Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You Might Like a Guided Tour


This is part 1 of 2 in a series to help you decide if a guided or self-guided tour might be right for you.

What follows are 10 talking points in favor of a guided hiking tour.

You might like a guided tour if:

1. We don’t offer the self-guided version of a specific tour. We don't offer every tour as a self-guided option, and some of the self-guided tours differ slightly from the guided versions. A few of the remote guided tours turn into backpacking trips, for example, when offered as a self-guided option. See the section about luggage below.

2. You value your time. Guides take care of everything. This does not mean that they dote on their guests. It means that our guests have more time to focus on the enjoyment of their vacation rather than worrying about logistics. Guides strive to deliver you on time and they make sure that you have everything that you need to be happy, including quiet time.

3. You enjoy flexibility. Guides know the terrain, which means that they can amend an itinerary on demand. Was yesterday’s hike too easy? They’ll recommend a more strenuous option. Would you like to head in early? The guides know all the shortcuts. Do you need a rest day from hiking? They can recommend a fun alternative. Even if you’re comfortable reading maps, you might not always pick the most scenic or time efficient alternative if you try to amend your self-guided itinerary. Our guides know the best options from decades spent exploring the alpine regions.

4. You enjoy meeting new people. Guided group tours are great for this. A number of our guests have formed life long friendships with their group members. We even know of a few romantic forays.

5. You like to have your luggage. Some guided tours use different transportation options than the self-guided tours. The Tour du Mont Blanc is a perfect example. The guided version uses a van to transport luggage but the self-guided tour does not because it’s not cost effective. Therefore, guided TMB travelers see their overnight luggage more often then their self-guided counterparts. Please inquire about your specific tour.

6. You like to learn as much as possible. Our Guides are knowledgeable about the terrain. In some cases, they’re specialists in their chosen region of study. They can tell you about the geography and geology, the culture, and history. Each guide has their strength, and if there’s something that they might not know, they’ll know where to find the answer quickly. If you like to know the name of every peak then a guided tour is for you.

7. You like your vacation to run smoothly. Things happen. If something goes awry, then your guide will address the situation as expeditiously as possible. It helps that your guide can communicate in the local language, whether the language is French, German, Italian or isolated mountain hamlet. (Some remote hamlets really do have their own distinct languages and dialects). Our guides have also run these tours so many times that they know how to avoid potential pitfalls. Long hikes are a great example. A hike might look reasonable on a map, but the reality presents something entirely different on the trail. The guides know when to get the group going in order to have everyone in by dinner. In addition, they can call a taxi, pull up rail schedules, and arrange for private transport on demand in order to keep the tour running as smoothly as possible.

8. You don’t like to get lost. Enough said.

9. You like to have fun. It’s true that guided tours typically cost a little more than self-guided ones. One reason is that our guides like to treat our guests. We don’t mind surprising our guests with local delicacies or fun hiking alternatives if it means that our guests leave the tour with a deeper appreciation for the culture and landscape that surrounds them. Guided participants laugh every night and the hotel proprietors usually join in the amusement that comes from the camaraderie of a group. Guided tours are just good fun.

10. You fantasize about hiring a guide. What is it about a foreign accent that drives people wild? We use a mix of U.S. and European guides and the combination works well. The U.S. guides offer a level of comfort for our English-speaking guests, and the European guides offer the mystery and romance that movies are made of. The reverse happens with our European guests. Kidding aside. Our guides are just wonderful people to spend time with.


Please see part 2 of this series, You Might Like a Self-Guided Tour If: in order to compare with a self-guided tour.

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