My boyfriend taught me an expression that he says is very popular in his native country of Bulgaria. It is "I am not rich enough to buy cheap things" which is a little like our "you get what you pay for". Essentially, often when we skimp out on things, we end up paying even more on replacements and fixes. The most common or extreme example of this is when you buy a used car at a "good deal" and then spend hours plus hundreds or thousands on car repairs.
It is also common in the world of travel. I have seen people opt for a hotel that is $50 cheaper, outside of the city, and then spend hours and hundreds of dollars on taxis to the city center. Or, they skimp on a cheap restaurant and have at best a bad meal, and at worse a bad stomach. One of the biggest mistakes and wastes of money I have seen is when people hire a cheap tour guide, and then spend their time on boring, uninteresting tours. One can absolutely find great guides online, but do your research, and don’t be afraid to spend a little more on a guide who comes highly recommended or gets great reviews. The best guides usually charge more because they are so busy that their time is at a premium.
Of course an easy solution that I would be remiss not to mention is the benefit of going with a trusted tour group. I was spending time socially with one of our frequent Zoom Vacations travelers over the weekend, and he made a comment to me that I found really interesting and that encouraged me to write this post.
He said, “You know, I think that a lot of people don’t get that going with a group can be a more economical way to travel. For instance, ten people sharing the cost of a tour guide and tour vehicle just makes sense.” His comment sparked a discussion with myself and others who have taken our tours, and echoed his comment. And, I have to add that sometimes there are also hotel group booking discounts, or experiences, such as dinners in a private home that only make sense cost-wise if you go as part of a group. For instance, I just returned from our Zoom Vacations tour to China, where we surprised our guests with champagne reception on the Great Wall itself. A lot of the cost for us associated with creating such an event are permitting fees. Doing this for one or two people is astronomically more expensive than doing it for a group. The thing that throws some people off about group touring, we decided, is the sense of “sticker shock” because you are paying for most of the trip in one lump sum, not piece-meal, and if you did, it would be a lot more expensive.
Anyone who has planned trips for friends and families, or even their own trips can tell you that it can take a lot of time, and when finished, one still doesn’t know whether everything is going to work as planned, or as presented on the web. Time is money, and if you find a company that provides the type of travel experiences you like, it is a much better usage of your time and resources to let them handle the details. This way you can also budget what you are spending ahead of time and cut down on last minute surprises.
There are many obvious social reasons for why going as part of a gay group can be a very fun, liberating way to travel. Sometimes I wonder if people assume that since you are paying for a service (in this case, creating a well-organized and researched tour) and that someone’s making money for that service, that you can do it cheaper on your own, cutting out the middle-man. What I know to be true is a: especially in the world of travel, you get what you pay for, b: going with a group gives you the opportunity for bulk rate discounts, and c: I am not rich enough to buy cheap things.