5 things you need to know before you book a Touring Holiday.

I love Touring Holidays, but prior to working at a Global Tour Company, Cosmos, I didn’t have a clue they existed, let alone how amazing and fulfilling they were.

So, let’s start at the beginning, a Touring holiday is pretty much what it says on the tin, you are seeing (touring) more than one place in a particular country, however you can see more than one country on a tour.

Here are 5 things you should know before you book a touring holiday.

1 – Choose what type of tour.

There are different types of touring holidays and getting that right is nearly as important as the destination itself. This article should help you decide which tour is best for you.

Do bear in mind, your preferences may change depending on which country you are exploringg, some people are very comfortable touring the USA alone, however they may prefer to tour Asia as part of a group.  Therefore, I would suggest before booking your touring holiday, you think about where you are going and the different touring options.

Imagine the Route 66 for example; This popular tour can be enjoyed in many different ways.


Map of Route 66

There four main types.

Escorted Guided Tour

Small Group Guided Tour

Private Guided Tour

Independent Tour

Let’s delve a little deeper as to what to expect.

Escorted Tour –These normally hold approximately 55 people per tour, think of it as a standard coach full.  As well as your fellow travellers you will have a coach driver and a tour director, with some local representatives. The group will travel together for the whole itinerary, commencing at the first hotel where you will have a Welcome Meeting before you set off.  Most things will be included , such as visiting those iconic sites, entry into museums and national parks, there will also be optional excursions on offer, which you can pre-book prior to departure or pay for locally.  The itinerary is set to make the most of your time and you will have early starts most days with some time at leisure added in.

Many Tour operators are now offering both a Standard Escorted Tour and a Premium Escorted tour. The main difference is the star rating of the accomodation that you are staying in along with added inclusions such as extra meals and excursions.


Small Group Guided Tour – These tours offer the same inclusions and itinerary as an Escorted tour, however it will be of a more intimate experience.  Normally the group size would be a maximum of 25 people.

You will have a driver and depending on the tour operator you will have either tour director or you will meet with local hosts. Small Group Guided Tours are increasing in popularity and the Tour operators are running more of these types of tours.


Private Guided Tour – In terms of size, they normally will accept a minimum of 2 people and maximum of 12 for a private tour, it’s a great option if you are a family or a small group of friends looking to experience a touring holiday together. 

There are a couple of options when it comes to a privately guided tour, these can be set itineraries, which the tour operator already runs but exclusively for you, or they can be tailor-made to your interests and requirements.  If you have alternative places you want to visit, which are not included on another tour, or perhaps stay in a city a few days longer than a normal ‘escorted tour’ then this can work perfectly for you.

 Depending on the size of your group and your tour itinerary, this could be just yourself with a driver who will escort you from point A to B, or you could have a driver and meet with local hosts at set locations.


Independent Tour – These tours are not often regarded or sold as Tours as such, however the principle is the same. Let me explain. An independent tour has an itinerary to follow and a timeline just like any other tour, however you will be completely independent and will have to get yourself from one place to another, whether that’s by car, motorbike, plane, or motorhome.  I would recommend that your mode of transport is pre-booked and part of the package, to make sure that you don’t miss vital parts of your holiday.

There will not be a tour director and your days will be filled with whatever you wish to do, with no set times, except for checking in and out of hotels / flights.

The route 66 is a very popular independent tour, as the route itself is really easy to follow, however it still takes some planning to work out your distances and how long you should have in each place.

The great thing about an independent tour is that it’s totally bespoke to you, however to make the most of your trip, it is worth having a consultation with a Travel Agent (www.travelwithsarahspriggs.co.uk ) who can help you make the most of your time and make sure that you don’t miss out on those memory making moments.



2) Guaranteed dates

What is meant by Guaranteed dates or “GTY” as it’s known for short on the inside.

Most escorted tours run on set dates throughout the year, depending on the tour destination and weather conditions, the tours will only operate seasonally.  Unlike a standard holiday where you can practically choose any date you wish to travel; the Escorted tour will be only bookable on selected dates only.  Example 8th March / 25th March / 9th April etc.


If you are restricted on your travel dates, I would advice that you book as far in advance as possible, so when it comes to making your booking, you have no pre-made plans holding you back.

What you also need to consider is that to run a tour, they need to fill the seats. So how do they do this?

Let’s take my route 66 tour as an example.  The tour operator will have 3 dates in August on sale, let’s say 5th August 10th August and the 21st August.  To make sure that the tour is viable to go ahead they need to sell 48 seats out of the 55 to go ahead. Makes sense?  One date of the three mentioned will be chosen as the GTY date (guarantee date) Let’s say in this example it is the 10th August.

The tour dates will go on sale and seats get filled up quickly on the 5th August and they are doing ok for the 10th, however they don’t get much interest for the 21st August departure and only 7 get sold. 

What happens?

Normally in these situations, if you have booked with a good travel agent you would be aware that your departure may not reach full capacity therefore if it doesn’t you will be offered the next GTY date to change to, which in this case would be moving your holiday from the 21st to the 10th August.

Now of course you don’t need to accept the new date, you could cancel, or you could amend your holiday to something else, but if you can’t do that new date, then you will probably be feeling very disappointed that you can no longer travel.

 What can you do, to avoid this situation? – Most tour operators / travel agents will tell you if the tour date you are booking is GTY or not. There is a good possibility that your tour will run, especially if it is a popular choice, however if you are really set on your travel dates and don’t like ethe idea of having to change or cancel if the fulfilment isn’t reached, I would recommend booking as early as possible to get the GTY date.

Alternatively, if this something you do not want to consider I would suggest booking a Private Tour, where GTY doesn’t exist.



3) The End of Your Tour

Tours are amazing, you really do get to see so much, sometimes places you didn’t even consider being points of interest until you get the opportunity.  Often, they are early starts, to make the most of your time as you will be doing a lot of travelling and covering many miles.

Through my own experience, I have found that although you may only be away for 1 week, it will often feel longer because of how fulfilled the itinerary is.  It can be surprising that packing so much into your day, feels like you have had more time than you would if you were to have a beach holiday. 

When you book a tour with me, I would always recommend where possible, to have a few days rest at the end, if you have time to do so. This is an opportunity to reflect on your experience and to appreciate some down time, with no set times to get up or do anything.  That doesn’t mean of course that you can’t go exploring by yourself.

Most Tour operators offer this, again it depends on where you are travelling to, as to what the extension could be, but if you can have a few days before you travel home, it’s really worth the extra. 

4) Where’s on your Travel Bucket List

It sounds an obvious thought, however, consider the highlights on your tour.

Tours are for immersing yourself in places, often the ticking bucket list trips, such as seeing the Taj Mahal in India, Victoria Falls in Africa, or Graceland in Memphis. However, what about those hidden gems that you want to experience, often the smaller highlights can be just as amazing as those iconic places. 

 It’s always good to read the itinerary through and compare it against another operator, what is it you want to see and will that be included?

Private Tours are great for this, you can follow or copy a itinerary that you have seen but add in those extra highlights to give you a tailor made experience.



5) Your travelling companions

Have you heard of the saying, birds of a feather, flock together? Well, that’s how I would see touring.

Most of those wishing to go on a touring holiday want to experience the same things, so you will find yourself with like-minded people; Music fans, travelling the Deep South, Wildlife lovers on a Safari, Hiking enthusiasts in Nepal.

Throughout my years of working in travel, I have spoken to quite a few clients that have made lifelong friends whilst being on tour and now they book future tours and holidays together.  They often live in different parts of the country and would have never met if they hadn’t experienced a tour.

 If you are a solo traveller, but don’t quite like the idea of travelling alone, tours are a fantastic opportunity to tick off your travel bucket list with the security and comfort of fellow travellers, you can also opt for a sharing option, which often brings down the cost of a single supplement.

Of course, not everyone likes to meet new people and those more often than not, do not consider touring holidays as an option, but they certainly are.   As I mentioned above, there are many different types of tours and if you prefer to stick with just your friends and family then a Private or Independent tour will work perfectly or you.