The luxury bus, slowly winds its way up the narrow forested hills of Cascais, Portugal. Cascading around us in shimmering golden bands, the afternoon sunlight is radiant. Pockets of azure water shimmer in the wake of elegantly fluffed evergreens. Pressing our cameras against the window, we attempt to capture the scene. Speaking in rapid Portuguese and then in English that also sounded like rapid Portuguese, our tour guide was impossible to decipher, we had no idea when we would be stopping or even, what, aside from the beautiful flora and seascape, we were looking at. At last, we arrive at a rocky clearing. The bus pulls to the side, the doors open, for how long, we don't know, but we're thrilled to be able to experience and capture the view.
You're in a new city and you're excited about a particular site. You book a tour because you want behind the scene information only to be herded into a bus or van or boat where you have a hard time seeing whatever it is you came to see. You have a hard time hearing whatever it is you came to hear because of the couple speaking German behind you or the teenagers giggling in front of you. You can't take the pictures you want to take, you can't ask the questions you want to ask and by the end of the tour, you're tired and confused and simply want to retreat to your hotel room.
Tours by Locals has found a solution.
Tours by Locals, a Vancouver based company does precisely what the name implies, they connect travelers with local guides across the world for private, customizable tours.
If you ask me, the idea is ingenious. You log onto the site and browse a list of guide profiles organized by country and city. Once you identify a guide (and all of them come pre-screened and trained), you contact them, let them know what you would like to get out of your experience and you arrange a time and place to meet. Suddenly, you are connected with a knowledgeable and passionate local who can not only provide you with the individualized attention you need, but will work at your pace to ensure that your needs are met. It's like an instant cultural connection wherever you're traveling.
Boasting 1700 guides in over 130 countries, Tours by Locals is a unique way to travel like and with a local.
The next time you take a trip, whether it be out of state or out of the country, visit www.ToursByLocals.com to see if there is a tour guide available for your destination city. There's nothing like a personal connection when you're on the road.
Tours By Locals
Tours By Locals has in no way endorsed this post. I am writing solely based upon my own enthusiasm. Too many of my organized group tour experiences mirror the one I had in Cascais. The next time I travel, I'm going to search the data base to see if a local guide is available for a more intimate and personalized experience.
Have you had an interesting tour experience?