Most of my travel has been solo business travel, where I am carried along by predetermined schedules. However, in the times that I have out-sourced my “fun” to travel pros, I enjoyed it in a way one enjoys a nice steak when one’s football team wins the Super Bowl or the Nutcracker performance at Lincoln Hall one Christmas.
Professional travel companies aren’t the best option for every vacation and, obviously, your choice of travel company, their available expertise, their network, and the costs, will all play a role in your enjoyment. But, assuming you’ve chosen a travel product from a reputable firm, with travel directors, lecturers, subject-matter experts, nice dining options, lodging, and variety of activity options which you can choose to participate or not, professional travel organizations can add a lot to your trip.
I have purchased a couple of professionally-curated travel experiences. In the following article, I will describe one of these vacations to let you know about the sort of planning and enjoyment you can expect from such a service.
For a trip to Morocco that I purchased, I took care of my flights, but the rest of the time I was carried along by the itinerary the tour company had prepared.
I found my tour company online; and the contact also happened to be the owner of a five-star Riad in Marrakesh. She sold me a bespoke package designed just for the time I had in Morocco. She told me generally what I was getting and what I had to pay for it.
The package came with transportation from Casablanca to Marrakesh, a stay at her Riad, a private lecturer for each location/day of visit, and a car and driver for all the places needed to be reached by car. I had to pay for my own meals, but breakfast was included.
The Moroccan trip capped a month-long, scheduled-packed stay in France with weekend visits to surrounding countries. So, I was mentally exhausted and wanted as little planning on my part as possible. I did not even research the places on my itinerary, or look at photos of where I might be visiting. Thus, I entered the experience as a blank slate. In hindsight, this was the best state to be in for this sort of trip.
I arrived at the airport in Casablanca a few hours earlier than the scheduled pick-up time so I was worried that, since I was not with a tour group, and since it was a private tour, I might not be picked up at all! But, this fear quickly dissipated when I saw a person with a sign including my name and my tour — whew! The driver spoke sufficient English and French and took me to a very nice, new luxury Mercedes van for our ride to Marrakesh.
From then on, with the exception of when I slept, all of my senses were used to capacity! The sites, the lessons from subject-matter experts, and the transitions between locations, were seamless. Perhaps because I was the only person on this tour, it did not feel rushed, nor did it feel slow.I always had more options offered to keep things interesting (Moroccan baths, shopping, fresh markets, dining, road trips to a remote lodge and mountains). I particularly loved the history that was included.I also loved watching mountain ranges pass by the windows as we drove from location to location. The driver and tour guide were happy to stop when I wanted to get a good view of something along the way. We even fed camels along a small creek over a bedrock of smooth stones!
Overall, the feeling of being whisked into a world of the unknown, by insiders, is exhilarating. Professional travel planners allow you to rest completely assured in the safety of your experience while you are also guided by the warmth of a human touch. That warmth connects you to the depth and scope of a place that is often bigger than you, that has stood the test of time, and that has been traversed my millions before you, for centuries.
And that, I think, is why I like going-pro.