How to choose the right escorted tour for you

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Modern escorted tour holidays are a far cry from the stereotypes of blue rinse coach trips to Blackpool. Instead, tours are especially wonderful for a first-time experience in a new destination - they allow you to see, do and learn potentially much more than you might manage alone.

However, there is a dizzying array of escorted tours and small group holidays on the market, and getting the right fit between you and the tour is key to having an enjoyable holiday.

So how do you decide on the small group tour or escorted trek or holiday for you? Read on for five top tips.

1. What are the dates or months you can travel and how flexible are you on these?

Some countries and attractions are better to visit at certain times of year, and this needs to be taken into account when deciding on your destination. As well, escorted tours have set departure dates, whereas private or tailor-made tours can be fitted to your schedule.

2. What kind of pace are you looking for?

Are you a ‘cram it all in ‘cos I’m only here once’ type of person, or do you like to have a bit more relaxation time? Are you happy to quickly move from one destination to the next, or do you like to spend more than one night in most locations? Some tours travel to a different place each night, ideal for people who love the thrill of a new dawn in a new town, but others like 2 or 3 days to soak up the atmosphere of a city.

3. What accommodation do you prefer? 4. What do you want most from the holiday?

Do you want absolute first-class deluxe accommodation, luxury, or boutique hotels, or are you happy with good-quality, basic but comfortable hotels? Do you want a chance to stay in the traditional and typical lodgings of the country you’re visiting? Do you mind camping in order to get to places so off the beaten track hotels don’t or can’t exist?

Many tours have different accommodation styles so check to ensure your comfort.

Are you looking to ignite your sense of adventure or are do you want a cultural trip where you can see and experience what that destination is about? Do you want to get active, or do you prefer a leisurely pace with lots of rest? Do you want a more educational trip, or have you got a special interest that you’d like to pursue though the holiday?

You'll find many tours are themed, and it's worth seeking advise on which is the best for what you want out of it.

5. How do you prefer to travel?

Many escorted tours will transport you in luxury tour buses, but travelling by rail can be an option for some holidays, and of course, there are always cruises to consider. Some trips might include a number of transport modes – and adventure tours often take place on overland trucks! Some tours will fly within the country, or use rail or coach – think about which you prefer to be doing.

Andrea Wren – Wren Elite Travel (http://www.wrenelitetravel.co.uk)