When I travel, I love to hire private guides to take me around. To me, private is always better than a large group tour experience and much simpler than trying to do everything myself.
Here are some reasons why:
- You can change and customize the itinerary.
- Time is yours. When you’re finished somewhere, you can leave and not have to wait.
- One person does not have to do all the research and planning.
- Nobody has to drive and therefore not enjoy the scenery and be stressed.
- Guides know where bathrooms are, and comfort stops don’t take forever.
- Food stops are often better because there are fewer people to accommodate.
- Guides know the best and safest photo stops.
My first experience using a private guide was in St. Petersburg, Russia. Our small group of five breezed through lines the larger groups could not. We had extra experiences like riding a subway, eating at a small and local restaurant, and having a vodka tasting. It was so great and the people who were traveling with the larger group were jealous.
I have tried to use private guides ever since.
During a recent trip to South Dakota, I found a private guide from Black Hills Adventure Tours to spend three days with our group of four.
I looked at what tours they offered and the customized them. With the owner’s help, we divided the itinerary based on geography to minimize drive time and maximize what we saw.
We cut out some things that didn’t interest us and added a few others. The three days were going to be long, but we were going to see a bunch.
Just a few days before we left for our Black Hills adventure, we decided we wanted to see the lighting ceremony at Mt. Rushmore, something we hadn’t planned on when booking a daytime tour.
With one phone call, we switched everything around and moved our tour time, enabling us to see the awesome mountain carving twice in one day, once during daylight and then again for the very moving lighting ceremony.
This kind of flexibility would not have happened with a big group tour.
With few exceptions, I have had great experiences with the private guides I have used around the world.
I also book private tours for most cruise ship stops. I like these experiences so much more than the excursions with the cruise ship and they are often cheaper.
Even if they aren’t cheaper than a larger group tour, I feel I am paying for the extra attention and the ability to do what I want.
What types of tours and excursions do you prefer and why?