Reasons to go with a guide
In the Tahoe Adventure Company office, we get a lot of phone calls from people who want to get out on the water, but don’t want to take a guided kayaking or paddle boarding tour. Some people hold this belief so staunchly that they’ll turn down an opportunity to get on the water altogether to avoid the apparent agony of having someone lead you around. I understand it–especially after several years in a pandemic, sometimes the last thing we want is to hang out with a stranger. Yet, I heard in a podcast that often what we think we want and what we actually want are quite different. They did a study on people getting on a commuter train–some people were asked to engage in small talk with those around them, others to continue business as usual: headphones, screens, social isolation. When they asked people what group they wanted to be in, everyone said business as usual–almost nobody wanted to have to talk to fellow commuters. Surprisingly, the people who did socially engage left the train with a greater sense of satisfaction than those who self-isolated. I think it’s the same with adventure tours–we may think we just want to “putz around in a rented kayak for an hour or two” (direct quote from a guest)–but we don’t even realize what we’re missing. When we let someone else take the reins, we minimize the logistics headache, we open ourselves to learn more and connect with locals, and we maximize the opportunity to experience the awe of a well-done trip.
When you’re planning a trip, you probably spend hours looking into the coolest places to go, the least touristy spots, the secret tips and tricks for how to make the most of your time. What if, instead, you had a friend that lived in your destination who planned it for you and showed you around? You’d take their advice, right? Same thing with going with a guide. You might have less control (which for some people is a dealbreaker), but you’d probably have a more interesting, more exciting, more satisfying trip. Plus, when you book with an adventure company, all you have to do is show up in appropriate clothes and they handle literally everything else. At Tahoe Adventure Company, kayakers need not worry about transporting their gear or finding a well-fitting PFD. Bikers just have to send their height beforehand and will arrive at the trailhead with a perfectly fitting, well-tuned bike ready to be ripped on. Even our tour at Sand Harbor, an infamously difficult place to visit, cuts out all the parking hassle–just show up, we'll drive over and deal with parking for you. Best of all, adventure guides almost always have some kind of wilderness medicine certification and often have experience responding in wilderness emergencies, so you can rest assured that if the worst case scenario does play out, there is someone right there to handle it.
Still not convinced? Our guides lead the same kayak tour nearly a hundred times over the course of the summer. You are guaranteed to see more, notice more, and find cooler spots to stop when traveling with someone whose literal job is to make you happy. These guides dedicate everything they’ve got to the job–they endure long hours in the sun, significant amounts of manual labor, and inconsistent schedules so that you can have a better vacation. They give their all so you can have the best experience possible–and we can all but guarantee you’ll have a better time with them than on your own. Give it a try, and don’t forget to tip them well!