Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Not the Tour Type"

I've certainly said that about myself; "I'm not the type who travels on group tours."  Oh, no, I like to do what I want when I want.  Plus, why would I want to travel with a bunch of strangers?

But like a lot of things in my life, I've changed, or at least, modified, my opinion.  Travel tours can be the easiest, safest way to see places you've always dreamed of going.  Happened to me: I dreamed of visiting London since I was a child.  I have no idea why it took me so many years to get there.  When I did arrive in London for the first time in my life, it was with a Parkland College-sponsored tour (for community folks, not a Study Abroad type thing).

What worked?  The only thing I had to do was get a passport, pay for the tour, pack my bag, and show up.  I didn't have to worry about airlines, hotels, what to see, or how to get there.  And, I had plenty of "free time," if I wanted to wander London on my own.

I don't recall the exact price for the tour, but I considered it a good value.  Sure, I could have made all the arrangements on my own, probably found a cheaper hotel and better airline deal (maybe not), but the point was, I didn't want to handle all the details.  I enjoyed being able to soak up the pure experience of travel.

Which brings me to this question: Why don't more people take advantage of these types of tours?  Especially tours such as Parkland's which typically are smaller in size (20-25 travelers) than some of the large tour businesses.

Maybe it's because some folks have heard stories about "tours gone wrong."  Knock wood, the tours I've gone on have been free of mishap (that's not to say that you might have to be a little flexible sometimes and adjust the itinerary due to weather or unforeseen circumstances).  And, yes, you might get what I like to call a "character" on your tour.  You know, the one person who is just a bit "quirky."  Hey, that's the roll of the dice.  I can attest to having made new friends on tours and enjoying wine and lively conversation in Spain, Scotland, Italy, and, of course, a pint or two in London pubs. 

Travel is so personal.  Each person approaches his/her journey in a different way.  Isn't it nice, though, to be able to share your experience with folks who you might otherwise have never met?  I think it is and I never thought that I would end up "the tour type."

Do you have any tour stories?