Family Travel A to Z: Tours
Tours can take many forms. You can choose from part and full day tours to all sorts of destinations and attractions. Then, there’s organised tours, including accommodation, which can vary from an overnight adventure to a multi-week odyssey.
Now, you may think organised tours are solely the domain of young adults under thirty and retirees over 55. That’s certainly what I used to think – Contiki and Scenic being the first names to spring to mind, at the opposite ends of the touring spectrum. But, you’d be wrong.
Organised tours are a safe and convenient way to travel to many destinations in the one trip and there are companies that specialise in tours for people in all stages of life, including families. There are even companies that specialise in holidays for special needs families too.
You may have not considered an organised tour for your next holiday but here are some elements to keep in mind should you decide to link up with a tour group:
6 THINGS TO CONSIDER IF YOU’RE THINKING OF TAKING A TOUR AS A FAMILY
If you haven’t taken a tour before, try a shorter one first to get a feel for how it will fit in with your family’s needs. It would be a pity to book a 20 day bus tour across Europe only to find that your family just wants to get off after day 2. Day tours are a great starting point. You can experience what it’d be like to travel on a bus for a few hours, how it feels to stick to a timetable and see how your family manages in close proximity to other travellers. If all goes well, then you can look to taking on longer tours. It definitely makes sense to start small and work up from there.
Be clear on costs and extras
Some tours talk about “all inclusive” pricing, but you need to check what costs are included and be clear on what you need to budget extra for, before committing to a tour. For instance, some tours offer complimentary airfares while others include breakfast and dinner but lunch is not included. It can also be tricky getting to the bottom of whether gratuities are included, if visa costs are covered and you may find yourself paying extra for night and optional excursions. Get everything in writing and ensure you know exactly what is covered by the tour cost and what isn’t, before you book.
Be honest with the tour operator about your family’s needs
Be upfront with the tour operator about any special needs or requirements that your family have prior to booking. It’s vital they have all the information they need to best accommodate your requirements. This is especially important when it comes to dietary needs, sensory requirements and medication. Honesty is the best policy and most tour operators will do all they can to help meet your needs. However, if you don’t share these with them upfront, it’s going to be pretty hard for them to help you. Be clear, be upfront and see what they can do to make your tour experience the best it can be.
Check out online ratings and reviews
It makes sense to check out online reviews to ensure you’re aware of any possible issues with the tour operator. Doing a little digging before you commit to a tour is a smart way to get a feel for the operator and how they may fit in with the needs of your family. You can check out the usual suspects such as Trip Advisor, seek recommendations in travel groups on Facebook or seach online forums for tour operator reviews and ratings. In the US, we researched tour operators for a day tour we took to the Kennedy Space Centre and we ended up having an amazing time because we had confidence in the operator we chose. So get researching!
Weigh up the pros and cons of organised tours
Organised tours aren’t for everyone. Before embarking on this mode of travel, consider whether the convenience of having everything booked and sorted for you through a tour operator outweighs any possible issues in having to stick to a rigid travel timetable for the duration of the tour. The thought of having the itinerary all sorted out for you may be enticing, but think about whether your kids will cope with extended periods of time travelling in close proximity to others. Only you can make this call but make sure you are fully informed before making the right decision for your family.
Seek out specialist family tour operators
There are tour operators around who specialise in organising tours for families. A bit of digging will also help you identify tour companies who also offer tours for special needs families. If you are not confident in organising your own travel and you are looking for the comfort and convenience of travelling with an experienced guide, check out these suggestions (note these are suggestions, not recommendations):
Have you ever been on a organised tour as a family?
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