Another bus, another monument, another sightseeing destination crammed with gawkers looking to selfie their way to a social media frenzy… yawn.
The good news is, you don’t have to succumb to another boring fact recited by an underwhelming wannabe actor masquerading as a tour guide. Instead, you can use a private guide to avoid travel apathy – here are 7 reasons why you should.
An eight-hour or two-day stopover in another Asian or Middle Eastern monolithic city? No worries! Hook up with a private guide to zero in on that one experience that will mesmerise you. Same goes for a 5-day or six-week destination trip – not everyone wants to fit their travel memories into a timeframe set out by someone else.
It’s easy to become disillusioned when you’re stuck with a cookie-cutter schedule that dictates when to wake up, when to eat breakfast and when to visit a particular sight. Even the toilet stops are timed! Say no to rigidity – with a private guide, you get to say when, where, what and how long.
VIP Private Tours Owner/Operator Steve Picton, who customises luxury tours in and around South East NSW, says it’s fascinating to develop itineraries for people with unique interests.
“The only thing one guy wanted to do was to photograph Southern Cross windmills. Another person was really into wooden bridges. They didn’t care about anything else” Steve says.
Steve loves to tell the story about an overseas visitor who arrived in Sydney and couldn’t wait to experience the astonishing natural beauty of the NSW South Coast.
Steve says the request to ‘pick me up in an hour and drop me back to my hotel by 5 pm’ needed some gentle explanation of Australian geography. But after he helped to arrange flights, pick-ups, hotel bookings, as well as a tour itinerary, the guest went back home with amazing tales of close-up encounters with quirky wildlife and unsurpassed coastal scenery.
“Oh you speak English very well” Steve was told by an American cruise ship client. But although she understood Steve, venturing onto an oyster punt on Batemans Bay’s Clyde River with an award-winning grower was a different story.
“The oyster grower is speaking like he always does – chock full of Aussie lingo,” says Steve. “I had to translate!”
5 Secret Spots and Stories
Only a local knows where locals go. Only a local knows what locals love to eat and where to shop for authentic treasures. And only a local can give you true insights into the history, politics and culture of a particular destination. Travel isn’t just about “the bucket list.”
It’s about context and how all the jigsaw pieces from across time fit together. Private guides are entrenched in their communities.
“Insider knowledge is never going to make it onto a postcard,” says Steve.
6 Unique Experiences
So you rock up to the next town, drop into the Visitor Information Centre or google ‘Things to do in XYZ’. After brochure or online browsing, you wander to the headline sights only to bump into everyone else doing exactly the same thing.
A private guide is more likely to avoid those places and provide an experience you simply won’t forget – and that’s what gives Steve Picton the biggest buzz.
“It’s fantastic to see the joy on people’s faces when I have to coax them to clamber across coastal rock headlands at low tide to discover sea caves or fossils embedded in volcanic rock”, says Steve.
7 Danger Avoidance
And then there’s the big, bad nasties – all those critters that can chomp, bite, sting and suck the life out of you. Urban or natural environment, it doesn’t matter.
Australian or international visitor, who cares? You’re not going to walk down a street after dark in a city you don’t know without a security guard. You’re not going to wander into the Australian bush without a guide who’s got the skills to help you get out alive… or at least calm your catastrophizing.
Steve Picton is the Owner/Operator of VIP Private Tours, based in Tuross Head on the NSW Far South Coast. You can contact Steve on 0437 143 477 or through viptours.net.au
Thank you to Steve Picton and VIP Private Tours for their support of About Regional’s Festival of Open Minds in September.