One of the best things about traveling are the choices. You’re constantly faced with countless choices that you need to make. Everything you do has an impact on your trip!
These days you can choose to travel on your own and plan everything yourself. On the other hand, you could book a guided tour so that everything is done for you.
These are two different styles of travel that will cater to different types of people. It depends on what you’re looking to get out of the time that you’re traveling.
Some prefer a relaxing getaway where you just show up and follow along. Others would rather plan everything out on their own and go on an epic adventure without any guidance.
Today, I want to talk about those travelers that just want to relax and have everything done for them.
There’s nothing wrong with going on tours or having somebody else set up your trip.
Being able to relax while enjoying the beautiful sites around you is one of the amazing things of traveling!
These days there are plenty of guided tours and companies to choose from. The problem is, how do you know whether or not a specific company or individual is reliable.
You might be asking yourself – Are guided tours worth it?
It depends on what you’re looking to see when you’re traveling abroad. You also have to factor in your budget and consider whether or not you’re comfortable planning your own trip.
There are plenty of advantages to going on a guided tour. We can also be fun to do your own thing and explore on your own.
In this post I want to share my thoughts when it comes to guided tours. Will take a look at independent travel and whether or not guided tours are ultimately worth it.
Are Guided Tours Worth It?
- 1 Are Guided Tours Worth It?
- 2 The Benefits of Going on a Guided Tour
- 3 The Drawbacks of Guided Tours
- 4 The Benefits of Traveling Solo
- 5 The Drawbacks of Traveling Solo
- 6 Guided Tours vs Solo Travel: Which is Better?
- 7 Choosing the Right Tour Company
The Benefits of Going on a Guided Tour
No Difficult Planning
One of the biggest benefits of booking a tour, whether you’re booking one for your entire trip or you just want a guided tour through one of the cities you’re visiting, is that there is very little planning required on your part.
You simply have to search online for some tours that interest you, maybe send a few emails, input your credit card info and you’re good to go!
Some tours will have everything included from flights and airport transfers down to hotels, daily itineraries and even meals.
If you’re not comfortable planning your own trip you’ll definitely want to consider a guided tour and you can go with one that offers the best services and activities and you’re interested in having taken care of for you.
Meeting New People
On guided tours you’re likely going to be traveling in a bus or van with a group of other people that are just as interested in traveling as you are.
You’ll all be spending a lot of time together getting from destination to destination as well as eating meals together, spending night at the hotel together and walking around exploring new places together as well.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a solo traveller or you’re traveling with a friend or significant other, you’re still going to meet the different people on your tour and if meeting people is something that you’re interested in doing then you have better chances of doing that compared to if you were just traveling on your own.
It’s Very Safe
There is safety in numbers and on a guided tour it will typically be traveling with other small, medium or large sized groups of people.
If you want, you never have to be alone and especially when you visit all of the main tourist attractions and popular sights you’re bound to be with at least a few other people and you don’t have to worry so much about getting pickpocketed or something bad happening to you since there is always someone around to to watch your back.
When you’re traveling solo you never really know what’s going to happen on the day today but on a guided tour will always be with the tour guide and anyone else that’s coming on the tour with you so there’s the element of safety that will make you feel better if you’re apprehensive about something happening while you’re abroad.
A Range of Tours Available
There are so many different guided tours available that you can actually be hard to pick a specific one with all the options you have to choose from.
When you’re traveling by yourself it can be hard to know which areas to check out, where to stay and what places are worth visiting but when you’re on a tour you can check out an itinerary beforehand and get a better look at where you’re going to go.
You can also choose a specific to or related to your personal interests whether you want to learn more about history, local culture or you want to even go on a party/adventure based excursion.
Great For Infrequent Travelers
For people that only travel once or twice a year it can be quite daunting having to plan everything and guided tours remove the element of surprise and make it a lot easier for you to travel abroad.
It’s also so much easier to be able to check out all of the info online in advance and choose a tour that you’re most interested that takes you to a destination you actually want to explore rather than hoping for the best and picking somewhere random.
Lots of Information
With a dedicated tour guide you’ll learn a lot more about the places and destinations you’re visiting including more about the history and culture than you would if you were travelling on your own.
The guides tend to be very knowledgeable and will be able to give you more information about the various aspects of your trip without you having to scroll through your phone or travel around with a guide book.
You’re Able to See More
Finally, another one of the main benefits of going on a guided tour is that you’re able to see a lot more in a shorter period time thanks to the detailed itineraries that these tours typically use.
You’ll have transportation already arranged between destinations, hotels already booked and with a tour you can just focus on the experience rather than having to worry about all of the small details.
The Drawbacks of Guided Tours
Don’t forget that there are some drawbacks to going on tours when you’re traveling.
Here are some of the factors you should consider before you book a guided tour on your next trip.
One of the biggest problems I have with guided tours and pre-planned trips is the cost.
You can’t discount the time that the tour guides or companies have to spend planning trips and arranging everything. However, with the widespread availability of the internet it’s easier than ever before to plan your own trip.
When you plan your own trip you don’t have to worry about any overhead costs. You can make adjustments to your plan on the fly and you’re able to work with a smaller budget.
Anybody looking to travel on a budget isn’t going to find these tours to provide much value. You shouldn’t expect to discover or explore anything that you that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to find on your own.
With flights and transportation included it’s easy to see why week-long tours can cost thousands of dollars. It’s one thing if you’re visiting the South Pole or going on a safari. These actually do take hours to plan and require skills on what your average traveler has.
However, there’s no reason to be shelling out thousands for a week or two abroad. If you have the money to spend then go right ahead but it still possible to have an amazing trip within a reasonable budget.
Lack of Spontaneity
With everything planned for you it’s hard to do something spontaneous when you’re on a guided tour. You’re stuck following a strict schedule and you won’t be able to venture off the beaten path.
On shorter tours you’re not left with much free time to do your own thing. On longer tours there is so much going on that you won’t get the chance to explore on your own.
Some people might prefer this. Those of you that look for a little sense of adventure when you’re traveling are going to want to avoid anything guided or pre-planned.
Not only is this going to help save you money, you’re also hopefully going to head back home with a few new stories to share.
You Might Not Get Along With Everyone
On a guided tour you’re going to meet a lot of different people.
This includes the tour guide, other travelers, drivers, and anybody else you might need along on the way. You might even have to share a room with a stranger if you’re traveling solo.
For a short-term tour the people around you aren’t a problem. For longer tours you’re going to be stuck with the same people everyday.
Even the friendliest person is going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. This could lead to a small argument with one of the other tour members if there’s somebody you don’t get along with.
While I’m sure this is an unusual experience, it’s bound to happen every now and then. Getting into an argument or disagreement with somebody can ruin your day. It could even have an impact on the experience of your trip.
If you’re somebody that likes to spend time alone or you don’t want be stuck with strangers for extended periods of time you’re going to want to avoid guided tours.
The Benefits of Traveling Solo
Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of traveling on your own. This is something you should consider doing if you feel like guided tours aren’t for you.
Create Your Own Itinerary
One of the biggest benefits when it comes to traveling solo is that you’re able to create your own itinerary without having to worry about what anybody else wants you to do.
By creating your own itinerary you can explore where you want, check out all of the places that you want to see, eat at restaurants that you want to try out and just spend time doing your own thing.
Well-Suited for Budget Travelers
If you’re traveling on a budget then solo or independent travel is the best way to save money and travel for a lot longer than you would be able to if you were on a guided tour .
You can basically travel on nearly any budget and most people would be able to get by with between $30 and $50 per day including food, accommodation and entertainment.
When you’re traveling on your own you’re free to do as you please and this opens up a lot more possibilities when it comes to how you can experience your travels.
You’re able to be a lot more spontaneous and you can make a lot more random choices without having to stick to a rigid itinerary.
Learn More About Yourself
Finally, one of the best things of traveling solo is that it enables you to learn a lot more about yourself and it encourages you to confront stressful situations and work your way through them without any support.
Without a tour guide or an itinerary you’re on your own when it comes to planning your trip, looking for things to do and dealing with any of the stressful situations that arise.
You’ll be forced out of your comfort zone and once you solve any of the problems that you’re confronted with you’ll end up a stronger person and any issues you encounter in the future you’ll be better able to deal with and they might not seem like such a big deal.
The Drawbacks of Traveling Solo
Planning Your Own Trip
When you’re traveling solo it’s up to you to plan your own trip and create your own itinerary.
If you’re not that internet savvy or you don’t have much experience booking flights. finding accommodation, or looking up the best things to do in the city you’re visiting then it might be stressful and quite hard at first to figure out what to do.
It does get easier with practice but those first few trips that you plan can be quite stressful and you’ll never know until the trip is over whether or not you accomplished everything you wanted to without any hiccups along the way.
Harder to Meet People
For very sociable and personable people meeting other travelers when you’re traveling solo probably isn’t a big deal but if you’re someone that has a little bit of anxiety or you’re not that good at meeting people then traveling alone might not actually be a good idea.
On your own you’ll be forced to go out of your way to interact with other travellers and depending on where you’re travelling you might not even need that many other people traveling on the road so you’ll be stuck as a third wheel.
There are ways to meet other people when you’re traveling such as going on walking tours or pub crawls and staying at hostels is a good way to meet like-minded travelers but it’s still something to keep in mind as a drawback to solo travel.
Guided Tours vs Solo Travel: Which is Better?
Ultimately, it’s based on your personal preferences, budget and what you’re looking to get out of the time you spend abroad when it comes to whether or not solo travel or guided tours are better.
To decide you’re going to have to spend some time thinking about what you’re looking for with any trip if you’re interested in going on, how much you’re willing to spend and if you want everything to be planned for you or if you just want to explore and do everything on your own.
Keep in mind that while guided tours are going to be much more expensive they’re going to offer an incredible experience without you having to do much planning or organization on your own.
On the other hand, solo travel is very rewarding and you’ll have the opportunity to explore and check out anything that you want without any restrictions and for a much more reasonable price.
Choosing the Right Tour Company
Despite some of the negatives you can have an incredible experience on a guided tour. I’ve done them quite a bit myself and I still plan on doing them in the future.
Here are some helpful tips on finding a suitable tour company.
Do Some Research and Read Reviews
It’s a good idea to do a little bit of research online to see what the two companies have to offer you and compare the budgets of any of the specific tours are interested in before you go ahead and book something.
You’ll also want to read reviews and maybe check out other blog posts just to get a better idea of what people have to say about the guided tour that you are that you’re interested in and whether or not it’s a good one that you should go on or something that you should avoid.
Choose One for Your Age Group
There are a variety of tours that are designed for people of different age groups.
For example, Contiki is one that’s very popular. Their tours are catered towards younger people between 18 and 35 years old. These are mostly for those who are looking to party and go on a “once-in-a-lifetime” adventure.
Mature travelers will want to take a look at companies like G Adventures. These companies offer tours that focus more on local history and culture. They’re better suited for those that aren’t interested in partying and that want an in-depth travel experience .
For the older crowd you’ll want to consider something like a European river cruise. These will have everything taken care of for you including all meals and accommodation. You’ll be able to check out different cities as well as enjoy the scenery as you cruise along a popular European waterway.
Check the Rates
As always, don’t forget to take a look at the costs associated with any tour.
It’s much better to spend what you’re comfortable with and maybe not go abroad for as long rather than overspending. You don’t want to have to worry about your finances throughout the duration of your trip.
For every budget you’re bound to find a guided tour that will cater to your needs and meet your travel requirements.
Research the Tour Guides
Apart from reading reviews about the tour itself you should also look into any reviews or ask about more information about the tour guides that you’ll be paired with.
You’re going to want to travel with someone that’s knowledgeable about the place you’re going, experienced with giving tours and will hopefully ensure that you have a good time abroad.
Any reputable guided tour company will have no problem providing you with some more details about your specific guide and if they raise any concerns about why you’re asking then you should probably go ahead and look for a different company that’s more willing to work with your needs.