In this also there is a very large choice. It ranges from the deluxe cruise, in which every possible want of the traveler is provided, to the tramping trip on which the traveler must take complete charge for himself. Roughly these ways also divide into four categories. First, the escorted or conducted tour or cruise. The better tourist agencies handle such trips with the utmost skill and comfort for the traveler. The individual members are provided with all transportation, whether on ships, trains, automobiles, or local conveyances. All taxes on tickets or on hotel bills, all hotel tips, all handling of a specified amount of baggage, the cost of conductors, guides or other aids to sightseeing, are all included in the lump sum paid before the start.
The escorted cruise or tour has many obvious advantages. If it is a cruise, you move only once, so to speak, in contrast to the constant change of residence of any other form of travel. You unpack upon reaching your cabin, you do not pack again until you catch the train for your return home. Moreover a ship specially chartered for a tourist cruise goes only to the places that are of interest to travelers. It makes no freight stops or delays at dull places. You live on the same ship, sit in the same deck chair, have the same place at table, the same stewards and other servants, and so on. I hope you get what I mean.
In other words a cruise is ideal for those who wish to travel with the least trouble or discomfort.
You will have, for instance, almost unlimited baggage allowance. You may even bring along the favorite foot-stool and in some cases, the canary. You know definitely what the trip is to cost you, except for usually minor incidentals. The moment one place has been seen, you move on to the next, without waiting to secure new accommodations and without having to endure quarters and conditions that you did not bargain for in leaving home. “On your own” you will not only be constantly jumping from ship to ship, each time to a new stateroom and all the rest, but the cost of the trip is more uncertain and not infrequently greater.
Tourist agencies have many advantages. They know when holidays abroad will make too crowded traveling, when local festivals that are worth seeing take place, whether such an express runs daily or only three times a week. They also know which hotels are best for the price you can afford to pay andwhich is probably more importanthow to make sure of getting accommodations in those hotels.
That is why some travelers who do not care for the public cruise or tour, in which they have limited choice of companions or of itinerary, patronize another of their types of service which we might call the escorted private party. The escort may be merely by advice from the central office and its branches, or an actual flesh and blood courier may be sent along. He will probably speak several languages, will no doubt have often been over the route before and will “know the ropes.” In such a party you can pick the people you will be associated with, and largely the places you will go and the things you will see. What some agencies call “Intimate Tours off the Beaten Track” are well suited to people of the small escorted party temperament.
The third category are those who eschew tours, preferring to travel alone. For these also certain tourist agencies have a type of service which has become more and more popular. Those which specialize in this generally call it their “Independent Travel” service.
In this case the traveler arranges with the agency for an itinerary which meets with his or her exact wishes and requirements, for which the agency then submits an inclusive rate.
Just as in the case of personally conducted tours, complete arrangements are made for the traveler in advance under the independent travel plan. This includes steamer reservations going and coming (of any class, according to the client’s means), railroad and sleeping car tickets, hotel accommodations (also selected in accordance with what the client wishes and is able to pay), and all taxes which travelers may be called upon to pay.
The independent tour may also be made to include such special arrangements as automobile trips, guides and private couriers.
Too much cannot be said in favor of this form of travel. You go where you want and when you want, subject only to the limitations of the itinerary you yourself have selectedthough this may also be changed en route. Yet everywhere you go you are expected and met and everything is done both to add to your comfort and spare you inconvenience.
There are, of course, some independent travelers who prefer to meet the world face to face by depending on their own resources. That way, they feel, may be more probability of adventure, more likelihood of genuine thrills. For the sake of these they are willing to forego the greater comfort of the “independent tour” and to accept philosophically the disappointments caused by the failure to secure always the accommodations they wish.
No doubt I am personally prejudiced, but I cannot conclude this engrossing subject of how to go abroad without adding a fourth categorythe plain wanderer. That need not by any means imply a penniless individual; wealthy wanderers are far from rare. But such a one would never think of accepting a fixed itinerary from anyone. He may drop into a tourist agency and buy a ticket or “book accommodations” to the place he has suddenly decided to go to next, because a tourist agency is often the easiest place to get such things, and the general information that goes with them, all at no increase in price. But he leaves his route open, as people like to feel they keep their minds open, so that if he hears in the smoking room one night of a wonderful new ruin just uncovered, or catches a whisper in a native bazaar of something no other tourist has ever visited, he may forth-with go and see. But it takes a certain amount of phlegm and self-reliance, and energy, not to say freedom from calendar limitations, to accomplish and enjoy this form of travel. Besides, we are now hanging over the brink of the chasm which separates the mere traveler from the adventurer and explorer, and to these latter I am not presuming to proffer advice.