Travel bloggers Lesley-Staum Lewis and Ryan Grant travelled to China on our Chinese Checkers tour. Although a well-travelled couple exploring the world with their blog The Hello Series, they found the easiest and best way to travel around China was on one of our tours. Here they give their five reasons of why they would recommend a group tour.
On the face of it, booking a holiday sounds pretty easy. Find some flights, a good hotel and everything else will fall into place, right? Not always. The increase in ‘DIY vacations’ and independent travel means it can actually be quite tough to explore certain countries, but there’s an old solution out there for all of us.
Take a country like China, which boasts over nine-and-a-half million square kilometres of land for visitors to traverse – where do you start? That was the challenged we faced in 2014, when we chose the world’s fourth largest country as a destination to celebrate our graduation. The answer was a tour holiday, specifically ‘On The Go Tours’, whose two-week programme ‘Chinese Checkers‘ allowed us to get a real feel for China, and three of its major cities
1. You learn so much more
Just because our university education was over, it certainly didn’t put an end to our learning. Because of the nature of the tour, which featured three main locations, we had an expert in every city. Each of them were able to provide amazing facts about the location, making the entire trip a history lesson. The guides understand what travellers want, and are on hand to help with requests of all kinds.
2. You can overcome the language barrier
China can be tricky without knowledge of the language and, without the tour guides, we would have ended up in some very sticky situations. Even something as simple as getting a taxi can be difficult, something we found out the hard way. Your guides act not only as a source of information, but also as a map, translator and, eventually, a friend. We were taught a few handy phrases, which the locals really appreciated. We aren’t called ‘The Hello Series’ for nothing.
3. You have local know-how on your side
With our tour, we had one guide travel with us through the entirety of the trip, which was a huge advantage and saved us plenty of time and effort. Having grown up in Beijing, ‘Feng’ was full of knowledge about the city, China as a whole as well as local pastimes and habits. We were shown hidden gems which we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to find, and kept safe with the help of her advice. ‘Xiao Xuehua’ was one such recommended restaurant, and its food remains some of the best we’ve ever had.
4. You can meet and travel with new people
We were lucky enough to have a really diverse tour group, made up of a range of nationalities and ages. This meant there were always stories to tell, jokes to share and facts to learn which brought us all together. We have stayed in touch with those on the tour, who enjoyed it just as much as we did.
5. You don’t have to worry about expenses
This is arguably the most important one. Because we had to pay most of our trip in advance, the majority of our meals and experiences were already settled. This meant that once it came to our spending money, there was a big weight off our shoulders.
Choosing to book through a tour operator meant we made the most of our time in China, and we would definitely travel with On The Go through similar countries in the future.