We recently published our review of EF Go Ahead Tours and how easy and fun their group tours are and it got me thinking about how much I love multi-country trips. I love this way of traveling and thought I’d share my reasoning behind visiting multiple countries on one trip as well as what I’ve learned on these journeys.
5 reasons to book a multi-country tour with a tour company
1. You’ll experience a variety of cultures and cuisine
Not only do you see a lot, and I mean A LOT, but you also get to compare and contrast different cultures. See the similarities and differences in how each culture honors meal times, life outside of work, and romance. I love how these tours not only show you the major sites and landmarks that you simply have to see when visiting major cities, but also offers free time so you can experience the city on your own and dedicate your time to what’s important – whether that’s seeing more sites, getting lost, or living like a local.
You can also enjoy sampling a variety of cuisine and regional specialties as you make your way across the border. I loved being able to sample how the different countries use the fresh ingredients of the Mediterranean in their classic dishes on our last tour. On another multi-country trip, we traveled through the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and the United Kingdom and it was wonderful having such a variety of food, wine, and beer, depending on where we were.
2. Find out where you want to return to
Besides seeing a variety of places, you also get to figure out which destinations you want to return to in the future and spend more time there. From our last trip, we know we need to go back to Barcelona, Florence, and Rome but might not need to return to some of the other cities we visited as we did everything we could do already. These types of Europe tours open your eyes to new places and inspire you to make a repeat visit to cities you just fell in love with.
3. See smaller destinations
A lot of our travel was by bus, meaning we enjoyed some smaller stops in cities or villages I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see otherwise or probably wouldn’t have scheduled a stop in if the itinerary was fully up to me. It was a fun way to break up the big city tours and enjoy a quiet getaway in a sleepy European village.
4. Enjoy hassle-free travel
The biggest selling point for multi-country group tours is that it’s stress-free travel. All the logistics and transportation is worked out and we just get to show up, ready for some fun. Rick loves planning but I also know that trying to coordinate trains, buses, or flights between all the places we saw would have been stressful. With a group tour, all of that’s taken care of for you.
5. Have a sense of security
Another good reason to book with a tour company is the sense of security that comes with it. Should any emergency arise, you have professionals ready to help you out with your travel plans. You have a dedicated tour director who’s ready to help you out or you can reach out to customer service to assist with any issues.
What I’ve learned from multi-country travel
Over the years of traveling with groups, there are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way and some good travel tips to share with others planning multi-country tours.
Airports are the worst
It’s just a fact of life. Airports are hubs of stress and with stricter guidelines coming out, it can be harder to want to travel via air. Accept this fact and your time at the airport should be easier. Plan to get there early, especially if checking bags, and follow all the rules regarding liquids in your carry-on, pulling out your laptop from your bag, and getting loose change out of your pockets before going through the metal detector. I’m pretty sure TSA agents were pets in their last life as they seem to feed off of your emotions. The more calm, cool, and collected you are, the nicer they are. The more frazzled and stressed out you are, they’re more likely to pull you aside and go through your bags.
Go with the flow
Whether traveling on a tour or own your own, you have to be flexible. Shit happens and things don’t always go according to plan. Need to adjust your schedule for the day or push an activity to a different day? It’s cool! Relax and go with the flow.
Make every moment count
Since many of the destinations on a multi-country trip are limited to a day or sometimes even a few hours on the tour it’s important to make every moment there count. That means different things to different people, but try to maximize your time in each destination to see, do, and eat as much as you can!
Set a savings plan
Whether it’s a little bit every day, week, or month, set a schedule to set aside some money for your travel fund. It’s always good to budget a little high and come home with extra money than blowing your travel budget in the first few days. Have a bit of wiggle room with your budget or in a special savings account to cover any purchases you weren’t intending to make or going to that super fancy restaurant you just couldn’t resist. Plus, if you stick to your budget, your travel fund is that much bigger for your next big vacation!
Travel with people who are like-minded
I mean when it comes to budgeting and scheduling the day’s activities. It’s hard to travel if you’re on a tight budget and all of your travel companions are ready to throw down some cash. Your travel companions should also be similar in how much they want to see or do in a day. If one of you is go, go, go and the other wants a more relaxed itinerary, someone’s going to wind up unhappy. Make compromises and talk about the schedule and budgets ahead of time to make sure everyone’s on the same page about the getaway.
Stay comfortable and content by carrying around water, wearing comfortable shoes, having a quality day bag/purse. You might want to toss in a travel umbrella in that day bag is another good idea to not put a damper on the fun if it starts to rain. Check out the weather and research what to wear/pack for that area so you’re prepared for your visit.
Keep your itinerary organized on your phone or printed out and check it each morning if you have specific things you want to see or things you want to do to make sure you don’t forget something. Stay on top of train schedules or double check the opening hours for museums so you can stay on track with your schedule.
When visiting several countries, make it easy on yourself by packing light. If you can, try and group together places that are similar in temperature and climate and plan to rewear outfits at least twice on the trip. Nothing’s worse than having to lug a huge checked bag in 98% humidity.
Plan for the worst but hope for the best
Finally, a great saying to keep in the back of your mind is to plan for the worst but hope for the best. Traveling is wonderful but can also be unpredictable. If you’ve accepted that things might not be picture-perfect on your trip, chances are you won’t actually experience the worst on your trip!
Have any travel tips to share? Post them in the comments section below!