8 Qualities of a Top Tour Guide

By John Teng

1. They make want to move to their part of the world! The mere fact that you are taking a tour of some part of the world means that you obviously have some natural curiosity about the place, but it’s a totally different feeling to feel the urge to want to come back again and find a place to live there. A tour guide who brings that type of love for their native country to the tour is bound to rub off on you during your visit.
2. They have high ratings reviews on reputable tour guide locator services. My wife used a tour guide website called Viator www.viator.com to find a small tour guide company to take our family of 6 on an amazing tour of the Cotswold’s region outside of London England and it was one of the most amazing tour experiences that we ever had.
3. They are flexible. You may have started your tour with a specific agenda that you had in mind, but as you see something interesting along the way, you might want to spend more time there or slightly change course to see something that you had not considered until then. I have always appreciated the willingness of a tour guide to customize the tour experience for me. Yes, everyone must be conscious of time constraints when plans change, but a top tour guide will let you know what is and isn’t possible to fit in to your revised tour plans in order to get you back to the drop off point at the agreed upon time.
4. They charter small vans instead of a large bus. I’m not saying that you won’t get a top tour guide if you take a large bus full of other tourists, but what I am saying that a top tour guide has the ability to shine at what they do when they only have a small van full of passengers to share the day with. A van can fit into tighter parking spaces, narrower roadways, can make tighter turns when you want to go back to see something interesting that you just drove by. Your experience will be so much more comfortable, flexible, and efficient.
5. They speak your language. It is one thing for your tour guide to be knowledgeable about your tour location, buts it’s an entirely different thing for them to be able to clearly communicate that love and knowledge to you. Whatever language you speak, make sure that your tour guide at least proficiently speaks that language as well. Here’s another reason why taking a customized van tour beats the bus. Sometimes a talented tour guide has no choice but to translate in to two or more different languages, depending on the languages spoken by the tourists. I’ve been on buses where I only got ½ of a tour because half the time the guide had to translate his comments into another language.
6. They don’t take you to their uncle’s rug store for 2 hours of your precious tour time. This happened to me during a trip to the country of Turkey. The whole experience was carefully orchestrated with food and drink to loosen everybody up and then the next thing I knew, a bunch of men started rolling out rugs and telling us how much they cost. I suggest that you do a little research before your trip on shopping areas that you want to visit during your tour and then make it clear where you want to stop. If they insist on a specific store you just have to visit, know that you’re probably going straight to the “Uncles Rug Shop” so the tour guide can get an extra commission from any of your souvenir purchases.
7. They have a plan B. Unexpected weather conditions, road construction, political unrest are just a few variables that can cause a predetermined tour schedule to go awry. If you are taking a cruise to your destination, cruise ship delay (due to customs, immigration, traffic congestion) at the destination port, issues at There are a lot of reasons why your originally schedule tour will have to change course.
8. They are most likely not just sitting outside your hotel outside your hotel or outside your cruise ship holding a sign waiting for you to hire them. Yes you want to have an adventure while on vacation, but potentially getting kidnapped and held for ransom should not be on your tour agenda. If your cruising, the ships have long term relationships with certain tour companies at each port, and the last thing those tour companies want to do is anything that would jeopardize that relationship. Yes, you are probably going to pay more for going through the cruise lines to pay for the tour, but as far as I’m concerned, the safety is worth it!

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