Guided or Self-guided Tour? We weigh the Pros and Cons
When we plan a tour in a new city or country, we ask ourselves, should we join a guided tour?
It largely depends on the destination–some places, like Britain, are easily accessible. While others, like Sri Lanka or Armenia, might be more complicated to see on one’s own.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the Baltic States, are easily accessible. It’s safe to travel here, even on your own. Many travelers combine these countries into one tour of 9-14 days.
Nowadays, travel technology is so developed, that many soon-to-be travelers are self-confident in guiding themselves around. But there are so many benefits to joining a private tour, even in the age of Google.
We started our business guiding mostly private tours, and still do a lot of them. Let’s see what conclusions we can draw based our long years’ experience and practice guiding private tours:
Why we love Guided Tours
1. Tours are more relaxed.
Touring on your own requires a lot of reading, research and back-and-forth. You basically have to be your own travel agent. Even when you get there, you may find that on-the-ground, the destination is a lot different than you expected! Thank God it’s like that, otherwise it would be boring to travel and the travel industry would not grow annually about 10 – 12 percent globally! If you have a tour guide, you can rest easy knowing your itinerary, and sometimes accommodation, is all taken care of.
2. Tours are more personal.
On a private tour, you’ll get personal attention from a local. They’ll be able to share with you anecdotes that make the place come alive. They can reveal hidden trends and subcultures that will give you a better picture of the place than, say, a guidebook.
3. Tours come alive with a Guide.
Yes, a self-guided tour can be an adventure. It can be thrilling to organize your own trip and discover the country on your own. You’ll have the freedom to wake up wherever you want, eat whenever you want and brag to your friends later that you did it all on your own.
But then there are guides. Guides who know the destination like the back of their hand. Who have guided hundreds of different tours over the years. Who are experts in art, music, history, and culture.
It’s like going to a gym with a private coach or parachute-jumping with an instructor. They inform your journey and give value and meaning to everything you see, hear, and touch.
Your private guide builds you an itinerary and later a detailed program of your tour considering must see places and sites and your individual preferences. He or She matches and tailors the tour to you. All guided tours are unique because each interaction between the traveler and the guide is unique.
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
–Charles R. Swindoll.
Benefits of a Guided Tour in the Baltic States
Many travel professionals outline the price as the main con of a guided tour. Yes, it can be pricey, but let’s not forget to evaluate the pros.
First, it is not so expensive to hire a private guide in the Baltic States, especially if you hire him or her for few days in a row. It is a well-known fact that the average level of guides is very high here.
In Jerulita Travel, we have our own team of guides who strive every day for high standards. If we outsource to a guide outside of the company, we are extremely careful in choosing a guide with the right personality and expertise for your tour.
Second, don’t forget the value your guides will add to your journey on the way. In the office, our whole team works together to make sure that your tour runs smoothly.
Third, with a guide, travelers make a much better and economical use of their time. You will be most probably met by your guide at 9 o’clock in the morning and will be busy with until five or six o’clock, depending on the driving distance. In the case of long hours, we’ll include a 3D movie made especially for you.
Fourth, on a self-guided tour, you might not be familiar with the hidden sights and interesting locations can be added to your tour. You could also spend too much time in one place and miss the other one. With a guided tour, your guide is responsible to fulfill the whole program s/he promised you.
Fifth, our guides enrich your experience with fascinating information on history, art and culture, as well as anecdotes, jokes and legends.
Sixth, you will be driven around in one of our special vans or buses. You won’t have to bother with renting a car, dealing with maps, filling fuel, paying fines or, God forbid, paying to fix scratches you weren’t responsible for.
Seventh, if you are going to be only in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius, then you will see only major cities with the most developed infrastructure, but you will not get the real flavor of the Baltic Republics.
Discover the real Baltics when you get out the beaten path and dive into small towns, meet locals who do not speak English with the help of your guide. Experienced travelers know that memories of the simple things – houses, gardens, cars, shops – stick out in the memory much stronger than just another Cathedral.
We at Jerulita Travel fully recommend a guided tour to plan an unforgettable trip for you and your group. It’ll make your trip come alive!
Stay Tuned! In one of my next travel tips, I am going to detail more on self-exploring travel in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.