While independent travellers are feeling prices rise in all directions – hotels, local and regional transportation, dining, admission prices – guided travel prices have largely held their ground. Why? The contracts between a reputable operator and their vendors are based on preferred relationships and volume buying.
Early payment discounts
Yes, most guided travel companies require payment in advance. However, some can be secured on an initial deposit while others offer generous savings to those who book early. (Think a couple of hundred dollars.)
Snag last-minute savings
Operators typically slash prices when they're looking to fill the last few spaces on a trip with a rapidly approaching departure date. If you have the flexibility, jumping on these fire sales can save you a couple hundred dollars.
Hedge against fluctuating currencies
No one can predict the rise and fall of currencies with perfect accuracy, but if the outlook in your desired destination looks spendy, paying for your holiday months in advance can protect against currency fluctuations.
How do you feel about saving 2.5% straight off the top? What about 5%? Travel twice with a company like The Travel Corporation and you'll earn instant savings, just because!
Get a group rate
Trafalgar offers discounts for groups of five to eight travellers. Round up your best buds or bring the whole family along for an affordable vacay.
In-Destination Cost Savings
You won't get scammed into overpaying
Keep that wallet where it belongs: in your pocket. When you've purchased a guided trip, 80% of your in-destination expenses are covered. That means you won't be getting ripped off in cabs or overpaying for excursions at haphazard-looking 'tourist offices.'
Save on international currency transaction fees
When you travel independently and pay for things like hotels, train/plane tickets, and excursions in-destination, you're making international debit and credit transactions in the local currency. You'll get charged for the currency exchange of course, but also a percentage-based foreign-transaction fee. Ouch. Paying a travel operator once, in your home currency, negates those pesky charges.
You don't need to tip every guide on your trip
There's no denying it, frequent tipping chips away at your budget, especially when your excursions are led by a different person each time. (Plus, there's nothing worse than feeling obliged to tip a lemon of a guide!) On a Trafalgar guided vacation, you're with one, very reputable tour director for the duration of your trip, and the cost of local specialists (think anthropologists, architects, etc) are included in the grand total.
Your driver doesn't get any kickbacks
It's the oldest (and lamest) trick in the travel scam book: your driver deposits you at a restaurant, hotel or shop that is owned by his friend. You end up overpaying while a commission gets kicked back to your driver. On a guided trip your driver has no agenda, other than getting you safely from Point A to Point B.
Your travel director knows what you should be paying for goods
Shopping in a foreign country can be stressful when prices aren't fixed, and even more so when you're not comfortable negotiating. You know you'll probably pay more than a local would, but how do you know what a local would pay in the first place? Your travel director has that prized knowledge. Not only will they tell you what you should pay, but they are often happy to help you haggle.
Food is included
Depending on your itinerary, a good number of your meals could be covered. Almost certainly included is breakfast, which means you probably just need to pay for your main meal and snacks. Look for itineraries where dinner is included; you're likely to save $35+ per meal.
There's nothing better than the recommendation of tasty local street food by your travel director. Usually, it's fast, cheap and mouthwatering. Plus, nine times out of ten, it's so hole-in-the-wall that you probably wouldn't have stumbled it across it on your own.
We get it: time is money, and you're busy. Guided travel frees up more of your precious leisure time. Here's how:
Less time spent planning
Forget the hours spent planning banal trip details. The most convenient pieces of guided travel are easy airport transfers and not having to comb through the reviews of 10+ hotel options. Pre-trip planning is exhausting, and if you're juggling a full-time job and a family, well, who has the time?
Less time hanging around
Say goodbye to hanging around bus and train stations. Guided travel means travel directors and drivers stay in your hotel. Just pack up, eat breakfast and be on your way.
Less time spent queuing
Reputable guided travel companies don't let their guests languish in line at world-class attractions. They develop relationships with museums, galleries, monuments, etc. That means you'll get to bypass the line entirely. Depending on your operator and the attraction, you might even enjoy early entrance, before it opens to the general public.