ToursByLocals Review: Can You Trust Their Tour guides? [2024]

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ToursByLocals Review: Can You Trust Their Tour guides? [2024]
Here's a rundown of the tour guide company, ToursByLocals, including what they do, what their features are, and if it's worth the money. Read on to find out more!
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When you’re planning a trip to a new city or country, you want to make sure you get the most out of your visit by finding the best things to do, places to stay, and restaurants to eat at.

If that's the case, then read all about them in our travel blog collection here. Here at Pilot, we’re all about helping you plan your trip and make the best of your time abroad.

However, if you're not the type that wants to plan out every detail of your trip, why not get a tour guide instead? We know that for many people, a great way to get to know a city is to take part in an organized travel tour, whether that’s as part of a large group or in a more private and personalized setting. Whether it's joining a tour on a yacht or hopping on a Busabout, tour guides comes in many shapes or forms!

There are many ways to find local guides to a city or town, and ToursByLocals is one of them. But what exactly is it, and how does it work? Read our comprehensive guide to find out!

What Is ToursByLocals?

ToursByLocals is an easy-to-use website that provides you, the traveler, with access to local tourist guides in cities all over the world. It currently operates in 193 countries and has more than 4,500 guides that you can connect with, in locations ranging from Barcelona, Paris, Rome, and Bern to places a little further afield, like Tokyo, Iceland, and even the South Island of New Zealand.

Tourbylocals logo
Image courtesy of ToursByLocals

The tour guides are all local people that just so happen to have expert knowledge of the ins and outs of their hometown. Taking a tour from a local is one of the best ways to learn more about historical events that took place in a certain city, explore specific neighborhoods, or just find out about the best things to do while you’re traveling.

As well as personal tours of cities, ToursByLocals offers shore excursions, allowing you to get a local’s perspective of any of the stops on your cruise.

At the moment, you can even book virtual tours with ToursByLocals if you’re craving a travel fix but can’t get away right now—perfect for armchair tourism during the pandemic! If you book and attend a live virtual tour, which will still be run by local people, you’ll also receive the money you’ve spent as a voucher that you can spend on an in-person tour when you’re next free to travel. Score!

Is ToursByLocals an Accredited Tour Company?

Now, you might be wondering why ToursByLocals doesn’t come up if you’re searching for top-rated tour companies in Europe, or if you’ve been googling the best US travel and tour options. There’s a pretty simple explanation for this: ToursByLocals isn’t actually a tour company.

Instead, it acts as a marketplace that gives you access to individual guides who run their own tours. All tours listed on the website are private tours, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can message guides to see if they can customize a tour to better suit your needs.

What Is a Personal Tour?

One of the main benefits of using ToursByLocals is that you’ll be receiving a personal tour rather than a group tour. We’ve all seen group tours on our travels: Hordes of people following a slightly tired-looking guide who’s carrying some kind of brightly colored umbrella or flag, speaking in hushed tones into a microphone and not stopping to answer any questions along the way. Sounds great!

A personal tour is not like this. Instead, it’s one that you and your travel buddies (whether that’s your family, your partner, or your friends) book privately with a guide. The benefits of a personal tour are numerous:

  • You can customize the tour based on your own interests
  • You’re free to ask as many questions as you like without feeling like you’re bogarting the guide!
  • You can book it for a time and date that suits you, making it easier to fit in with your other travel plans
  • You could gain access to certain tourist spots that may be closed to large groups
  • You avoid having to interact with that one person—you know the type—who thinks they know more than the guide!

Instead of booking onto a tour that’s targeted at large groups, which can be impersonal and pretty rigid in structure, a personal tour allows you more freedom. It gives you the chance to get to know a city however you want, making it easier to find your way around and uncover the coolest parts of town.

Tour guide looking through map
Photo by Daniel Gonzalez on Unsplash

How Do I Find a Private Tour Guide?

Using ToursByLocals to find a private tour guide is easy. Sign up or log in to your account, then search by location. Add the dates you want to go on a tour, then browse the options and book whichever one interests you most.

Choosing a location on a map for travel Toursbylocals
Image courtesy of ToursByLocals

You can also contact the tour guide before booking to arrange customization if you’re looking for something more personal to your interests.

Once you’ve got everything organized, just pay ahead of time and attend your tour. It couldn’t be simpler.

What If Something Goes Wrong?

Sometimes when you’re traveling, things go wrong. Maybe your cruise ship has illness on board and has been told it can’t dock, meaning your planned shore excursion is a no-go. Maybe you’ve had to cancel your whole trip because of a family issue. Or maybe you’ve just changed your mind! Can you still get your money back?

The ToursByLocals cancelation policy is pretty fair. If you cancel 15 days or more before the tour was due to start, you can get all your money back. Nice. You’ll also get a refund if certain unforeseeable events take place—this includes the ship being told it can’t dock.

If you’re booking ahead of time but aren’t completely sure whether you’re definitely going to attend the tour, the website also offers a more flexible (but more expensive) cancelation policy, known as the “Any Reason” policy. If you’ve paid extra for this, you can cancel for any reason at all, as long as you do so before the tour starts.

How Do I Become a Local Tour Guide?

If you want to become a tour guide for ToursByLocals, you can apply through the ToursByLocals website. You have to be legally permitted to give tours in your area (but this doesn’t mean you have to be a licensed tour guide—“passionate locals” are also encouraged to apply).

If your application is successful, you’ll be invited to take part in an interview process to make sure you’re suitable for giving tours, and to check your English skills. You’ll also have to undergo a background check.

If you pass all the stages of the application process, you can start selling your tours on ToursByLocals.

Do Tour Guides Make Good Money?

Tour guides that offer their services through ToursByLocals can charge as much as they think is appropriate for their tours. The company takes a percentage of every dollar earned, but you can factor this into your pricing when you set up your profile and tour offerings.

Tour guides making money
Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash

Remember to make sure you’re getting paid a fair amount, but you’ll also want to ensure your prices aren’t so expensive that they’re off-putting to potential customers!

Is ToursByLocals Worth It?

It’s easy enough to find and book private tours with ToursByLocals, but is it really worth it? The costs of private tours can be high, and with guides setting their own prices, you could end up paying huge amounts for a private tour.

It all depends on what you’re looking for from your vacation. Some people prefer group tours, as they give them the chance to meet new people and get a basic overview of a city or a particular sight. For others, it makes more sense to book a private tour because it’s easier to get a personalized or customizable experience. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference.

I'd recommend looking at different options and reading up on specific reviews of that individual tour operator before making the purchase!

My Rating: 4.1/5


  • Local experiences
  • Curated tours
  • Many destinations


  • Experiences vary per guide
  • Expensive

Plan your trip yourself!

Whether you decide to book a personal tour through ToursByLocals or not, you’ll want to make sure that your trip goes smoothly. Use Pilot to plan your trip—we have the ultimate travel planning tools and much more to help you!

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Pilot is a social trip planner to discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere, for free. Pilot makes it fun and easy to create and share your favorite travel moments.

Collaborate stress-free with your travel companions and have all the features you need all in one place with Pilot. It’s completely free and ready for you to try it out now!
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Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

Chloe Lay Blog
Written by:
Chloe Lay
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