Why I Love Walking Tours28 February 2013
Exploring a foreign country for the first time can be exciting but also overwhelming. Where do I start? Do I have enough time to see X,Y & Z in one day? What if I get lost? While I'm big proponent of traveling alone, I also believe that every now and then a guided tour is a great way to explore a city. Here's why I love walking tours:
|My guide explains the superstition behind a statue in Budapest|
The value of the info you learn for only a couple euros is completely unbeatable. Way cheaper than touring with a formal company. Also, most walking tours are free and only asked that you tip what you felt your guide deserved. The guides also understand that you're probably a poor college student and can't afford to give much, even if you wanted to.
However, don't be that jackass that splits as soon as they realize the tour is coming to an end to avoid paying. Yes, the tour is technically free but have some decency and tip at least a euro for this person that just led you around for hours. If not, you better stay to the very end and look them in the eye before you walk away with out tipping.
You help the little guy
Most of these tours aren't led by big companies. Sometimes they're just a couple people taking turns doing tours, other times it's just one person that leads tours whenever they can to make money in between classes. Either way, I feel a lot better knowing that my money is going to someone who actually needs money and not just feeding some big company.
|Grabbing the horse by the balls; a superstition that says you'll improve your skills in the bed|
There's something more pleasant about learning about a city from a local. If you can't couch surf, a walking tour is a great way to accomplish this. Most of the tour guides you'll encounter are natives or at least have spent a good amount of time there. My guide in Berlin was actually British but he had been living and studying in Berlin for some time and had such an amazing understanding of the city. He taught me so much about the city's history and was able to recommend other things to do once the tour was over.
You get to meet fellow travelers
Another great thing about walking tours is the fraternity that breeds between you and your fellow tourists. Much like a hostel common room, a walking tour allows you to meet travelers and chat. Many times I've made friends from walking tours and spent the rest of the day with them. Years later and I'm still in contact with some of these friends.