Share your experiences with local tour guides!

Travel Forums General Talk Share your experiences with local tour guides!

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1. Posted by FireChariot (Budding Member 18 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Hello everyone, I'm new here, and I was wondering if it is a good idea to get a local tour guide? Is it worth it, or should I just research and do things on my own. What I'm afraid of is getting lost and wasting my time and money during my vacation. The main purpose of the vacation is to relax and not worry about getting lost, :D I would love to hear everyone's thoughts about this and share your first-hand experiences! Thank you!

2. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2651 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

When I was 12, my parents took me and my sister to Europe (from the USA) and my mother had booked an independent tour from Cook's travel agency (this was in 1950). So they handled the train and hotel reservations, but we didn't have a guide with us.

I don't use a local guide in my own country. When I was younger (like in my 20s) I traveled to Europe for 5 weeks by myself without a local guide except when I booked a tour (like I was staying in Naples and I took a bus tour to Pompei and down the Amalfi Drive, and in Madrid, I took a city tour bus). Now when I travel, I'm usually not on my own, and local guides are supplied by the organization that I'm traveling with. I did have a local guide when I went to Tanzania and it was definitely worth it there.

I would think that everyone that has a cell phone with GPS would not have to worry about getting lost, depending on where you were traveling. I take precautions against getting lost (like I have something with the hotel's address on it with me. I don't know about wasting money. Depends on what you think is a waste.

You sound as if you are young. Some people have a better sense of direction than others. My advice to you would be try a guided tour first preferably one with some free time. See whether when you have free time if you can wander around a bit and shop without getting lost, and whether the cost is worth it to you.

[ Edit: Edited on 21 Oct 2022, 04:50 GMT by greatgrandmaR ]

3. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2966 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

It depends where you're travelling.

If it's one place, say a city or a resort, then no, you don't need a guide. Much of the fun is puzzling it out for yourselves and finding interesting things. And with smartphones and mobile internet, it's easier than ever to cope on your own.

Getting a little bit lost is also a part of the fun. And standing on a street corner looking at a map is guaranteed to get you interaction with locals in most places. (Maybe not London or Paris!)

4. Posted by FireChariot (Budding Member 18 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I have a phobia of getting lost using public transportation, :D I can probably do better renting a car instead :D

We have no specific plans yet, and just asking around and planning accordingly. I just want my family (with young kids) to enjoy the trip :) Getting lost would be an adventure IF I was alone or with my wife, but I don't think the kids would enjoy it.

Thus, the reason why we wanted to see if hiring a guide would at least help us not worry about things like getting lost or other travel burdens, since the main point of our trip is to relax and enjoy.

5. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2651 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

When I was a child, we lived in a city and we often took public transportation - either with my mother or by ourselves. This was during WWII when gas was rationed. When we were in elementary school, we would go downtown to the dentist by ourselves or to music lessons and our parents would pick us up on their way home from work. My sister was always very nervous the first time we went anywhere. But we had practice using public transportation.

When we were on car trips, she would give each of us a road map and ask us to figure out how far it was to a certain town (by using the little numbers on the map), and how long it would take to get there. This had the advantage of keeping us from asking "are we there yet?" and also taught us to rad maps.

Then when we went with my parents, to places like Paris or London, my mother made us figure out how to use the tube or underground to get to places from the hotel. It was not as if she didn't know herself, but it was good practice for us so we would know how to get back to the hotel if we got lost. (She also took us to Berlitz so we could understand and speak a little French - we were 10 and 12 at the time)

I got pretty good at reading maps and figuring out how to get from one place to another. So I don't think your children will automatically be unhappy about being lost unless you let them know that you are afraid. I think you should strive not to make your children fearful of your phobia. It's probably too late to teach children how to read paper maps since everyone has google maps now, but you can make an adventure out of it. You can also book walking tours in various cities or take the local hop on hop off bus which will give you an idea of the lay of the land.

6. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 2083 posts) 1y 1 Star this if you like it!

It kind of depends on where you are going. Would you mind sharing your destination with us?

When I was little, my grandfather loved to travel and always managed to get us lost. I loved it. It was much more fun than all the educational things my mother and grandmother had planned. To this day I love to get lost on trips. You see so many things you wouldn't otherwise see.

As mentioned above, if you have a mobile phone, it's almost impossible to stay lost for long. Just open Google Maps and you are found unless you are going someplace with very limited cell phone coverage.

Also, be sure to get your kids involved in planning the trip. We always had everyone make a list of from 5 to 7 things they wanted to see. Then I plotted them out on a map and made sure everyone got to see at least 3 things on their list. We couldn't complain about the kids choices and they couldn't complain about ours. It worked out so well that we still do it even though our grandkids are grown.

Don't forget to contact the local tourist offices. They will give you free maps and lots of suggestions and advice. If you want a local guide for something in particular, they can usually recommend a good one.

Enjoy your trip.

7. Posted by FireChariot (Budding Member 18 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Beausoleil

It kind of depends on where you are going. Would you mind sharing your destination with us?

When I was little, my grandfather loved to travel and always managed to get us lost. I loved it. It was much more fun than all the educational things my mother and grandmother had planned. To this day I love to get lost on trips. You see so many things you wouldn't otherwise see.

As mentioned above, if you have a mobile phone, it's almost impossible to stay lost for long. Just open Google Maps and you are found unless you are going someplace with very limited cell phone coverage.

Also, be sure to get your kids involved in planning the trip. We always had everyone make a list of from 5 to 7 things they wanted to see. Then I plotted them out on a map and made sure everyone got to see at least 3 things on their list. We couldn't complain about the kids choices and they couldn't complain about ours. It worked out so well that we still do it even though our grandkids are grown.

Don't forget to contact the local tourist offices. They will give you free maps and lots of suggestions and advice. If you want a local guide for something in particular, they can usually recommend a good one.

Enjoy your trip.

Truly awesome advices! Thank you! I really like that you mentioned getting the kids involved. We usually ask them where they want to go and what gifts they want on their birthdays, but not really getting them involved into what they want to see in certain areas that we chose.

Yeah, I guess maps will definitely not get you lost. We are leaning more on hiring a guide instead just to take the worry out of my head :D

8. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2651 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

We moved 14 times in 20 years. Whenever we moved to a new place, we went to see the local attractions - I started doing this with my kids when they were 2 or 3 years old. (They were too young know to complain.) So I was taking them camping and hiking in Yosemite and Pinnacles when they were 2 and 4. We rode the cable cars in San Francisco when we lived in Monterey. When we were in Massachusetts and they were 6 and 8, we did the Freedom Trail in Boston and saw Hawthornes house in Salem and visited Plymouth.

My father died in 1973 when my kids were 12, 10, 5 and 3. My mother started taking them on trips with her when they were between 11 and 14. So when she died, I took my grandkids on trips with me when they were 12 to 14. I didn't do as Beausoleil and let them plan the trip. I consulted the parents about where to go (sometimes the parents would veto a destination), and I tried to plan things that they would like to do. And I listened to them about what they enjoyed and what was a bust. (Both my grandson and I were disappointed with Mdme Tussauds and I took one of my granddaughters to the ballet in St. Petersburg and we both thought it was a little lame - it wasn't the main Bolshoi). When we were out in a city, I would let them tell me how to get back to the hotel - I started doing this in 2007 before I had a cell phone with maps. And they could do that, or if they couldn't, I would figure it out. (Some were better than others)

When I went to Tanzania with the youngest granddaughter, we stopped in Amsterdam on the way, and my travel agent arranged a walking tour for us which was great. My mother arranged the same kind of tour for us in Copenhagen when I was 12, so you can still do that. It can be very enjoyable, although my mother's comment on the guide in Copenhagen was that she was "very stern"large_F1696-2.jpg
1950 Polaroid - I'm 12 years old on the left with my little sister and my mom

9. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 2083 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

If you are going to worry the whole time, a guide is probably worth it just for your peace of mind. You've never said where you are going, but if you are headed to a large city, you might consider a guide for a day or two and then use the hop-on hop-off bus tours the rest of the time. Contact the local tourist office for a reliable guide. Most cities also have walking tours and many have a program where you can meet a local and they will show you their city. In most European cities, a car is a nuisance but if you're trip is in the USA, a car may be necessary. If you are moving around a lot, you may need to contact several tourist offices.

I hope you enjoy your trip.

10. Posted by FireChariot (Budding Member 18 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting greatgrandmaR

When I was a child, we lived in a city and we often took public transportation - either with my mother or by ourselves. This was during WWII when gas was rationed. When we were in elementary school, we would go downtown to the dentist by ourselves or to music lessons and our parents would pick us up on their way home from work. My sister was always very nervous the first time we went anywhere. But we had practice using public transportation.

When we were on car trips, she would give each of us a road map and ask us to figure out how far it was to a certain town (by using the little numbers on the map), and how long it would take to get there. This had the advantage of keeping us from asking "are we there yet?" and also taught us to rad maps.

Then when we went with my parents, to places like Paris or London, my mother made us figure out how to use the tube or underground to get to places from the hotel. It was not as if she didn't know herself, but it was good practice for us so we would know how to get back to the hotel if we got lost. (She also took us to Berlitz so we could understand and speak a little French - we were 10 and 12 at the time)

I got pretty good at reading maps and figuring out how to get from one place to another. So I don't think your children will automatically be unhappy about being lost unless you let them know that you are afraid. I think you should strive not to make your children fearful of your phobia. It's probably too late to teach children how to read paper maps since everyone has google maps now, but you can make an adventure out of it. You can also book walking tours in various cities or take the local hop on hop off bus which will give you an idea of the lay of the land.

Makes sense, I can make getting lost into an adventure or a horror. I love your mindset and will definitely try to change my perspective into this. Thank you for sharing your experiences when you were a child. I hope I can also give the same experience with my kids.