Can’t-Miss Considerations for Choosing a Travel Guide

Can’t-Miss Considerations for Choosing a Travel Guide

By Mallory Kirzinger

What does a tour guide look like to you? Someone with a sensible wide-brimmed hat, a map in hand, and an endless drone of historical facts? Or is it someone who warmly shares the intricate customs of their country, who translates for you as you make a friend out of a foreign stranger, or who diligently reminds you to stay on the trail? Your tour guide and travel operator are absolutely crucial to the experience you’ll have when you’re visiting those bucket list destinations. How do we make sure our travel treads lightly where needed and dives deep where it can?

It comes down to the tour operator and guide you book with. If you’re thinking, well, I don’t book with any guides or tours, you should! Here’s why: hiring the right local operators and guides to facilitate your travels lets you connect with your destinations on a deeper, more personal level while also making sure your travel has the most positive impact possible.

Who Should Show You Around?

You’ve landed in a foreign country. You don’t know the language, the customs, or how to say “hello.” You don’t just want to get from A to B, you want to experience firsthand what makes this place special. Where do you even start? Well, by picking the right operator.

Hire Local Guides

Whether you’re splashing out on a fully guided expedition or just looking for someone to show you the ropes before you explore on your own, try to find a local guide or hire one through local companies. Finding grassroots travel companies not only provides a more authentic experience most of the time, but it can help you stay more in tune with the social and environmental expectations of your destination. The best people to show you around are the people who live there!

Pick Guides Whose Values Match Yours

Is it really important to you that you learn about local customs and cultures from the people who practice them? Want to make sure all the plastics from your tour are recycled? Fancy a side of sustainable farming on your dinner plate each night? Find out what your guide or operator values. Whether it’s giving back to the community, leaving no trace, or travelling sustainably, tour operators have an ethos and they’re happy to share it with you. Ask if they support any initiatives or practice any principles that align with your travel values. Then, you know you’re in good company.

Explore Close To Home, Too

While we’re not saying you should cancel your cross-globe plans, we do suggest considering local adventures in addition to international ones. When was the last time you explored your own city, state, or country? Planning local adventures keeps your money in the local economy, which can bolster the travel industry in your own hometown. If there’s something worth seeing that you can reach without going too far, go see it! You’ll help keep the travel industry where you live as vibrant as possible.

How to Keep the Good Going

You had a trip you’ll never forget with an operator who went all out to show you their country. Maybe you even got to learn about the trees they plant, the donations they make, or the ecosystems they protect along the way. You’ve packed away the duffel bags and your tan is (sadly) starting to fade. Why not revisit those adventures?

Post-trip, you can help other travellers discover the same places or people you did, or you can make your impact on your destination last a little bit longer.

Shout Them Out Online

Did your guide go the extra mile to make sure you felt welcome in their country? If you had an amazing experience with a travel company, make sure you spread the word online. Good reviews, tagged photos, and mentions in your captions can help smaller local agencies get the exposure they deserve and help other travellers know who to support.

Keep in Touch with Causes

If you travelled with a company that supports certain causes, charities, or programs that spoke to you, consider staying connected to those causes. Reach out to your operator and see if they can suggest ways for you to continue to be involved, or find an organization that works to address the issues that spoke to you on your travels. The butterfly effect of travel can be an impactful thing.

Your guide is so much more than someone who strolls around spouting tidbits of information and snapping photos. The people who make your travel happen can support their communities, create connections across cultures, and advocate for the natural world, all while delivering you the experience of a lifetime. If you’re not sure how to pick the right travel partners, drop us a line. We’ve got a few things we can share.