Some recommend taking an escorted tour when you’re travelling solo. Others swear that travelling alone sans tour is the best way to experience a new place, without restrictions and a schedule. The beauty of travel is that there’s no right way to do it: you’ll experience an enjoyable holiday either way, it just comes down to the type of vacation you’re looking for. We’re here to help you decide if an organized tour is right for you.
Why should you take a tour?
You’ll get a good overview of your destination.
If you don’t have a lot of time (to plan your trip and to actually travel), a tour is perfect for getting acquainted with a destination, especially if it’s your first time visiting. There are many amazing itineraries already planned out for you with tour providers such as Contiki, Trafalgar, Globus, Cosmos, and Insight Vacations. You’ll get a taste of the different destinations at a quicker pace, but won’t miss out on any of the highlights. Itineraries are developed based on what’s popular and efficient, from which cities you’ll be visiting to the amount of time allocated for each to exactly which sights and excursions are included. You can choose itineraries catered to different interests like food tours, religious tours, and adventure tours, as well as age groups and travel style (luxury versus budget). Guided tours are available in almost any part of the world so you can discover wherever your heart desires.
Everything is organized for you.
If you book a tour, you’ll have less to plan and less to worry about, so all you’ll have to do is show up and enjoy. Your hotels and transportation will be arranged for you, plus your tour may include some meals and admission to attractions, excursions, and demonstrations. your group will be accompanied by a knowledgeable and experienced tour guide who can share insider tips of what to see, where to eat, and where to party when the sun goes down. Guided tours are easy, albeit busy. You just have to wake up on time and have your camera ready for the day ahead.
You’ll make new friends.
This one can be said of both an organized tour and solo travel. You’re sure to make friends on your tour since you’re spending so much time together experiencing similar things. You may not get lonely as easily as you could travelling alone. However, a major downfall could be that there’s no time to befriend the locals and really get acquainted with their culture. Again, your tour guide is there to help you along the way. There are often introductions on a tour to meet fellow passengers. You could also request a double room so you can meet a roommate.
It’s a step towards travelling solo.
An organized tour is a great stepping stone toward your first truly solo travel experience. You’ll get comfortable travelling and familiar with what to expect the next time you go. Extending your vacation after the tour ends is also an option to get the best of both worlds.
It offers peace of mind.
A tour could be considered safer than travelling alone for those who aren’t accustomed to travel or adapting to different cultures. With a tour guide and group of people accompanying you, this option may be more comforting. Tours are often more popular in exotic destinations where a guide and group offers peace of mind and insight into unfamiliar cultures, customs, and even language barriers.
Why should you consider travelling alone (sans tour)?
You’ll have complete freedom.
One of the best things about travelling alone is total flexibility. You can do what you want, when you want. If you are really having a fantastic time in one place, you can stay longer. If you hear about a place you hadn’t penciled into your route, you can add it in. There’s no strict itinerary, you can go with the flow and change plans as you wish.
The focus is on you.
Travel can be extremely rewarding. With no one else to please, you’ll do things that make you happy. Whether it’s dancing, cooking, visiting museums, or playing sports, it’s an opportunity to take a break from your everyday life and indulge in the pleasures of travel.
You’ll make new friends.
Similar to an organized tour, you’ll make new friends if you travel alone. The difference is that you won’t be constrained by the people on your tour. You’re more likely to befriend locals or fellow travellers who are on their own unique paths because you’ll have the opportunity to interact with them more. Local friends may offer you food or accommodations. They’ll introduce you to hidden places and special sights only a native would know — and these are the moments you’ll cherish most.
TIP: Choose hotels or hostels with common areas. Who knows, you may find yourself a travel partner, a lifelong friend, or at the very least, have an interesting conversation. And if you’re not usually a social butterfly, travel will certainly help you.
You’ll challenge yourself.
When you’re travelling alone, you’ll be forced to exercise your independence and confidence. You’ll immerse yourself in culture, trust your instincts, pick up local languages, and explore your own interests. It forces you out of your comfort zone and challenges you to learn about yourself, how to face trials, and how to interact with strangers.
Get lost. Wander. Explore. Experience the beauty of the word travel and learn what distinguishes it from vacationing and touring. Face fears of loneliness, of unknown people and places. By the end, you’ll have had an uplifting and enlightening experience.
When travelling solo, you need to be concerned with your safety, and the same goes for an organized tour. Be wary of your surroundings. Travel with a whistle, have copies of maps on your phone, give your family a copy of your itinerary, don’t walk alone at night, carry a small amount of cash, learn basic phrases of the language, and ask the hotel about places to steer clear of. Do your research beforehand and always be aware. We recommend storing a photocopy of your passport in a couple of different places (your luggage, carry-on, etc.) and have a photo of it on your phone. You may also want to take a photo of your luggage in case it’s lost or delayed. It may be hard to describe its colour and size with a language barrier.
In your experience, what are the pros and cons of travelling with a tour versus travelling solo? Which is more enriching?