I hate tours for many reasons. First, I seldomly like the people in the group. There’s the one that asks to many questions. There’s the one that shows up late. There’s the one that is too slow getting on and off the bus or to and from the sites. By the end, we may become friends (see Salt Flats, Bolivia: The Definitive Guide to Going) but that is the exception. Second, I hate tours because the guides take me to tourist traps. Why do I care to go to a limoncello factory (see Amalfi Coast: A Beautiful Tourist Trap)? Why do I want to stop at a silk factory? I just want to see the sites and go back to my hotel. Third, I can’t pay attention. I usually last three minutes before my mind starts wandering. Whether it was in college, law school, or business school, I skipped more classes than I attended. It may have been easier to learn by going to class and taking notes but, against my own interests, I waited until the night before to master calculus (see how that turned out by buying my book).
Despite my contempt for tours, they do serve a purpose. Had I not had handlers in Bhutan, I would have taken a photo of the fortresses and moved on to the next attraction not knowing or caring what I missed. Having learned about Buddhism, the significance of the paintings, and more about the Bhutanese culture, I was able to better appreciate what I was seeing.
This doesn’t mean that I will hire guides in the future. Like attending class, I will only have a guide when it is compulsory. The rest of the time I will stick to speed tourism whereby I take a photo, move on, and read about it on Wikipedia before writing a blog post where I purport to be an expert on the subject. Or I utilize my other approach which I have called ‘innovative tourism’. That’s where I make up a story about what I am seeing and tell anyone that will listen. Either approach beats being swindled by opportunistic locals (see “You’re a Bad Tourist.” Words From Luxor Tour Guide).