Gems Of Knowledge: Why it pays to take a guided tour 

Have you ever been on a guided tour when the person leading it makes the experience even more impressive than you expected? An experienced tour guide provides unique information, fascinating stories and, if you’re lucky, some extra gems of local insight along the way. 

Whatever tour, experience or attraction that you’re planning to enjoy, from walking in London or a private chauffeured experience to Stonehenge, investing in a guide can be worth every penny. This article explores the many benefits of organising a guided tour.

Why take a guided tour?

Listening to expert knowledge 

If you’ve been longing to visit somewhere for ages, there are many benefits from having a tour guide either privately or as part of a group. While you can certainly visit a new place alone, having an experienced guide can boost the overall experience. You can tap into their extensive experience and listen to their in-depth knowledge about a sight’s history, culture, characters and unique facts. 

Your guide can offer the correct context and background details you can’t get from a book or audio tour. In addition, if English isn’t your first language, it’s possible to book a multilingual tour to ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the key facts or interesting stories. A seasoned guide will also be pleased to share insider tips and point out things you might otherwise miss or be totally in the dark about. 

Championing people and places

With a guide by your side, you can celebrate iconic stories about extraordinary people who have championed a cause or left an incredible impression somewhere. If you’re someone who loves absorbing historical facts or touring Windsor Castle to find out more about the UK Royal Family, a guide can be the gift that keeps on giving. 

If you are following an itinerary or searching for a unique venue in London to celebrate a milestone birthday or special event, timing can often be important. Therefore, you might want to plan a day trip or organise a private guided tour for your friends and family so that it ties in with a certain date. Perhaps you’re organising a hen-do in London, or a spooky trip to Highgate Cemetery at Halloween. It might be that you’re hoping to travel to Paris for when the city hosts this year’s summer Olympics. 

You might be on a tour that coincides with a unique date in the year, such as International Women’s Day, celebrated every March. If this is the case, don’t be shy about asking your guide about pioneering women from the past or present who left an indelible imprint on a landscape, or contributed to that particular attraction you’re visiting. There are some impressive female ‘Tour Guide Goddesses’ currently working at many incredible historic venues throughout the UK. 

Providing a unique local perspective 

A talented guide will likely enrich your tour experience with fascinating details, unforgettable stories, and historical facts that you possibly wouldn’t be a party to on your own. They often have a personal passion for a place or particular subject. Perhaps they are a trained archaeologist showing you around Stonehenge or a former history teacher. If so, they might be happy to share all their historical nuggets and be experts on Victorian England. Often, they are part-time students and great communicators who are brilliant at describing a typical Roman lifestyle on a tour of Bath. 

Therefore, a talented and charismatic tour guide can make an attraction come to life. They invite you to step back in time and walk in the shoes of the people’s lives or the places you are exploring. 

Making a tour entertaining and educational

Rather than the tour (or field trip), you were forced to take at school, having the freedom to choose a world-famous place or attraction you are desperate to see makes going on any tour extra special. If you are fortunate, a guide at the Wartime London experience might share your passion for war history. In this case, they will be happy to highlight the shrapnel damage still visible on buildings today and explain how the Blitz shaped the capital. In this way, a tour guide can give the experience an incredible educational value

With the tour guide’s personal anecdotes left out of the general boards or printed information, a guide’s own well-researched version of what happened where and to whom on a guided tour might be the best explanation. In addition, tour guides are experienced at reading their crowd and tailoring their talks and points of interest to the people in a group. If, for instance, there are only adults around, you might hear some extra bits and snippets that aren’t for children’s ears. On your visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace, it will be intriguing to be told that Anne Hathaway was 26 years old and pregnant with their first child when she married William (who was only 18 years old). 

Saving time, safeguarding and practical support

Many of you will appreciate the feeling of excitement when you travel and the growing expectation when you’re off to experience something that has been on your bucket list for years. You don’t want anything to go wrong, so organising a guided trip can help you streamline logistics and save you time that would otherwise be spent worrying about other practicalities. A good guide can also recommend the best times to visit to avoid crowds or whether you should visit at night, for how many days and in any particular month. 

Guides give groups and individuals all the tour highlights, so if you’re short of time or get distracted reading all the boards, they’ll ensure you don’t miss anything important. Having someone on hand can make it entertaining, funny and extra special. They might describe a special symbolic architectural carving or what next Netflix show is being filmed in London.

Guides are well-trained, and with their local experience of a place, they are aware of potential delays in your travel and what highlights you must view at a special attraction. They are also great with directions, transport advice and timings, so you don’t have to worry about SatNav or finding your way around. This frees you up to simply take in the sights and immerse yourself in the experience.

When it comes to safeguarding you and any young children, guides are trained to follow guidance led by the Institute of Tourist Guiding. They supervise and navigate the environments and warn you of any areas or situations to avoid. In this sense, having a guide looking out for you and the group’s well-being is reassuring. 

While it’s possible to explore a well-known destination or iconic attraction on your own, having an expert guide on your tour has many advantages. Thanks to their local connections and insider knowledge, they can bring somewhere to life and create a richer, more entertaining and meaningful experience tailored to you and your group. And, before you know it, your guide will be one of the tour’s many highlights!