Many people plan and prepare for the actual cruise, but may forget to plan appropriately for the shore excursions.
Taking guided tours can be great ways to explore islands or cities safely without having to worry about making it back to the ship on time.
But like everything else, these guided tours present certain potential pitfalls to take into consideration before you book, so that no issue will surprise you or ruin your trip!
Extreme temperature differences
Planes, trains, and ships, as well as tour buses, are highly unpredictable when it comes to temperature control, so every mode of transportation could have its “micro climate”.
We always dress in layers to prevent us from becoming too hot or too cold and then leave what we don’t need on the tour bus.
Since our son with autism and I tend to be hot most of the time, I always bring a mini fan along, which works out perfectly for those times when the driver does not turn on the A/C while the bus sits in the parking lot or when the A/C is inefficient.
We did encounter an incident in New Zealand when our tour bus was involved in a minor traffic accident, and we were stuck for over an hour on the bus with no A/C at all at 100 degrees! Everyone on board was envious of our fans!
Tip: Take the batteries out of the fan when you aren’t using it so that the fan does not turn on during the travel and run out of power.
We always carry noise cancelling headphones or earplugs for our son with autism in case the microphone on the bus is loud, or we encounter any other bothersome noises on our tour.
In the event you forget headphones or earplugs, you can use small rolled pieces of tissues, cotton balls, or even a restaurant napkin pieces to block the intrusive sounds.
From our experience, the best place to sit on a tour bus or medium-large vehicle is in the first front rows, so you still hear the narration but don’t get a headache if the loudspeakers in the back malfunction.
Many tour buses, especially in third world countries, might not be up to the standard you are accustomed to and can make every pebble on the uneven road feel like you are on a prolonged Six Flags park ride.
If you or your child with autism suffer from motion sickness, then make sure to let bus company know so they can reserve seats in front for you and your family.
Remember to tell them the reason for your request is medical otherwise, chances are it will be ignored, especially when travelling overseas!
Losing your guide
Many tour guides will hand you a paper with their cell number as well as their company’s office number in case you get lost and need to get in touch with them.
If yours doesn’t; then remember to ask for one and even photograph it so you don’t lose the information.
If your tour includes some time on your own, then make sure you snap a picture of the meeting point, especially if you don’t speak the country’s language to ensure that you know how to find your way back to your group at the end of the tour.
This might happen if the tour itinerary includes several hours of free time that involves walking around aimlessly on your own in a place you don’t know much about.
Prevent getting bored by printing a map of the site you’ll be taking a tour of or have a phone with a GPS function that can help you navigate your surroundings, highlighting key areas of interest to occupy everyone in your group
Falls and bruises
Most guides I’ve met, dart in front of the group, so you often find yourself trailing in the back, trying to catch up, and not paying much attention to the ground you walk on.
This behavior is especially dangerous when visiting ancient sites where the ground is uneven, or if your child has issues with coordination as falling can get to a more serious injury
After falling and hurting my leg several years ago, I’ve started to carry a small first aid kit with alcohol wipes , band-aids and antibiotic cream to attend to any injury as soon as possible.
Those are the top 5 mishaps that I have encountered on shore excursions – have you ever taken a guided tour and encountered a problem? How did you handle it?