How To Get A Tour Without "Getting A Tour”

in #travel2 years ago

Let’s just get this out in the open: I’m a tour hater. I hate tours. The one time I took a tour, I ended up running away from the tour guide because he wouldn’t let me roast marshmallows on the volcano lava!!!!

WHO TAKES THAT JOY AWAY FROM A PERSON?!?

The tour guide was obviously a sadist dictator in disguise, posing as a democratic “tour leader.”

This tour was in Guatemala for the sole purpose of roasting marshmallows over some hot lava flowing out of a volcano.


(the lava wasn't super visible that day)

The tour leader then unexpectedly and randomly took a vote in the middle of the tour to ask who wanted to roast mallows, and who wanted to walk on the other side of the volcano for some random purpose that made no sense to me.

I thought I signed up for the marshmallow tour!

Unfortunately, I was outvoted because people are crazy these days, and I had to run away and escape when no one was looking.

I HAD to roast the marshmallows. It was a bucket list item and it was just begging me to check it off the list.

So whether or not I would get lost trying to navigate that volcano on my own and die a lonely death or not, I would go try to find the marshmallow lava-roasting spot.

It worked out for me in the end. Some other guides were nice enough to let me hang around their tours because I was “lost.”

I roasted those mallows, good, man.

Anyway, so that’s my mini-rant of one example of why I typically prefer to go at it on my own rather than take a tour.

I want to do what I want when I want. I can’t help it. It’s MY trip, after all.

A lot of times, it’s just a matter of being brave enough to step out into the unknown and go on the adventure on your own.

Sure, it takes a little extra time to plan (or not plan, depending on how you’re feeling that day).

But to me, it’s worth it…

…because I always save a LOT of money and I end up having fun adventures that I feel I wouldn’t have otherwise if I had to go on the schedule a group.

Sometimes I take a tour, but mostly I go on my own.

It really depends what country you’re in how you go about it.

So, let’s get to how to “get a tour” without paying high tour prices.

Let's start with Bali, for example, since I’m here right now.

I’ve driven to Ubud and spent a couple of days there doing all of the tourist things that people pay hundreds for. I saved money by spending about $4 for gas and maybe another $5 for various entrance fees.

Sometimes I don’t want to drive a motorbike, though. Or I want to go with several friends so we can go places together.

In Bali, it’s VERY easy to hire a private driver for the day or to get a grab. I recommend going with the driver unless you’re just getting dropped off and don’t need to be picked up again.

Grab (Asian Uber) is great and the most cost-effective, but it’s not allowed in some cities. So you can get a little stranded sometimes when you end up in places and unexpectedly can’t get back!

To find a private driver, all you have to do is creep around on facebook for a bit.

If you’re in Canggu, in one of the neighboring towns, your biggest source of information for anything you need is “Canggu Community.”

This group isn’t for the faint of heart, though. I will say, the community is so full of trolls that it makes reading posts more fun and popcorn-worthy than a Netflix movie on a Friday night.

Another source, if you’re a girl, is “Canggu Nomad Girls” group on FB.

If you use the search bar, you can find lots of drivers in Canggu Community who have previously offered their services and listed their rates.

If you make your own post…do NOT use the word “taxi mafia.”

I repeat!

Do NOT mention the taxi mafia.

Things get ugly.

Anyway, I’ve found 2 amazing go-to drivers through FB and it’s been one of the best things for touring around Bali without actually getting a tour.

The drivers are so used to taking people to tourist destinations, that they will literally help you create an itinerary if you don’t know what to do.

When my friend came to visit, I mentioned that I wanted to go to Ulun Danu Water Temple and also have her try “cat poop” coffee.

My driver ended up saying "HEY you can also go to the rice fields that you wanted to go to because they’re nearby each other. We can even squeeze in a visit to a local market!”

Ok, well sign me up, you fun driver, you (my driver is hilarious and makes poop jokes with us).

It’s the same price either way.

You can negotiate the price with them and if you go with a group of people, you can often easily get away with a day’s worth of travel (essentially guided by a local) for about $8-$10 per person.

So that’s how I “get a tour without a tour” in Bali.

How to get a “tour” In places like Central America, or any country really.

In Central America, there are so many buses that it’s easy to hop on yourself if you’re not too afraid of accidentally maybe taking a wrong bus (so far hasn’t happened to me).

If you befriend a local and bring them along, then hey, you kind of have a tour there as well.

I’ve also hired random locals off of the street to take me around for a day or go to markets and haggle for me/ Locals always get better deals! Even if your haggling skills are on point.

Usually, they end up more than paying for themselves with how much they save you along the way, plus you end up getting a new friend to hang out with and give you a local perspective! It’s such a better cultural experience that way, in my opinion.

Just make sure that whatever it is you want to do, it’s legal to do without a tour guide!!!

I wanted to go to Hong Soon cave in Vietnam on my own and thankfully researched it enough to find out that it was illegal to do on my own and I’d be in MAJOR major trouble if I’d attempted to do it.

So… how about you? Do you prefer to take tours and have something done-for-you so that you can relax? Or do you like traveling on your own? Are you brave enough to take local buses ad transport? Lemme know!

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Lot of truth there. We also did not like when the tour should last whole day and guide push you waking up at 7am so "you arrive early" and at the end whole tour finishes at 3pm and your guide has half day off paid for.
With all the info available out there it is best to plan your own trip and learn something more in the process. We also enjoy it better at the end, when some kind of effort must be put into the research.
Also befriending a local is always great idea, there are helpful, nice people everywhere...

Yeah I agree!!! Plus you just end up with more possibilities of being able to be spontaneous AND you don't have to be somewhere by 7 am haha which is always a bonus for me (not a morning person lol).

Ah, I know I'm being super super super super super pedantic... but it's impossible to die a lonely death when you have marshmellows on you. Not only are they delicious friends themselves, but literally all people and creatures will find you and be your friend... at least until the bag runs out.

We took a tour at the Grand Canyon, and it was super expensive. The group was really nice and the guide was awesome... but the rest of the group was also older, and by the 2nd day were already repeating their stories.. which, ah, is less fun than it sounds. In hindsight, we probably would have had a funnerer time taking on the canyon ourselves and spending that tour money on literally anything else.

We've taken the chicken buses all over Central America and they were always awesome and easy and terrifying and amazing. We found everyone pretty nice... even the machine-gun official government teenagers guarding the ATMs.

So, in summary, I'm with you. Say no to sadistic dictator tour guides!

LOL! If I ever find myself dying, I'm going to grab a bag of marshmallows and wave them in the air and yell "COME AND GET IT!" Just to make sure. And I'll only feed them one at a time slowly so someone has to stay by my side until the bag is empty. Maybe I'll get 10 bags lol.

YES! I agree about the chicken buses!!! Fun and exciting and horrible and wonderful!! I remember one time I sat down in one and the seat just fell completely through because it was old hahaha (pretty sure I wasn't fat at the time).

But I have smiley pictures with locals on chicken buses and fun crazy kids that I've met on them. Always an adventure!! I'm so glad someone else is a chicken bus fan.

I think we should make "say no to sadistic dictator tour guides" into a tshirt!

I prefer to discover things on my own, on the other hand that sometimes might leave you a bit clueless. But the adventure is there for sure!

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I'm totally with ya there @sjennon!

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