I’ve done a few group tours just recently – to the USA, Greece, the Philippines, Tanzania and Vietnam – and I have to say, I’m a tour convert.
Obviously I still love independent solo travel, I’ve been exploring by myself for almost three years now, but there are definitely benefits to joining a tour group. I think I’m in a good position to compare the two, so here goes: the best things about travelling in a tour group, as deemed by me.
1. Someone to show you the way
When you’re travelling solo, you’re the one who’s responsible for finding accommodation, getting there, finding food and drink and making sure you get the best from your destination.
On tour, your guide will tell you where you’re going each morning, probably take you there, and a good one will be able to give you facts about everything you see along the way too.
This is definitely one of the best things about travelling in a tour group. When you travel by yourself, in a country where you don’t speak the language, there’s no one to ask the deluge of questions you might have. On a tour, no matter how silly your enquiry, your tour guide is there to help.
2. Instant friends
The fact that there will be all kinds of different people on your trip, who’ve also joined to make new friends, means it’s so much easier to get chatting to people.
You can quickly work out who you think you’d like to talk to, and then over the course of the trip others might surprise you. Either way, I can confirm that it’s much easier to make friends on tours than by hoping to strike up conversations in hostel common rooms.
I’ve met some brilliant people on tours just recently and now have new friends all over the world.
3. Tried and tested best of a destination
Whichever tour company you go with, they’ll have utilised years of tried and tested research to put together the best itinerary. It could take weeks of research to be able to put together as worthy a schedule as they do.
Good tour companies will only hire locals, or people with super slick local knowledge that can give you the best insider information there is. They’ll also be able to recommend the best restaurants and bars to visit.
You can trust a good tour company to show you the best of a destination.
4. Safety if anything should go wrong
Join a tour group and you’ll always have a tour leader to advise if things go wrong. This is just a safety net though; you’re not five, and they’re not your parent, but at least you have the reassurance that someone’s got your back if it should all go wrong.
5. A good way to organise group travel
I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this before, but a few people I met on the group tours had come with friends. They’d wanted to go on holiday with their mates but no one had really wanted to sort it out or be responsible for collecting and spending the money.
All you need to do is pick a tour, have you and at least another friend sign up, and then tell everyone else that’s what you’re doing. That way they can settle payments directly with the guide and your itinerary is set. All that’s left to you is to enjoy being with your mates, and meeting the other people on the trip.
6. Reassurance for your parents
If your parents are worried about you going out into the big wide world by yourself, joining a tour group, at least to start your trip, is a great way to give them some reassurance that you’re not going to be alone.
They know that with the tour company’s phone number they can get in touch with you if they need and that there is someone answerable for your safety.
7. Group discounts
When you travel in a group your leader can arrange group discounts on activities, food and drinks. Companies will be happy to offer cheaper prices as there are so many of you.
8. See things you wouldn’t be able to usually
As part of a tour your transport can sometimes access areas you wouldn’t be able to yourself. This is especially true when it comes to those hard to reach destinations like Africa. You’ll be taken to projects you would never have heard of, and have a chance to be introduced to locals like you wouldn’t have if you were travelling by yourself.
9. Have someone for the photos
All those Instagram selfies are getting tiring for your friends, y’know. You need to get some friends in on the action. On tour everyone’s happy to pose for a pic and be tagged as they all want to look like they’re having the best time ever to their friends back home.
They’re also there to take great photos of you, of course.
Travelling in a Tour Group
I’ve loved all my adventures travelling in a tour group. Of course it can depend on the group you’re stuck with, but with a positive attitude and a sense of fun you’ll definitely meet some cool people, with shared interests. Give it a try!