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Planning for your dream travel adventure involves making a lot of choices. Decisions on where to go, when to travel and whether you want to venture independently or with a big group come into play.

Sometimes just thinking about joining a large group of tourists, with the hectic schedules and itineraries, can be an exhausting experience in itself.

Private guided tours for independent travelers or small groups is a rising trend. It does away with being around hordes of tourists, speed-sightseeing and generic itineraries. Private guided tours allow travelers to discover real life experiences. They travel, eat and sleep the way locals do. It’s the best way to strike the perfect balance between local activities and personal time.

Exploring a new place and having the time of your life can be very exciting. You may want to visit places that are far away from everyday conveniences and situations. Hiring the most suitable tour guide is a very important component when planning your next adventure.

Travel planning needs a lot of time and research. With the right tour guide, he can create an itinerary that will not only take you out of the guidebooks, but will take into full consideration your needs and personality. Your guide will make sure you discover the world in the manner that you want to experience it.

Here are 5 questions you should ask to see if you’re a perfect “fit”:

How experienced is the guide?

Before becoming an expert, years of experience is necessary. Being well-versed in one part of the country does not make him an expert. Choosing a guide that spends a lot of time (or resides) in your chosen destination can considerably enhance your experience.

It’s best to consider a guide with the proper licensed and certifications backed by proper training and updated with the latest trends in the industry. Other skills to look for when deciding on a good tour guide are:  

  • Excellent communication skills. A guide that speaks your language fluently is also very important to understand and fully enjoy your experience. Being knowledgeable and charismatic is often not enough. Your guide needs to interact with you to make it feel more personalized and sincere.
  • Problem-Solving skills.  Being certified in first aid and equipped with the proper know-how in emergency situations is important.  A very experienced guide will know to remain calm in a crisis and will be able to handle unforeseen incidences well and ensure your safety during the entire time. This way you can be sure to get back home unharmed and only with pleasant memories from your holiday.
  • Organizational skills. A good tour should feel effortless and seamless. Your tour guide should be capable of working under the radar, making sure your travel experience goes without a hitch, solving almost every problem before you even know that there’s one.

What is included in the price and what additional costs should I expect?

  • Meals. Most tours include all meals in their prices, some offer a select number of meals leaving you to venture out on your own at some instances. You may want to ask if there are pre-set menus, prearranged restaurants to go to and how dietary restrictions and preferences are handled.
  • Accommodations. Find out what type of accommodations to expect, whether it’s an inn, camping grounds, a simple bed and breakfast or a small hotel. Ask if you can share a room or if having a room to yourself will cost more. Accommodations will definitely play a critical role in the enjoyment of a trip.
  • Activities. Some tours include rental equipment, while others have the option of bringing your own or renting for a minimal fee.

What is the itinerary?

Discuss with your potential tour guide your fitness level and find out if he can create an itinerary that matches your ability level. Include in your discussion your interests and preferences, the length of time you would like to travel, specific must-see destination and attractions. Let him know as well that apart from your own list of things to see and do, that you are open to his suggestions and recommendations based on his in-depth knowledge of the area.

What is the cancellation and rescheduling policy?

Many trips are subject to weather and many unpredictable conditions. Ask the tour guide what is his policy if a trip is cancelled. Know whether or not you will receive a refund. Find out too how and when you’ll be notified that the trip has been cancelled.

Make sure you are made aware of the cancellation or refund policy before you finalize anything with the tour guide. It should be made clear to you if it will be refunded or rescheduled in the event of a cancellation.

Who can you call for reference?

It is in your best interest to ALWAYS check on their references. A former client is more likely to tell you both the positive and negative points of a trip. This will give you a better feel of the personality of the potential tour guide, whether or not he is the right fit for your travel needs.

There are many other ways to find out what other people think of their first-hand experiences with any particular tour guide. Everything and everyone is on the internet, whether running their own website, various social media pages or affiliations with other tour operators. Check out their reviews on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even the comments on the potential tour guide’s website.

Although you also need to be smart when reading some of the reviews. Learn to spot the genuine ones, and filter out those that you should take with a pinch of salt. Pay attention to how many bad reviews there are compared to good ones. See how the tour guide responded to all of them. This will tell you more than you need to know about the tour guide you’re considering for your next adventure.

A lot of time, effort and hard-earned money is usually put into planning your dream vacation. Make sure you cover all your bases before you decide on a tour guide to spend the next few days with in an unfamiliar place. Leave no stone unturned. By asking these questions, you will be well on your way to a wonderful holiday.

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