Traveling as part of a tour group can be a blast. With so many companies these days offering an extensive variety of tours, there is bound to be a tour out there to suit your wants and desires. Traveling as part of a tour group, however, isn’t for everyone. Like all other modes of travel, it has its pros and cons.
Before you decide to go ahead and book your spot in a tour group, have a think about what it is you want to get out of your trip, and whether or not joining a tour will help you achieve this. The following list of pros and cons come from my own experience as part of a tour, and will help you get an idea on whether traveling in a tour group is for you or not.
Pro 1 – Travel Stress Free
This seems like the most obvious pro of joining a tour group. Whether you are unsure on how to go about planning and booking your own adventure, or you’re simply after a stress free trip, tour companies have got you covered. They make the decisions, so that you don’t have to. They do the planning, leaving you free to sit back and enjoy the ride. While some get a kick out of planning their own adventures, others enjoy being able to see the sights without worrying about how to get from A to B, and everything in between.
Pro 2 – Friends for Life!
I can guarantee you, that at the end of your tour, you’ll have made some pretty solid connections. You’ll be having experiences of a lifetime, and being able to share these experiences and new impressions with others will bond you in a way which nothing else can. When you spend eight hours on a bus together every other day, and all your free time together roaming unfamiliar streets, you’ll get to know your other tour buddies pretty well.
Pro 3 – Once in a Lifetime Opportunities
Tour groups have their connections, and often strike deals with other companies which give you the opportunity to experience things you wouldn’t normally think of doing as an independent traveller. In my experience on a 28-day tour of Europe, I had the chance to go paragliding in a remote Austrian valley, spend a day on a boat visiting secluded beaches in Greece, and overnight in an old chateau in the French countryside. While such activities can be done as a solo traveller as well, doing them as part of a tour group often means you get to have these experiences for bargain prices, and it is less of a logistical headache to organise.
Con 1 – Say goodbye to freedom
My biggest issue with traveling as part of a tour group was having to stick to a schedule. There were days where I just didn’t want to get on that bus at 7am, and I got pretty cranky when our on-the-road pit stops interfered with my nice bus ride naps. While schedules mean that there are less decisions to be made alone, there is also beauty in being able to go where you want, when you want, and how you want to. Some tour groups offer some degree of freedom, with optional extra activities available. But for someone who enjoys independence and moving at their own pace, traveling in a tour group may not be the way to go.
Con 2 – Clicky-ness
Regardless of age, unfortunately, clicks are bound to form, and you aren’t going to get on as a merry bunch of travellers 100 percent of the time. When you spend all day every day together, clicks are inevitable, and groups will form. There will be personalities that get on your nerves, although this will happen regardless of how you choose to travel. When you join a tour group, there is no choosing who you travel with, and this can either work out amazingly or personalities can clash. That’s a risk you just have to take!
Con 3 – Lack of individual experience
Maybe for some people this isn’t so important, but you can be sure that when you retell your travel stories, there is less of an original flavour to them. There will be thousands of others who have been carted around on the same route that you’ve been on, doing the same activities, and eating the same food. But this doesn’t have to be a con, and depends what is important to you as a traveller! As an individual, your experience is always unique in it’s own way.