Traveling with a tour group is a whole different world from solo travel. All your fears about going to a new country ‘alone’ are wiped out the instant you pay the deposit on your tour but you also have to say goodbye to the essence of freedom on the road knowing that you’ll be stuck on a bus with a regimented schedule. So what to do eh!? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of traveling with a tour group:
1) The ultimate safety net. You’re not gonna be alone, not by a longshot. You’ll have an automatic social group awaiting your arrival. No more lonely nights wondering if you’re slowly forgetting how to meet people.
2) Hit all the sights. Tour groups and tour leaders know their sh*t, there’s no two ways about it. They’ve been there and done it, probably a thousand times so you’re not gonna be missing out on any of the major attractions. They’ll make sure of that.
3) Speed tourism. If you’re pushed for time but you wanna jet around the globe in a short space of time, tours are right up your street. These guys will get you places quick, and you’ll know your schedule so feel free to plan around it.
1) Losing the spirit of travel. The whole ethos of travel can be compromised by a tour. The allure of the open road, the one-way ticket, the happy wanderer – none of this is truly realised by booking a pre-set tour. So you certainly lose a certain freedom when you’re on a tour.
2) Forced friends. It’s all well and good having a social group awaiting your arrival BUT remember you don’t get to choose these peeps. What if they’re a*sholes? You still have to be locked in a bus for hours on end. The tour may be small too, so it could be you and your new worst enemy in close, close proximity.
3) Cost. Budgeting is a core keyskill of any would-be backpacker but you won’t be honing any of your bartering skills locking yourself in a tour. Also, solo travel done smartly is much, much cheaper than most tours. Traveling on local transport and eating local food will save you much more money than pre-paid tourist restaurants than the tour companies regularly frequent.
Should you travel on a tour? Ultimately the choice is yours. Personally it’s not my cup of tea, but that being said I’ve just come back from a tour to North Korea, and that was pretty awesome. Happy travels!