Don’t Look Like a Dork & 9 Reasons to Hire a Tour Guide

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When the GuideAdvisor crew travelled to California recently to meet and interview guides, we realized quite quickly why hiring a guide is such a good idea. Most of the time we were relying on our smart phones to get us around and, unfortunately, we learned they ain’t that smart. It was staggering the number of times we got lost because of Siri’s insistence that we turn left at a right-turn-only intersection (for example). Of course, Siri wasn’t to blame for it all. There was some human error as well, such as when GuideAdvisor editor Vince ignored the detailed directions Los Angeles guide Yuriy Altshul gave us and insisted he knew exactly how to get to the Hollywood sign. We ended up being 30 minutes late for that meeting because we got lost.

This led to a discussion about why hiring guides is a good thing. Granted, there are those out there who think they can do just as good a job as any guide with their own ingenuity, smarts and smartphones, but ultimately they’re going to spend more time trying to figure things out and less time actually seeing and doing things. Here are 10 reasons why everyone should hire a guide.

1. Don’t look like a Dork

Face it. Nothing makes you look more dorky than holding up a map on a street corner. Oh, you use an app, you say? You still look like a dork holding your smartphone up to the sky and muttering, “It says it’s here somewhere.” Spend less time staring at a map and more time seeing the sites with the help of a guide who’s sense of direction is way better than Siri’s.

2. Roll like a VIP

With a savvy guide you’ll get the goods on your locale as if you were walking the red carpet to the best spots. Want to venture into the back kitchens of a famed chef or see the archives at a renowned art museum? Good luck without a guide. Skip the lines and travel VIP style.

3. Avoid Unsightly Wrinkles

Keep your adventuring spirit in top form and avoid new wrinkles by letting someone else sweat the details for you. Spending hours gathering info for your Excel spreadsheet that lists hours of operation is a waste? Live a little. Actually, live a lot! Let a professional deal with the little things so you can soak up the good times.

4. Uncover Real Hidden Gems

You know how every guidebook and pamphlet seems to describe their recommendations as “hidden gems”or “off the beaten path”? Then you get there and you’re in a crowd of other people holding the same guidebooks and brochures? Guides make the words “hidden gem” mean something.

5. Research is for Nerds

Skip scrolling through endless blogs, Yelp pages, guidebooks, and articles. With all the resources out there, finding a great taco or a gallery with local art can require the equivalent of reading through an entire phone book. Curated travel by a good guide skips that hassle so you can spend more time zip-lining or sipping a Mai Thai at the pool than bookmarking pages. Traveling to a new place shouldn’t feel like you are studying for a midterm. Relax. Let your professor-like guide take care everything.

6. Presto! Instant Local!

Learn what “finna” means or why you keep hearing people say “730.” Guides can explain local slang like nobody’s business. You can even ask them how to pronounce weird-sounding street names so you’re not caught red-handed calling Duboce Street “dewbochee.” (You’ll know it’s “dewbows.”) Hire a guide when you first arrive in an area and they’ll help you prepare for the rest of your stay.

7. Miss the Traps

Not everything dubbed a “must-see” follows through on that promise. Running from one postcard stand to another isn’t authentic anywhere. Guides won’t lead you astray – you’ll see the genuine must-sees and steer clear of the wannabes.

8. Make new Friends

OK, maybe you’re not looking for a new pen pal, but after a good tour you’re certain to have made a new bud. You’ll have a good crew to explore with, and unless you have some unresolved personality disorder, there’s a good chance you’ll meet locals who are totally excited to tell you about their favourite breakfast hideouts and drinking holes.

9. Get the Full Two Scoops

Ever wonder about the back story of a street name or why there’s a Victorian house squeezed between two modern buildings? Get the full scoop (two scoops!) by taking in great stories that make up each place from a guide who relishes sharing the tales. No matter what your background is, chances are your ancestors were into verbal storytelling and there’s a reason – it’s way better than TV, audio guides and books.

10. Save Time

How can you squeeze in four restaurants all before lunch? A food tour can give you samples from the best kitchens and introduce you to the chefs and their crew. By the time your tour is over you’ll be the consummate know-it-all about the area, and have packed in more tastes, sights and stories than you could ever do on your own.

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