First of all, is a guided tour right for you?
Additionally, some of the organized stops we made included some kind of shop (carpets, leather, etc.) where we were told about the craftsmanship and cultural importance of the items… but then we were given a hard sell to buy. I was not happy with that technique.
What type of holiday are you looking for?
- Active / adventure e.g. hiking, biking, rafting
- Site seeing / covering a lot of ground in a country or region
- Nightlife / partying / younger crowd
- Niche e.g. culinary or equestrian
How do you know if a tour company is good?
- Contiki – Geared to 18-35-year olds
- Intrepid – Quality tours at a higher price
- G Adventures – Attracts younger crowd but also offers family tours at a cheaper rate
- Explore Worldwide – UK-based, budget-friendly
But in order to find out if a company is “good” for you, I think it is important to get two types of reviews – the company you are looking at and the specific tour (or a similar one) that you are interested in.
Since everyone has a different experience on these tours, we are lucky that in this day and age that there are reviews for everything. I recommend looking at the reviews on tour company websites with a grain of salt – often those reviews come from the evaluations filled out at the end of a trip and are taken out of context (or the negative ones are not used). Instead, TripAdvisor is a great resource for reading reviews and forums about tour companies as well as posting a question to expert travelers. Also, Googling reviews of your tour or tour company will likely bring up some responses.
What kind of budget / accommodations are you looking for (hotels, transportation)?
- Luxury (comfortable coach bus or train, expensive hotels, etc.)
- Mid-range (basic hotel with limited amenities, small bus)
- Roughing it (hostels, budget hotels, camping and basic transportation)
And finally, my biggest recommendation is to contact the tour company by email and/or phone and gauge their knowledge, customer service and answers to your questions. You can ask things like the age range of people who are signed up, male-to-female ratio, how many hours on the bus per day, etc.).