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7 advantages of guided tours for first-time travelers

Aug 23, 2021 by Emily Houston

Who out there dreams of seeing the world, but doesn’t quite know how to travel internationally for the first time? Well, meet traveler Lydia. She set off to Europe for the first time on our London, Paris & Rome trip and came home ready to spread the word about the benefits of group tours for your first time abroad. Check out why she loved going guided, and why you will, too!


1. You’ll have an expert Tour Director leading the way

Ask anyone who’s gone on a guided tour about the top benefits of traveling in a group for the first time and we bet they’ll give a glowing recount of the guides. They help you not just see, but discover each destination you visit.

“I loved the Tour Director—he made everything so easy,” said traveler Lydia. “It was very nice to have that knowledge and to have somebody there with us at each place to help. It wasn’t just like, ‘Here’s your tickets. Go and figure it out.’ He even got us into a cab and was talking to the cab driver in French! I feel like he was always there when we needed him. It just made the whole experience.”

In addition to the expert Tour Director included on every trip, you’ll have local guides to lead you on sightseeing tours in each destination. “That introduction to the places that we were going to was so helpful,” said Lydia. “I really loved that we knew what we were looking at when we were walking around. It just made the experience so much more real to us.”

Tips for first time international travel: While your Tour Director is there to give amazing recommendations for what to see, do, and eat on tour, the guides who lead your sightseeing tours are also a great resource. Since they live in the places you’re exploring, they have hyper-local expertise and tips to offer!


2. It’s a great way to celebrate a special occasion

Are you waiting for that perfect time to finally plan your first trip out of the country? Follow traveler Lydia’s lead and plan your getaway around a birthday or anniversary—or both! “I knew for my 40th birthday I wanted to go to Europe and my husband and I were also celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary that year,” said traveler Lydia. “We had dinner reservations in the Eiffel Tower on my 40th birthday.”

Going abroad is already a special occasion, but planning it around a special event gives you even more of an excuse to treat yourself to a splashy night out or unique experience, which makes the trip even more memorable. Plus, one of the benefits of guided tours for your first time abroad is that your Tour Director can help you make reservations so you can bring those special moments to life.

“It just blew me away that we were even there, that I was able to make this trip happen. I’ve always wanted to be at the Eiffel Tower. Not only was I there, but I was having dinner up there. I got all dressed up and that was the best way to spend my 40th birthday. All I needed was fireworks to happen! That was my best memory, in addition to being able to spend time with my husband.”


3. You have a team to help you plan your perfect itinerary

One of the advantages of guided tours for first-time travelers is that you can work with our Tour Consultants to compare and contrast each itinerary to find the one that fits your interests and price range. Being able to work with an expert to get personalized travel recommendations is a nice perk. Plus, our Tour Match quiz makes it fun and easy to find a tour that fits your interests.

“I already knew for sure it was going to be Paris,” said traveler Lydia. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be the London, Paris & Rome tour I chose, because Go Ahead had so many different options for trips to Paris.”

If you’re like Lydia, you may want to visit additional places before or after your tour. You can easily tack any location on to your trip. Plus, you won’t have to worry about making sure your flights fit your travel plans when you book your airfare with us. “Every time I called, your team said, ‘Sure, just let me know where you’re going and the dates that you need to get in,’” said traveler Lydia. “We went to Amsterdam first and then we went to Scotland and then we started our tour in London. Then, at the end of our trip Go Ahead flew us back from Barcelona, which we flew to after the tour ended in Rome.”

Tips for traveling abroad for the first time: Want to extend your trip, but still want the expert guidance of your Tour Director? Add the extension! Daily breakfast, transportation, and hotels are included, too.


4. Affordable payment plans keep your budget intact

When you book with AutoPay, our interest-free payment plan, you’ll lock in your spot on tour for $99 and monthly payments will automatically come out of your account on a date that works for you. This makes it easy to budget for a vacation if you’re thinking about how to travel internationally for the first time. “I can’t just be flying everywhere I want to. I have kids. We have work,” said traveler Lydia. “I had to make sure, if I’m going to set this up, it’s going to fit and that’s what Go Ahead offered with a payment plan. It’s so easy!”

One of our best tips for traveling internationally is to download the trusty EF Go Ahead Tours app. You can view your flights and hotel info without WiFi, see your tour information instantly upon booking, and make safe and secure payments—which Lydia loved. “Closer to the trip, somebody contacted me saying we can go on the app and make payments and that was like, ‘Oh, sweet!’” said Lydia. “As a person who doesn’t travel, I think what helped the most was the options that Go Ahead gave to set up my itinerary and pay for my tour.”

Best tips for traveling internationally: Not only is AutoPay the easiest way to pay off your trip, it’s also the most affordable. That’s because we’ll automatically extend your final payment date when you enroll. You’ll have about two more months to spread out your payments, making each of your monthly payments smaller.


5. You’ll get to skip all the lines

Yes, you read that correctly. Of all the group travel benefits for your first time abroad, getting a fast pass to enter iconic sites like the Colosseum and the Vatican may just top the list.

“We did the Vatican tour and my friends happened to be in Rome at the same time, so we met them for dinner and they were like, ‘What did you guys do today?’” said traveler Lydia. “We’re like we did this, we did that, we did this. She was just like, ‘What the heck! I’ve been here a week and I haven’t even done that. It took me a whole day to get through the Vatican!” “I was like well, because our tour guide had this VIP badge they got to walk right in and bypass lines.”

Not only does skipping the lines actually make you feel like a VIT (very important traveler), it means you spend less time standing around and more time seeing the sites that inspired you book your trip in the first place. “Whatever special passes Go Ahead has going on where you wave your magic wand or badge, [it makes it so] you fit everything in. I didn’t have to sit there and waste time. It’s the ease of doing everything you want. All you have to do is have good walking shoes and water!”


6. The peace of mind you get makes the trip more enjoyable

We know that planning your first international trip can be overwhelming. You have to pick where to stay, which flights to take, how you’re going to get around, and so much more. Or do you? One of the benefits of group travel for first-time travelers is the fact that hotels, flights, and transportation are included. You’ll spend 0% of your time figuring out logistics and 100% of your time enjoying yourself in your destination.

“You have the fear of going someplace and everything falling apart,” said traveler Lydia. “Go Ahead has that itinerary so it was the peace of mind of knowing I’m going out of the country and everything is taken care of. You get to go on vacation and be stress-free. Sometimes you can’t do that. I feel like Go Ahead offered that piece of mind. I truly, truly got to enjoy the vacation.”


7. It’s the easiest way to start seeing the world

Anthony Bourdain once said, “Travel isn’t a reward for working, it’s an education for living.” This is Lydia’s travel motto—and her tour made it easy for her to put these words into action, even as a busy adult. “People are probably looking at me like, ‘How are you doing all this? You’re supposed to do that when you’re retired!’” said traveler Lydia. “I love making memories now. I’m not going to wait until I’m old and can’t walk around and do stuff. So, if you can make it happen, make it happen.”

One of the greatest advantages of traveling in a group for the first time is that you have a team of people to lean on as you make travel happen. From the Tour Consultant who answers your questions when you start researching trips to the Tour Director who leads you on tour, you’ll have a team of people cheering you on and helping you out every step on the way.

“I remember walking up to the Eiffel Tower that night when we arrived and I was like I can’t believe I’m standing here in my life. I’m 40 years old. I know it took me a long time, some people can travel there anytime they want to, but the fact that I made it there I was just like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ I just took it all in.”

Like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram to connect with first-time travelers and hear more about the benefits of group travel from experienced explorers.

About the author | Emily Houston
Emily loves the simple travel moments—like watching hours pass by in minutes while sharing a meal and a laugh (or many) with her friends and family. Outside the office, you'll find Emily listening to anything and everything John Mayer, attempting to cook a New York Times recipe, or dreaming up her next trip.

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