TGIF Travels: How to make a group tour work for you

The Eiffel Towel

We stopped by the Eiffel Tower but I ventured out on my own to visit the Louvre.

I’m not one for following crowds or conforming to popular opinion. So it was with a little consternation that I booked a group tour.

Group tours can be pricey but what’s more costly and disappointing is not getting the experience you personally hoped for. I’ve been on group tours to France and Ireland.

When I traveled in France, I failed to do research and missed seeing some of the sights that I was personally interested in. Here are the lessons I’ve learned on my group tour of Ireland:

Mountain view of Ireland.

A view from Tory Island

 

1. Plan ahead. Before the group tour in Ireland, I voiced my interests and objectives with the tour guide before paying my fee. I’ve learned you have more leverage before a transaction than after.

2. Talk openly. Open communication before a tour is one of the keys to having a successful self group tour. The tour in Ireland was primarily for lighthouse enthusiasts not lighthouse artists like me. So I inquired about how many lighthouses I would be able to draw. The tour guide was not immediately forthcoming. I think he was concerned about promising something he couldn’t deliver because of bad weather. Once I assured him I was aware that weather could alter things he gave me a tentative lists of lighthouses.

 

3. Get support from fellow travelers. I made friends with others on the tour and looked for opportunities to be helpful. It got to the point where the other travelers teased me about getting my sketches started before we approached the lighthouse. And by the end of the tour the driver was sketching lighthouses too!

Painting of Chaine Memorial Lighthouse

We stopped 5 mins at Chaine Lighthouse.

 

4. Express appreciation and be cooperative. Show gratitude for the tour guide’s flexibility. I knew the tour wasn’t all about me so I thanked the tour guide often for accommodating my wishes. The tour guide delivered more than he promised and I kept my word about brief sketches.

5. Be kind but firm when sticking to your agenda. I missed the final dinner but enjoyed the spectacular sunset at Blackhead lighthouse instead. Don’t forget courtesy goes a long way when cross purposes arise. After the final dinner, I stopped sketching and went on the moonlight tour.

I’ve learned the hard way to voice objectives in advance, research the tour as if I am traveling alone, reaffirm my objectives along the way and stick to my personal agenda. But it was well worth the effort and the money spent.

For exciting photos of my Ireland Lighthouse trip, visit http://www.elainemarieartist.com.

 

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