ABOUT TOUR MONKEY
Tour Monkey was founded in 2018 by me—Liz Moran—for active travelers seeking a shared small-group travel experience to destinations around the world. I offer mix-gender group tours, tours for gals only, and custom tours for private groups (such as girlfriend getaways, senior living communities, church groups, alumni travel clubs, family vacations, among others).
I have worked in the tourism industry since 2004, leading trips for several tour operators. I manage student and adult groups traveling within the United States and abroad, and foreigners visiting the United States. I have led trips around the Washington, D.C. area; down the beautiful California Coast, from San Francisco to San Diego; to America’s magnificent southwestern and western National Parks; along the “Mother Road,” Route 66; and to faraway places like Asia, South Africa, Scandinavia, Russia, New Zealand, and Australia. For many years, I was a Port Lecturer for Princess Cruises, specializing in Asia, New Zealand, and Australia. I have the best job in the world! Not only do I see the world, I meet and engage with interesting people, many of whom have become lifelong friends.
I did not begin my career as a tour manager. I graduated from USC’s School of Cinema-Television, and worked at various television stations in Los Angeles in production, programming, and promotions. During my day job, I worked on my “fun” job—creating and leading trips for high school foreign exchange students living in Los Angeles. I wanted to give back to the organization—American Field Service—that has been so instrumental in shaping my worldview. Established in 1914 during WWI, AFS is an international, nonprofit student exchange organization that helps “develop the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.” I became an AFSer, matched with a wonderful host family in South Africa.
My fun job segued into a paid position as a tour manager after an ad caught my eye: Get Paid to Travel: How to Become a Tour Manager. The rest is history, and I’ve never looked back. Now, I am striking out on my own, designing and leading trips to my favorite destinations.
Tour Monkey groups are small, with a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 14 travelers. Comparatively, most tour operators define “small” as 18, 20, or 24 travelers. And, woe be the person traveling with a big group of 30 or so. Small groups get around quicker, and therefore, are able to see and do more things. Larger groups are sluggish. It takes f o r e v e r to get on and off the bus and to move from place to place. Guides are always waiting on the last person to catch up. Waiting for the last person making a purchase at the gift shop. Waiting for the last person to finish his or her meal. Small groups can stay at boutique hotels that simply do not have the number of rooms needed for larger groups. Small groups can experience gastronomical euphoria at local joints that cannot and will not accommodate larger groups. You get the drift.
If your group would like to claim a departure date, please contact me!
WHY TOUR MONKEY?
Here is the Tour Monkey difference:
Small groups (8 to 14 travelers, plus tour manager)
Escorted by an American tour manager, with enrichment by local guides
Exceptional hand-selected accommodations (4- and 5-star hotels)
Thoughtfully designed itineraries, with time for self-exploration and relaxation
Breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner included
Gratuities for local guides and drivers, meals, and porterage included
An American tour manager matched with the knowledge of the destination accompanies all Tour Monkey trips! The tour manager’s role is to manage the day-to-day logistics of the tour, facilitate bonding and camaraderie, and manage any issues that may arise. Be assured that an American—one who knows all our cultural quirks and concerns—is at the helm! What quirks do Americans have, you ask? Well … our obsession with ice water (even when it’s 20 degrees outside). Our utter bafflement at all things metric. Our way of understanding distances via time (10-minute walk) vs. distance (1.2-kilometer walk). Our need to customize restaurant orders, to name a few. Especially in exotic locales, Tour Monkeys feel comforted by having “one of their own” to turn to.
In addition to the tour manager, local guide(s) will accompany the group, providing expertise and personal enrichment on the destination’s history and culture.
THOUGHTFULLY DESIGNED ITINERARIES
Tour Monkey meticulously designs every aspect of the itinerary. The routing, timing, accommodations, sites and attractions, and restaurants are hand-selected to provide a unique and authentic experience. Sightseeing is balanced with time for self-exploration, relaxation, spa treatments, and shopping.
EXPERIENTIAL & CULTURAL ENRICHMENT
Tour Monkeys are adventurous, positive, flexible, and lifelong learners. Become a traveler, not a tourist! Immerse yourself in everyday life as a local. Begin your morning by joining locals performing tai chi at Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake. In Chiang Mai, stroll through a market with a chef, purchasing ingredients for a dish you will learn how to make and then eat. Visit a school and engage with students and teachers. Watch artisans do their thing. Talk to shopkeepers.
Tour Monkey’s first choice is to secure 5-star accommodations that are perfectly positioned and unique to the destination. Why 5-star hotels, you ask? Well, who doesn’t want to be pampered? The rooms are sparkling clean and beautifully decorated. Then there’s the accoutrements: fluffy towels and pillows, luxurious bedding, expensive toiletries. Should a 5-star hotel not be available or is not ideally located, a comparable property will be selected.
FLIGHTS & TRANSPORTATION
Any flights within the tour are arranged by Tour Monkey and included in the price of the tour. Flights to and from the destination are not included in the price of the trip. Why? From my many years of experience, many travelers prefer to make their own arrangements. Perhaps you would like to arrive a day or two early to adjust to the time zone and ease jet lag. Maybe you would like to use award miles or fly on a particular airline. You may also want the freedom to stay at the end destination longer or continue on to another place. Be assured that the day and time you need to be at the destination will be made very clear! Please do not book your flights until you receive written notification from Tour Monkey that the trip is a go!
On tour, Tour Monkeys will travel in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle. You will also experience many different means of local transportation, such as tuk tuks, longtail boats, basket boats, rickshaws, and songthaews. (When in Rome, right?) If internal flights and/or train trips are a part of and included in the price of the tour, Tour Monkey will strive to secure business-class seats when possible.
Tour Monkeys are foodies. You will experience delectable street food, Anthony Bourdain–visited holes-in-the-wall, just plain holes-in-the-wall, and hand-picked eateries featuring local cuisine. Breakfast at the hotel is always included. On most days, a group lunch and/or dinner is also included. Compare with other tour operators that include breakfast and a few additional meals. On tour, one bottle of water will be provided per traveler per day.
Gratuities for local guide(s), drivers, hotel porterage, and included meals are included in the price of the tour. It is not necessary to tip the tour manager. There are some exceptions that your tour manager will make you aware of, such as tips for housekeeping, spa treatments, and donations to local schools. While most tour operators pass on the cost of all tipping to you, rest assured Tour Monkeys will not be “nickel and dimed.”
ARE TOUR MONKEY TRIPS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Tour Monkeys are physically active. If you can easily walk at least 3 miles a day, negotiate all manner of terrain (uneven, pebbled, earthen), take high steps in and out of boats, ride a bicycle, and ride on the back of a motorbike, for example, Tour Monkey has a trip for you!
WHO ARE TOUR MONKEYS?
Tour Monkeys are adventurous, positive, flexible, and lifelong learners. Tour Monkeys are solo female travelers, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, sorority sisters, workmates, club friends, and girlfriends. Tour Monkey can also accommodate private (and larger) groups, such as bachelorette parties, sorority reunions, family reunions, and alumni travel clubs, among others. There is no age restriction!
Even though Tour Monkey is a U.S.-based tour operator, international travelers are also welcome!