- Basic research. I usually book day tours when I arrive at my destination vs. ahead of time. We’re heading to Belize this December and I’ve already booked my Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) tour as it’s the most popular tour in Belize and the Belize Tourism Board has granted licenses to only a few operators in order to protect the cave.Everything else, I’m gonna book when we get there as I don’t want to be locked in to anything, plus in my experience, trying to get refunds or making changes can be hard when you’ve prepaid.
- Gear. You might need to buy some gear before you head off. A lot of travel blogs encourage you to buy stuff at your destination. Personally that’s not my style. Whether it’s hiking shoes or deodorant, I prefer to have my stuff and not spend time finding/shopping.It also depends on the destination. Last year on Champs-Élysées, shopping WAS the fun! But in Arenal earlier this year, I spent time in-between tours staring at the volcano from my hotel room.
- Visas, documents. Some tours include border crossings. When we went to Zimbabwe last year and did a day trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana, my husband, a Canadian, had to get a double entry visa when we arrived in Zimbabwe. If we hadn’t done our homework and bought him only a single entry visa we wouldn’t have been able to visit Chobe, which would have been a big shame as it truly is majestic!
- What language(s) is the tour given in? As a (typical) American, I assume tours are in English, but a few years ago my tour guide to the Phi Phi Islands repeated EVERYTHING he said in English…and German…and Spanish and Russian. While I was insanely impressed with our guide’s language skills, I was audibly exhausted by the end of the tour.
- Public or Private Tour? The first time I went to the Cape of Good Hope, 13 years ago, on a public tour and we made several stops along the way. I would have preferred more at time at Llandudno, and at the Cape itself. Last year, we hired a driver – and since it was a Saturday, we stopped at the Old Biscuit Mill to pick up some goodies, skipped some things, and stayed longer at others. My fav was having time to climb the rocks at the famous Cape sign and getting so close to these guys.
6. Are any meals included? Veg and vegan options? The world in general, especially tourist areas, is getting much better about dietary restrictions and veg, vegan and gluten free diets.
7. Pay with cash or credit card? Last year on my wine tour to Stellenbosch with Wine Flies, they didn’t take credit card and I didn’t have any Rand so I had to head over to an ATM. (There are lots of ATMs throughout Cape Town but I wanted to use one partnered with my US bank so I wouldn’t have transaction fees; and it turned out that one was a little bit away from my hotel).
8. Transportation. If you get sea sick, carsick etc. get your meds etc.
As the world gets smaller and info is accessible online, day trips and tours get better and better. Have a brilliant time wherever you’re headed next and please tell us if this article helped you in the comments below!