The trip was a long-awaited self-guided trip to Japan on an itinerary that was our own design. The company was willing and helpful in accommodating our desire to see a lot in our allotted time, and assured us that the arrangements they helped us make-hotel reservations and train schedules- were possible for us to manage on our own. This turned out to be only partly true; they assumed that we would be much more able to maneuver in a strange culture without language skills then we actually were. We had to struggle to successfully complete our itinerary, and there were a few instances in which the company's errors led to significant inconvenience. Having said that, we learned through our struggles, and did emerge as more competent, but at times it was a struggle. We could have used a bit more help than we got, and the promise of "24 hour assistance" was not always true. Sometimes it felt that they were impatient with our concerns about things that were obvious to them, like finding one's way in a huge train station without language skills, or how to dial telephone calls; "you'll do fine" was the common response, which was not always the case.
Seeing the places that we had wanted to see, and being able to experience a different culture. The professional guiding supplied by the company that we did engage for a few of our days were enormously helpful; I'm not sure how we would have fared without some of the information we got from our guides.
Engage more frequent professional guiding...they are more than worth the cost. They brought us much closer to cultural history and customs than we could have managed on our own. I would also think twice about a self-guided tour in a region where we have no language or communication skills....for a short trip, this can be very stressful.
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