Escorted tours are a fantastic way to explore a range of destinations across the world. From escorted tours in the USA, Canada, South America or the Far East to sticking closer to home with British or European escorted tours, there is a vast array of escorted holidays to choose from.
We’ve rounded up plenty of advice and tip for getting the best from escorted tours to help you pick from the bewildering choice of escorted holidays on offer.
Not sure if an escorted tour is for you? Our expert guide to escorted holidays: why choose an escorted tour will help you decide.
Escorted tour itinerary
There are a vast number of escorted tours to choose from, so take the time to pick one that best suits your interests and needs. Although you’ll be sharing the tour with others, this is your holiday so be sure to get the experience you want.
Consider what you want from an escorted tour. Do you want to fully immerse yourself in a new culture? Do you want to see all the tourist landmarks or get off the beaten track and visit places tourists usually don’t venture to? Check all the places that you want to visit are included in the itinerary.
If you’re travelling to a destination you’ve already visited, then a flexible, more independent tour may suit. On the other as a first-time traveller to a destination, a more hands-on guide and rigid itinerary may be more useful.
Escorted tour activities
Look for an escorted tour that caters to your interests. Activity-based escorted tours add an extra dimension to your holiday and are a popular choice for solo travellers looking to make friends over a shared interest. There are lots of special interests tours available, from visiting historical sites, wine tasting, bike riding, cooking or learning a new language.
Check to see what activities are included in your tour price. Remember, you won’t be given a refund if you don’t participate in them, so be sure you’re interested in any activities planned in the tour itinerary.
Escorted tours costs and prices
Escorted tours usually include one upfront cost and often work out cheaper than independent travel. Start by deciding your travel budget, then research escorted holidays to find the best value for money. Lots of tour companies such as Titan and Riviera Travel offer similar escorted tours so look carefully at the tour details to see what’s included. A low price for an escorted tour does not always mean it’s the cheapest if you have to pay for extras, such as activities, entrance fees and food. Other tour companies may have included these in their starting rate.
On the other hand, some escorted tours include extras such as chauffeured transfers, room upgrades and all-inclusive drinks – which you may not deem necessary. It’s important to research for the most cost-effective tour so you’re paying only for the things you want.
All-inclusive means you’ll have to bring less spending money but paying for some activities, as well as food and drink, means more freedom. The latter may work out to be more expensive in the long run as often tour guides often get deals and discounts.
On most escorted tours, solo travellers have to pay a single supplement if staying in a twin room, so be sure to factor this in or look for tour operators dedicated to solo travellers.
Looking for solo holidays: 10 tips for solo travel will help you get the most out of travelling alone.
Escorted holidays style: budget, mid-range or luxury
The price of your escorted tour will depend on the level of comfort it offers – from budget to blow-out luxury. Most escorted tours follow similar routes, visiting the same places in much the same order regardless of their cost, so consider the type of accommodation and the method of transport offered by a tour. If you’re not a fan of cheap hotels and local transport, a budget tour might not be suitable. If you prefer luxury air-conditioned coaches, and nights spend at 4- and 5-star hotels then opt for a luxury version of a tour or look for upgrades.
Escorted tours pace
Consider how fast-paced you want your travels to be. Some escorted tours take a leisurely approach, with plenty of rest stops and opportunities to fully explore destinations. Others attempt to pack in as much sightseeing as possible. Six or more destinations in ten days or touring several countries in 14 days is likely to be fairly exhausting, involving lots of early mornings and many hours spent on the coach. For a more comfortable pace, look for a tour that let you sleep for two nights or more in the same hotel whenever possible.
If you’re considering an activity tour, for example walking or cycling based, check the distance you will be expected to travel each day.
Escorted tour group size
Escorted tours come in all shapes and sizes. From small, intimate groups of 10-20 people to large groups of 30 or more. Group size is an important thing to consider when planning an escorted holiday.
Despite the cliché of flag-waving guides shepherding large groups around a tourist site, large tour group have several benefits. There is often a fun group dynamic with a wider mix of personalities, offering the chance of talking to someone new each day. It’s also much more ccost-effectiveto travel in a large group as tour companies enjoy more competitive rates for hotel accommodation; savings which can be passed on to you.
Travelling in a smaller tour group of around 10-16 people offers a difference more personal experience as you’ll get to know your travel companions very well. A small tour groups also makes it easier to get off the beaten track and visit places that are inaccessible to larger groups. It is easier to meet local people and enjoy more authentic experiences. This can come at a price though as smaller group size tours tend to be more expensive than larger ones.
Escorted tours accessiblity
It is important to understand how accessible a tour is so that it matches your individual needs. Make the tour operator aware of any disabilities you have and see how they can cater for this. Does your tour include lots of walking? Some destinations are less accessible than others with winding thin roads, steep terrain or lots of steps. Check with the tour operator what’s expected in each destination.
Escorted tour operators
To choose a reputable tour operator, research online and ask friends and family for recommendations. Consider whether you want a large or small tour company, and whether the company’s values and activities align with your values. If sustainable tourism is an important factor for you, be sure to look for this so you’ll be travelling with like-minded individuals. Companies often have social media accounts such as a Facebook page – use these to ask questions of previous tour participants to get their opinions of the company and a specific tour itself.