Jerome Ryan and Guide Gyan Tamang and crew at Pangpema in front of Kangchenjunga North Face
This family let me sleep in their house at Yamphudin when I was returning from Kangchenjunga
This family invited me to eat potatoes with them at Syala on my Manaslu trek
Air Canada Plane At Hong Kong Airport
Royal Nepal Airlines plane sits on the gravel at Hungde airstrip as I return from Manaslu
Why spend $7000 to travel on a fixed itinerary with 10 strangers, many of
whom you won't like, when you can have exactly what you want at half the price,
travel by yourself or with your family and friends, and learn more about the
local people? I don't.
Advantages in managing your own personalized tour
1. Do what you want when you want
- You can plan your trip to contain
exactly what you want. If you want to visit one place but not another, you
can do it. You can usually change the itinerary as you go, day-by-day or
hour-by-hour. If you
want to watch the sunrise and leave a little later, you can.
- If you run into bad weather conditions, you can wait it out. I met some members
of an organized trek to K2 who did not see the mountain at all. They had to keep to their
- If you run into altitude sickness, you can descend and come back later. I met eight members
of an organized trek to Everest at Lobuche. The next morning, two of the members had to descend to Pheriche
and did not get to see the Everest vista from Kala Pattar. They had to keep to their
2. Save money
- Yes, believe it or not, it is
much cheaper to arrange a personal trip than an organized tour. You've eliminated
the overhead by doing it yourself.
- I've seen organized tours priced at $5-7000, which I did for less than $2000.
3. Meet more people
- You can really get to know your crew. On an organized tour I found that the trekkers tended to meet together
in the dining tent, and only saw the cook and porters occasionally.
On my private treks, I get to meet the crew intimately, visiting
their homes, and listening to their stories and songs.
- I get to camp or stay near a local village family, and even get to eat in their house.
- I even get to meet more fellow travelers on the trails and at campsites and lodges.
On an organized tour I found that the trekkers tended to stick together.
4. Eat what you want
- If you love potatoes,
but loathe tuna and porridge, then that's what you get.
- I mistrust meat on a trek, so I do not eat any.
Arranging a personal tour requires a lot of work
1. Create your tour
- You need to research your destination to the point where you can
create your own tour. I usually start with tour brochures, travel guides, and books
and see what catches my fancy. Then it's many nights on the Internet to look
at other people's experiences and photos.
- Check on the immigration and travel permit situations.
- Create your ground schedule and leave a few contingency days for travel delays, sickness, etc.
2. Find a tour company
- You need to find a tour company that will create a personalized
itinerary ... at a reasonable cost.
I use the Internet to research possible companies and then send them an email.
Ten to twenty emails will give you a breadth of options.
- It is always cheaper to go with a local company in the country you will visit,
than an international company. However, check travel guide books and feedback from other customers
to ensure the tour company is reputable.
- You will have to send them a deposit, sometimes as much as a quarter to a half, so they can start
arranging things. Pay the rest when your airplane lands.
3. Arrange travel schedules
- You will have to arrange all the transportation (airplane, trains, buses, rental
cars, etc.) and hotels by yourself. Once again, the Internet is invaluable.
- Ask the tour company you have picked to go through your itinerary to ensure it makes sense. Sometimes there
are issues that you may not know about or there are recent updates.
- You are now ready to book the airplane flights.