As you’re planning your upcoming trip, you might be wondering if a tour is worth it, or if you should go it alone. There are pros and cons to both, and the point of this blog is to help you figure out what is best for you.
Independent travel can be incredibly liberating. You’re free to choose where you go, how long you stay, where you stay, what you do, what you eat, how you travel between places. Making all of your plans can make you feel so free, but at the same time, for some travellers, it can be very daunting.
Tours take the majority of the work out of your hands and in most cases you simply have to get on the plane and arrive at your destination. Guided tours can be SO much fun. Some of my favourite travel experiences have been on a tour. So you may be wondering, what are some of the benefits of travelling with a tour company?
You don’t have to think too much – If you haven’t had much travel experience, planning can be a lot to think about. Booking and planning, transportation, meals, accommodations, excursions, etc., are taken care of for you. Tour companies work with partners in the destination companies to sort out all of the logistics for you. You have assistance when you need it after you book, you can call with questions, you’ll get information of what to bring and any documentation you need before you leave.
You have immediate travel buddies – off the bat, you’ll meet other travellers from all over the world. In many cases, you’ll hit it off with at least 1 or 2 others, if not the entire group. Meeting people is never easier than when you’re on a tour. These people become your friends and possibly even future travel buddies.
Local knowledge – your tour guide is trained on the ins and outs of the country you are visiting. Many companies even hire local guides (which is the BEST!) who know so much about the history, and things that you would never read in a book. Your guide will understand the customs and cultures, and be able to advise you of appropriate behaviour in specific circumstances. You can’t beat having this knowledge readily available to you.
Safety – When you’re travelling on a tour, your safety is the company’s primary concern. They will make sure you’re moving between destinations safely, that you have safe accommodation, and address any concerns you may have.
You can see a lot in a short time – Depending on the tour you choose, you can visit a ton of places in a short time. The tour company will pick out the must-sees, and often a couple of hidden gems, and they take care of all of the travel in between. This saves you time and the headache of sorting out transportation. If there is something you want to see that isn’t on the itinerary, always check to see if they have an add-on, or tack a couple of days on to the end of the trip to accommodate.
Many tour companies offer some flexibility in your day to explore on your own or with other members of your group. Make sure to check out the full detailed itineraries, so you can get a better idea of how much time you should account for on your own.
A few that you could look into are Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Bamba Experience, Epik Adventure Guides, Lost World Adventures, and one I’ve recently learned about in Australia called Echidna Walkabout. These companies are all incredible. I’ve had a lot of experience in getting to know them through my day job, and love what they stand for as tour companies and as people who care about the planet and the People, plants, and animals that inhabit it.
All of that said, I don’t think tours are for everyone. Experienced travellers, open-minded people that prefer their freedom, gypsies, or those who like to fly by the seat of their pants, can get a lot out of independent travel.
In my own experience, you learn a lot about yourself when you’re travelling alone. You learn about the things you like to do when you’re abroad, where you like to stay, what you like to eat, how you interact with others. You learn about the things that excite you, scare you, and make you feel more like yourself. Independent travel thrusts you into discovering your true self, and that’s why I think it is essential for everyone to try it, even if only once.
Let me know if you have questions! I have a ton of experience as a travel agent, and I can pretty much point you in the right direction regardless of your travel style.
Stay safe & as always, seize the world.