GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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Guided tours are a good option when you don't want to do it all yourself. You travel along with a group (sometimes large, sometimes small), stay in prebooked hotels, eat with your fellow travelers (the cost of meals is sometimes included, sometimes not), and follow a schedule.
But not all guided tours are an if-it's-Tuesday-this-must-be-Belgium experience. A knowledgeable guide can take you places that you might never discover on your own, and you may be pushed to see more than you would have otherwise. Tours aren't for everyone, but they can be just the thing for places where making travel arrangements is difficult or time-consuming (particularly when you don't speak the language).
Whenever you book a guided tour, find out what's included and what isn't. A "land-only" tour includes all your travel (by bus, in most cases) in the destination, but not necessarily your flights to and from or even within it. Also, in most cases prices in tour brochures don't include fees and taxes. And remember that you'll be expected to tip your guide (in cash) at the end of the tour.
AOA Adventures, Rocky Mountain Cycle Tours, and Austin-Lehman Adventures run a variety of comfortable multiday bike trips in Whistler, the Gulf Islands, and the Okanagan.
Most airlines accommodate bikes as luggage, provided they're dismantled and boxed.
AOA Adventures (480/945–2881 or 866/455–1601. www.aoa-adventures.com.)
Austin-Lehman Adventures (800/575–1540. www.austinlehman.com.)
Rocky Mountain Cycle Tours (800/661–2453. www.rockymountaincycle.com.)
British Columbians are known for their green-friendly practices, whether it's protecting endangered species, instituting responsible climate-change initiatives, or running local recycling programs. And it's all fed into tourism as well. Ecosummer Expeditions hosts a number of outdoor adventure trips in B.C., including week-long hiking trips along the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island, kayaking tours amid orcas in Johnstone Strait, and inn-based kayaking trips in the Gulf Islands.
Ecosummer Expeditions (250/674–0102 or 800/465–8884. www.ecosummer.com.)
BC Golf Safaris specializes in complete, customized golf vacations based around courses in Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler, the Okanagan, and the Rockies.
BC Golf Safaris (866/723–2747. www.bcgolfsafaris.com.)
Contact Whistler Blackcomb, the host mountain resort of the 2010 Winter Games, to book a complete vacation at one of the world's most popular ski resorts.
Whistler Blackcomb (866/218–9690. www.whistlerblackcomb.com.)