Personal guides, or local fixers who can guide you one-on-one or in small groups aren't always cheap, but can enrich your travel experience and can get you behind the scenes access. If you work with one, you want to get your money's worth. Here is what to look for to make sure you do. Image from isabelsommerfeld.
When searching for the right fixer, create a list of qualities are most important to you. Travel writer Brook Wilkinson has some suggestions to get your list started:
- They can help you skip long lines. They can do this in a number of ways, pre-buying the tickets, having guide or group passes or just knowing the right person. However they do it, ask them before booking to make sure you won't end up paying to stand in line with them. Also make sure they can access any site you want to see. Some sites require certain guide licenses and you want a guide with those licenses.
- They're knowledgeable in the areas you care about. They won't know everything, but they should at least be an expert in the areas you're interested in. For example, if you plan to visit a lot of art museums, you want a guide who knows about art and art history.
- They take you to excellent restaurants and shops, not just the ones giving them kickbacks. For a truly authentic experience, you want to dine and shop in good, local, authentic places without worrying that you're missing out on something better just because your fixer had their wallet in mind over the service you hired them for.
If you can't find this information on their site or by talking to them directly, search for reviews for the local you're considering. You can also ask to speak to some of their previous customers, although they may feed you only positive reviews. But you shouldn't have any issue finding reviews on good guides. If you do, then maybe they're not a good choice.
Make Sure Your Private Guide Can Do These Six Things [Wendy Perrin]