Friday, December 8, 2023

Who Books a Travel Tour?! Women Just Like You, That’s Who! We Look at this Growing Trend, the Misconceptions of Tours – Plus Where You Should Go!

In partnership with Trafalgar

If you’ve turned your nose up at the idea of travelling on a tour in the past, we’re here to tell you that it might just be time to rethink some of those views you have – chances are, you might just have outdated misconceptions about what it’s really like!

You could really be missing out on an experience of a lifetime – the numbers of Kiwi women, just like you, going on travel tours overseas are skyrocketing and are only set to increase in 2024. In the next 12 months, 43% of Kiwis are planning on travelling – and 24% of them are considering a tour. That’s nearly half a million Kiwis. Maybe they’re onto something?

I don’t know about you but when I used to think of tours, my mind would immediately conjure up images of great hordes of travellers at overcrowded tourist destinations, all wearing bum-bags and sensible walking shoes, mindlessly following around a woman yelling out information, holding high above her head a ribbon tied to a stick.

It wasn’t until I went on one with Trafalgar (AND found myself in a pretty small group, where I never followed someone waving an upturned umbrella with a ribbon tied to it!) that I realised I had completely the wrong impression of tours.

A tour – particularly a Trafalgar tour, who are the world’s most awarded and loved travel company – can give you an entirely different view of a destination to what you can map out for yourself. Whether that means getting the chance to visit a home or small business of a local who has an incredible story to tell (or an unbelievably good meal to share!), or getting to jump the queue when visiting a well-known spot or having an expert show you round (we’re talking a Vatican visit outside of hours, or a tour of Versailles and its grounds with an expert here!) – you’ll see another side of your destination that will make you feel like an insider, rather than a tourist.

There’s that, plus there’s the people you’ll meet on your tour. I distinctively remember the first night of the Trafalgar tour I took to Turkey. Our tour director told us to take a look around, because some of the people in that room were about to become our life-long friends. Pah! I rolled my eyes I was so skeptical. We were only away for a week! My purpose of being there wasn’t to make friends! Did I even need any more friends in my life?

Well it’s now nine years since I took that magnificent tour, and I still regularly keep contact with three women from that trip. They all live a long-haul flight away, and yet, I’ve seen two of them in person in the years since – one of them even sent me a little onesie when my son was born. The experiences we had together bonded us, from watching the sun rise in Cappadocia, to walking amongst the graves at Gallipoli, to making bread in the homes of the incredible women in Demircidere, to roaming the spice markets in Istanbul – there were simply too many highlights!

Trafalgar’s Oceania Managing Director Toni Ambler says it’s those connections you make that can be one of the most rewarding and beautiful parts of taking a Trafalgar tour, but they’re also often something you weren’t expecting – or even had on your wishlist!

“Pre-sale, a lot of people will say, ‘I don’t need new friends’, or ‘I don’t need new connections’ but it’s not until you go that you realise how much more it enhances the travel experience,” she says.

A fair few of the people who sign up for a Trafalgar tour, are solo travelers – many who, in our post-pandemic world, are looking for a bit more security and support whilst also having an authentic, immersive travel experience. Toni says the bulk of Trafalgar travelers are aged somewhere between 40 and 65, although it’s difficult to pin down your typical Trafalgar traveler. “You’ll see couples and solo travelers in that age range, then you’ll see intergenerational families – maybe the grandparents, parents and teenage kids – last week we had a group in Japan that had four or five 26-year-olds on it,” says Toni.

Trafalgar also has some family friendly itineraries, that are specifically designed for children. “I think a lot of parents want to do Europe, but how do you get around with an eight-year-old and a 10-year-old? Trains and Ryanair flights doesn’t sound appealing!” she says. “We have small family trips, that have inclusions specifically designed for children, like one to Italy where they have a kid’s gladiator Colosseum experience and make pizzas in one of the little towns. All of the kids make friends and play with each other – it’s wonderful.”

Buuuuut, why do I need to go on a tour? Can’t I just Google where to go?

When you’ve never been on a tour before, it can sound like a daunting decision. How do you know what you’re going to get for your money?!

“We talk about it in terms of tangibility and intangibility in the travel world,” says Toni. “You spend $2,500 on an airfare, and you know what you’re getting from it: you know you’ll get a seat, a couple of movies, a meal, and you’ll get from A to B. Hopefully you won’t get delayed or have any other fiascos, but it’s reasonably tangible in that you know what you’re getting. Whereas, when you buy a tour for the first time, there are so many unknowns! So much of the magic dust happens on tour and it’s so hard to communicate. The people you’ll meet, the impact the tour director will have, the Be My Guest experiences… it’s not until you go that you realise how much more it locks in terms of seeing the destination.”

Trafalgar offers a number of points of difference on their trips – there’s the bucket list sights or adventures that everyone wants to tick off (44% of Kiwi travelers want to tick something off the bucket list in the next year!) which Trafalgar can enhance with their VIP access. Or, there’s the more immersive experiences that allow you to really experience and see a different side of your destination.

Trafalgar offers ‘Stays with Stories’ which are accommodation stays that are more than just a bed in a local hotel – instead they’re an important piece of the local heritage. Dotted along the itinerary you’ll find these stays that range from centuries-old castles, to historical homesteads that you won’t find on your regular travel websites to book in for the night!

There’s also their ‘Make a Difference’ program, which strives to make a difference globally, locally and individually. It means your choice in travelling with Trafalgar not only brings you closer to the local communities in the regions they visit, but you support individuals and families by supporting their unique crafts or traditional trades that means their businesses (and unique skills) can live on for years to come.

And as Toni mentioned, one of the star attractions of a Trafalgar tour is the Be My Guest experiences. These are entirely unique to Trafalagar and every single tour involves at least one of the experiences. Trafalgar team members spend years researching their destinations and making local connections which result in these incredible experiences – you’ll be invited in by the local community who will welcome you into their homes and share their stories, sometimes through food. They’re unforgettable experiences – I know I’ll never forget my experience sitting around the table out in the remote hills in Turkey!

It’s a completely different experience to what has become the norm for a lot of us – scouring the internet for where to go, arriving at the airport, jumping in an Uber, heading to an Airbnb and then visiting a few places, cafes or attractions that got high ratings on Tripadvisor. Toni says that form of travel is really just scratching the surface of a destination, and really, that common way we travel now can really be quite lonely.

“Having that connection to other people has become even more important in a post-pandemic world,” says Toni. “We’re seeing people coming back in droves – I think, because touring as a category has never been more relevant.”

So, where should we go?

Ok, so with Trafalgar, you can basically go anywhere. Whether it’s joining a family to dine and dance at their Greek olive and wine farm, taking a trek on the Inca Trail or experiencing an African safari, you’re spoilt for choice. You can pick your holiday by destination (eg. Europe & Britain or Latin America), by theme (eg. Active Travel Tours, Food Travel or Castles & Knights Tours!), by group type (eg. Women only tours or solo tours) or season (eg. Summer holidays or Christmas holidays & festival tours). There’s so much to choose from.

Right now, Europe is where most Kiwis are booking in for a Trafalgar tour, with the top five destinations currently being Italy, England, Spain & Portugal, Greece and France (in that order!).

For a taste of a Trafalgar tour, here’s a look at the three of their tours to the current top three destinations for Kiwis! Oh, and it’s on sale right now!

Here are the details:

11 Day Italy Tour of Rome, Capri, Venice and Florence

Offer: Save 10%* on select 2024 departures

From the canals of Venice to Rome’s Colosseum and the colourful hillsides of the seaside Cinque Terra, Italy is a classic. Shop Florence’s produce markets before making pasta with a Tuscan chef. Taste Chianti at a family-run winery, relive the renaissance among Rome’s masterpieces and wander the ruins of Sicily. This is the real Italy.  

MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Spotlight: Laboratorio Guiditta Brozetti Museum and Workshop

  • Guests visit Laboratorio Guiditta Brozetti Museum and Workshop and meet Marta Cucchia, owner and fourth-generation atelier at one of the last remaining hand weaving studios in Italy. Hear first-hand as she shares the history of the workshop, how she is continuing in the footsteps of her entrepreneurial great-grandmother and exactly how their work ensures the preservation of an iconic local Umbrian craft.
  • Actively contributes to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality and Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.

11 Day UK Tour of England and Scotland

Offer: Save 10%* on select 2024 departures

Explore the Best of Britain on this incredible trip across England, Scotland and Wales, and travel over the sea to the Isle of Skye. Imagine life as a Benedictine monk at Buckfast Abbey, feel the hope of brave pilgrims in Plymouth and be inspired by the beauty of Lake Windermere.

Spotlight: Meet the Dyer family for lunch on their 15th century dairy farm

  • Visit Somerset for an unforgettable experience with Ian and Ann Dyer who are your warm Be My Guest hosts on their modern-day dairy farm, where guests will get to see the ancient manor which was mentioned in the Domesday book of 1085.
  • The Dyers both hail from old farming families and you’ll learn what life is like in the rural countryside and the historical significance of their home as you Connect With Locals over a lunch featuring family favourites prepared by keen cook, Ann.

Spain & Portugal

13 Day Spain & Portugal Tour of Madrid, Granada, Seville and Lisbon

Offer: Save 10%* on select 2024 departures

A round-trip featuring all the highlights of Spain and Portugal. Spend time in the pilgrimage centre of Fátima, join a family on their stud farm in the Alentejo and explore the icons left behind by Catholic kings and Moorish sultans.

Spotlight: Lunch with Tiago and Vera in beautiful Alentejo

  • Saddle up for a superb stud farm visit, the tragic story of unrequited love and a traditional home-cooked Be My Guest lunch with Tiago and Vera in Portugal’s beautiful Alentejo.
  • This Be My Guest experience takes place in the home of their ancestors before we continue to Évora for a guided sightseeing tour.

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