If you want to see a new place, exploring on your own is a lot of fun, but if you want to uplevel your adventures, consider a tour (which I wrote about in this post here). I do have to add a caveat: I have not done tours during the Pandemic, and I haven’t researched them for the last few years either. With more and more people trying to get back to normal, though, I imagine tours will be back in business.
If your interest has been piqued, when I went searching for guidelines on how to choose a tour, I didn’t find much guidance.
1: Read the reviews!
There are great tours, there are good tours, and there are really bad tours. You know what? People tend to leave reviews for things that are really bad. Don’t just go by the reviews on the tour Website because of course they’re only going to put up good reviews. Good places to start is Yelp and Tripadvisor. Maybe ask on a local FB group if the locals have any recommendations.
2: Check the BBB
Yes, I often turn to the BBB (Better Business Bureau). Websites can make things look really great, but again, if things go wrong, people are more likely to leave a comment.
3: See if you can find blog & social media reviews
Often blog reviews can be really detailed — and more impartial. Do check to see whether or not the blogger was given the tour for free in exchange for a blog post. That doesn’t mean that they won’t write a truthful review, but they might go easier on problems if they didn’t have to pay.
4: Make sure to read the fine print about the tour
A few things to look at or ask about (see below):
- Is the tour held rain or shine?
- If the tour is canceled, do you get a full refund?
- What happens if you have an emergency?
- What will the tour guides carry for you?
- Do the tour guides carry water for you? Gadgets? Snacks?
- What is the maximum size of the group?
- How much mileage are you likely to cover?
- If it’s a running tour, how do they handle different paces?
- Are there stops to shop? To use rest rooms?
- What type of gear/shoes is suggested?
5: Email a question
You can usually tell a lot about a company by the timeliness of their email replies.
I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad tour so far, but especially in today’s world, do your due diligence! I didn’t even cover things like testing for COVID (is it necessary for you? how often do the guides test?) since I haven’t personally had to deal with it.
Making sure you really understand the refund policy could be the difference between a good and bad experience, too. Double check where you need to meet and how to get there (and how long it will take to get there!).
In my original tour post, I never even mentioned out trip to the Grand Canyon! I’d never been, and on our first trip to Las Vegas (long before my half there) I insisted I wanted to go. It’s a long drive, folks. Yes, we took a tour. The joke was on me, since we went to Las Vegas many times after that first trip.
But you know what? I had the last laugh after all. We never did get to the Grand Canyon again — at least not yet. I’d really like to go back and spend more time there!
What are your top tips for choosing a tour?
If you could choose a city to see via a running tour, what city would it be? I have definitely wanted to run across the Golden Gate Bridge, but having walked across a much smaller bridge here — even that bridge was kind of creepy because it moved so much. I can only imagine how much the Golden Gate moves! But on the perfect day . . . golden (couldn’t resist that pun).