What to Look for in a Tour Company

a blonde woman smiles broadly in front of a hobbiton tour bus

A tour company can be a great way to step into solo travel without being completely alone. They can also help you to have experiences from a different perspective, meet new people or chase a particular goal. However, choosing the right tour company is essential! Choosing the wrong one could mean a lot of wasted time and money, but with so many out there how do you know what one is the right fit for you? Here’s what to look for in a tour company to help make your choice a little easier:

A blonde girl on a group tour stands ankle deep in the ocean smiling at the camera
Extra bonus of small group tours: New friends to take your picture!

What to Look For

Small Group Size

Smaller groups means that you are able to access more authentic places that larger groups just can’t. It also means you’ll get a more personalized expereinces and its easier to meet new people. It feels more like a group of friends travelling together!

Local Guides

If your gude isn’t local, how do they know the best places to go? I also like knowing that my money is being put back into the local economy of where I’m travelling.

Reputation

Are there alot of positive reviews for your company? How about Personal testimonials of past guests or articles written about them? If you can’t find much about them online then they may not be the best choice.

Real Images

Do they show images taken by actual guests or do they only show perfectly currated photos they provide? Guest photos shows the experience more accutaly and if they are willing to share these it usually means they don’t have much to hide! If the images are clearly “borrowed” from google images, that’s a big red flag.

Safety

Is guest safety a priority? Is there any mention of safety precautions on their website or in the reviews? This can be something you can ask the company before committing as well. If you aren’t satisfied with their answer or don’t hear back then you know to move on.

Demographics

What age does the company specialize in? If it’s a company for seniors and you’re in your twenties, the activities probably won’t be catered for your interests. (Or maybe that’s your crowd, I’m not judging!)

Style

Does the company cater more to bar hopping or sightseeing? Do you stay in hostels or hotels? Is it more laid back or packed with activities? Check to see if the travel style of the tour matches with yours. If not, it might not be the right fit for you.

What’s Included?

Not all tours are created equal. Some tours might seem cheaper, but once you arrive you realize meals and excursions are extra. Double check to see what’s included to make sure you’re fully informed before making your decision.

Warning Signs

No Refund Policy

If there isn’t a refund policy that often means that they are asked for refunds alot and have chosen to exclude this policy to make or save money.

Little or No Reviews

This is a big one for me. If I can’t find proof from real people that the company is able to provide the experience I’m paying for then I’m going to move on.

Hard to Contact

If their phone number seems to ring forever or they don’t respond to emails move on. If they aren’t helpful when they are trying to make a sale, they definitly won’t be when they’ve gotten your money.

Errors on Website

Attention to detail is everything on a tour and if they can’t manage to double chec their website, that’s a big indication of what their company will be like on the road as well.

Vague About Pricing

Companies should be clear and upfront about everything you will have to pay for. If they are vague or they hide pricing that points to dishonesty and trying to “squeeze” more money out of you later. No, thank you.

Too Much Planned

While that big bucket list itinerary might seem awesome at first, you’ll soon realize that you end up spending 15 minutes at each place that deserves hours before being hearded back on the bus. You’ll be tired, grouchy and miss out on enjoying the moment.

Unsecure Payment Methods

If a compnay wants you to send your credit card VIA email or other unsecure ways, ask about other methods. If they don’t have another way available move on, better safe than sorry!

a picture on a large tour bus showing one of the things not worth splurging on vacation on

Have you been on any amazing tours? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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