“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Attributed to Mark Twain
The city is alive with rich history and cultural adventures. In the first scenario, you would board a bus after a group breakfast buffet at your hotel and be shuttled to the first stop of your trip. The Vatican. Here you will don your headset and listen to your tour guide walk you through the crowds to see the great works of art.
Scenario number two. After a casual breakfast at an outdoor café, you meet your private guide to take the local transportation or private car to the Vatican, where you are ushered through a VIP entrance and led through thousands of years of history and art by your companion who answers questions and shows you select treasures based on your interests.
Both scenarios happen daily in Rome. Where do you picture yourself? Small groups or independent travel can cost you a bit more, but the value it adds to your experience and the memories that are formed will outweigh the extra cost.
Many people travel to experience cultures and destinations that are unlike their own. If your comfort level is maintained by staying in an American-style hotel, with an American guide, who is knowledgeable, but has not been submerged in the culture their whole lives, then some of the larger tours might be for you. But, if you allow your comfort level to be pushed just a bit, a whole new experience for the mind and senses comes into play.
Local guides have grown up in the culture and have been through extensive training to obtain their licenses. The smaller tour companies cultivate these relationships with the guides and with local families to provide home-stays, similar to Bed and Breakfast experiences, in Morocco, Turkey, China, and all over the world. Small groups tend to use public transportation such as trains and subways or small vans. They can go to places that cannot accommodate large groups. So not only will you see the Great Wall of China, you may also visit a local factory or small museum that would be inaccessible traveling in a larger group. Using public transportation also paves the way for you to familiarize yourself with a destination with the support of a guide. In this way, you will be equipped to come back to a city and feel empowered to travel on your own.
If you don’t want to be tied to a schedule, the independent style of travel with the support of a local host may be right for you. The host will meet you at the destination arrival point such as an airport or train station. They will transport you to your hotel or guest house and give you an orientation to the destination. They will make suggestions for attractions, dining and shopping. Meeting up with a local guide to see the major sites, you will get insider experiences. Your host will escort you back to your point of embarkation to your next destination or home. You have traveled independently with the support of local hosts and guides to make navigation and the whole experience full of great memories to share back home.
Everyone has a style of travel that they prefer. By using a travel professional, I can make sure that you have the experience you are dreaming of. When asked what I do, my response is, “I help people fulfill their dreams through travel experiences and cultural encounters”. For some this may be a small ship cruise through the Society Islands of Tahiti. Others may wish to sleep in a tent after a short trip via camel in the Moroccan desert. And still others, wish to have a supported trip through Europe’s major cities to shop, and be exposed to the European cultures and history.
Experience the difference a travel professional can make in helping you to determine a destination based on your interests and choose the mode of travel that will give you a better understanding of the world around you and make memories to last a life-time.