — all of this is easy stuff to a good tour guide. If you are on vacation and don’t want to have these mundane tasks on your plate while traveling, a tour guide may be a good option.
9. When you don’t want to drive
There are any number of reasons not to want to drive while traveling — you don’t want to spend your vacation getting lost, you can’t read the road signs, you’re not confident driving on the opposite side of the road, your spouse is a terrible copilot and you just want to have fun instead of arguing — hiring a tour guide to do the driving for you can save you a lot of headaches and unwanted distractions.
10. They get you off the beaten path
Hiring a guide can actually result in a more authentic experience. A good local guide will clue you into something that you – and your guidebooks – never knew existed.