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Debunking Myths about Escorted Tours

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 22/02/2016 Travelzoo

2016-02-22-1456171654-9756760-shutterstock_271392794.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-02-22-1456171654-9756760-shutterstock_271392794.jpg
For most people, part of the fun of traveling is actually planning the vacation. Learning about the culture, studying the language and finding hidden gems are all important steps leading up to a trip. If you're anything like me, you dream big while letting someone else do the planning -- which is exactly what I did on my recent trip to Thailand.
Aside from some of the stigmas that go along with the words escorted tour, I was excited to embark on my Asian adventure. In my head I thought long days bouncing from museum to museum in a single-file line following the a guide waving a bright yellow flag. Instead what I got was 13 days of rich culture, a "fast pass" to the front of the line for all main attractions, luxurious accommodations and an incredible Thai tour guide showing me the best of his country. I wouldn't hesitate to book another escorted vacation or encourage anyone to do so -- it's my new-found favorite way to travel the world!
Here are some common misconceptions of escorted tours and the reality:
Myth: Escorted tours are expensiveReality: The price of an escorted tour may look higher than other trips, but in reality it is a perfectly pre-packaged vacation designed to take the planning piece out so all you have to do is show up. These prices are "all-in" so to speak: hotels, flights, entrance fees to main attractions and most meals are already included in the total price. If you were to try and piece all of the elements of an escorted tour yourself, most of the time the cost will be substantially higher than going through a tour.
Escorted tours are a simple and cost-effective way to see a new country -- which is what I think is one of the main selling points.
2016-02-22-1456171944-8247589-picture1.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-02-22-1456171944-8247589-picture1.jpg Myth: There will not be any time to explore on your ownReality: Sure, escorted tours have long itineraries filled with action-packed days, but the reality is that you can do as much or as little as you'd like. Not to mention, most tours include at least one free day in every major city, if not more.
Nights are typically on your own (or you can add on a tour/dinner) leaving plenty of time to explore on your own. Take advantage of your tour guide and ask for recommendations on those free days -- my tour guide was nice enough to even plan out transportation for my friends and I to get around when we were on our own.
2016-02-22-1456171923-2156657-picture2.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-02-22-1456171923-2156657-picture2.jpg Myth: You're stuck on a cramped bus all dayReality: Time spent on the bus is very minimal in comparison with the rest of the trip. Most tour operators have travelers on a luxury motor coach with ample leg room, TVs, air conditioning and plenty of room to store your belongings.
For longer jaunts of the trip, it's common for tours to include intra-country flights, train rides or boat/ferry rides for another way to view the country. You get to sit back, relax and enjoy the sights while someone else whisks you from city to city.
2016-02-22-1456171901-1205670-picture3.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-02-22-1456171901-1205670-picture3.jpg Myth: Tours are only for retireesReality: Escorted tours come in all shapes and sizes: tours for 18-25 year olds, family-friendly tours, or tours geared toward the adventurous. Chances are you will have a melting pot of people all different ages and from all walks of life. One of my favorite parts of my escorted tour was having the chance to get to know so many different people who shared the same curiosity about the world that I did.
2016-02-22-1456171874-5234287-picture4.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-02-22-1456171874-5234287-picture4.jpg Jill Ginsberg is a deal expert at Travelzoo and based in Los Angeles. Travelzoo has 250 deal experts from around the world who rigorously research, evaluate and test thousands of deals to find those with true value.

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