Self Guided Holidays
As the name suggests, Self Guided holidays rely on you and your party using a set of maps provided by the holiday operator to guide yourselves around an area or along a route, without a guide there in person to direct you.
The advantage of Self Guided holidays is the freedom and flexibility that they offer. You can pretty much take the holiday at your own pace, although if you are on a Point to Point tour you will still need to make the next night's accommodation before nightfall.
For anything but holidays following the simplest country lane / waymarked routes, you should always ensure that at least one member in your group is a competant map reader. As further backup, make sure before you leave that your mobile phone will work in that area, and that if in a foreign speaking country, someone should be able to speak a few basic words to get you out of trouble.
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Fully Guided Holidays
A tour guide will be with you at all times when you are cycling on a Fully Guided holiday. The guide should have extensive knowledge of the area, and will be able to keep you on course, and on schedule throughout the holiday.
The advantage of a Fully Guided holiday is that you don't have to worry about finding your way, and can therefore focus your efforts on enjoying the riding and the scenery. The guide will also be able to show you hidden routes and point out interesting landmarks that you might never have found if you were on your own.
Fully Guided holidays can take you to places that you would never have considered riding before and can be a real experience. You will also get to meet other people in the group and potentially strike up new friendships.
One thing to consider is that because you will inevitably be part of a larger group (not always the case for shorter tours), flexibility will be limited to what the group as a whole wants to do. You will also be expected, within reason, to keep up with the group, so always check the Grading (see Grading section) allocated to that holiday and ensure it's within your limits. Speak to the tour operator beforehand if you have any concerns.
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Things to consider when choosing a Self Guided or Fully Guided Holiday