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10 benefits of a guided tour vs. independent travel

Apr 28, 2021 by Emily Houston

Of all the ways to get out and see the world, the best way to travel is on a group tour because you can sit back, relax, and soak in the beauty of your destination—while learning more than just a thing or two about the local culture along the way. No figuring out transportation, researching hotels, or booking flights required.

Here at EF Go Ahead Tours (the EF stands for Education First!), we know a thing or two about creating immersive, local-led tours. If you’re wondering what all the hype is around group tours, check out these benefits of guided travel, which you’ll find on all of our more than 175 trips.

1. You get the ease of an all-in-one tour package

Imagine a world where you don’t need to scour the internet for the perfect hotel, diligently monitor flight prices, or scroll through Google to figure out how to spend time in your destination. Good news: That’s one of the main benefits of traveling in groups. You can have the trip of a lifetime without having to research or book any of these travel essentials. Say hello to these advantages of guided tours, and goodbye to travel planning nightmares.

“You have the fear of going someplace and everything falling apart and I felt like from the get-go you guys gave me piece of mind,” said traveler Lydia. “I’m going out of the country and everything is taken care of. I don’t have to worry about the language. I don’t have to worry how I’m going to get from here to there. You get to go on vacation and be stress-free. Sometimes you can’t do that… but I truly, truly got to enjoy the vacation.”


2. You have an expert Tour Director with you every step of the journey

We hear it time and again: It’s the Tour Directors who make each trip extraordinary. One of the benefits of guided tours is that the Tour Directors are passionate travelers, too. They have a rolodex of restaurants recs, cultural knowledge, and free time suggestions to pass along to you.

“I loved the Tour Director, he made everything so easy,” said traveler Lydia. “I really appreciated that part of the tour. It wasn’t just, ‘Here’s your tickets, go and figure it out.’ He was always there when we needed him. He even got us into a cab and was talking to the cab driver in French!”

Whether it’s bringing ancient history to life or pointing you toward a hidden gem, your Tour Director is always there to help you uncover the best of your destination. “They’re so personable!” said traveler Lydia. “It just made the whole experience. It’s a great dynamic that you guys offer through your tours. It was very nice to have that knowledge and to have somebody there with us in each place to help us.”


3. You have local guides leading the way

In addition to your 24/7 Tour Director, you’ll meet up with talented local guides who live in the places you’re exploring—whether that’s a Tuscan village or a bustling cultural capital. Each guide is an expert at showing you what their hometown has to offer, so by the time you part ways, you might feel like a local, too—like traveler Darnita did on her tour of Spain.

“To say that Gracia [our local guide in Spain] is a guide, is an understatement,” said Darnita. “Gracia, from the start, treated our tour group as if we were an extension of her family. She went above and beyond to make sure that everyone had an enjoyable experience regardless of preference, limitations, or differences. Gracia was patient and always available to help in any way, shape, or form, even when it was not expected.”

4. You don’t need to monitor border openings and restrictions

As a community of travel-lovers, we’re always planning our next big adventure and discovering our new favorite destination. Right now, on top of picking where you want to go, you have to consider the ever-changing guidelines for U.S. international travel and try to scour the internet for answers to important questions like, “Where can Americans travel right now?”

The best way to travel is in a group because all of this can feel like, well, a lot, for the average lone traveler. Here at Go Ahead Tours, we have a Safety Team that is constantly monitoring global health and safety guidelines so you don’t have to.

“EF’s response teams are comprised of specially trained staff members, living in nearly all our major tour destinations,” said Alaina, Manager of On Tour Support. “These staff members stay up-to-date on local policies and communicate our high safety standards to our local suppliers, as well as offer round-the-clock support to our travelers while they are on the road.”

5. You don’t need to research, track, or book flights

Whether you’re looking at planes, trains, or automobiles, figuring out all the ways to travel from point a to point b is never fun. One of the benefits of guided tours is that we offer the option to book airfare packages with every tour. These flights are covered, so if we make tour changes that impact flights, we’ll rebook them for you, no questions asked.

Another one of the benefits of traveling and booking flights with us is that every airfare package includes airport pickup on your tour’s scheduled arrival day, as well as drop-off on your tour’s departure day. Want to upgrade cabins, add stops, or stay longer in the location of your choice? We’ll work with you to craft your ideal flight itinerary.

“Our biggest concern was booking flights and hotels, and it was a huge weight off our shoulders that Go Ahead took care of this for us,” said traveler Anna. “We were able to sit back and daydream about our upcoming trip without feeling stressed.” Read how going guided helped traveler Anna navigate the unexpected >


6. You can add AnyReason Protection onto your travel coverage

Speaking of flights, when you purchase travel coverage, you can add on AnyReason Protection and lock in even more group travel benefits. The biggest benefit is that you can reschedule your flights for personal reasons and you won’t pay airline change fees.

AnyReason Protection is exactly what it sounds like. You can cancel your trip for any reason. Plus, if you cancel prior to checking in for your first scheduled flight, you’ll receive a credit voucher in the amount of your cancellation fees. We hope those “oh, no” moments never happen, but we’re always here if they do —like we were for a traveler on one of Group Coordinator Verna’s tours.

“I had a traveler who spent almost six weeks in the hospital in London,” said Group Coordinator Verna. “The people from the EF Go Ahead office in London went to visit her almost every day. I don’t think it will get any better than that. The Go Ahead Tours travel coverage also provided a nurse to fly with her right to her home airport when she was well enough to travel. I will always be so grateful to the people at Go Ahead for the kindness that was shown.”


7. You’re supported by EF’s Global Safety Network

We help people like you travel here, there, and everywhere, and it’s been our mission for more than half a century. With a history like that, we’ve made more than just a few friends around the world. Think: 50,000 personnel spread across 50 countries. Knowing this team of experts is in your corner is just one of the many advantages of traveling with us!

Another one of the top benefits of traveling in a group is that our team members are on the ground across the globe, so you can always travel with confidence. This includes the members of our On-Tour Support and EF crisis responses teams. They’re on call 24/7 should you need assistance on the road. Hear firsthand from traveler Anna about the perks of having a global team that’s got your back—especially when having to navigate the unexpected on tour.

“The day we got to Venice was the day the first cases of coronavirus were officially announced in the city,” said traveler Anna. “Our Tour Director Leonor assured us that EF Go Ahead Tours was monitoring the situation and keeping in contact with her about our safety, which was very reassuring. Go Ahead made a stressful situation in a foreign country tolerable and got us home safely. Our trip was still fun and we still got to do most things we’d planned!”


8. Your trip is backed by the Safe Travels stamp

Wondering what is the safest way to travel? While international travel is, by its very nature, unpredictable, there are some steps you can take to have a safer, smoother journey abroad. One of those steps is traveling with a tour company (like us!) that displays the Safe Travels stamp. It’s the world’s first-ever global safety and hygiene stamp for travel and tourism and shows that a company adheres to the global safety protocols from the World Travel & Tourism Council.

These protocols are developed based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and government authorities and health providers around the world. You’ll see them play out while on the bus, at the hotel, and beyond. For example, buses are being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before your group boards and regularly thereafter, with a specific focus on high-frequency touch points. One of the big advantages of guided tours is that you’ll sleep (and travel!) easy knowing every part of your tour with us meets these standards.


9. You have flexible payment options

Thanks to AutoPay, our interest-free monthly payment plan, you can book your tour today and pay for it over time. Plus, when you book with AutoPay you can reserve your spot on tour with just $99 down. Some of the other benefits of traveling on our AutoPay plan include having 60 days until your first interest-free payment and being able to roll your flights, airfare, travel coverage, excursions, or extensions into your monthly payments.

“The $99 down really influenced our decision to book and the flexible rebooking options that are in place gave us a lot more confidence in the decision,” said traveler Katie.

Bonus benefit! You’ll make lifelong friendships

We know we said there are 10 big benefits, but we had to sneak in one more! This one goes out to our solo travelers, because you’re never really alone when you travel with us. You’re surrounded by our community of local guides, Tour Directors, and other lifelong explorers. Plus, on our Solo Tours, you’ll see the world alongside an entire group of fellow solo travelers.

Take it from Elise, who’s just one of the members of our incredible solo travel community. “I’m just generally adventurous and I like to experience new places, new things,” said Elise. “Life is short, so you can’t wait until you’re retired to do everything. With Go Ahead Tours, everyone is on the same page. You’re going to travel, to eat, to relax.”


Which of these group travel benefits gives you the most peace of mind while planning your travels? Let us know on our Facebook page!

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About the author | Emily Houston
Emily loves the simple travel moments—like watching hours pass by in minutes while sharing a meal and a laugh (or many) with her friends and family. Outside the office, you'll find Emily listening to anything and everything John Mayer, attempting to cook a New York Times recipe, or dreaming up her next trip.

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