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With all the choices out there, finding the right tour company to meet your needs can seem overwhelming. Asking (and receiving answers to) the right questions can ease your anxiety and maybe even turn you from a wary traveler into a birding tour enthusiast. The first step is narrowing down your tour options into a workable selection.
Both large and small tour companies offer bargains, but your enjoyment is what it's all about. With a big, long-established tour company, you may pay a little more, but the higher cost should mean a high quality experience. Smaller companies often can provide more personal attention. Caveat: If a smaller, newer company is offering a tour for substantially less than its competitors, it's wise to delve a little deeper to make sure that you are getting what you pay for. Ask about those things most important to you:
Experience is the best indication of a tour company's service, so ask around! Talk to members of your local bird club and anyone else who is a frequent traveler. Chances are good that you know someone who has taken guided tours. Personal recommendations can be very helpful.
If you've never gone on a tour, start with a relatively short excursion in North America to see how you like the experience, rather than leap into a three-week marathon trip to some exotic country. You should also consider the pace and intensity of the tour. Some trips are relaxed and others are gung-ho. Start off with an easy trip and plan for a more challenging one later. The tour company can describe the pace of the trip for you.
Usually a bird-tour company will maintain an office staffed with people who know the tour business. If you can't find out what you need to know by reading the published information about a tour, call the office and ask questions.
For more articles on birds and birding, check out the Bird Watcher's Digest Website.
To find binoculars to use on your birding trip, view our Staff Picks.
Article written by Bill Thompson III, Editor at Bird Watcher's Digest.