When to Hire a Local Tour Guide for Your Travels

How to recognize when you could use a guide on your trip — and when you can do it on your own?

Credit: bluesmoon

A guide can come in handy when visiting historical or cultural destinations

Whether you’re tight for time or just don’t want to think too hard on your next vacation, sometimes it’s nice to have the help of a local tour guide

In that case, it can be a good idea to hire a local guide at your destination to help you out, whether by showing you the sights or helping to arrange activities.

There are always reasons why you’ll want to go at it alone on your holiday, such as when you’re not under any sort of time constraint or when you’re just planning a relaxing do-nothing vacation and don’t want to pack in a lot of sightseeing. 

Then there are those times when a guide can come in extremely handy and help to make your travel experience just that much better.

When to Hire a Local Tour Guide

In cases when you’re strapped for time, the right guide can give you a customized and creative blast through the destination of your choice, saving you from wasting time on attractions that may not suit your interests.

This might sound odd, but a travel guide may be extremely useful even if you’re visiting a location you’ve been to countless times before. Maybe it’s your in-laws’ hometown or the same city you’ve been vacationing in since you were a kid. Whatever the case may be, try hiring a local guide who can give you a different take and new perspective on some familiar territory.

A guide can come in particularly handy when visiting historical destinations or those with cultural significance. You’ll get a depth of experience and knowledge that you’re not likely to get from a guidebook or by simply reading the plaques on the wall. 

Unless you’re an absolute expert in adventure travel, I definitely recommend a guide for any crazy adventurous trips you’re thinking of taking. 

Whether you’re heading out on an African safari, or to do some scuba diving or white-water rafting, hiring a guide is always your best option. And in some cases it can mean all the difference in your safety. So plan smart and hire someone who knows the local area and can help you navigate unfamiliar ground.

Finally, when you’re visiting a place where you don’t speak the language and the locals are unlikely to speak yours, a local tour guide can be priceless. Before choosing a guide to accompany you, try to have a chat with them on the phone. You’ll want to get a feel for how well you’ll be able to communicate with one another. If you’re having too much difficulty, they won’t be much help to you ultimately, so you’ll want to keep looking.

When to Tour Solo

A tour guide can be useful in many travel situations, but there are also times when you’ll want to do it all on your own, such as:

  • When returning to a destination after having already used a guide there during a previous trip;

  • When you have a lot of activities planned throughout your vacation;

  • When travelling to a very small place you can tour easily on your own;

  • When your holiday is simply about enjoying quiet time for yourself.

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.