Guide: Tips for Hiring a Guide

Guide, or no guide….that is the question.

Sunset over the mountains; should you hire a guide? Travel Guides 101,

Well, Shakespeare would disagree about that being ‘THE’ question, but who asked him? LOL!


Guides can be very valuable. They can give you background on the sites, history, culture, and take you down paths you didn’t know existed. They can help out before hand with arranging the trip of your dreams. To decide whether or not a guide is for you you need to ask yourself a question:

What type of traveler are you?

Traveler Type #1 – I’m on vacation! I don’t want to research.

Traveler Type #1 likes to go and experience a vacation with no previous research. This person wants someone to meet them at the door and take care of all the arrangements. They want to be taken care of with someone else knowing how to get there, how to get in without standing in a line, and take him or her around explaining everything. This traveler wants things to be super easy.

Traveler Type #2 –  I’m on vacation! I can do all the research I want!

Traveler Type #2 likes to research everything and do it all themselves. They want to read the books, refresh their memory about the history of the area and have learn the difference between sultan and king. They learn a few words in the local language and are prepared for the dress code in mosques and churches. They have studied and know where a backpack is allowed and where it has to be checked at the door.

This traveler knows the answers to all these questions: Is photography allowed? With or without flash? When is the museum open? Closed on which days? Can you get there by bus? Which bus? What time?  This person a spread sheet showing the times and dates everything is open including when the busiest times are and which day it is closed.

But….What what if you prefer to travel in the middle – a little bit of each?

1) Use a guide to get the feel of things.

We like to use a guide for a little while. The first day a guide we get to a new location  a guide can give you a lay of the land. They can fill you in on the local customs and get you ready to pursue things on your own.

2) Use a guide so you don’t miss out on something really important.

We also suggest a guide for a really big and important sight like the Vatican. When you have a spot that is so big entire college courses are taught on them, a guide can be a great idea to help you narrow down the information. They also answer questions!

This is really great for a group with different interests. My husband and son always have different questions than I would even think of! A guide can tackle any question. They are licensed and well educated on the sight.

3) Use a guide to learn even more.

Another great reason to use a guide is for a sight you’ve seen before. When we visited Pompeii, part of our group had been before and thus had already scratched the surface of this destination. We hired a guide who was able to give us an even deeper understanding which made it fun and interesting for the entire group!

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If you are a planner before hand and need or want help – Give me a shout!

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London   Austin    Nassau, Bahamas   Canada   France   New York   Spain   Prado Museum Vatican City   Louvre Museum  Romekids in Spain

Happy travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist



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15 Responses

  1. I have never used a guide but I am beginning to really like the idea of it. It makes things a lot more simple and you learn things you would not learn otherwise. I think I will try it next time

  2. Ha Truong says:

    I haven’t hired a guide yet, but I use free walking tour when I travel. It’s way better to explore places with a guide since I can understand about it more.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Those are great options, too! The price sure is right! We love to walk and see things but have not tried a specific walking tour…now that you say that…I need to look into it! Thanks for the tip!

  3. stace16 says:

    I do allot of research before my trips! So im usually ok to go it alone. Sometimes having a guide is nice so they can tell you stuff the locals know that you may not find in a guidebook!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I agree! Sometimes I choose a guide for one important site..for example, the colosseum or a mosque in Turkey to add to the research I’ve done. You can’t beat the locals giving you their opinion!

  4. Excellent question 🙂 Love your perspective. I always think that most of the times you need a guide as a local who’d help you not with the research that you’d get on google anyway but the local flavour that you can get. The interactions are priceless! 🙂

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Thank you! It is very personal in terms of how you absorb information and the culture. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. yukti says:

    I have always used google as a guide. But from last two trips I am usong local guides. These local guides are helpful in mixing up with locals and culture

  6. Kevan says:

    I certainly fall in the middle. There is some really good advice here. I especially agree they are great for not missing something special. It’s their job to have inside information.

  7. I prefer to have a guide or join a group. They are very helpful especially if you want to maximize your time. They also share good travel stories and tips in finding nice local restaurants. However, I cannot afford to have guides always. I try to do things on my own as much as I could.

  8. asoulwindow says:

    Haha, love the way you started the blog with a joke. I personally feel that a guide is very important. I have visited the same monument twice, once without a guide and once with a guide. I prefer the human guides better than those audio guides though. The tips you have shared will help me choose my guides in a more useful way henceforth.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I’m with you on the audio guides being less than a human. I find the audio ones to be a little dry. AND you can ask questions of the human!

  9. I always like to do my own research, but I think certain historical sites – such as Aushcwitz (for example) should always be visited with a guide. Where there is so much to take in, it is better to have someone with a lot of knowledge to help you wade through it all and get the most from your visit.

  10. I believe that knowing about a place before going there is very important, Natalie! I really enjoy when we have a local guide!

  1. April 12, 2017

    […] you ever been to a museum and hired a tour guide? Did your eyes glaze over when they began to drone on and on (and on and on and on) about the […]

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