There’s no denying that budgeting is amongst most people’s top priorities when planning overseas travel. Aside from non-negotiable expenses like air-fares and food (the first commanded by airlines and the second by the living costs of your chosen destination country) the main budgeting variables are transport and sightseeing activities, no matter where in the world you chose to travel. This is the main reason people are so scrupulous when looking into organized tours: they know that this is where the big money can be saved and although many may simply pick the cheapest option that includes all their chosen highlights, most don’t realise there are quite a few pivotal thoughts that should be considered:
- Is the itinerary flexible and personalised to your specific desires?
- Can you add highlights which are important to you and skip those that aren’t?
- Will you receive personalised service during your journey?
- Is there a support system in place in case something goes wrong?
- Will you be guaranteed an English-speaking knowledgeable guide who’ll be with you the whole time?
- Will you have private, safe and comfortable transport?
- Can you choose your desired level of comfort, luxury and, consequentially, budget?
- Will your tour be run in a sustainable and responsible manner?
Organised tours are a genius way to travel: for a nominal fee, someone else takes care of all the logistics and pre-plans your route through a particular country. Highlights, sightseeing and extra-curricular activities are included (sometimes pre-paid and sometimes to be paid for on the spot) accommodation is secured, transport is organised and even flights are pre-booked. On a yearly vacation of just a couple of weeks, organised tours are the best way to maximise your travel time and take the stress out of organising every aspect of your trip on your own.
Up until here, both private and package tours follow the same path yet, from here, their paths diverge considerably.
Private VS Package Group Tours
A personalised itinerary, flexibility and comprehensive support are the calling cards of private group tours and, in these regards, they are the polar opposite of package group tours, where groups are herded, en masse, to follow a strict itinerary. By their very definition, package group tours are not personalised to suit guest’s needs, so the ‘package’ must be accepted as is. Don’t like those long shopping stops in tourist-trap markets? Too bad, you’ll have no option but to go along. Want to get off the beaten trail and explore a more authentic side of your chosen destination? Well, unless it’s on the itinerary – which more often than not only include the most famous highlights – you won’t get a chance to get off the tourist trail.
Package group tours are usually cheaper than private group tours as bulk-bookings of hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions can demand higher discounts. Yet when it comes to unforgettable and unique travel experiences and relishing a more in-depth discovery of a country, then paying a little more for a private group tour could be difference between a journey whose memories you’ll cherish forever and a list-ticking endeavour you’ll forget after a week.
Moreover, private tours can be a more responsible and sustainable tourism option, especially in continents like Asia where mass-truism has had detrimental effects in certain regions. All-inclusive resorts, mega-malls and mega-restaurants (aimed specifically at luring in package group tours) are taking much-needed tourist dollars away from smaller and more remote communities, diverging traffic along a very defined tourist trail. Considering that the main axioms of responsible travel in Asia are to stay local, eat local, buy sustainable and responsible souvenirs and respect the local culture and tradition, then it reasons that private tours (which can be taken off-the-beaten-trail) have the potential to be much more beneficial to local culture and communities. If this is an important issue for you then consider your options carefully as to which type of tour can deliver the greatest return for your travel investment.
The hidden benefits of private tours
Instead of sharing what should be a special travel experience with a group of strangers, guests on private tours can look forward to enjoying their travels accompanied only by their loved ones: these are the travel buddies you choose. Private tours also go that extra mile in ensuring everyone is well looked after and this is one of the most important aspects for families with children and older relatives with mobility issues. All the structure one loves PLUS all the support and security of knowing one is not just a number but the very reason the tour is running in the first place.
Price-wise, it’s worth noting that private tours are incredibly competitive especially when you consider value for money. You can actually fit more in when you’re not constantly waiting for large groups to congregate and get moving, will have more relaxing and enjoyable time and, besides all that, can indulge in a personalised travel experience where the only wishes that count are yours.
With a private tour through Asia, you are at the helm: you decide the speed at which you travel, the comfort level of your accommodation and transport options, you decide where to go, when to get there and how long you stay. You need not plan your vacation around a tour start date but can dictate your own and, perhaps the most important difference between a private and package group tour, you will have a knowledgeable expert guide and driver at your personal service during your entire trip.
Bespoke service is the main draw of private tours and those who have the experience can tell you the minor extra expense is more than worthwhile…it’s absolutely priceless!
Visit our Asia personalised travel page for fantastic travel inspiration, check out our latest hot deals and come see what all our guests have been saying for years: bespoke private touring isn’t just great value for money…it’s simply the best way to experience Asia. We offer protection for your hard-earned holiday funds, a distinct travel style and specialise in travel for the over-55s. We look after all the behind -the-scenes-logistics so all you have to do is pack your bags, head to the airport and have the time of your life.
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Author: Laura Pattara
“After spending years taking short vacations in Asia, Laura finally managed her dream, travelling extensively through Central Asia, China and Southeast Asia on a 3-year-long overlanding adventure that she describes as “SIMPLY EPIC”. Following in the footsteps of ancient traders, Laura meandered along the famed Silk Road through the Stans, delighted her tastebuds for 8000km across China (no mean feat) visited an insane number of temples in Southeast Asia, all the while snorkelling, diving and beach-bumming along the way. Tickled pink by history and culture, Laura loves off-the-beaten-path destinations in Asia and anything that isn’t gift-wrapped for tourists”