Will I enjoy a guided holiday?

Sue is now in a position where she’s a solo traveller and wonders if a guided holiday could be her best option. This week in Travel SOS, we offer some tips to help her get travelling again.

Q. Sue
I’m on my own after my husband died, and I would dearly love to travel, but am not so keen on doing it alone. Friends have suggested I go with them or try cruising, but I think that a coach tour, or guided holiday, as I believe they’re now called, would suit me better. Do you have any suggestions?

A.
Group touring is a convenient way to travel and to make the most of limited time in a destination. And if you’re put off by large groups, then small group touring may be a better option.

Small group touring offers all the advantages of an escorted holiday – access to experienced tour guides, the ease of being transported between destinations, the chance to visit locations not usually available to tourists, and of course, the opportunity to travel with and meet new people.

Perhaps the best aspect of small group touring is that your group is more intimate and it’s easier to get to know your fellow travel companions. This can be particularly appealing if you’re a solo traveller, or maybe even a little shy when it comes to meeting new people. There’s more chance to get to know your fellow travellers on a one-on-one basis, rather than having to share your life story with a cast of 1000s (well, 40 or so others). You’ll also often eat meals as a ‘large family group’, so you won’t feel excluded at what can be an awkward social ritual.

As part of a small group, you’ll be granted more access to the knowledge that your tour guide is only too happy to share – there’s no waiting in line or trying to be heard over others to have your question answered. And you’ll get to visit places that, really, only locals know about – think about your tour guide on a small group tour like a ‘fixer’ – ask, and you’re more than likely to receive. You’ll also get the chance to know your guide better. Remember, guides have more often than not travelled extensively in the area you’re visiting, and can share background and history that you’re unlikely to find in any book or on any website.

As well as being able to visit places that large groups often miss out on, you’re also more likely to get the chance to stay in quaint and interesting accommodation. Hotels, pensiones, B&B and even some historic buildings are offered to small group travellers.

Depending on where you want to go, there are many small group operators that can help you get out and about. If you’re looking to travel in Australia, then you can start by checking out Bunnik Tours.

For New Zealand, you may wish to consider Grand Pacific Tours.

If you’d like to venture further afield, Back Roads Touring covers most of Europe, including the UK.

And for the US, you can start by taking at look at what Intrepid Travel has to offer.
Of course, these are just some of the many tour operators that offer small group touring in these destinations. Depending on where exactly you wish to go, how much you wish to spend and how long you want your trip to last, there may be other options that suit you better. Talking with your local travel agent is always a good place to start planning your trip as a solo traveller.

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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