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An escorted tour, also known as a group tour, is a type of travel experience in which tourists are escorted by a professional guide during their travels. In many cases, an escorted tour consists of a large group of travelers who usually make use of a large motor coach for transportation between locations. The cost of a group tour usually includes many travel-related expenses, including accommodations, admittance fees for attractions, and all or some meals. While some people regard this type of travel as restrictive, it can be a good option for people traveling in areas of the world that are considered to be dangerous for lone travelers or that have limited facilities for tourism. Some escorted tours focus on particular themes, such as eco-tourism or visiting sites that are pertinent to certain historical periods, while others are more general in nature.
Single travelers as well as couples and groups of friends may appreciate the convenience and camaraderie of an escorted tour, particularly if they are new to traveling or are concerned about their safety in an unfamiliar country. One major advantage of taking an escorted tour is that travelers are provided with an itinerary and most of their activities and needs during the trip are prearranged. This can allow the traveler to enjoy sightseeing without being concerned about booking accommodations, selecting restaurants, or getting to his next destination. Disadvantages of taking an escorted tour include a lack of freedom and independence, as travelers will only be able to visit the locations selected by the tour company. In addition, it is possible that a traveler may dislike other members of the tour group or even the tour guide himself, creating an uncomfortable atmosphere.
Travelers who wish to book an escorted tour should look to a reputable travel agent about their choice of tour or thoroughly research recommendations on online travel ratings sites. In many cases, travelers are expected to prepay for their tour at the time of booking, so they may wish to purchase travel insurance that can cover their losses if they must cancel their trip. It is also crucial for travel consumers to verify exactly which expenses are covered by their escorted tour fee. In some cases, a traveler may be expected to pay for transportation to and from a tour bus terminal or pay extra for gratuities. Travelers should also make sure that they understand the tour's meal plan, as some tour companies expect travelers to cover their own lunches as well as alcohol purchases during the trip.