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Ever fancied exploring the world on a guided tour but unsure of whether it's right for you? Luckily, we've called on Collette's tour designer and travel expert, Diana Ditto, to answer all your burning questions. From accessibility issues to catering queries, here's what you need to know.
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My daughter and I go on holiday once a year together. Is it possible for us to experience different tours if we wanted to go to separate areas of interest when we arrive at our initial destination?
"Collette is all about having choice on tour. Every traveller is different, so we have created many ways for you to personalise your tour and truly make it your very own with on-tour options, pre- and post-night stays, back to back tours, optional excursions, and different travel style. Every day on tour is a personal adventure."
I went on my first escorted tour two years ago to Italy. It wasn't my choice and I had thought I'd hate it but was totally converted as you get to see so much in a short space of time and the company of like-minded travellers was fantastic. I made great friends but travelled with my daughter who has now flown the nest. Are there any tours specifically for single people over 50, especially which don't incur supplements or give you the worst rooms?
"Collette does offer single room stays on almost all tours, with many tours offered at a no supplement premium. Many of those on tour are similarly minded so they are excited to explore, just like you. You’ve got a ready-made bunch of new friends, and you already know you have a lot in common - you all picked the same trip!"
Do you have to do all the excursions offered or can you do your own thing sometimes?
"Most trips have a combination of included activities and time at leisure. This gives you the freedom to personalise your trip, but still lets us bring you to the sites you want to see most. With many activities, it’s possible to do your own thing rather than take part, depending on the day’s itinerary."
Are there tours suitable for people in wheelchairs?
"Collette will make reasonable efforts to accommodate the needs of our tour participants. If a traveller needs assistance, the request must be communicated to Collette or your local travel agent in advance and we do everything we can to accommodate individual requirements."
Are there any trips where a family group across all generations can book exclusive guided tours just for the family which can be tailored for all ages and interests?
"Groups can book exclusive guided tours that can be tailored for the group’s ages and interests."
I've been looking at the exciting range of Collette destinations offered on your website, there seems to be a choice for easier classic style holidays, to the wildly adventurous, such as travelling to Antarctica. Would you advise easier, relaxing types of holidays for those like me who, although curious about some of the exotic, off-the-beaten-track holidays, are a little nervous wondering whether the more adventurous holidays would be a little bit too much to take on?
"Some of our more adventurous holiday tours are activity level '3' meaning moderate physical activity. These itineraries blend some longer days with shorter days with more leisure time. Level 3s also include walking tours, as well as walking slightly longer distances, up stairs, or on uneven walking surfaces."
Can you recommend a mini taster tour e.g no more than a couple of days which covers a city's main historical landmarks on a tour that has mixed ages?
"Looking for a tour on the shorter side that covers a city’s main historical landmarks? I would recommend our Spotlights Tours. A Spotlights tour is built to let you experience a city from the ground up, allowing you to truly get to know your surroundings. These itineraries are designed to plant you in the heart of a city, and take you on excursions that show you all the must-see sights and iconic attractions these legendary cities have."
I would love to go on a guided trip on my own but don't have any experience as a solo traveller, any tips?
"Going guided with a group is a great choice for solo travelers. Everything you need is taken care of, so you don’t have to worry about your itinerary, hotel check-ins and transportation. Travelling with Collette means feeling safe, having expert tour managers by your side, making new friends, and having peace of mind. All you have to do is pack a bag and bring your sense of adventure; we’ll handle the rest."
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I am hard of hearing. Are there options for people like myself, who may struggle to hear guides informing travellers on the facts of the area?
"On many of our tours we use “Whisper” headsets where each guest has a head set, wirelessly connected to the Tour Manager’s microphone. This ensures that all guests can hear what the guides have to say."
Is it possible to self-cater on a guided tour? Is there ever any flexibility in price if no meals were taken? My travelling companion has a rather restricted diet (including allergies) and from what we can see food is an integral part of most escorted tours so we have always discounted them.
"Collette can make arrangements for food choices based on allergies and preferences, as long as the request is made in writing, prior to the tour."
How do you check the qualifications of the personnel on escorted tours? Often people who seek these tours can be vulnerable, due to age, mobility etc., so it would be helpful to know checks are done.
"All of our Collette tour guides are highly trained experts who are Collette employees (many of them have been with us for over 20 years) and will be right by the guests' side every step of the way."
Do you have any advice if you end up on an escorted tour stuck with an exceptionally annoying participant?
"The best travel moments are those that are shared. Travel managers always do their best to keep the group happy and on track."
I am looking at going on my very first tour. How would I go about researching what escorted tours are available and ensure they meet our requirements?
"By visiting our website – gocollette.com - you will be able to see what tours and dates are available. You can also call Collette on 0800 804 8701."
Is it possible to have an escorted trip to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and other interesting areas in the region when older? I believe low blood pressure could be a problem at heights and my husband would struggle if there was too much walking?
"All of Collette’s tours are ranked on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the most active. We typically recommend a 1 to 3 ranking for those that have health limitations, but do seek the advice of your healthcare professional."
Do you allocate coach seats, hotel tables, etc.? I am concerned about being 'stuck' with people I might not get on with for the entire holiday.
"We try to get our travellers engaged and ask our guests to rotate around the coach during the tour so that guests get to talk with different people. There is no seating arrangements for included meals, so you can sit with whom you like."