Kristen and I decided to book a day tour while in Edinburgh. We went with a tour to Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond, and Glengoyne Distillery. The tour seemed pretty cheap at £39 each, so we were happy. That is, until we took the tour and realized that virtually nothing was included (I swear those ‘*‘s weren’t there when we first looked at the tour).
When we arrived at Stirling Castle we were told that the admission wasn’t included in the tour, so if we wanted to see the Castle we had to pay £14 to get in (the Adult price). We didn’t even get a discount.
Then it was off to Loch Lomond, which was free, but that’s because it was a Loch. You can’t charge for something that’s right there (unless you’re with the Giant’s Causeway – zing!). There were boat tours that would cost you, but since we only had 1 hour at the Loch and the boat tours were 2 hours and didn’t leave anytime soon that wasn’t an option.
After that was the Glengoyne Distillery, where (surprise, surprise) we had to pay to get in. It wasn’t bad – about £8 (if I remember correctly, which included a drink of whiskey), but Kristen and I were tired and neither of us liked whiskey, so we passed and wandered around the grounds.
Okay, so maybe that last one not being included worked in our favour, but if it had been included, you could bet that I’d have gone on the tour and tried a drink. If it had been included I’d have no option but to go along with the tour experience (or consider my money “wasted”). Inclusion works, people.
In the end, for £39 the company gave us a drive to those 3 places. Probably cheaper than a cab or renting a car, but why not up the price to £60 and include everything?
Compare that to the tour Kristen and I did in Ireland, where the Rope Bridge was included (along with the information that if we didn’t go into the GC Information Centre we’d be able to get to the Giant’s Causeway for free). We only paid for the optional Black Taxi Tour in Belfast. Or compare it to the Rhine River tour I’d done with my sister, where we had to pay for the optional ski-lift ride into town, but our dinner, a wine-tasting, and a boat ride along the river were included. Yes, they cost more, but it meant that we didn’t have to take any extra cash along with us (or research the cost of the sites we were visiting).
Always check what’s included and what’s not when booking a tour. If you’re in the middle of nowhere with limited funds you don’t want any surprises. Watch out for the dreaded ‘*‘ (I still say they weren’t there when we looked at the website). Then if you want to do the things that aren’t included you’ll be prepared.
That being said… Our tour guide was hilariously cynical. Since we didn’t do the Whiskey tour, Kristen and I got to spend some time talking to him (we were hanging out in the gift shop). He was so knowledgeable about so much stuff (mostly related to Scotland). If he was a professor I’d have taken his class for sure.