A full-service retail travel agency is not as popular in America as they are in Asia or other countries. There are a few travel agencies I’ve seen around the Bay Area, especially those located in Chinatown, Inner Richmond or Inner Sunset. They have brochures of different type of tour packages that are available. You can visit Yelp for more information to find a travel agency around your neighborhood. I would recommend going to the site to get brochures or visit their websites (if there is one) to find out what’s available that best fits your likes and needs.
For example, one that I found located in San Jose, called Sunlight Travel, they are a full service travel agency that provides and handles airport transfers, airline and hotel reservations, foreign visa, rental car reservations, resort and cruise vacations, specialty tours, etc. They offer quite a few tour packages to Taiwan. Giving one of the many tour packages they have, I want to talk about the 5 Days Taiwan Breakaway by Cathay Pacific that they offer.
Here is the price & itinerary:
Notice there are tabs that you can click to find more information. You really want to read extra careful on any policies they stated and payments that need to be made, etc.
When you first look at the itinerary, you might not have any ideas of what they are. So it would be great to take a moment to do your research and get a sense of where you’ll be going. Most of the attractions tour travel takes their groups are the attractions in the city without any doubt.
Gray Cargill, a publisher of a blog focused on solo travel talks about Solo Travel or Tour Travel? Which Adventure is Right For You? discusses the cost that you pay for tour package/tour travel verses solo travel. He stated “the tour will be more expensive than traveling independently. As a solo traveler, you can always save money by choosing less expensive hotel, food, and transportation options.” Gray is right about the cost for tour travel because it’s always for the most part far more expensive compared to something you can share with someone (friends or family) you go with or by yourself. You will have more choices to choose to meet your budget. Gray also goes on and says tour travel may be something people prefers if they like to know about the costs in advance so that they can stick to their budget and stay within when they travel. Looking at the above price charges, the airfare and hotel are included. The price is based on seasons and between adult and child. Moreover, I assume the admissions to attractions are included. This is the price range you will often see when you research for a tour package. There are also small charges that need to be made during the trip as well. So you have to think for all the possible costs and expenses that might come up during the trip.
Gray talks about companions when people go on a tour, “you will have a built-in group to socialize with”. If you like to socialize with new people, a tour may be a right choice for you to get to know the people you travel with. However, a solo travel “provides you with more time for self-reflection and solitude.” Up to this point, I still believe travel with friends and family can lower your costs and you have companion during your trip. Of course, you can always have your time alone. What I did in my previous trip was, sharing one apartment in Taipei with 5 others, friends and family and we split the cost, it was so cheap compared to staying hotels. And I like our apartment because it’s convenient to where we take the MRT and there is washer/dryer and stove.
Tour travel can be much easier when it comes to “research hotels, restaurants, activities, attractions, and transportation options” according to Gray. “Someone else does all the planning, all the booking, and transports you everywhere you need to go. You don’t even need to speak the language of the country you’re visiting. You just need to show up.” That’s very funny because that’s what I said in my previous post about a lazy way to travel. You don’t do anything. Everything has been set and you just have to follow. It will depend on what type of person you are. If you don’t want to do any research and just accompany somebody that goes on a tour, then you might just follow. You can save a lot of time from doing all these research. I however enjoy doing these research to get a heads-up of what I will be seeing or where should I go see and what’s the history, etc. about a location or types of activities. Tour leader can also give you more details about the locations as well.
Talking about safety in Gray’s article, “Safety is less of a concern when you go with a tour group.” He also said “Research ahead of time the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of your destination and pack your street smarts” if you solo travel. Well, that’s why doing a lot of research is very beneficial especially if you’re new to the country. And it’ll be much safer if you go with a tour group. Just remember to not get lost in the crowd. It can be very crowded at some attractions that you need to pay extra attention and follow your tour leader at all times. In my previous post, I mention and a leader and a follower. If you’re not someone that like to follow, then a tour travel may not be right for you.
The last point that Gray mentions is “Breadth and Depth of Experience,” it’s about the freedom and experience you get when doing a solo travel. I agree with one of the point he made is “With a tour group, you might feel rushed through some activities you’d like to spend more time on.” That’s one of the big problem I dislike about traveling with a tour group because I like to spend as much time as I like. I don’t want to be under a time pressure. A few things I want to share about tour travel that has not mentioned above is you have to wake up early and you have to pay tips to your tour leader every day.
So, which is right for you? What do you prefer? Have you planned out your trip?
Unfortunately I have difficulty searching blogs that people go on a tour and share their experiences. Most of the blogs I read are either went with friends or family or by themselves, very rare do I see people went on a tour, although, it’s not a bad idea. USA Today Travel also has some tour packages from SITA World Tours, The Oriental Caravan, Absolute Travel and Oriental Travel. Beside that, I also found an article on travel agents can give us a better deal because of the database/sources they have.
One of the old blog in 2006 from Keong, from Singapore, spent 18 days in Taiwan with his friends and made some new friends in Taiwan. He went around Taiwan and said, “will never forget the wonderful experience…having met friends that I have knew online and also made new friends…” and of course there are plenty of blogs that I read from people going with friends or by themselves to explore Taipei, like My Kafkaesque life, the blog is very interesting and informative for someone who never visit Taipei and planning to. It’s one of the many blogs I have read before I went to Taipei.
It’s so much fun to go with a lot of people. The more the merrier! So I always like the idea of going with others like friends and family, someone that you want to share a great experience with, your lover? Well, I always think everyone has different perspective and can decide which one is right for them.
It’s very interested as I bumped into some travel websites especially with this one where you can customized tour packages at Sunshine Travel to mainland China, Hong Kong and other Asia destinations such as Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. They offer flexible services giving their customers a freedom to design their own itinerary or modify the package to fit his or her specific needs. I find it very unique and special. They also offer some tour packages to Taiwan.
Another one you might be seeing is tour travel per location or perhalf day, etc.