I love to travel alone and explore new places. Exploring unknown places while having the fear of the unknown makes it more exciting as you never knowwhat is going to happen or what you are going to experience next.But sometimes the situation is different. I have used the service of local travel guides in Tanzania, Ukraine, Belarus, Zanzibar, Santorini and Spain.Here are the advantages and reasons why I thought it is a better idea.
1.) Local knowledge
I had used the service of travel guides plus mountain guide in Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro. It is just impossible to climb it without a guide because it needs lot of local knowledge. Tour guides are amazing sources of information on everything you need to know about the local culture and heritage. There’s no better way to enjoy a new place than chatting to someone who knows the area, history and hearing first-hand what life is like. It’s fine if you want to visit the generic major tourist destinations with big crowds, but don’t you want to experience the off-the-beaten-track spots or have more local experience?
2.) Uncover lesser known places
You can visit off-the-beaten-track spots and a new place that is out of the major tourist spots with the help of a guide. My local travel guide in Spain has taken me in to amazing hidden, and natural small caves in Mallorca, that I would never discover by myself. Don’t you like the thrill of finding places beyond the obvious and are not on popular tourist routes? You can be amazed how the off-the-beaten-path spots can be equally and even more incredible than the major ones.
Not all travellers are street-wise and for this reason it is often safest to visit certain areas with a local travel guide. Not only can they serve as a deterrent for would-be petty thieves but they can also help you avoid being scammed. I got scammed while travelling in Prague, and I think it would have never happened if I have even talked to a local travel guide.Private guides have a better understanding of how the local system operates and can help you with things in the country you are visiting that you are not familiar with. You don’t have to worry about getting lost or accidentally traveling to places that are dangerous with a local guide by your side.
4.) Save time
Most people only have a certain amount of time off work each year and trying to pack in a ton of sights is always time-consuming. Guides will always be able to cut to the chase to ensure you see what you want to see without getting caught up in unnecessary activities along the way. My local travel guide took me to the most famous places in Mallorca to make sure that I have ticked off those boxes. Without her, I would have wasted too much time to figure out to how to reach those places and the best routes. While in Zanzibar, I had exactly 3 days to see everything, but it was quite achievable with the help of the local travel guide.
5.) Support local people
Specially when you are travelling to poor countries, you want to give something in return to the people in those places. This is something you can do simply by using a local guide. It brings income into their communities and helps to build the economy and tourism potential of an area. Travellers who visit an area with a local guide will be guaranteed a more authentic and rewarding experience, full of interesting tales. Immersing yourself in the culture is ultimately what travel is all about.
6.) Takes photos for you
At the end, photos are your long term memories. When I am solo travelling, I take heaps of photos of interesting things but I am not in any of those photos as I am too embarrassed to ask other strangers to take my photos. Photos of sights are boring if there’s no one in them. Scrap the selfies and get your guide to take a photo of you. And, after a long day of sightseeing, cultural education and obligatory photo-taking, enjoy a good local cuisine with your guide. It might just be the start of a new friendship.
7.) Find good food
Who doesn’t like good food while travelling? Local guides can give you suggestions of where are the best places to eat local food that are not just the popular tourist spots.Hiring a guide is also important especially if you have food restrictions/allergies, but the language barrier is too severe, so you can’t communicate well. Just let your tour guides know and they will bring you to the best places to eat according to your preferences and needs.
Is it cost efficient though?
I would say yes. You are probably thinking that hiring a guide is an additional expense, so how can it save money? Here’s how. You don’t have to figure out the route by yourself and risking getting lost which can cost you more money.A good local travel guide will structure your itinerary to be cost-effective and tell you which way is more cost-efficient to travel around, helping you save money at the end.