If you’re thinking about hiring a local guide on your next vacation, the experts at Tours by Locals have compiled 10 tips to ensure the time you spend together is truly memorable — for all the right reasons.
1. Customize the experience
Take advantage of being able to communicate with your guide in advance: this is your time and your guide wants you to be interested in what you’re seeing. Share your interests, likes and dislikes — it will help your guide customize the perfect tour for you.
2. Be prepared for poor weather and don’t let it get you down
Bad weather is actually a great time to have a private guide. Big group tours have a hard time changing their itineraries, but your guide can alter your schedule at a moment’s notice and will have all sorts of ideas for making the most of your time in their city, even with rain.
3. Wear comfortable shoes for walking, and dress appropriately
Bring options for clothing, keeping in mind the weather, your activity level and respect for local customs. Your guide can advise you on suitable clothing in advance of your tour.
4. Be open-minded and respect the local culture
Understand that when you travel, things are likely going to be different than at home — and that’s OK. Travelers who spend their time in judgment of different customs and behaviors end up complaining more about their trip rather than enjoying it.
5. Try something new
Whether it’s a new food, drink or activity, challenge yourself to do one small thing on your tour that you’ve never done before.
6. Take the time to research where you’re going
Let your guide know if there’s a particular place you want to see that might not be on everyone’s radar. Consider reading a novel or short story by a local author, set in the location you’re traveling to. It will help you tap into the local cultural scene and get you inspired to see the places in the book.
7. Ask questions and get the conversation flowing
Your guide has lots of knowledge to share, and it’s often more enjoyable and natural to learn through a conversation rather than in a one-way lecture format.
8. Ask your guide to take photos of your group
But don’t forget to take a photo with your guide, too, to help you remember the person who showed you around for an amazing day on your vacation.
9. Explore with your guide on foot, by bike or by public transit
Instead of exclusively using a car and driver to get around a city, if you are healthy and mobile consider walking or taking local transportation. A car can be convenient, but driving from place to place can leave you cut off from the things going on around you. Walking or cycling is slower and allows you to feel more a part of your surroundings. European cities tend to be compact, making them largely bike- and pedestrian-friendly.
10. Ask your guide for recommendations
Benefit from your guide’s knowledge of their city and region during your time there. Before your tour is done, get recommendations for great neighborhood restaurants, shops and entertainment. If you’re going to be at a destination for a few days, we always recommend booking your tour near the beginning of your stay, so you can use your guide’s tips for the rest of your time there.