Feb 19

Travel with a Tour Group

In the exercise of listing the pros and cons of the different types of travel, I was surprised to discover group travel has both the most advantages and disadvantages of all types of travel.

Advantages:

  • If you are new to travel, this is a great way to get your toes wet.
  • Convenience.  If you don’t like planning, group tours are for you.
  • The tour company has figured out the logistics, so you can see and do the most things with the least amount of time.
  • Many tours give you free time – you can hang out with others or go solo.
  • Some tours will take you to places that would be impossible or nearly impossible to get to on your own.  Think: Antarctica.
  • A tour can be cost effective when you’re a solo traveler and public transportation isn’t an option.  For example, the Australian Outback is quite accessible by road, but a solo car rental would be quite pricy.  A group tour might be a good alternative.
  • Some countries require that you must be on a tour to visit.  For example, Tibet requires all non-Chinese to be on a tour.  Iran only allows certain nationalities to visit on a tour.  Turkmenistan will only give an independent traveler a 3 day transit tour, but tour groups can stay for longer.  (Note: check the rules at the time of your travel, restrictions like these are constantly changing).
  • A mixture of other people.  You are likely to gel with some of them and you may make a lifelong friend.

Disadvantages:

  • Can be very expensive.
  • Some of the local interaction is via experiences and shows arranged by the travel company and feels less authentic.
  • You don’t get to pick who you travel with.
  • Can be rushed.  If you love a locale there’s no way to spend longer if it’s not on the itinerary.
  • A sterilized way to see the world – hotels and restaurants catering to larger international groups.
  • You don’t get to pick your own accommodation.  Often you might stay in a suburb rather than the center of the city.  Would you like to go to Paris or Rome and stay on the outskirts?
  • Many companies will give you a roommate to save on costs if you’re solo and this could be a great or very bad experience.

What do you think about group travel?

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