5 Tips to enjoy our tours
TAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PRIVATE TOUR
It’s done! You’ve booked your private tour with us and are ready to have the time of your life exploring Barcelona. Now what? Private tours follow different dynamics than large group tours. On a large group tour there’s a certain program that has been sold to lots of people that don’t know each other and the guide is expected to stick to a schedule and an itinerary. There’s little room for changes or playing by ear.
Instead, on a private tour YOU are the boss. There’s room for improvisation, for unexpected things, and the guide is there for you. If you’ve never taken a private tour before, don’t expect a lecture where the guide speaks and you just listen. Private tours are about interacting, they are a conversation where the guide’s goal is to wow you with whatever “wow” means to you. And since private tours are a considerable investment, you want to take the most out of your tour. So let me share some tips with you.
These are our top tips to enjoy your private tour with us:
Don't be late, but don't be too early either
That goes by saying... but why is that? On a group tour the group moves on when it's time to go: people being late may be given a couple of courtesy minutes and that's it. But a private tour doesn't work like that: if you are late, the guide will wait for you and only consider it a no-show and leave after a reasonable time without you showing up or contacting us. So first things first: if you are late, call your guide to let her know you are on your way. Also consider that starting late might mean having to rush to arrive to a site at the time the tickets were purchased. Otherwise, a good private tour guide will know how to catch up without making you feel rushed.
As for not being too early, I know that often when you book a large group tour you are asked to arrive 10 or 15 minutes early because the guide is there to collect tickets, do a roll call… But on a private tour, the guide comes usually to your location. If you are down at the hotel lobby too early, the guide might not be there yet. And even if the guide is early, tour guides usually arrive early to the hotel to check with the concierge if they know anything about you, get a map from them, use the toilet… If you are early at the lobby to happily greet the guide as soon as she crosses the door, you’ll be crashing her prep plans.
Wear good walking shoes
This tip works for all kinds of tours: large group tours and private tours. Of course, if you are on a walking tour you'll think about wearing comfy shoes, but even if you are on a chauffeured tour, it's likely to be stops where you have to walk around either a site or a pedestrian area. Look for sneakers with cushioned soles and a nice grip. In the summer, sandals tend to have harder and thinner soles - so pay attention to what you pack and choose comfy ones. And if you are traveling in the winter, water-proof options are preferable because even if it doesn't rain often in Barcelona, it's never good to have your feet wet for as long as the tour goes...
Consider what to do if you have luggage with you
Lots of people schedule their tour for right when they arrive or for their very last day in town. And that means you need to figure out what to do with your luggage! If you are booking a chauffeured tour, that shouldn’t be much of an issue, as your luggage can be safely stored in the trunk of the van, which will be locked and the driver will stay in the vehicle at all times.
But if you booked a walking or a taxi tour, don’t even consider carrying your luggage around! It’ll soon feel too heavy after a couple of hours touring, it’ll be an annoyance having to go through the security scanners of the sites that have a security check at the entrance, and the risk of losing it or having it stolen can’t be dismissed. Luckily, there’s companies that offer luggage storage in Barcelona, and they are the perfect solution for this cases.
How many times you've taken a group tour and never had the opportunity to ask that question you were curious about? That won't happen with a private tour guide! There's no other people in the group that will get annoyed at you for asking too much: it's only you and the guide! Ask away! Even if you think it's something she's explained before: see it this way, a guide's job is repeating things over and over again - it doesn't matter much to me if I repeat it today or tomorrow!
Your questions allow your guide to figure out your level of knowledge and adapt the speech. We can up our game and give you denser commentaries if your questions request a deeper level of understanding, or go back to the basics if the guide senses you are having a hard time following. And trust me, not following is not bad: your guide is there to serve you and love you the way you are, not to judge you!
Questions also allow us to personalize our explanations and even suggest detours. Maybe you love music and I decide to show you a sculpture of a harp player in Sagrada Familia, that I don’t always have the time to include in my tours. Or you love chocolate and we can stop over the place where the best chocolate croissants are, on our way to the Picasso Museum. Or you are a movie fan and I can show you where the clothes from Titanic where bought, on our way from La Rambla to the Gothic Quarter.
Also, your questions don’t need to be always about what you are visiting. Private guides usually have a broad knowledge about lots of aspects of their land. Politics? Economics? Religion? Traditions? Ask away! If a question makes your guide uncomfortable or is politically incorrect, she’ll let you know in an understanding way, but most of the time she’ll be happy to satiate your curiosity!
And don’t forget to ask your guide to take pictures of you! That’s something you definitely don’t get to do much on a group tour, but your guide will know the best spots for pictures and surprising angles that make great shots. And you’ll be able to be on the picture, rather than behind the camera! How nice it is to have pictures of the whole family, or that both of you together if you are traveling as a couple. Not to say not having to ask strangers for a picture and handing them your phone… Remember your guide is there for you.
Share your concerns, if you have any
And what about when something goes wrong or isn’t up to your expectations? On a group tour you don’t always have the chance to make something change, and your only option is to complain at the end of the tour… But on a private tour you have direct access to the guide at any time! Don’t be shy to express your concerns. Private tour guides usually have good people reading skills and can adapt the tour according to your reactions and body language, but that’s not an exact science.
So if the pace of the tour is too fast or too slow, if the explanations are too short or too long, if you are tired, or feel sick, or need a break, or don’t understand why the guide is taking you somewhere or making you do something… Just say that! Sharing your concerns and needs doesn’t mean being mean, and most of the time the guide will be able to accommodate your request and adapt or at least give you options so you can choose what to do and feel more in control.
For instance, we had once somebody leaving a review that complained about the guide checking her phone “too much”. We had to explain that the guide uses her phone to check the time and make sure they are on the right schedule, the site tickets are on her phone, the driver sends her texts to let her know where he’ll be waiting for them… Had that person shared their discomfort as it was happening, the guide would have been able to give an honest explanation and probably been more discreet from them on, and that person would have enjoyed their tour better… So don’t be shy: it’s your tour and you deserve to enjoy it!
Now you are ready to enjoy your tour to the fullest! Have fun!
Marta is the founder of ForeverBarcelona. She is a passionate tour guide that loves Barcelona and loves writing too. She is the main author of our Blog, and is committed to sharing her knowledge about Barcelona and her best tips with our readers.
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