By Adam Guy
For many travelers, the idea of using a private tour guide may be foreign idea (no pun intended). When people hear “private tour,” most think of it as something only intended for ultra-luxury travel or that it almost seems too personal… like “that’s a lot of time with one person and just us.” While it can cost more to take a private tour, the experience you get is usually more personal, meaningful, and fun. And hopefully, built just for you and your family or group.
Hang on there, Adam. Is this just a pitch for I Know A Guy NYC Tours because you give private tours? It’s not. When I travel, I book private tours. Occasionally, I’ll book a big group tour for a food experience or a boat ride, something that makes sense to be with a larger group. But when I want to really get a lot out of a city or experience, private is the only way to go.
When my wife and I arrived in Naples, Italy, we kind of loathed the city at first. Then we took a 3-hour private walking tour with an amazing guide, who happened to be a linguistics professor at the local university. He was personable, funny, and answered every single one of our endless questions. By the time we were done, we’d fallen in love with Naples. Now we recommend him to everyone we know who is traveling there. It was that personal touch from a fantastic local that made the difference and set up the rest of our stay for success.
So why should YOU book a private tour? Here are seven reasons:
1. Tours can be customized.
While private guides will have some fixed itineraries for an area, they should also ask you questions prior to the booking about special interests or places that might be on your
“travel list” to experience. Maybe they can add a special dessert stop or show you a secret spot. Maybe you have mobility concerns, so they can route the tour appropriately. Or maybe young children need breaks at playgrounds to burn off energy.
A good private guide will try to accommodate these considerations. They can’t work miracles like special access to closed places or making long lines at attractions disappear, but they should have plenty of other tricks up their sleeves that will make your private tour special.
2. You can ask all the questions you want.
Asking questions in a big group can be intimidating. You might also feel like you are slowing the rest of the group down when you do. There’s that weird social pressure of big groups.
But let’s say you are at a great stop that completely fascinates you. You get excited and have 1,000 questions to ask. On a private tour, you have the ease and freedom to ask them all.
On my tours, guests will ask me general questions about the city – what it’s like to live here, how parking works, about going to Broadway shows, crime, rents, homelessness – just about everything you can imagine. This dialogue often helps the city come alive for my guests. I just love it!
3. You get a built-in photographer.
Want that family photo on the Brooklyn Bride or in front of the Eiffel tower? Your private tour guide is a great person to help you capture those magic memories. Phones these days can
take great photos, even for novice photographers. I joke that my social-media-obsessed teenage guests taught me how to take great pics. I’m always happy to have mini photo shoots on tour.
4. Your private tour guide IS the map.
You don’t need to figure out direction. You don’t have to worry about which trains to get on. Most importantly, you won’t have to worry about bathroom stops. That’s NOT just a New
York City thing, by the way. (Although we do live on the extreme of poor bathroom availability, so much so that there are apps and websites dedicated to locating available bathrooms!) Your private tour guide will cover it all, allowing you to focus being present and experiencing the world around you. It’s way more freeing than you think!
5. It’s the best way to go if you have kids.
The attention span for kids can be all over the place. The younger they are, the shorter the attention span. Another challenge is that large group tours tend to cater to the adults.
When I have kids on my tours, the tours are about them. I make sure to include them in conversations, that stories and commentary are at their level. I’m often silly and play games
with them. With teens, I’m often asking them questions to see what they know and care about. I have this “camp counselor” gene that just kind of kicks in when I’m around kids.
Prioritizing kids on a tour helps to ease the burden on parents of being in charge and allows them to focus on the sights a bit more. More importantly, it helps ensure that their kids have a magical and enriching experience. That’s why they bring them to a city like New York in the first place.
6. There's greater flexibility.
Sometimes you need to pivot on tour – change the route, take extra time at a shop, make
an unplanned food stop. You can do that on a private tour. More times than I can count, a
guest has said something to me on a tour that made me think of a special place we should go – maybe a shop or historical place or a street – somewhere that will make thatexperience that much more meaningful to them. So, I change the plan a bit! Occasionally, guests will want to start earlier or later. If I don’t have conflicts, I always try to accommodate those requests.
7. Private tours are more memorable.
I’m not saying public tours don’t offer you the opportunity to make memories. But when it’s just your family or your group of friends, private tours can make the experience more personal. Sometimes that includes a meaningful connection with your
personable and hilarious guide. (*wink*) Sometimes there’s a familiar connection to the place you are visiting. Sometimes it’s an extra bit of time at a location. Sometimes it’s a photo opportunity or a moment of endless laughter or deep conversation.
When it’s just you, your private group, and your guide, you decide together what the experience should be. Just be sure to “go with the flow” and see what magic might happen. Your guide has your best interests in mind!
I give private tours every day and know the joy that can happen from them… for me as the guide, too! Why not give one a try?
How about joining me on your next visit? I Know A Guy NYC Tours (me) provides private full and half day walking tours for families and small groups in amazing neighborhoods across the city. We’ll explore, laugh, stop for treats, learn about the neighborhoods, and take loads of photos.
Find out what you can expect from a day out with me by reading the reviews of those who have survived and lived to tell about it. (HA!) Then reach out to me at email@example.com so we can discuss which adventures will be best for your family or group.
Thanks for reading this blog! If you would like to chat about your upcoming trip and possible tour ideas, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm quite friendly!
© All photos by Adam Guy