Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trip Planning: Selecting a Tour

Flight prices are down. Hotel prices are down. Tour prices are down. If you have the money and the wanderlust, now is the time to travel. I've always enjoyed the challenge of planning our vacation myself, stumbling through websites in languages I can only partially understand and scouring the internet for ideas. Although I love Europe, this time we wanted to go somewhere different. Do something different. This year we decided to try our first organized tour. But to where? And how to choose a tour company?

A tour company's website can make a good first impression...or a very bad one. Flashing ads for singles, wording in lime green, and no customer feedback posts or recommendations can be a sign of an amateur company, or someone wanting to take me for a ride. I figured the best way was through a recommendation. Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet have impressive forums with recommendations that set my head spinning. Then I remembered reading an article in a British newspaper by Bettany Hughes, so I went to the site to check it out.

Cox & Kings is a well-established company that's been around for longer than the USA has been in existence. Multiple writers recommend their tours all over the British papers, and since I have ties to England through my husband, I searched through their tours until I stumbled upon a great deal to Egypt. For 1025 pounds, I could stay in a 5-star hotel, take a luxury river cruise, have most of my meals and attractions covered and have a flight from London to Cairo. Sold.

Egypt is one of those countries that bedazzles me. The moment I think of it, visions of golden-hued pyramids, scuttling scarabs, mummies, camels and Cleopatra swim through my head. I feel the sun beating down upon my scalp, and animal headed gods and goddesses beckon me, their eyes hooded with magic.

So the husband and I have booked the tour and we leave in a few weeks. But just because we've booked a tour, does not mean my work is over. There are things I feel must be addressed for any trip in order to be a responsible traveler. This time, my checklist includes:

1) Buy 90 proof sunblock and a floppy hat
2) Learn basic Egyptian Arabic
3) Learn the customs, and pack accordingly
4) Buy a journal so I won't forget anything
5) Copy my travel documents and leave a set at home in case of emergencies
6) Order Egyptian pounds

Just under three weeks to go until "Wonders of Egypt" commences. You can check out our upcoming tour here:

Cox & Kings Website:


  1. You'll love Egypt, it's an impressive place. Just be aware of the street vendors being a little pushy. Also it may be worth preparing for a bad stomach ;)

    I look forward to hearing about your travels.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I'll make sure to bring a veritable pharmacy in my purse to prepare for emergencies. I'm hoping they are no pushier than in India, though I look forward to finding out. :)