What Literature Can Teach You About Escorted Tours

There have been numerous literary tour guides throughout history. These are the writers who take our hand and lead us through the streets and alleys of their native cities, showing us the famous landmarks, historic churches, pubs, ethnicities and culture clashes. They show us the good, the bad and the ugly, pulling the many layers of the city back like the skin of an onion.

The Dublin Tour
James Joyce, in his modernist masterpiece Ulysses, took us through the streets of Dublin on an ordinary day, June 16, 1904. Of course, Joyce also escorted us on a strenuous mental tour through stream of consciousness, language and the annals of Greek mythology. Joyce made Dublin vibrant and real; even if you’ve never been to the Irish city, reading Ulysses will give you a stronger sense of place than a Lonely Planet or Frommer’s guidebook ever will.

Zadie Smith’s NW

Zadie Smith, the well regarded English novelist, recently released a book entitled NW, which refers to the Northwest section of London. The novel is a collage-like travelogue of the type of local colour and multiculturalism found in that district, which Smith has first hand knowledge of because she grew up in the region. At one point, Zadie Smith even mimics the style of Google Maps to give the reader detailed directions on how to get to Bartlett Avenue from Yates Lane. She then follows these directions up with a redux version, which takes us through the sights and sounds of life on the street, where everything from Polish cigarettes, Jamaican music and the smell of couscous and kebabs is documented.

The Importance of a Tour Guide
So what do these two writers teach us about travel, escorted tours and tour guides? It does not matter if you are in a city, village or a foreign country, there are going to be several different versions of that destination. In other words, you could travel to Italy or Saigon ten times and never have the same experience twice. Furthermore, the type of experience you have on an independent holiday is going to be different than what you have on an escorted tour. This idea can be broken down again; when you are on an escorted tour the knowledge and enthusiasm of the guide can make or break a holiday. Obviously, you want a tour guide who has the same flair for local colour and anecdote as James Joyce or Zadie Smith.

While most travellers book an escorted tour because of its overall convenience and budget-friendly price tag, the right tour guide can show you a version of a destination that does not exist in brochures and guidebooks.

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