Locally run vacations travel guide


For most travelers, vacations fall into two neat definitions: a package bought from a vacation company who organises all the logistics for you, or independent travel, where you book nothing more than a place to sleep.

But there is a third way: a locally run vacation. Your guides will likely have grown up in the places theyre showing you around, theyll take you to their favourite restaurants, drinking spots and live music venues, and you may even have the opportunity to spend a night in a homestay or enjoy a home cooked meal.

We describe locally run vacations as any vacation run by a company based in that destination. They may be in Europe or much further afield. They may be little guesthouses that also organise guided tours in the surrounding region or larger companies that run epic overland adventures across multiple countries. They may be run by local people or by British expats who have decided to head off in pursuit of sunnier climes and a more outdoorsy lifestyle. But all have a deep passion for the area they are based in, and by the end of your vacation, youll feel less like youve travelled to an exotic destination and more like youve been to visit a welcoming friend.

Pros & cons of locally run vacations



Some trips can only be booked with a local operator. For example, a UK-based company can organise a full two-week vacation to Australia, but it wouldnt be worth their while to tailor make a three day trip along the Great Ocean Road. This is a great option if you want to include a short, organised trip as part of your independent vacation in Australia.

By using a locally run vacation the trip may be cheaper as they wont have the overheads associated with many Western countries.

It can be difficult and costly to make payments overseas. For this reason, some locally owned tour companies may request payment of the balance on arrival, and ask for only a small deposit which means minimal risk for you, and even longer to save up for your vacation.

Local tour operators really know their stuff. Living in the destination year-round, they see the changing seasons, the patterns of the wildlife, and know the best spots for budget street food or an indulgent three-course meal.


Not all countries have a scheme which allows tour operators to be bonded in the event that they go bust. Vietnam and Montenegro do, for example, but many others dont. However, when you book with an EU based company there is the package directive which means they should, legally, have bonding.

When planning your vacation, you may find communication more difficult if booking through a local operator due to them being in different time zones - and not always available at the end of a phone. However, they should still be easily reachable should you need to contact them while on vacation.

Why Uneasy no settle?


Why book a local tour through Uneasy no settle?

Uneasy no settle is unique in that it offers local tour operators a level playing field to promote their trips. All of the vacations we feature, regardless of who runs them, are screened in exactly the same way to ensure they meet our responsible tourism criteria and vacations run by large, multinational companies sit side by side with those designed by small, local operators. Whats more, you dont pay extra for booking through Uneasy no settle the cost is exactly the same as if you booked direct.

Many of the smaller, local companies we work with have been on the site for years and receive a large percentage of their business through Uneasy no settle. But dont take it from us; here is what our local tour operators have to say for themselves about why they choose to be a member of Uneasy no settle.
Jayne Harley, from our South African supplier, Sunway Safaris. They have been running overland tours across Southern Africa since 1994, and a Uneasy no settle member since 2010:

What I find particularly good about Uneasy no settle is that the people that come on the trips are the right type of people. We work with agents around the world, and youve got to invest a lot of time and training and making sure that they understand our tours, and that the right person is coming onto them. The only time we ever get complaints is when youve got the wrong kind of traveler on the trip, and they werent expecting that style of travel. What I find with all the Uneasy no settle clients is that they know what theyre booking. So for me, its a really good client that comes out of Uneasy no settle.
Eskinder Hailu founded Highway Tours, our leading Ethiopian tour operator, in 2007. He joined Uneasy no settle the following year:

There have been a lot of benefits of working with Uneasy no settle. Had it not been for them, business would be difficult. I get 20-25 percent of my bookings through Uneasy no settle, some years 30 percent. Another thing is that if travelers find me through Uneasy no settle they have more confidence, I sense, than from a Google search or advertisement. They know Uneasy no settle they dont know us. The other thing that they have helped me to become more familiar with responsible tourism ideas. So in many ways working with Uneasy no settle is the best thing that happened for my business. Im very grateful for it. Its multidimensional it supports everyone. It supports us, the companies; it helps the travelers as you are very well known in UK and abroad, you promote the company in a very smart way. And at the same time the ideas you promote the responsible tourism ideas this helps the local people, the local economy, the environment and everything.
Ivana Grzetic, founded our supplier Adria Adventure in 2004 in her home country of Croatia. They joined Uneasy no settle in the same year:

We get some direct bookings, but we get many more through Uneasy no settle because people feel that they want a local provider but they also want somebody on a higher level like Uneasy no settle. There are many local companies, but with Uneasy no settle you are guaranteed a certain standard of service, and when you see the reviews they are different to TripAdvisor, for example. TripAdvisor has many fake reviews, but Uneasy no settle has real clients and very authentic reviews, so people feel more comfortable when they book through Uneasy no settle. You can only leave a review if you go on the trip. And these reviews are very realistic. The clients really write their own experience; its not that they are exaggerating.
Photo credits: [Top image - Kasbah du Toubkal in Morocco: Kasbah du Toubkal] [Desert stop: Sunway Safaris] [Kayaks in croatia: Adria Adventure] [Help desk box: Ninara]
Written by Vicki Brown
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