Cut the line with guided holidays

Embarking on a guided holiday is a great option for anyone seeking a hassle-free adventure with all the fun.

No longer content to "do Europe in three days", more vacationers are seeking new experiences that allow them to better understand the local culture, as well as inspire them to visit places they would ordinarily not have been able to reach on their own.

Here are five must-follow tips to make sure your guided holiday is a success:

Make a new BFF - the travel director

Tell your travel director your specific interests, as these tour guides are chosen for their knowledge, attention to detail and ability to bring the destination to life through storytelling.

So go ahead and regale him with your passion for visiting cafes while on the road.

If you need help finding a romantic spot to pop the question to your loved one, he will be able to point you in the right direction.

Ireland is full of ideal places for grand gestures.

Recently, a young man who booked a trip with travel company Trafalgar proposed to his girlfriend at Torc Waterfall in County Kerry. He handed her a box full of chocolates and in the middle of it was a diamond engagement ring.

Live like a local

Grab opportunities to do that with both hands.

Toast your bella giornata (Italian for beautiful day) with the Telli family on a secluded island on Lake Maggiore amid the Swiss Alps or savour local cheeses with the Pauw family on their dairy farm near Amsterdam.

On your own, discovering these local experiences would likely occur only if you were particularly persistent in seeking them out.

A guided holiday with insider connections ensures that you have access to the locals without having to work for it.

Benefit from weak exchange rate for the euro and British pound

Combine attractive airfare deals and weakened currencies, and you get some extra spending money to explore your destination.

Break away from the group now and then for some alone time.

Get up early and enjoy coffee and a croissant at a bistro in Paris or visit the Borough Market in London to buy some yummy snacks.

Just because you are on a guided holiday does not mean you cannot enjoy it on your own terms - and now you can afford to as well.

Skip the queues and enjoy VIP treatment

Tap your inner culture vulture and get set to wander around Europe's exquisite museums.

Do not let your enthusiasm be dampened when you see the long queues in front of Paris' Louvre or Rome's Colosseum.

A guided holiday allows you to simply cut the line.

Imagine visiting the Vatican after it is closed to the public and then having a private tour of its Missionary Ethnological Museum before enjoying dinner surrounded by three centuries of art, history and antiquities.

Get a sneak peak behind the scenes, treading where few tourists have.

Say yes to new things

Take advantage of the off-the-beaten-track adventures offered on a guided holiday to make your trip more enriching.

Ask your travel director to introduce you to local customs, cultures and traditions.

Try your feet at flamenco, enjoy a whisky tour and tasting at a local Scottish distillery, or let a Dutch artisan show you how to hand-paint Royal Delft pottery.

This article was first published on Feb 24, 2017.
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