The Blog

When It Comes to Planning That Dream Vacation, Smaller May Be Better

There are many reasons to visit many of the world's most exotic and memorable locations. The world is a big place, but that doesn't mean your only choice when making travel arrangements is with a big travel company.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Planning a vacation, particularly one to some faraway destination, seems like something that you should do through one of the many large tour companies. You might think the larger companies have all of the tools and resources to produce an unforgettable vacation. They have so much money at their disposal, and so many agents, that they must know every single great thing there is to see in that country and have all of the resources needed to make the trip something truly spectacular. Finally, you might think that with all of these options they would surely have something to fit any budget.

You might be correct in some circumstances in thinking along those lines, but you might also be missing out on things that would make your vacation truly special. When it comes to making travel plans, thinking that bigger is better may not provide you the rewards you really desire. Sometimes you get the better deal, by getting more adaptability, flexibility and personalization, when you choose to go with the smaller, or boutique, operation.

One way to think about it is to think about a large machine such as a semi-trailer truck. It is useful for the job it was intended to do, which is to get people and goods from one place to another. However, you would not take a truck off-road, for example, or try to use it for something for which you would normally use a smaller and more agile vehicle. Large trucks tend to be slow, hard to stop, lumbering and not as agile or adaptable to various situations as a smaller vehicle.

The same is true of using a smaller tour company when planning your next vacation. If what you want to do is visit a particular location at a reduced price, then a larger company is probably your best bet. However, if you are looking for something different and specialized you might find there are some amazing things the smaller operator can accomplish.

A smaller operator can create a more specialized experience because they can take the time to work with you one-on-one and listen to your needs, wishes, and desires to custom craft a vacation that will have deeper meaning and more impact on you that something you buy off of a standard menu. Using a smaller company versus a much larger one is like comparing the eating experience at a fast food restaurant versus a smaller gourmet restaurant. Both may fill you up and provide sustenance, but one will leave a more lasting impression. One you may use as a quick fix, but the other you will talk about with friends and relatives for years.

A smaller tour operator is more flexible, and more willing to work with smaller groups. The larger companies make their money by providing vacations for large numbers of people traveling in large groups. Boutique tour operators function on a smaller scale, so when you make that trip to Egypt or the Mediterranean you will not be crammed onto a bus with dozens of other passengers. Instead you will likely receive a more personalized tour of a section of the city you might not have seen otherwise. And you will likely be traveling in a bus with a few fellow travelers, or perhaps just you and your loved one.

Depending on the nature of your intended vacation, this may be exactly what you need. Are you looking for that special honeymoon getaway, or looking to celebrate an anniversary or to renew your wedding vows? Or perhaps you have been saving for years to take the entire family on a very special family vacation that your children will rave about to their children? Or, are you just looking to visit a destination to be able to tell people that you have been to the country in question? If so, then doing it cheap and fast is probably the right option for you.

However, if you are looking for a powerful and personal experience, then maybe you need to consider using a smaller boutique tour operator. Then you can come away with a specialized, customized, memorable trip that you will talk about for the rest of your life. You may see things you wouldn't have seen from the window of the big tour bus.

It may also depend in where you want to visit and what you want to see. Some places in the world might be just fine to see with a large group from a large tour agency. But, perhaps, there is some place in the world that is more personal, more special, for you. Maybe it's the country your ancestors were from, or where you grew up as a child. Maybe you have some deep connection to a certain part of the world. If so, then having a more personal, specialized experience may be what the doctor ordered. Especially if you want to visit a town or location that is a bit off the beaten path and not part of a larger companies' standard menu of destinations.

One of the times where you see this kind of specialization coming together is when travelers want to visit a region for religious reasons. Such pilgrimages are very personal to each individual traveler and there might be certain locations that have deeper meaning depending on the vacationer or some travelers may want to attend religious services on a daily basis. Boutique tour operators can arrange for that to happen and ensure a fulfilling and powerful experience for the traveler. They can create the kind of trip that will have deep spiritual meaning and spiritual strengthening for the traveler.

There are many reasons to visit many of the world's most exotic and memorable locations. The world is a big place, but that doesn't mean your only choice when making travel arrangements is with a big travel company. For a myriad of reasons, sometimes smaller is better. It the end, going with something smaller might make you appreciate just how big the world really is and how much there is to see that goes beyond the flashy travel brochures you get from the big travel company.