Advantages of a Self-Exploring Tour in the Baltic States
Self-Exploring Tour: To travel is to discover new places and try new things. It’s to meet new people, explore unique landscapes, sample different beverages and dishes. To learn how people do things on the other side of the globe, what jokes they tell and what past they are ashamed of.
Do you like to plan trips on your own? Me, too.
I do it for a living. I do it for myself and my family and friends when we travel together. As a travel planner, you are the one who’s energetic enough to push the group. You keep them fascinated, you encourage them to the next location. I know that feeling very well. When people get used that you do all the planning, preparation, and execution of a trip, they just can’t imagine one without you.
To me, it’s a great feeling – if I don’t plan, they’ll simply sit at home. If I do plan, their world opens up.
And you like to travel independently. Sounds good to me. Let’s see what advantages there are with such an approach:
No set schedule.
You won’t have to hurry your group to be ready at 9 a.m. sharp. You won’t have a guide trampling in to meet you at the gate of your hotel. There’s no set time for lunch, or to announce the end of the tour. Freedom of choice can be beneficial if you like to travel on a whim. With a set schedule, you can often forget you’re on vacation at all.
Since you don’t have a guide, you won’t be filled with the extraordinary amount of anecdotes, statistics, local legends, and all the information guides usually give you. We already live in a world saturated with too much information. Relax — you’re on vacation after all – put your phone on flight mode and have a rest.
Beyond the Guidebook.
I am a guide myself and usually, we prioritize the major highlights of a country and/or a city for our guests. But sometimes people want to enjoy simple attractions in simple places. They’ll see something we do not see as guides. When you are on your own, you can get to places your guides will never bring you, because they consider that there is nothing to do there.
For example, there are many beautiful National Parks in the Baltic States — Aukštaitija and Žemaityjos National Parks in Lithuania, Gauja and Razna National Parks in Latvia and Lahemaa and Soomaa National Parks in Estonia.
As an alternative to the big cities, you can enjoy the beautiful little towns and villages. In Lithuania, it can be Kedainiai, Anyksciai, or even smaller ones like Prienai and Jonava. Exploring Latvia, you’d enjoy Cesis, Ventspils, and Kuldiga. In Estonia – Tartu, Viljandi, island of Saaremaa and its capital Kuressaare.
Activities and Things to Do
Activities like kayaking, cycling, forest trekking, picking berries or mushrooms are usually not part of the guided tours. You can go for golf fields, hunting, fishing, air ballooning, parachuting, learning skills like cooking, painting, knitting and more.
You can visit numerous art galleries, meet local artists and learn about their philosophy and lives.
Pick your own restaurant, go basic or spring for luxury. Sample Michelin-starred dishes or head to the bistro around the corner from your hotel.
Get around your own way. Rent a car and learn the map and outline of the city. Or hop on the public transport and master the buses and trams. If you’re driven around by a guide, you’ll likely not remember how you got to places. The Baltic States are well-mapped and road signs are reliable, so it’s not a problem to find your way around.
In a subsequent post, I will most probably detail on a number of main places I would do on a private tour.