When booking our trip, initially we knew where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see and how much we wanted to spend – but the real question was whether we take the risk and do it alone or book it on a pre organised group tour, or in our case, multiple. A mixture was what we decided upon, partially because it fit in best with our budget and partially so we could socialise with like minded travelers and have a go at going solo all in one epic trip around the world. We’ve found out about lots of different travel styles; camping, budget hostels, luxury cruises, boutique hotels and even working holidays – but when it comes to organised tours compared to going it solo, whats are the pros and cons? and whats the better choice for you?
Well we’ve nutted it down to the basics for you in one post —–>
Group Travel vs Solo Travel for foodies.
Food is such an epic part of travel and something that can create such memorable experiences, whether that be the people you are dining with, the entertainment or the cuisine in itself. Traveling on a group tour basically guarantees that you will have an opportunity to try the local cuisine in each destination at least once, but in saying that its not necessarily at the best restaurant, or the most local, or at the best price. If you are traveling through a more off the beaten track destination you will find most of the great local restaurants will struggle to cater for a large tour group in one sitting. If you see meal times as a big event and are very social then group tours are a great choice for you – as meal times can go for hours, are very loud and (in our case) lots of beer is consumed. However, if you are traveling with your partner or just prefer intimate settings then group tours can really impact your trip in a not-so-positive way when it comes to meal times. Crin and I are on a tight budget due to long term travel and cannot afford to spend $50 on a dinner every night when there are great street food options on our door step. Group Tours will go out for dinner almost every night, as well and lunch, and sometimes breakfast, so its important to recognise the effect that this may have on your budget (And waistline). On a side note, if you are someone who wants to travel and really lives for amazing cuisine; Intrepid travel offers food tours which are amazing and much smaller groups.
Group Travel vs Solo Travel for optional activities.
Optional activities are what truly make your trip unique and unforgettable. For us our trip highlights have been optional activities, such as Death Road, hiking on a Glacier or trotting through the ATM caves. When traveling solo you must organise your optional activities or better known as ‘day tours’ by yourself, Which seems a bit daunting for first time travelers but don’t worry – I can help you if you are a solo traveler! but one of the great things about a group tour is that your guide will organise it for you, you just pay your tour guide, tell them what tour you want and they will handle the rest – but on the downside, they often are at a higher price due to multiple reasons.
- They are private tours (Usually only accommodating the people on your tour)
- They are always tried and tested – you can guarantee they won’t be a flop!
If you book your day tours prior to your trip with myself; an agent, you have the opportunity to shop around, get the best deal, value and sometimes even haggle for a better price. Unfortunately the tour guides cannot offer you that flexibility. When it comes to optional activities it depends on the person and what you see the value in. Being on a group tour has its ups in the sense that you don’t have to worry about organising the tour yourself – if you see the value in this then a group tour may be a great option. I’d say it’s best for new travelers.
Group Travel vs Solo Travel for flexibility.
This can go easily one of two ways. Some people prefer having everything scheduled for them, day by day, hour by hour, and in my case minute by minute. It gives a sense of security knowing that you have somewhere to be and it’s set in stone. – Nothing can go wrong. On the other hand some people like not knowing what tomorrow has install for them, they like to book their hotels the day of travel rather than 10 months prior and that’s okay too. My Fiance is more of the later, while I myself like to be a bit more organised. Our whole round the world trip was organised 10 months before we left… no biggie.
Group travel is lacking in the way of flexibility in the sense that it has almost none. (Some tours do offer more flexibility than others) Sure, day to day you ultimately can decide what you want to do, but you are traveling with a group and chances are you will be spending every day with them – for some people this is great! But here’s the real question. What if you really love a place? what if you want to stay for a few more nights? well… easy answer mate, you can’t! I cannot tell you how many times I have wanted to stay in a location for longer to be able to soak it all in. Antigua Guatemala was one of these places, as was Cusco, Peru. Unfortunately on a group tour it just isn’t feasible. How about if you really dislike a destination and you are stuck there for 3 nights? Well let me tell you something, you can’t change that. Group tours are awesome because everything is organised, but it is a set schedule; a tour, and you cannot alter that to fit your specific needs.
Group Travel vs Solo Travel for when things go wrong
When traveling you need to learn to embrace the unexpected, something myself as a stress head struggled with in the beginning. Things going wrong is an inevitable part of travel. Like at home, you miss your bus to work and you’re a few minutes late – The same things happen while abroad except if you miss your bus, you miss your flight, then you miss your hotel check in time and end up sleeping on the streets. Similar concept, very different outcomes. The greatest part about things going wrong though is that it almost always makes for a new adventure, and that’s super exciting! – Like the time our bus broke down and we hitch hiked to Whistler!
When traveling Solo if something goes wrong you really are left to your own devices – you need to come up with a solution yourself which can be very difficult for people like me who cave in stressful situations. This sometimes means being out of pocket, making an insurance claim or sleeping on an airport floor for a night – basically you have no one to blame but yourself and you need to fix it. This is where group tours are awesome especially for those who are new travelers or don’t deal well with stress. You have someone other than yourself to blame! On a tour the guide will sort out the issue, book a new bus, or plane ticket, organise a hotel and you won’t need to have any part in it. (Poor guides, they have so much to deal with.)
I have enjoyed every single group tour I have been on, I have made incredible friends and countless memories. What kind of traveler do you think you are?