Team-Building by Jeep Tour: 6 Practical Considerations
Understandably, Jeep tours are a popular option for planners looking to give their meeting attendees and incentive program participants a taste of the local environment as well as simply a morning, afternoon, or even all-day spent off the hotel grounds. It’s an opportunity to give people an authentic experience, typically in the hands of local guides who know the rain forest, shoreline, or desert first-hand and are happy to share their insider knowledge.
A morning Jeep tour one day of the rain forest and other sights of natural beauty on St. Croix, one of three U.S. Virgin Islands, was a good example of the genre. The young guides, each of whom had grown up on the island, mixed bits of botany, geography, and local history into their commentary, along with folk tales and even a dose of homegrown herbal medicine.
Crisscrossing the island, they made frequent stops to point out interesting plant specimens as well as sweeping vistas of the St. Croix coast. One highlight of the more arcane plant lore gleaned from the rain forest: stinky toe, a fruit of the locust tree, common in the West Indies. Passing samples around for each passenger to touch, the guides explained how the hard pod contained pulp that was edible, but had a highly unpleasant odor. Hence the name stinky toe. That not withstanding, the pulp was a major part of the diet of the island’s indigenous population.
Yet as appealing as jeep tours can be for their authenticity and sense of adventure, planners should still weigh these six precautions:
Bumpy ride, anyone? Sections of the trip can be on unpaved, often rutted roads, especially when the terrain is somewhat mountainous. So prepare participants for some bumpy stretches, which also means arms safely in the Jeep at all times.
Beware the strong sun. Most Jeeps are open to the sky, which can be rustic and romantic, but hard when it means hours of exposure to the sun. Recommend proper headgear and sunblock.
Muddy patch ahead. Participants will want to disembark at each stop and check out all the exciting things the guide is describing. Especially after a strong rain, that means muddy patches, if not sections of road actually washed out. Recommend boots.
No grazing allowed. All the talk of nature’s bounty may suggest that it’s okay to start sampling wild berries and such as though the passengers were on line at the breakfast buffet. They’re not. In fact, those sweet looking berries could well be poisonous.
Customize the itinerary. The planner knows the group and any particular interests people may have. So feel free to inform the touring company in advance that you’d like the guides to highlight certain aspects of the trip. They’ll be happy to oblige.
Eye on the clock. The allotted time for the trip can easily get away from you, especially as the guides and passengers warm up to one another and more stories and anecdotes start to be told. Be clear about the time the group must be back at base. No exceptions.