What do you Prefer? Independent vs. Escorted Tours

Two travelers can visit the same destination and have vastly different experiences depending on their travel styles and preferences. As a tour specialist, I am here to determime whether a FIT (Foreign Independent Tour) or an Escorted Tour is best for you. What does that mean? I am here to figure out what you value about traveling. Do you want to have more activities included in the package, or is having a flexible schedule more important?

Read on to learn about the difference between FIT trips and escorted travel and determine which is right for your you.

FIT is an abbreviation that refers to either “foreign independent tour” or “free independent traveler.” The key to both versions is the word independent. This means that the traveler or small group of travelers (less than 10 people) will be taking a trip that does not follow an itinerary preset by a travel supplier and will not have a set tour guide or leader. The  travel agent (myself) will create and customize an itinerary of your flights, hotels, and transportation as requested, but I will also design your trip.

For example, imagine a couple tells you they want to visit London. They ask you to book the flights, hotel, and provide them with information on the London Underground system. They want the freedom to decide each day where to go and what to see in the city. They may opt to take a tour of Westminster Abbey or the Tower of London, but they do not want to have their schedule for these activities set by the travel supplier. This type of self-determined trip is a FIT experience.

FIT travel provides travelers with the benefit of flexibility and customization that they may not experience on an escorted tour. However, it can be harder for clients to budget for a FIT trip since it will not include meals, in-destination transportation, or sightseeing costs. Creating a custom itinerary usually means more time planning and creating your perfect itinerary, but this is what I love because I can work closely with you to craft a tailor-made trip specifically for you. Ttravel agents can add excursions, sightseeing tours, and in-destination transportation if as you request it.

Escorted tours provide a more structured and inclusive option. These vacations are expertly designed, led by travel experts, and usually have preset dates and itineraries to choose from. These packages usually include the hotel, bus or rail transportation, some meals, and admission costs to the activities scheduled. Flights may also be included or available as an add-on option. In destination, your clients will join the larger group of their escorted tour, which will vary in size depending upon the supplier and the destination.

For example, imagine another couple tells you they want to visit London. They ask you to book the flights and hotel. They want to see all of the major highlights of the city, like Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. They would also like to travel to Stonehedge and a castle if possible, but they don’t want to rent a car. They feel a tour guide would add value to their experiences at these locations and plan to use one. They want to spend their evenings seeing shows in London’s West End or enjoying a relaxing meal. To give them the best chance to see and do everything on their list, you should suggest an escorted tour.

Escorted tours appeal to clients who want to see the best of a destination. The exclusive connections that tour operators have allow escorted tour groups to bypass long entrance lines and partake in experiences that are not available to the public. In many cases, these tours are fast-paced, allowing clients to see more and save time. Most tours keep evenings open and some even have free days to allow travelers to experience the destination at their leisure.

Travelers may worry that an escorted tour is more expensive than a FIT trip, but in reality, a traveler on an escorted tour is a cost-effective way to travel. Because the price of escorted tours includes transportation, admission, and usually some meals, escorted tours allow travelers to anticipate the total cost of their trip before they even leave.

Others may argue that escorted tours are only for retirees. Escorted tours cater to everyone, from millennial travelers and families to wellness travelers and foodies. For example, the Globus family of brands offers the Legacy of the Incas tour through Peru, which explore archaeological sites and traditional South American meals. The important thing to remember for agents is to match your clients to the right travel supplier and tour option to ensure they have an excellent escorted tour experience.

So how would you prefer to Tour a Destination? Independently or with an Escorted Group? Well I would love to help you out in finding the perfect tour for your interests, desires, and wants! Let’s Get Acquainted!

Laura Gibson
Destination & Tour Specialist

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