Featured blog by Brianna Glenn of Milk + Honey Travels:I’ve returned home from my trip to South America in November. Hopefully you were able to follow along on GTN's Instagram and feel like you were right there with me. My goal was to give you a real look into what the experience was like, and what to expect from a guided vacation with Insight Vacations— specifically their Luxury Gold product.It was quite the whirlwind… 3 countries in just 11 days, and so many experiences I hardly even know where to start sharing with you. This was my first time doing a guided vacation, and if you know me, you know that I am a very independent traveler, and I attract the same in my business.So why did I accept an invitation to go on a Luxury Gold guided experience with Insight Vacations— essentially traveling with 26 other strangers, and having my entire trip planned for me, with no real chance to escape and do my own thing? Because there are different types of travel out there that I don’t know much about, and I believe it’s not fair to make an opinion about something until you’ve actually experienced it.In order to be most effective in the role of travel advisor, consultant, concierge, etc, I want to explore different opportunities that just might be a good fit for the type of clients I will attract. Perhaps you are similar to me — you know a certain type of travel well, and you want to know and understand if other types of travel experiences might benefit your clients.I hope my trip can help answer that for you.I was fortunate in that they let me choose the trip that spoke to me the most, and therefore I was able to really embark on a journey that I could truly be excited about. For starters, I am a self-proclaimed Latin lover… and so a trip to South America is right up my alley. Accommodations are also a big part of my overall experience, and I knew these were going to be the best in every place we traveled. The biggest draw though was the fact that I have also always wanted to visit Iguazu Falls, and the inclusion of that experience in this itinerary made it a bucket list trip of sorts for me.There were 3 main things I hoped to discover through my trip, and I hope that the insight I gained through my guided vacation helps you understand this experience better and who it could be a great fit for.1) Will I see and experience the things I want to on this trip?As I mentioned, Iguazu Falls was a huge draw for me. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint! By far, that was the highlight of my trip and was a better experience than I even imagined. The way we were able to experience it with Insight was also an added bonus. Staying inside the park gave us privileged access, and that was absolutely a game changer.Outside of the falls, I would say that this trip hit all of the “must-sees” and also added in some really unique and creative experiences as well. The only part I was not hugely impressed with was Santiago, Chile, where we began the trip. I personally felt it was underwhelming and the time could have been better spent elsewhere — many of my travel buddies agreed.My time in Argentina though, first in Buenos Aires and then later on to Iguazu, was amazing. The city had a great energy and our touring day there — while long — was full of interesting sights. I also really enjoyed our day trip to La Bamba de Areco, and thought that was a perfect compliment to the hustle of a big city.Brazil fully hit all of the interesting parts of Rio, while also providing us with a unique experience by visiting a favela and getting off the beaten path a bit.The sightseeing was complimented by a few fun and interesting evening adventures as well as some incredible dining experiences. We saw an amazing tango show in Buenos Aires and a fun samba experience in Rio that really introduced the flavor of the city to us.
Overall, I would say that the things we experienced on this trip were of interest to me, and how we experienced them was top-notch. There were a few times we were given the option to not participate and I mainly took those as an opportunity to bow out for a bit. But what I did participate in I enjoyed immensely.2) Is the pace something I am comfortable with?Three countries in 11 days is a lot — I’m not going to lie. This particular trip was a “Classic South America” trip, so instead of fully exploring one country, we were attempting to explore a continent, and instead of just coach travel, this trip required 2 additional flights, which as you know can eat up a huge chunk of the day.For me personally, it was a lot of go-go-go, more than I am used to or is my preferred way of traveling. While I did enjoy pretty much every excursion and activity that was a part of this trip, I am the kind of traveler that likes a more relaxed pace and plenty of time with no schedule. But that’s just my personal preference, and what I found from most everyone else on this trip was that they enjoyed being able to see and do so much, and rarely did anyone opt out of anything.I think understanding the pace of many guided experiences is an important factor of figuring out who they could be a good fit for. I have plenty of clients that want each and every day filled with something “to do”, and if they see an afternoon at leisure they will ask what they can do on that day. People who are looking to maximize their time in a destination would not be disappointed with this trip in the least, but for those looking for a more leisurely experience and who don’t like to pack/unpack every couple of days it might be a bit much.
3) Are the other travelers people I want to spend two weeks with, and do they add to, or take away from the overall experience?This last one is hard for me. :) I like people… just in small doses usually. Traveling with a group means interacting and being around different types of people the majority of your vacation. Some people love that. In fact — many of the other travelers I spoke with on this trip said that was one reason they grew to love traveling this way.For me it was a little difficult, and maybe more so because I was traveling alone. However, for solo travelers who want to be with other people, I see how this could be a great fit.In terms of age demographic most of the travelers were older, and many were retired. I think the reason for this is that older generations like the ease of guided experiences, and they are able to see the value that is included. They also want to stay busy on vacation, whereas I want to sleep in and sit at a cafe all day sometimes. So, while I absolutely did enjoy meeting most of the fellow travelers and interacting with them over meals etc. I think that there was a bit of a difference in terms of what I value on vacation and what they do.Throughout the trip, I was able to have many in depth conversations about how my fellow travel buddies liked to travel, what was important to them, why they liked going on these guided experiences, and what they valued. It was truly the best market research you could hope for.These are people who want a seamless experience, who are more comfortable being looked after and having someone around to look after all of the details of their trip, who like to stay busy and do a lot on vacation, and who are really interested in meeting and mingling with other travelers. Insight Vacations delivered on all those fronts.It was a good experience and I am thankful I got to be a part of it.