Via Viator

 
"Life is a journey, not a destination."
lisbon train.png

I get it. But sometimes life is about the destination. Like, what to do with your time to fully experience some place you're visiting. Most of the time we pick destinations based on one or two things we've seen on either Instagram or Pinterest. Maybe it's a gorgeous white-sand beach or a frosted mountain peak. We book the flights, possibly make sleeping arrangements, but then what? If it's an all-inclusive then you're likely booking activities with the resort in between laps at the swim-up bar. Not a bad gig.

However, all-inclusives aren't my desired way to travel and I find the activities available are almost all the same in each country. Zip-lining, four-wheeling and tubing are all fun to experience, but I don't feel the need to repeat them in every country I visit. They also tend to fall short in fulfilling the cultural aspect in traveling somewhere new. 

Viator was recommended to me by a sweet friend when James and I were planning our honeymoon in Portugal. I am so grateful for her insistence that we book the Lisbon Food and Wine Tour. It absolutely made the trip. We learned in detail about the variances between neighborhoods and the history of Lisbon's development, all while our senses were delighted by delicious wine and light bites. 

What first struck me about Viator was their customer service. After spending a few days in Porto, James and I were on a train headed for Lisbon. To this day I cannot tell you what happened on that ride. We heard a smack, saw what looked like a skateboard fly past our window and then our train came to screeching halt. Two hours later we still hadn't moved. By this time we should have been unpacking our luggage at our hotel and making our way into Lisbon's town square for the tour. Needless to say, we weren't going to make it. So I called Viator and expected nothing. What I received was the immediate re-booking of the same tour for the next day! No questions asked. I've tried to figure out what happened that day on the train. No one ever wrote me back from any of the agencies. However, our tour with Tiago more than made up for it, and being involved in a train wreck in Europe is now an addendum to a growing list of travel anecdotes. 

The ease of booking and the variety of options worldwide are additional pluses when working with this company. Viator seems to take care in vetting agencies before allowing them to enter their catalog. You can search by a region or country, or decide you want to find an epic place to scuba dive and start your search there. You can compare different tours based on price or ratings. I've found travelers' comments to be incredibly helpful when determining which tour would best fit our style. 

We had another blunder recently, when booking things to do during our upcoming stay in Greece and Turkey. I didn't catch that the date to book a tour populated with the year of 2019, when James and I are vacationing this year (2018). The panic started to rise when I read the fine print. It stated that booking this tour included "NO REFUNDS. NO MODIFICATIONS." Again I called Viator, expecting them to say "sorry about your luck." However, I was pleasantly surprised when an agent called on my behalf to the Turkish tour company operating our excursion and explained the mishap. By the next day I had a corrected itinerary and my heartbeat returned to a normal rhythm. 

In summary, this is what I love about booking tours via Viator:

  1. Top-notch customer service.
  2. Vetted affiliates.
  3. Trusted reviews. 
  4. Ease of operation.
  5. Volume and variety of options.

Make the most of the destination, but don't forget to soak up the journey as well. 

TravelLyndsay Cavanagh