Escorted: Participants travel together as a group and are escorted by a tour director. They enjoy a structured program that includes sightseeing, lodging, transportation and meals.
Hosted: On hosted tours, some aspects of a escorted tour like transportation, lodging and some sightseeing are included. Participants have access to a local tour guide but have the freedom to see the destination on their own.
Independent: (vacation packages): Independent tours include a variety of components, ranging from a flight/hotel package to more components like a fly/drive package with multiple accommodations. Tour directors and hosts are not included and travelers have the freedom to explore destinations on their own.
Special Interest: Special interest tours come in a variety of forms: adventure, culinary, cultural, eco-tourism, special events and voluntourism to name just a few. Adventure tours range from "hard" (strenuous activity) to "soft" (physical activities but not strenuous). Special interest tours can be guided and/or custom.
Custom: Custom tours have no published start/end times are built around the needs and wants of the traveler. Quite often the tour includes a personal guide.
- In-depth knowledge of a region: Not all travel knowledge is meant to be learned from a guide book. A knowledgeable, fun local guide can provide so much more history, insight and tips, plus access to sites beyond the tourist sites. When language is a barrier, having a guide that not only knows the area but also knows the language and customs is very helpful.
- Exclusive Experiences: Escorted or guided tours often offer access to regional and local experiences specifically designed for the tour. These may include after hours tours in popular museums or access to top local restaurants.
- Meet people: Tour groups are wonderful ways to meet like minded people, especially for single, shy or inexperienced travelers.
- Save time and money: Tours save travelers time and money. Face it - travel planning takes a lot of time and research, and many people just don't like to plan for all the details or have the time for it. Groups also get better rates. Tour companies specialize in certain itineraries, so they are familiar with what works best and can save money through their purchasing power.
- Safety reasons: Safety in numbers. Traveling in a group is generally more safe than travelling alone. Local guides know the areas, know where to go and what to avoid.
There are so many more options these days to choose from. Tours are no longer large groups of people. Many are small intimate groups ranging from 1-20 travelers. Some are custom, designed for your own specific needs. Others give you access to experiences you would never do on your own. Don't shy away from tours - they often provide a better overall travel experience than attempting it on your own.