Here in Part 2, we ask Guide Of the Year finalists to tell us their pro tips for surviving a group tour, the hardest thing about life on the road, and what their favourite travel accessory would be.
Being professional travelers, as well as exceptionally good at their jobs, we thought it would be good to ask these travel experts their tips, secrets and advice for travel and life on the road. Spanning across the world from tour operators Contiki, Koda Sail, Topdeck and TruTravels, they share their insider information with us.
Our Expert Travel Panel
Every year TourRadar runs Guide Of The Year, to find the best tour guide in the world! This is open to all tour guides from all companies, has 10,000 EURO in prizes, is judged completely independently, and is based on feedback from past passengers.
What’s your best survival tip when going on a group tour?
I would say, don’t be shy and get out of your comfort zone. You will find that most people are all feeling the same so be the first to make the move.
Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the stranger across the room from you, because here’s no doubt that by the end of the tour you will be life long friends
Expect the unexpected! You never know what’s going to happen on tour, so just try to be ready for anything and everything, go with the flow and remember that even being stuck in a Croatian traffic jam for 2 hours and playing cricket/hackysack by the side of the road is an experience!…oh and bring ear plugs….you’ll thank me later!!!
Going on holidays far away from your home, friends and family, especially for the first time, is always a stressful but at the same time very exciting moment. Everyone makes sure they have good walking shoes, comfortable clothes and devices to keep them in touch with the loved ones. I’ve been on organised tours myself and I know how it feels. The best survival tip I can give you is to bring with you a good attitude and the keenness of exploring and learning new things not only from the countries and cultures you are going to visit but also from your fellow travellers and yourself.
The one thing I always say to people who join the tour is that beauty of a group tour is that it isn’t just the places you see it is the people you meet and make friends with. After you finish the tour you will still have memories of the places you visited but you can make friendships that last a lifetime so get involved and embrace the opportunity.
Leave the stereotypes at home. People will pleasantly surprise you!
Be patient and never lose your cool. I consider myself quite the cool cucumber, I’m pretty easy going as in Asia there is nothing more embarrassing than losing your cool, so just relax and roll with it and you’ll be guaranteed to have an epic adventure – with me… haha
What is the hardest thing about life on the road?
Not having somewhere to store all your shopping! I love buying new clothes and souvenirs, but after a while it gets expensive to ship it all back home, so in the past few years i’ve really cut down on my shopping which i know will be a major regret once i stop being on the road.
The hardest thing about being on the road is thinking about what is going to happen when you make the decision to come off the road! This job is so addictive because it is so incredible you never want it to end! The last 3 years of my life have gone by so quickly!
Practically though, the hardest thing for me is constantly living out of a bag! As soon as I check in to the accommodation my bag explodes all over the room and packing it back up the next drive day is a pain, but I’ve become quite the packing professional, it’s all about packing cells! However, not having a ‘home’ as such has it’s advantages, like when you are being hassled to buy a rug in Turkey, the excuse of not having a house is pretty hard to refute, however one of the sellers did tell me I could use it on the coach…
Definitely not being able to have a proper wardrobe and not being able to have many choices of clothes haha Also staying in touch with your old friends is very hard. Very often you see messages from them but don’t have enough time to sit down and reply properly. I always feel bad about that.
Not having regular access to the gym is hard. You have to really make an effort to try and stay healthy on the road.
Typically, the hardest thing on the road is missing family and friends from home. Life on the road is busy, so when you get that small chance to skype or FaceTime, you start to appreciate them just that bit more
Losing my flip flops, I have spent 1000’s of baht on flipflops
What’s the one travel accessory you couldn’t imagine travelling without?
I can’t leave anywhere without my headphones. I’ve got a great pair of Sony Noise Cancelling headphones that allow me to escape from all that is around me and put my own soundtrack to the day. I also take my skateboard on the road with me all the time, so when i get a chance, i strap on those headphones, choose my playlist and then get skating around the city. Life is good when i have these 2 things in my possession.
My European trip leader life definitely wouldn’t be as comfortable without my Birkies! Birkenstock shoes are awesome and you can get pretty cool ones these days in bright colours and patterns which I love. After you wear them in (usually about 5 days) they are the most comfortable shoes going around because they mould to your feet. I live in mine and have gone through 6 pairs in 3 years! Little tip, they are much cheaper to buy in places like Berlin and Budapest, just don’t get them too wet!
Modern mobile phones are amazing pieces of technology but often run out of battery quickly. I have an accessory for my mobile phone that I can use to charge it up when I don’t have access to electricity and it has saved the day a few times.
Pay the extra $$ for a decent international adaptor. Fujitsu make a good one with USB ports (helpful when charging phones, cameras etc). Cheap ones will either break, pull apart – leaving half in the socket, stop working if it’s not suitable to your appliance e.g hair dryer or give you a little shock.
I would say dignity but I lost that a long time ago. So it would have to be my fisherman pants.
These guys are definitely the coolest for sharing their insider tips, as well as them being finalists for the Guide of the Year award – if you think your friends would appreciate this, then feel free to share it!
Check out Parts 1 and 3 of this Series;
30+ countries, dual citizenship, and a few years later, Sebastian has spent time guiding groups across Europe and Australia. Having eaten his way around the world, his one weakness is winter... and snowboarding.