When Bindlestiff Tours owner Rachel Urban opened the Las Vegas-based adventure tour company nearly 10 years ago, she sought to offer adventurers the most immersive experiences throughout the Southwestern United States, Alaska and Western Canada. In the days leading up to the pandemic, Bindlestiff Tours was doing just that. Business was booming and the company welcomed thousands of international visitors each year.
Then borders closed, shutdowns began and the international tourism industry dried up. As reservations were cancelled and trips delayed, many tour operators opted to close their doors entirely. Yet, Bindlestiff made the bold, yet tough, decision to remain open last year as one of the only fully operating national park tour companies in Las Vegas during the height of the pandemic. Today, Bindlestiff continues to fight challenges created by the pandemic while still welcoming drive-market travelers to keep the business afloat.
“Like many small businesses in the tourism industry, we’re fighting every day to keep our operation running while safeguarding our staff and customers’ health and well-being,” said Urban.
With group size limits, mask enforcement rules and social distancing guidelines differing state by state, Bindlestiff’s high operating and cleaning costs for their spectacular multi-state tours through Nevada, Arizona, Utah and California have risen while the number of guests they are able to accommodate continues to remain restricted.
Navigating which national parks and campsites are open also presents another obstacle for Bindlestiff Tours. A spike in COVID-19 cases often leads to sudden park or campsite closures or limited access to certain destinations which creates challenges in how Bindlestiff times tours, according to Urban.
Last-minute tour reservations and cancellations also add to the company’s dilemma of planning how many guests they are able to welcome on a given day.
“While it certainly has been difficult to accommodate travelers visiting Las Vegas on a whim, it brings us such gratitude knowing there are still domestic tourists searching to get away and immerse themselves in nature,” said Urban.
The immersive tour operator celebrates the small victories such as welcoming travelers from neighboring states, even if group sizes remain small, and continues to offer flexible booking conditions, value tour pricing and additional traveler options.
Among these additional options are Bindlestiff Tours’ new multi-day, self-driving camping tours and private, custom single- or multi-day tours from Las Vegas.
The self-drive camping tours, also available with hotel upgrades, offer travelers an opportunity to socially distance under the stars. According to Urban, these tours are designed for guests interested in driving to the national parks of the American Southwest on their own, while still receiving expert guidance and an immersive, personalized adventure.
Guests are provided with all the necessary camping equipment and tour guides assist with camp set-up in scenic locations. Expert tour guides meet guests at key locations throughout the tour and escort groups on remote hiking trails to spectacular viewpoints while providing live interpretive wildlife and nature content throughout the adventure.
According to Bindlestiff, guides also facilitate evening campfires and locally sourced, fully catered al fresco dining options at camp or for hotel guests.
To enhance the self-drive experience, Urban says guests can download the recently reconfigured Bindlestiff Tours mobile app. Now featuring tour narrations in English for domestic travelers in addition to multiple languages for international visitors, the app allows travelers to access additional details, instruction and information.
For families or groups of friends of four or more interested in experiencing national parks in a more intimate setting, Bindlestiff also offers private, custom tour options. These tour packages are pre-made and offer exclusive one-on-one attention from a dedicated, expert local guide. Guests may select day tours or multi-day outdoor camping tours or the comfort of hotel accommodation. Guides escort groups on a completely private tour throughout the experience. Guests have the option to choose from classic itineraries or request a custom-tailored tour and add on other areas of interest, according to Urban.
Despite the overall decrease in travelers resulting from the pandemic, Bindlestiff Tours understands the importance of continuing to provide vacationers with spectacular opportunities to visit some of the country’s most breathtaking national parks when they are ready to travel again.
“During the height of the shutdown last year, we were one of the only fully operating tour providers in Las Vegas,” said Urban. “We understand the importance of offering travelers expert guides for incredible experiences they’ll never forget, especially during such a difficult time. It truly brings our team joy.”
As Bindlestiff continues to expand its tour offerings when more people begin to travel again, the challenges of remaining viable and laying the foundation for recovery in a post-COVID economy remains present. This year, Bindlestiff is excited to launch “glamping” tours that allow families and private groups the peace of the great outdoors paired with more elevated living accommodations.
According to Urban, the tour company remains hopeful about the future. She said guests booking trips with Bindlestiff this year have felt reassured about their health and safety – some even going as far as sharing their uplifting experiences on social media.
“Our company is beyond grateful we have remained open throughout these challenging times to welcome those searching to get out of their houses and into the wilderness,” said Urban.
For more information about private custom tours and self-drive tours, visit www.bindlestifftours.com.