Designing Your Own Art Tour on a Budget

in Trip Planning

There are lots of travel companies out there that charge big bucks for “customized” art tours (these are especially prevalent in Europe).

An art lover who usually travels on a budget, I have often been tempting by these offerings, until I saw the price, that is. While many of these art tours are wonderful experiences, they can definitely take their toll on the old bank account. Not to worry. You can design your own artistic voyage for a fraction of the cost of one of these pre-planned tours. In this post, I give you some tips for designing your own tour on a budget. Besides the obvious financial benefits of designing your own tour, you can truly customize the experience because, well, you’re the tour guide. Another perk is that you can travel on your own schedule and not be tied down to a group.

  • Choose a destination with a rich arts scene. This may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s important that you do a bit of preliminary research on various places to determine whether or not the artistic offerings of a certain area will be enough to hold your interest. Of course, places like New York, Paris, France or Florence, Italy jump to mind right away, but there are loads of other options. For example, Los Angeles has a great museum scene. Berlin, Germany is now considered to be a European arts mecca. And don’t forget about Detroit…yep, Detroit is now home to a thriving arts community. So, you don’t necessarily need to stray that far from home (which can be easier on the budget).
  • Determine your priorities. What do you want to experience? Are you most interested in visiting museums? Then you’ll want to choose a destination that has plenty to choose from. Are you more into the independent gallery scene? Then be sure to choose a destination that is known for its smaller galleries. Are you an artist yourself who is interested in doing bit of creative work while you’re on vacation? Then choose a destination that’s sure to inspire you (and be sure to pack your art supplies). Perhaps you’d like to attend a lecture or class by a famous artist? Find out where these opportunities are being offered. Are you interested in public art? Choose a location that’s known for its public sculpture gardens and murals.
  • Ask like-minded travelers to share in the adventure. Travel is usually more fun (and more budget-friendly) when you can share the experience with a travel partner or a group. Ask some of your fellow art lovers or artists to come along with you. Some of the more obvious benefits include being able to share accommodations and having someone who can help you remember the name of incredible up and coming artist you discovered.
  • Research opportunities at your location based on your art priorities. Now that you’ve established your priorities, the real research begins. Search for museums that suit your tastes. Scour the Internet for galleries and artist co-ops. Identify lectures and classes that will be happening during your trip. I think it’s helpful to organize this information in an Excel file or some other document. Make note of the opening hours of museums and galleries and contact information for all of the places you’re interested in visiting.
  • Make reservations far in advance. If you’re looking to take a class or attend a ticketed artist lecture, it’s best to make reservations or purchase tickets as far in advance as you can.
  • Be ready to roll with the punches. In addition to bringing your passion for art, you should also bring patience and a sense of humor. As with any trip, the best laid plans don’t necessarily guarantee 100% success. However, if you look at mishaps/miscommunications as opportunities instead of disappointments, you’ll get a lot more out of the experience. If a museum is closed on the day you want to attend, think of it as a great excuse to discover some public art around the city. It’s helpful to bring along a smart phone or tablet so you can do research on the fly if you have a change of plans.

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