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The Surprising Freedom of Premium Guided Travel

Don’t fear the bus!

Like most things in life, my wife talked me into it. Ten days on a bus with peo­ple I don’t know?! You’ll like it”, she said. All I could think of was dozens of sweaty tourists invad­ing kitschy gift shops. Would this be me? I mean, come on….. I am not a tourist! I am much too sophis­ti­cat­ed to be a tourist. (I’m from Stow, Ohio for good­ness sake.) Can’t we just book an Airbnb and wing it with a rental car. Isn’t that what the cool kids do? We can hang with the locals. Right?

So that’s how it start­ed, and that’s how I got hooked. It wasn’t sweaty. And it wasn’t kitschy. The bus was more like the first-class cab­in of an air­lin­er then the high school band-trip bus” I was expect­ing. The food and lodg­ing were spec­tac­u­lar. Our guide and dri­ver were incred­i­ble. Sev­er­al years lat­er, I still cor­re­spond with them, and am so grate­ful for our expe­ri­ences. Fur­ther­more, I cor­re­spond and main­tain friend­ships with the oth­er cou­ples that we trav­eled with on that trip and many oth­ers. So thanks to Susana for intro­duc­ing me to my new favorite way of dis­cov­er­ing the world and mak­ing new friends. (Note: I actu­al­ly do like pok­ing around kitschy sou­venir shops occasionally.)

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Susana with our wonderful Croatian guide (and now friend) Alan. He brought the Dalmatian Coast to life for us!

Why we love premium guided travel......

We have a lot of choic­es when we trav­el. Once we decide on a des­ti­na­tion, one of the main ques­tions is if we want to approach it inde­pen­dent­ly or as part of a guid­ed expe­ri­ence. There are a num­ber of fac­tors that go into this deci­sion, and I will cov­er a few of them below. There’s no right or wrong way to trav­el (so long as you don’t wear black tube socks).

It’s the 2020’s and guid­ed tours have got­ten pret­ty upscale and sophis­ti­cat­ed. You have an end­less vari­ety of options to choose from. Here are some key points to con­sid­er regard­ing guid­ed trav­el experiences:

  • Is this your first time at a des­ti­na­tion? If it is, you will often be bet­ter off with a guid­ed itin­er­ary to get the most out of your expe­ri­ence. If you go back to vis­it again, you will have the option to focus on some par­tic­u­lar aspect of the coun­try (region or activ­i­ty) independently. 
  • Is val­ue impor­tant to you? Guid­ed tours offer great val­ue. First of all, you are lever­ag­ing the tour company’s rela­tion­ships to get great pric­ing. Sec­ond­ly, the price you pay is usu­al­ly com­pre­hen­sive. Think about it. You are get­ting ground trans­porta­tion, lodg­ing, expe­ri­ences, guide/​concierge ser­vices (and typ­i­cal­ly meals) through­out your trip. Its great peace of mind to know that the cost of your trip is not going to take you by surprise. 
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Bringing history to life.

  • Do you val­ue stress-free trav­el? That’s not a rhetor­i­cal ques­tion. Some peo­ple like the excite­ment of fig­ur­ing it all out by them­selves. There’s noth­ing wrong with that approach, but I can assure you it is full of surprises….and not all of them good. The guid­ed expe­ri­ence does not require any logis­ti­cal con­cerns on your end. It’s easy and allows you to focus com­plete­ly on the joy of your journey. 
  • Effi­cien­cy. This word does not come up a lot in the con­text of trav­el plan­ning, but I believe it is crit­i­cal. If you have an unlim­it­ed amount of time to trav­el, then doing it on your own might make sense. The truth, how­ev­er, is that most of us have a lim­it­ed amount of time when we trav­el. It’s impor­tant that (with­out being rushed) we get the most out of our expe­ri­ences. The guid­ed approach ensures that we don’t waste time. (This fea­ture is near and dear to me when I look back at all the time and mon­ey I have wast­ed over the years in far flung places try­ing to fig­ure it out on my own.) 
  • Con­nec­tion. This word is per­ti­nent in two ways. First of all, I tru­ly val­ue the friend­ships I build with my fel­low trav­el­ers. I find that most of them share my world­view and curios­i­ty. As I men­tioned above, I estab­lish friend­ships on these jour­neys that stand the test of time. Anoth­er con­text in which con­nec­tion” is impor­tant is how you get to relate to the place you are vis­it­ing. Hav­ing that local guide” with you to serve as a bridge to local peo­ple makes all the dif­fer­ence. It offers a path to stress-free engage­ment with new places, friends, food, and cultures. 
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Lunch with new friends.

Why we choose Insight.....

There are many orga­ni­za­tions that offer guid­ed jour­neys. At Kilo­me­ter One, our pre­ferred part­ner is Insight Vaca­tions. Here are some of the rea­sons that we choose Insight for our own trav­el, as well as rec­om­mend­ing them to our clients. (Click the hyper­links in light grey to learn even more.)

  • The peo­ple. Insight is part of a trav­el fam­i­ly (The Trav­el Cor­po­ra­tion) that is over 100 years old. As a fam­i­ly owned and oper­at­ed com­pa­ny, they take excep­tion­al care in hir­ing and train­ing their team mem­bers. From the exec­u­tive team to their dri­vers and guides, they put clients first, always. Lau­rent Mil­let is a great exam­ple of the type of guide (trav­el direc­tor) that you can expect on your Insight Journey.
  • Focus on expe­ri­ences. For me, trav­el is about con­nect­ing to peo­ple and places through expe­ri­ences. That might be a cook­ing class, a vis­it to a vine­yard, or a con­ver­sa­tion with an artist. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less, but the bot­tom line is that trav­el is a 360 degree expe­ri­ence. Insight gets this and has curat­ed a world-class set of expe­ri­ences for their guests. 
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Connecting you in meaningful ways.

  • Flex­i­bil­i­ty. From group size, to dura­tion, to des­ti­na­tion, and activ­i­ty lev­els, Insight has a jour­ney tai­lored for you. Jour­neys are divid­ed into three gen­er­al cat­e­gories. Dis­cov­ery Jour­neys serve as an intro­duc­to­ry itin­er­ary. Let’s say you want to vis­it a con­ti­nent or coun­try for the first time. A Dis­cov­ery Jour­ney would intro­duce you to all of the prin­ci­pal des­ti­na­tions. Mean­while, a Region­al Jour­ney might be a per­fect itin­er­ary for your sec­ond vis­it, focus­ing on a spe­cif­ic part of the coun­try. Final­ly, the Coun­try Roads Jour­neys focus on get­ting off the beat­en path and div­ing even deep­er into spe­cif­ic regions. 
  • Com­fort. As Amer­i­cans, we are a bit ret­i­cent about bus trav­el. It starts from the begin­ning when we get stuck in school bus­es, and hon­est­ly, even our com­mer­cial bus ser­vices in the Unit­ed States can often leave some­thing to be desired in terms of com­fort. It’s a real sur­prise for us to board a bus (coach) in Europe or oth­er parts of the world. It’s a dif­fer­ent ani­mal for sure. Com­fort­able seat­ing, restrooms, enter­tain­ment, wifi, and high stan­dards of clean­li­ness cre­ate a very pleas­ant envi­ron­ment. Insight goes a step fur­ther by reor­ga­niz­ing seat­ing to pro­vide an even more com­fort­able expe­ri­ence. #Dont­FearThe­Bus
  • Great food and lodg­ing. Insight includes pre­mi­um accom­mo­da­tions in great loca­tions at all points along their itin­er­aries. (By the way, do not under­es­ti­mate the val­ue of hav­ing your tour direc­tor check you in and hav­ing your bags deliv­ered to your room at every loca­tion. No lines. No stress.) Insight also rec­og­nizes that food is often at the heart of the jour­ney, offer­ing a wide vari­ety of high qual­i­ty, authen­tic culi­nary expe­ri­ences with an empha­sis on local­ly-sourced cuisine.
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Connecting to local cuisine.

  • Final­ly, but per­haps most impor­tant­ly, is that Insight gives back glob­al­ly. Beyond their proven long-term com­mit­ment to sus­tain­able trav­el, Insight co-found­ed and gen­er­ous­ly sup­ports The Tread­Right Foun­da­tion to ensure a pos­i­tive impact on many of the areas that their guests vis­it. When we make deci­sions about trav­el, it’s impor­tant that we sup­port orga­ni­za­tions like Insight that are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. #Make­Trav­el­Mat­ter

These are just a few of the rea­sons that we love Insight. Let us know how we can help you select your next Insight Journey!