There are few experiences quite as exciting as leaving your normal, daily life behind for the great unknown of a travel tour. These trips are always at least a week, and often as long as several months. They usually take you somewhere you’ve never been before, to enjoy a culture, a language and a cuisine that’s entirely new. It’s the type of adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life, sharing photos, souvenirs and new discoveries with friends and family until they are truly sick of it. But not all travel tours are built the same way. Choose poorly, and you could spend a lot of money on something that feels like a tourist construct. Those traps aren’t authentic, and really just waste your time. Time is the only resource you cannot ever get back, so consider some of the best types of tours to enrich your travel experience.
The first rule is to look for opportunities that immerse you in the local community.
These will always be preferable to group tours that drop you off at tourist destinations. Look for bus and train tours that make stops off the beaten path. The goal is to discover small towns and restaurants that aren’t part of some major city. Book a multi-stop itinerary, bring a map and enough cash to be able to enjoy whatever the day brings. This is how you’ll find souvenirs that are worth the money.
If your trip takes you into a city, look to set up tours hosted by local travel companies.
This way you’ll be able to hit up several spots around town in the same trip, and hopefully experience the city in an immersive way. Again, the goal is to move past the same kind of tour that everyone does. Sure, you’ll want to see the Eiffel Tower on a trip to Paris. But what about the incredible art and architecture that isn’t quite so recognizable? Look for tours that focus on a certain subject, time period or cultural touchpoint, so you return home with photos and memories that are more unique to your trip.
Urban escapes are great, but if you really want to experience a new place you’ve got to get out of the city.
So look for day trips that bring you into the countryside. This is your chance to experience a place as the locals do. You’ll still get to check out some great shops and restaurants, but the natural beauty of a unique location can offer just as valuable an experience. Otherwise you could just fly to another city in the United States and do some sightseeing. There are serious geographical differences, and you’ll want the opportunity to feel new air and smell new smells than you’ve ever experienced before.
Finally, consider international tour packages that are put together by full-time travelers.
These will have a far different feel than a package offered by a large corporation. To get to know a country intimately it must be extensively explored, and people who have made that exploration their life’s work always create the best touring opportunities. They will set the whole thing up for you, and will be able to answer any question you may have. They’ll also be able to personalize the tour to your tastes. Without this connection you could get stuck hitting up a bunch of rote destinations that don’t give you a real flavor for the country.