I Just Did My First Ever Group Tour with Globus! Here’s How it Went.

by Jon Miksis
Globus Choice Touring Northern California Featured Image
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Globus Choice Touring in 2022

For as long as I’ve been a travel blogger, I’ve done all the trip planning myself. I book flights, train and bus tickets, hotels, and attraction passes. I research how to get from the airport to the hotel, the timetables at various attractions, and any rules/restrictions along the way (thanks Covid). And of course, I seek out the best restaurants, photo spots, and things to do in each destination.

As you know, trip planning is not an easy and straightforward process. In fact, it can be a total hassle (and headache) at times. Sure, I appreciate the freedom that comes with doing it yourself, but I’ve long wondered what it would actually feel like to be on vacation and not have to worry about all the things. Enter Globus Journeys.

I recently went on my first ever group tour and was amazed by the experience! It was a 9-day guided tour of Northern California with Globus Journeys, which covered a mix of well-known and lesser-known destinations in Nor Cal. No stress and no hassle. I just had to show up to the bus every morning and everything else was taken care of. Such a different way of traveling for me!

This trip was considered a “Choice Tour”, which offers a level of customization and flexibility that you don’t get with traditional tours. More on that below, as well as everything else that made this group tour experience with Globus so special!

Globus choice tour of Northern California review
Disclosure: My trip to Northern California was in partnership with Globus Journeys and iAmbassador. As always, all opinions are my own.

The Northern California Itinerary

The most important part of any trip is the itinerary. And I’m happy to report that Globus brought me to some amazing places on this “California Dreaming’: Northern California by Design” tour.

Visiting Lake Tahoe was one of the many highlights of this Globus Choice Tour.
Visiting Lake Tahoe was one of the many highlights of this Globus Choice Tour.

The trip started with a night in San Francisco, followed by visits to Sausalito, Sonoma, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, and Yosemite National Park. We covered a lot of ground in a short period of time, but it didn’t feel rushed one bit! Here’s a high-level breakdown of the trip:

Day 1: San Francisco

Day 2: Sausalito, Sonoma, Sacramento

Day 3: Sacramento

Day 4: Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes

Day 5: Mammoth Lakes Region (Bodie Ghost Town + Mono Lake)

Days 6-8: Yosemite National Park

Day 9: Morning in Yosemite, then back to San Francisco

A wine tasting in Sonoma Valley was one of the highlights of this Globus Choice Tour in Northern California.
A wine tasting in Sonoma Valley was one of the highlights of this Globus Choice Tour in Northern California.

The benefits of Globus Choice Touring

At these destinations, we got to enjoy a mix of guided sightseeing and curated excursions. There was also plenty of free time so we could explore some sights on our own. The hotels were centrally located, which made it easy and convenient to get around.

In addition to this Northern California itinerary, Globus offers 12 other Choice Tours throughout North America and Europe. As one of the world’s leading tour companies, Globus—along with sister companies Avalon Waterways, Monograms, and Cosmos—lead more than 450 tours across 70 countries. This includes everything from budget vacation tours and independent travel packages to river cruises and choice tours. Each comes with a super knowledgeable local guide who provides rich commentary and depth to the experience!

The Globus tour kicked off in San Francisco before we headed to a variety of other amazing destinations.
The Globus tour kicked off in San Francisco before we headed to a variety of other amazing destinations.

The highlights of my first ever group tour experience

Going into this trip, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t been on a group tour before, so I was curious (and nervous) to see how it would compare to my usual way of traveling. Would I like the people? Would the style of traveling hinder my energy or positively contribute to it? How about the itinerary – would it inspire me and give me a solid enough overview of Northern California? Thankfully, to all the above – Globus over-delivered and exceeded all of my expectations.

My first group tour experience with Globus was an amazing success, thanks to the people
My first group tour with Globus was amazing, thanks to the people!
Left to right: Caz (Y Travel Blog), Will (Going Awesome Places), and Matt (Landlopers)

An unforgettable Globus Choice Touring experience

From the Northern California itinerary to the relaxed style of traveling, this Choice Tour with Globus was unforgettable for me. For the first time in a long time, I felt totally relaxed and at ease. I didn’t have to worry about getting from Point A to Point B or anything in between. Our tour guide, Derek took care of all the details. It truly felt liberating.

And here I thought that solo travel (and traveling with my wife) provided me with the greatest sense of freedom. If anything, a DIY approach to traveling can sometimes make you feel less free. The stress and hassle that comes with doing things all on your own can sometimes exceed the benefits of the creative freedom, especially in today’s world where Covid adds a lot of additional preparation (and worry) to the mix. The only real stress I experienced on this trip was what to order for dinner each night. Now that’s the life…Haha!

In addition to the itinerary and stress relief, here are some of the other amazing aspects of my Choice Tour with Globus:

Choices and free time, galore!

With a jam-packed itinerary, I was surprised by the sheer amount of choices and free time that came with this tour. Of course, like other tours, a significant part of each day is dedicated to guided touring and structured activities. However, what sets Choice Touring with Globus apart is the level of customization, where you’re able to experience many of the destinations in your own way.

Amazing ice cream in downtown Sonoma, California
Naturally, I decided to get some ice cream during my free time in Downtown Sonoma

The choices for excursions were fantastic

For example, in Sacramento, each tour guest had a choice between a local food tour and a railroad museum and scenic train ride. And in Yosemite National Park, we were offered a choice between a guided photography tour and a nature walk. Everyone on the tour has different interests and preferences, which makes choice touring very attractive!

Lots of free time

In addition to the custom experiences, I really appreciated the free time allotted to us on this tour. Each day began with breakfast included at the hotel, followed by a day of touring (typically from 8 or 9am until 5pm). In some destinations, like Sonoma, we were given a couple of hours mid-day to do some exploring. In others, like Sacramento, we had the afternoon off to check out the city at our own pace. Lunch and dinners were on our own most days, giving us the opportunity to experience the local flavor in the way of our choosing.

During a free night in Sacramento, I was able to catch the sunset from downtown! Globus Choice touring is incredible
During a free night in Sacramento, I was able to catch the sunset from downtown!

I’m sure you aren’t exactly excited by the thought of being on a tour bus all day. I wasn’t either – and thankfully, this tour wasn’t like that at all. Sure, sometimes there were substantial driving times between destinations, but the freedom and flexibility really made this quite different from a typical group bus tour.

Private guided tour with one of our "choice" days at Yosemite National Park
With our free time on the last day in Yosemite, a group of us arranged a private guided tour that brought us to more remote parts of the park. Left to right: Rachelle (The Travel Bite), Will (Going Awesome Places), and Lina + David (Divergent Travelers).

The People

From the tour guide to the tour participants and fellow travel bloggers, I loved meeting all the people on this tour. After all, traveling is all about the people. It sure makes the experience that much more enriching!

Meeting new faces in cool places on this Globus California tour
Meeting new faces in cool places on this Globus California tour. Left to right: Matt (Landlopers), Helene (Helene In Between), and Will (Going Awesome Places)

During our nine days together, there was no shortage of opportunities to laugh with one another and make lasting friendships. Globus gave us assigned seats on the bus, which changed from day to day. We also had group dinners and plenty of excursions and free time to make new memories together.

I thoroughly enjoyed striking up conversations with folks from all over and learning about their travel experiences while sharing my own!

Group photo of the Globus tour participants
Group photo of the Globus tour participants

Mix of nature and city destinations

With a selection of city and nature destinations on the tour, Globus’ Northern California itinerary offered the best of both worlds.

We started and began the tour in San Francisco, which had plenty of iconic sights worth exploring. We also visited Sacramento, the capital of California, which I had no intention of visiting on my own, but I’m so glad I did!

While the cities we visited were awesome, I enjoyed the nature spots even more. Yosemite National Park is one of the most bucket list-worthy destinations imaginable, so I was thrilled to spend three days there. I was also mesmerized by Mammoth Lakes and Lake Tahoe, each offering a variety of outdoor activities and excellent lodging and dining options. We only spent part of a day in South Lake Tahoe, which I felt wasn’t enough time, but a great reason to return.

Given that Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes, and Lake Tahoe are all a bit of a hike from the major cities, it’s definitely worthwhile doing a group tour to get there.

Read next: Top Cabin Rentals on Lake Tahoe

Mammoth Lakes did not disappoint! It's one of the many highlights on this Globus Northern California tour.
Mammoth Lakes did not disappoint! It’s one of the many highlights on this Globus Northern California tour.

No reservations needed

During my trip, Yosemite National Park had a reservation system, which required advanced planning for visitors wishing to enter the park. This is problematic for travelers like myself who like to plan road trips at the last-minute. Thankfully, Globus took care of this for all of us. In addition, reservations at various restaurants were handled by the Globus team. This is certainly one of the many perks of doing a guided group tour!

El Capitan at Yosemite National Park is one highlight of this Globus Choice Touring
El Capitan at Yosemite National Park

No driving

I enjoy driving and all, but boy, did it feel good leaving the wheel to someone else. Long car rides can get old quickly. They can also be stressful, particularly in places like national parks where cell phone reception is spotty at best.

Our bus driver, Ron, did a great job getting us to and from our destinations safely. Even on bumpy and windy roads, he somehow managed to keep the ride smooth, which we all greatly appreciated. Ron also kept the bus clean and sanitized it each day, helping to keep Covid worries at bay.

On my nine-day Northern California tour with Globus, it was so nice to sit back, relax, and gaze out the window for a change. I could definitely get used to this!

Really enjoyed the smooth ride aboard this Globus tour.
Really enjoyed the smooth ride aboard this Globus tour.

Travel made simpler with the Globus Go App

Leading up to the tour, Globus did a great job preparing each of us for the trip and providing helpful information about the itinerary and logistics. This was made even easier thanks to the Globus Go App. Here, you can refer to the itinerary for each day, as well as important documents and tips for the destinations you’re visiting.

The main screen of the Globus Go App is a benefit of choice touring with Globus
The main screen of the Globus Go App

One of the best features of this app was the map, where you could check out sights and attractions around you. The app also includes your accommodation for each night and the choices you have for excursions. There’s even a journal feature where you can jot down notes and upload photos.

While the Globus Go App is a super plus, you can still rely on the Tour Director to relay all the important information to you each day.

The Globus Go App provides helpful hotel information
The Globus Go App provides helpful hotel information

Covid / General Safety on this Globus Choice Touring Trip

During normal times, Globus does a great job providing safety and care to all guests. One repeat customer on the tour told me she keeps coming back because she can count on Globus to keep her safe and make sure she gets on/off the bus everyday. While young people may take this for granted, older travelers really appreciate the peace of mind that comes with group touring with Globus.

In addition to general care provided to all passengers, Globus went above and beyond to provide a safe touring experience in light of Covid. At the time of my tour, all customers needed to be vaccinated, masks were to be worn at all times indoors (including on the bus), and temperature checks were performed daily. The bus was also sanitized/disinfected each morning by the bus driver.

Globus choice touring in Northern California made safe by temperature checks
Temperature checks were routinely performed to ensure guests’ safety

Unfortunately, due to wildfires and Covid restrictions, we encountered a few obstacles along the way, including some plans and excursions that needed to be changed. However, our Tour Director, Derek, always had a Plan B, C, and even D to ensure our safety and satisfaction. Everything ran super smoothly and we were never in harms way. I wouldn’t recommend doing a Northern California road trip by yourself during the wildfire season, but I certainly felt safe and taken care of on this Globus tour.

A hazy sunset in Mammoth Lakes caused by the Northern California wildfires.
A hazy sunset in Mammoth Lakes caused by the Northern California wildfires.

Globus Choice Touring in 2022 and beyond

Are you considering a guided group tour in the near future? Have any questions that I haven’t answered in the article? Let me know in the comments or on Insta. I’m always happy to provide travel tips whenever I can!

Happy Travels!

Jon

Globus choice touring review of Northern California itinerary
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