Friday, February 5, 2016

Pros & Cons: Group Tours

Pros and Cons of Group Tours

If you’re planning a trip, you may be wondering whether it’s better to go solo or book through a group tour company. There are benefits and drawbacks to each style of travel, depending on who you are and what kind of trip you’re looking for. 

The Pros

Safety: Group tours allow you to explore places you may not feel safe traveling alone. Even if the larger group splits up to do different things, chances are you will find at least a few other people who want to do the same thing as you. Many tour companies employ local guides who will be able to give you local safety tips, including common tourist traps, dangerous areas to avoid, and culture-specific manners to keep you out of trouble. 

Meeting New People: When you’re stuck with the same group of people for weeks at a time, it’s hard not to make friends. Since most tours have an age limit (18-35 is a common age bracket) and different trips will attract different personalities, you will probably be travelling with like-minded people. Even if you don’t keep in touch with everyone, it’s always nice to have connections in other countries for future trips!

Less Planning: If you don’t want to put a ton of time or planning into your next trip, a group tour might be a good choice. They usually plan activities which are optional, and give lots of suggestions for how to spend free time in a given place. All of your accommodation and transportation during the tour are taken care of, so you can enjoy the trip without the stress. 

The Cons

More Expensive: Group tours are often more expensive than traveling solo or with friends. Sure, you could do a similar trip with the same level of accommodation for cheaper, but on a group tour you’re paying more for a knowledgable guide and the planning that goes into the trip.  

Less Flexible: Although most group tours allot for free time, you’ll still be on a rigid schedule. Didn’t make it to that museum you wanted to see? Too bad, the overnight bus is leaving at 6pm sharp. Wanted to spend an extra night in that cool seaside town you fell in love with? Nope, your flight to the next country is leaving in the morning. If you like to leave lots of room for the unexpected, you may not be satisfied with the set schedule of a group tour. 

Fast-Paced: If you like to take your time and really get to know a place, a group tour is probably not for you. Most tours are designed to fit as much as possible into a small timespan, meaning you may only spend a day or two in some places. You’ll take in a bigger variety of sights, but chances are you’ll be exhausted after the first week of the tour. 

Overall, I was thrilled with my group tour experience. I would have never travelled to Morocco on my own because of safety concerns, and since I didn’t know anyone who was able to travel with me, a group tour seemed like my best bet. My fellow travellers were an amazing group of people who I still keep in touch with almost two years later. I chose G Adventures because of their huge selection of trips and options, commitment to sustainable travel, and popularity among solo travellers. I also found the guides to be fun, knowledgable, and safety-oriented. Do some research to find out whether a group tour is right for you!

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