We’ve all experienced the pitfalls of commercialized tours, both the seasoned traveler and the newbie.
Bumping elbows with strangers, getting annoyed by that one narcissist that stands out in every crowd and doesn’t give a hoot you spent money on the tour as well or even, an unpleasant tour guide.
Or maybe, you hoped for a variation of the tour or to spend more time in one spot only to find out, “Nope, impossible”.
Thank goodness there’s a solution to everything and in this case, it’s Private tour guides.
Private or “Local” tour guides are those of us that know a destination like the back of our hand. We live there; we know the ins and outs and want to share the Culture, lifestyle and secrets with you.
We want you to marry your joy in the places you visit with Responsible travel.
Travel is changing. What was once a superficial, irresponsible way of visiting a country has become something a little more grass-roots and a lot more “Local and Responsible”.
Today’s conscious traveler wants to experience a place the way the residents do, they want to truly ‘feel’ their joys and pain. They want to, if only for a short time, become a part of the places they visit.
What better way to get a feel for a place than through the eyes of the people who know it best. The information they share won’t be found in many guide books, it is priceless knowledge that goes a long way in sustaining not only the country, its’ people and their culture, but the planet.
Local Guides cater to any demographic and are highly flexible. They individualize your tour and only the guests you choose are allowed – no more narcissists!
These types of tours are also great for travelers who have stopped in a port of call on a Cruise or those on layover and have a limited number hours to explore before they continue their journey.
How do you find a Local Guide you ask? Is it that random person on the street who offers you a tour once you arrive? It could be if you choose, but that could also lead to disappointment.
A Google search on the subject will turn up a handful of companies that offer this service which you book online, much like your trip. Be careful though, many companies aren’t inclined to care about your excursion but the buck an inexperienced guide can put in the corporate pocket by registering with the site.
Any good Local Guiding site needs to make sure guides are screened, scrutinized and qualified to offer this service. They must also be insured for your safety and peace of mind – the majority are not. So please due diligence.
The best company by far is a Vancouver, B.C. company, Tours By Locals TBL 0ffers 9101 TOURS and 1591 GUIDES in 125 COUNTRIES. Guides are carefully interviewed and go through a serious screening process before approval to represent the company, much like being hired by an employer and, insured through Lords of London.
With Tours By Locals you can book your tour online, choose the guide that suits your fancy based on their bio and your personality or travel style and either partake in a pre-set tour, or have them design one specific to you and your group. The price is agreed on beforehand so there are never undisclosed fees!
TBL makes the process safe and truly cares about your experience and satisfaction. They also have a great refund policy!
I offer this opinion based on first-hand experience, I am one of their guides both in BC and Barbados. Rest assured I am not biased, I researched all the companies before choosing to collaborate with TBL because I have experienced the pit falls as a traveler myself, and trust me, they don’t just accept anyone to represent them.
Not in a million years, would I hire a guide who doesn’t have the backing of insurance because injury overseas can be pricey and, because I want to know I am safe and my visit is benefiting the community.
Another company that ensures their guides are reputable is Tour Guides (Viator) though I have yet to decide if they are insured.
If you travel like me you want to get “Local” and truly experience the life of your new-found friends. You want to sustain the planet and lead the way in this form of travel style to protect the people who make the world so vibrant and support their economy and lifestyle.
Whether you’re heart rests in Volun-tourism, Eco-tourism, Sustainable Tourism, whatever your niche, your travel style can make a difference and will be appreciated for future generations.
Local Guides not only benefit you and the success of your trip, they are paramount to the future of Responsible Travel.
Can you relate to disappointing, large group commercialized tours? Please share an experience.
Have you ever hired a “Local Guide”? Do you recommend this travel style and why?
HI Kelly, I’m also a guide for TbL, and can vouch for the screening process. They have been very good to work with and I have found all my TbL guests delightful. Thanks for putting in a plug and making the connection between local and responsible travel. One could get into multipliers of the tourist dollar and how much of it stays in the community or leaves, depending on where one spends one’s money (ie with a large multinational concern or a locally owned business, like a local guide). It makes good sense to hire local all the way around.
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Hi Liz thank you for commenting. It’ s nice to meet a fellow guide! Where are you located?
Thank you for your article. I was facilitating a workshop on Sustainable Tourism in Polokwane in South Africa and the message that I always try to get across it that we need to be proud of our Heritage and our people. We need the local people trained to become “Local Guides” to show off what we have. Like Liz, I also go into the multiplier effect and explain that we need to give travellers and tourists many opportunities to spend their money in our wonderful places and make sure that the money stays within the communities. We all need to work together for prosperity. Act Responsibly,grow sustainably – Caroline Ungersbock – Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme
Thank you Caroline Ungersbock for that information – I have checked out your web page – very nice! A valuable resource indeed for those of us interested in Sustainable Tourism. You and Liz make the world a better place! Happy to know you…