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For most people, part of the fun of traveling is actually planning out the vacation. Learning about the culture, studying the language to communicate with the locals and finding hidden gems to visit while visiting are all important steps leading up to a vacation. If you’re anything like me, you dream big while letting someone else do the legwork of planning – which is exactly what I did on my trip to Thailand.

Aside from all of the negative stigmas that go along with the words “escorted tour,” I was excited to embark on my Asia adventure. In my head I thought: long days bouncing from museum to museum in a single file line following the tacky tour guide waving a bright yellow flag to not lose anyone on the trip. What I got instead was 13 days of rich culture, a “fast pass” to the front of the line for all main attractions, luxurious 5-star accommodations and an incredible Thai tour guide who would show me the best of his own country. I wouldn’t hesitate again before booking another escorted tour or encouraging anyone around me to do so – it’s my newfound favorite way to travel the world!

Here are some common misconceptions of escorted tours and my thoughts to debunk them:

Myth: Escorted tours are expensive

Reality: On the outside, the price of an escorted tour may look like it will burn a hole in your wallet, but in reality it is a perfectly pre-packaged vacation designed to take the planning piece out so all you have to do is show up. These prices are “all-in” so to speak: hotels, airfare, entrance fees to main attractions and most meals are already included in the total price. If you were to try and piece all of the different elements of an escorted tour yourself, the cost will be substantially higher than going through a tour. Escorted tours are a simple and cost-effective way to see a new country which is what I think is one of the main selling points!


 

Myth: There won’t be any time to explore on your own

Reality: Sure, escorted tours have long itineraries filled with action packed days, but the reality is that you can do as much or as little as you’d like. Not to mention, most tours include at least one free day in every major city if not more. Nights are typically on your own (or you can add-on an optional tour/dinner from the tour operator) leaving you plenty of time to explore local culture on your own. Take advantage of your tour guide and ask for recommendations on those free days – my tour guide was nice enough to even plan out transportation for my friends and I to get around when we were on our own.


 

Myth: You’re stuck on a cramped bus all day:

Reality: Time spent on the bus is very minimal in comparison to the rest of the trip. Most tour operators have you on a luxury motor coach with ample leg room, TV’s, air conditioning and plenty of room to store your belongings. For longer jaunts of the trip, it’s common for tours to include intra-country flights, train rides or boat/ferry rides for another way to view the country. You get to sit back, relax and enjoy the sights while someone else does the leg work of whisking you from city to city.


 

Myth: Tours are only for retirees:

Reality: Escorted tours come in all shapes and sizes: tours for 18-25 year olds, family-friendly tours, or tours geared for the adventurous. Chances are you will have a melting pot of people all different ages and from all walks of life. One of my favorite parts of my escorted tour was having the chance to get to know so many different people who shared the same curiosity about the world that I did.