Our experience traveling with Go Ahead Tours lived up to their promise of being “a company of passionate adventurers dedicated to creating the best journey for every traveler”. That isn’t an easy promise to deliver on as travelers can expect and be pleased by very different things. Someone’s a foodie, someone’s a shopper and someone likes to be given extensive history and information. Sometimes one person is all three. How on earth do you make them all so happy that they have a 95% level of satisfaction in terms of saying they would recommend Go Ahead Tours to a friend?
We aren’t sure but we know what they did on our trip to Croatia and Slovenia that pleased us and led to us recommending them as the best tour company to friends looking to plan land travel for the upcoming year.
If you’re feeling skeptical and thinking “you probably got your trip for free so you aren’t going to say anything bad” we have a two part answer. Yes, we got our trip for free. However, there were absolutely no strings attached saying we had to provide a positive report.
We were sent to provide our genuine impressions. Go Ahead Tours was aware that we review both what we like and what we think needs improvement. Here’s our experience:
Top notch Tour Director
Go Ahead Tours prides themselves on the caliber of Tour Directors they provide and, based on Tamara, the excellent Tour Director we had, they should be proud.
Truthfully everything about a trip can be superlative in terms of food, hotels and sights but if the Tour Director is a dud the trip will be a dud. Blonde was once on a trip with another company where the Tour Director seemed to think he was our Drill Sargent and she does not have fond memories of that trip.
But we truly can’t think of any way to say Tamara could have done a better job with our group of 18 travelers. (Go Ahead Tours caps their groups at 35 people which is about 10 less than the industry average.)
Tamara is from Croatia but has also lived in Italy and Bosnia and brought a perspective that was worldly yet also regional. She had exceptional organizational skills (they’re exceptional when you don’t even realize they’re being used), an amazing depth and breadth of knowledge about the areas where we traveled and a warm personality that charmed even the most charm-resistant. But she wasn’t any pushover. On one occasion she was unhappy with a local tour guide and she took quick action to right matters and ensure that future travelers would not have the same experience. She even managed to do it all while looking elegant which probably shouldn’t have mattered but impressed us greatly.
Good mixture of structured and free time
Our group would start each day together. We traveled on an unusually comfortable and spotless coach. On our way Tamara would give us relevant background. We were sure she secretly had to be using a teleprompter she had so much knowledge. We still wonder if she studied notes at night because she was so well-informed and made it all seem fresh even though she has done the same itinerary many times.
After our excursions, which included local guides at each stop, we would generally have a late (at least to our stomachs) lunch and then have free time. For us that was a major plus as having every day be packed with group activities and covering long distances is something we have learned by experience doesn’t make us happy travelers. We like to have time to wander around on our own, seek out places we’ve read about or ask for ideas.
And if we didn’t have a clue (not uncommon for us) what we wanted to do with our free time Tamara always had a list of suggestions. She created a poster at the conclusion of each day’s group activities and would put on it things to see, places to eat and other useful information for those who hadn’t already made their own plans. Some people consulted guide books and others (like us) mostly relied on Tamara’s suggestions combined with a little of our own research.
Traveling with Go Ahead Tours appealed to us before we even left because the itinerary had a good combination of cities and nature. Sometimes it seems as if you have to choose one or the other. We like a combination. Our itinerary took us to 4 cities (Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb and Ljubljana) and several of nature’s wonders (Plitvice Lakes, Lake Bled and Postjama Caves).
We truly covered all of the highlights of the region as well as some smaller treats such as Trogir and Zadar. We came home feeling like quite the experts on the Adriatic coast. (Whether we are is an entirely different matter.)
Of course “free” is a price everyone likes but we compared the costs of traveling with Go Ahead Tours with similar trips offered by competitors and Go Ahead’s prices are very good.
Blonde was just trying to help a friend plan a trip to Argentina for next year and Go Ahead’s itinerary when compared to others was notably less expensive.
Go Ahead Tours has over 50 years of planning trips and the scale and experience to manage costs without sacrificing quality.
Option of having Go Ahead Tours also do your air travel arrangements
Go Ahead Tours has contracts with several major carriers and can make your air arrangements for you.
You have the option of doing your air separately if you wish.
This is one area where we say to do your homework so you can compare whether doing air on your own or with Go Ahead Tours gives you the best schedules and prices for your needs. Doing it on your own opens up the possibility of other carriers but also adds complexity to your trip planning.
Our experience traveling with Go Ahead Tours on their Croatia and Slovenia tour was excellent and we are happy to recommend them (and we don’t get any sort of compensation for doing so).
Feel free to ask us if you have any questions about our experience with Go Ahead Tours; we’ll give you the scoop.
Disclosure: Go Ahead Tours provided us with our trip for free. Don’t expect them to do that for you too.