A Panama tour for your consideration
In the nine years since I first established Retirement Wave, I have never recommended a commercial tour. I have nothing against tours, as such, but I have not been impressed with those available. They are “money machines”. Folks pay substantial sums of money to take part in the tours, but they are also responsible for their hotel rooms, meals, and other essential expenses which make the total cost much more. The speakers at some conferences are chosen not for their expertise, but because they have paid the tour to make a presentation, yet another source of income for the sponsor. Most aggravating to me is the practice of introducing visitors to “selected” real estate developments and properties where the tour sponsor is either paid a fee or a percentage of any sale made. Finally, many introduce folks to just one area of Panama, ignoring the others completely.
Business is business and I understand the need for tour sponsors to make a profit on their effort, but there is a point when a tour is no longer a genuine tour, but simply a sales mechanism, typically implying that it is “independent” and “objective” in its presentation, but which in fact is actually working as an agent for others without the knowledge of those attending. It can be a very expensive introduction to Panama without providing as good an overview as people expect who are paying the money. I think that is a reasonable way to explain my feelings. There are certainly expatriates who live in Panama whose negative opinions would be far stronger than mine.
For me, this has been a disappointment. The great majority of RW members arrive independently and make their own “tours”. I think that is an excellent way to do it. However, there is a segment of our membership who prefer a guided tour for any of a number of reasons and who do not mind paying for the opportunity. They often write and ask for a recommendation and I have had none to make…until now.
When Jackie Lange, an RW member, asked me if I would talk to a tour group she was escorting, I agreed. My “pay” was my meal. Fair enough. I met her and her group and left with a very positive impression. I was free to speak frankly and without any pressure of any kind to “push” any region or development or property in Panama. Jackie lives in the Boquete area of western Panama, but she introduces her tour groups to as much of the nation as she can in a short period of time. I was asked to talk about Panama as a while, but also the Panama City area and what it is like to live here. It was a very nice evening and I did my best to provide some useful comments.
I have done that now a total of three times. I have had the chance to talk to the participants during their tour and also afterwards in some instances. Every one of them has nothing but good things to say about Jackie and her tour. None of them felt pressure to make a decision. In fact, Jackie’s personal preference is for people to rent first, before buying. In my experience with members over the years, I think renting can be very useful for some, but less useful for others. Everyone is different. But it is not typical for a tour sponsor to recommend renting and this is one clear signal that there are no “deals” made with developers or real estate agencies. I also like the fact that Jackie encourages her clients, once the tour is finished, to set aside time to return to areas that interested them on their own. So many other tours take you only where they want you to go for their own purposes and push clients, gently or not, to make a sales decision based on their tour. Jackie’s tours are pressure-free and I very much appreciate that. And finally, the tours are small, typically no more than 12 people at a time to allow for more personal consideration. As Jackie continues her tours, I hope she can expand them, but I do like the fact that a client is not one of a couple hundred people or more!
Another reason I like Jackie’s tours is that they are “inclusive”. Of course, you pay for your own transportation to Panama, but once here, Jackie pays for all your meals, your hotel rooms, tour bus, tour guide, and so forth. Other than things like alcohol, room service, telephone calls and similar personal choices, she takes care of your bills. Her tours are not “cheap”, but once you add up all the costs involved that other tours require you to pay yourself, I think it is a pretty good deal. That combined with the type of “guided but open” tour she provides and my personal observations of her work lead me to highly recommend her tours for your consideration, if a tour is what you desire.
I will leave it at that and let you visit her Web presentation and decide for yourself, with one exception. I do not receive a fee or any monetary consideration for this recommendation.
If this sounds interesting, you can visit Jackie’s “Panama Relocation Tour” at www.PanamaRelocationTours.com/tours