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Trip Planning > Tours

guide on booking tours

This page is only useful for those people wishing to book organised tours as all or part of their holiday. If you prefer to do your own thing or possibly take a tour with a local company when you're abroad, then skip this bit and go straight onto booking your flights.

There are several different types of tours that are outlined in our Inspiration section - links to these pages are below:

Assuming you know what type of tour you want, you now need to think about booking it. This is the first thing you should do, because most operators don't offer last-minute discounts and more importantly, the best tours do sell out quickly - there is much less availability of specific tours than there are seats on planes to get you there. The exact tour you take will determine which dates you fly on. Unless you leave it very last minute, you can be pretty sure you will find flights to fit around the tour. That said, it is worth getting quotes for flights at the same time as you search for tours in order to compare the total 'package' cost between different options. Expensive flights could encourage you to choose a tour with different dates or even a different location. See our guide to booking flights to help you.

When choosing the exact tour you want, the following things are worth considering:

  • What time of year is best? For example, operators won't run trekking tours during monsoon season, but you may want to go at the time of year when the weather is supposed to be best.
  • How long do I want to go for? Longer trips are more cost-effective and allow you to see more, possibly at a slower pace, so generally the longer the better - have a chat with the boss!
  • What level of comfort do I want? Some tours emphasise the luxury accommodation, others aim to keep the price down. Even overlanding, with a high proportion of camping, can vary in comfort according to how many staff are on hand to help set up camp, cook meals etc.
  • If you're a single traveller, would you prefer to pay a single supplement or are you willing to share a room with another same-sex traveller?
  • Do I want the tour operator to book my flights for me, or would I rather search for cheaper ones myself and just pay land-only? (Read our guide to booking flights)
  • Is there a local payment for this tour? Some operators have a payment you make to the UK office, then you make another payment to your guide (often in local currency) at the start of your trip. There is nothing dodgy about this, they are simply making life easier for the guide and saving money by getting the customer to exchange currency for local payments. However, do make sure you check to see if there is a local payment and how much it is and include this in the total cost of the tour.

Having thought about the above issues and made some decisions, you should now be ready to get searching. You shouldn't need to get any quotes as prices generally stay fixed and should be displayed on the website. Booking online has almost become the norm; security is always high priority, but booking with a credit card reduces your risk further (since they generally protect you for fraudulent use). Online prices are never more expensive, they are usually cheaper than phoning up or visiting a travel agent. Unlike hotels, tours are cheaper booking direct with the operator - there are very few agents that actually sell tours anyway.

Full lists of tour operator websites can be found via the links below, which will take you to the relevant place in our Inspiration section... Happy Booking!

Escorted Coach and Rail Tours
Active and Adventure Guided Tours
Activity Holidays (trekking, cycling etc)

When you've booked your tour, come back to the planning section for our guide to booking flights...