group travel
travel

Are group travel tours for you?

I must admit, I’ve always avoided group travel tours, preferring to do my own thing. However, lately, I’ve been considering breaking that pattern and trying out a guided travel tour. I’m dying to see a few places that come with fantastic itineraries and are just so tempting.

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Pros of group travel

To make my decision, I’ve been creating a list of things that are definitely pros of group travel versus doing it myself. Actually, quite a few things make group travel stand out to me the more I consider.

Are group travel tours for you? | kasiawrites cultural travel
Group travel made easy

Convenience

There is definitely something to be said about the convenience that group travel brings. As much as I love planning, organizing and figuring out my travel plans, having it done for you is definitely nice. I could let go of those details planning elements and let someone else do it instead.

Not having to worry about ensuring your hotels, transportation and food needs is definitely a huge plus. I would enjoy myself a bit more if I didn’t have to worry about arrangements. After all, you’re not there to worry about such annoying things. You’re there for the adventure.

Set itinerary

Since I would choose a group travel tour for a place, I have not been to, having a pre-designed itinerary is what I would be looking for. It definitely saves time and effort in trying to figure out what places to go and what to see.

An itinerary is definitely one of the main elements of why I would be choosing group travel in the first place. Itineraries are designed to cover the most important and interesting things, which means you won’t be missing anything important.  So choose your itinerary wisely!

Multiple destinations

I am a huge fan of multi-destination travel. Having the opportunity to visit various places in a short time frame instead of returning to each one is always preferable. Group travel tours guarantee that you’ll be making multiple stops and seeing many things.

The ability to see multiple destinations is definitely a huge appeal of organized group travel tours. The destinations are the most appealing parts of tours, in my opinion. Where you go is largely what I’m looking for in an experience.

hands
Group travel tours offer convenience

Learning experience

Travel to me is always about learning something new. Travelling in an organized group tour teaches you even more. From things about yourself, places and experiences to discovering things about others and learning from them.

Immersing yourself in the full experience of group travel can definitely lead to new learnings. Discovering things on your own is definitely fun and can be quite cathartic, but being in a group changes that experience. You definitely won’t lack for people to share and learn with you.

Tour guides

Group travel tours come with their own tour guides. This is especially helpful when visiting countries where there is a language barrier or a lot of intricate knowledge you don’t always find in a guidebook. The guides are versed in the areas you are visiting and know everything about them.

There is no need to try to figure it out, and you can always ask a question. Besides, you won’t have to figure out what they are saying, as they will speak your language. Since the tour guides come with you, there is no worry about being swindled or taken for a ride by a ‘helpful’ local.

Are group travel tours for you? | kasiawrites cultural travel

Safety

Safety concerns are a major reason I would choose organized group travel over going on my own, especially in places that are not quite the safest destinations. Whatever that safety factor is, being part of a group provides more reassurance.

Since I’ve been looking at places like Egypt and South America, organized group travel tours are looking a lot more practical. While I know many people have travelled there independently, I am not always comfortable doing so myself. Plus, the whole idea that others are there as well ups the safety factor for me.  

Are group travel tours for you? | kasiawrites cultural travel
group tours can be fun

New friends

Making new friends isn’t always the easiest while you travel. It can be intimidating, off-putting and straight out scary. Hanging out with a group forces you to assimilate, and chances are you will make new friends. What better way to bond than over travel?

Easy logic would dictate that you‘d be surrounded by likeminded people if you pick tours that are geared to your interests. Moreover, people signing up for tours are likely to be out there for the same things, and you might end up connecting with many of them. Also, there is always someone to take a pic of you in that dreamy setting.

group travel in front of a museum
grout travel often comes with special access

Special access

Some places might not be accessible or available for independent travel. If your dream is to visit Antarctica, let’s say, you are better off with an organized tour. Some remote destinations might only allow access to group tours. There can be safety and accessibility issues that make independent travel hazardous and potentially expensive if attempted solo.

Group travel sometimes comes with special access to very touristy spots. While you might wait in line for hours to visit the Vatican, a group will sail right past you. The benefit of a group is that the visits are preplanned, so there is no worry about tickets running out or waiting in line for hours.

Tourradar

Cons of group travel

While group travel can be fun and exciting, it’s not all lollipops and rainbows. Sometimes, it just sucks if you pull the short straw on the group thing.

Not a lot of flexibility

Do you know that feeling of discovering something new on your travel that makes you change your plans? With organized group travel, there is no such thing. The tour has a defined itinerary and a timetable that you will have to follow. No willy nilly taking off and exploring things that are not planned or sleeping in.

You are also not able to change your tour a whole lot. You might want to visit a museum or have drinks on a patio, but the tour must go on. That glass of red might have to wait for another time as you get back on the bus bound for your next destination.

group travel
group travel

Strict itinerary

I must admit that I am not too bothered by this. Discovering new things on a tour that will allow me to go back is always a good thing. The key is in the tour itself and reading both the descriptions and reviews carefully.

A busy itinerary can be a good thing, but it will ruin the experience if it’s too rushed or poorly carried out. I am all for seeing as many things as possible, but they have to have value to me. Whether a strict itinerary is a deal-breaker or not really depends on the itinerary itself. Choose carefully.

Price tag

I must admit that price is the number one thing holding me back from booking a group travel tour right now. While travelling any place can be expensive, there is flexibility in how you spend your money. It always seems less expensive if you don’t have to pay the whole chunk upfront.

There are no guarantees that you will find everything to your liking, and if you spend a lot of money on tour, it can be an even more expensive experience. Still, some tours seem just very expensive.  

Accommodations and dining issues

This is definitely one thing that can be a hit or a miss. While most tours offer dietary options, there is no guarantee that they will be good ones. Some places might not have the ingredients or availability of products to suit your needs.

group tour
group travel sometimes means limited food choices

As I don’t eat meat, I have nightmares of going to places where they offer traditional dishes filled with meat.  While I can appreciate a local culinary experience, I don’t want to be sitting through a meal where there is nothing for me to eat. The same can be said about accommodations. What appeals to one person will not to another. This definitely goes back to checking reviews and asking questions before booking.

Tour guides

Tour guides are definitely a pro, but they can also be a con. Having a bad tour guide can definitely ruin your experience.  Untrained guides, lack of knowledge and interest in the job can dampen any tour. While you can’t predict which guide you will get or how good they are, it also pays to read reviews.

Any company worth its reputation will ensure that their guides are trained properly and knowledgeable about the location or tour. As with any company that provides customer service, their guides are their direct ambassadors and reflect on the company. It doesn’t bode well to have a bad tour guide.

Personality conflicts

The reality is that you might not get along with everyone or might not be liked by them. As in any situation where you have random strangers thrown together, conflicts can arise. Be that personality or general mismatch; this experience can make or break your trip.

In a worst-case scenario, your trip could become unbearable. If that becomes the case, you might have to choose whether you stay or leave. It’s important to read the company’s terms on refunds, cancellations and unfinished tours. You never want that to happen, but it’s good to know what your options are if it does.

Are group travel tours for you? | kasiawrites cultural travel
family group travel

Exhaustion

Let’s be honest; travel can be exhausting. Moving from one place to another, getting on another bus and even walking around can become too much. Add information overload and you might need a vacation from your vacation.

Save yourself some aggravation and choose an organized group tour that suits your needs. Most tours have an overview of the level of activity required, difficulty and recommended fit level.

While it might be tempting to pick the longest, most adventurous tour you can find, make sure you can physically keep up. Remember, there is no breaking from the schedule to have a rest day. 

Restrictions

Many tour companies design trips for different age groups. Depending on your age, you might find that a good thing or a bad one. There are always tours for all ages, which again can have their good and bad points.

If you are near the age bracket of a tour you like, you can always contact the tour operator to see if they can include you. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Types of guided travel tours

Choosing a tour can become a challenge in itself. With so many options, which one do you pick? I think it’s easy to see how some people become addicted to group tours. As with anything else, there is always the private tour option if you desire.

With so many great options, why plan your own vacation?

Are group travel tours for you? | kasiawrites cultural travel
  • Adventure tours: Pretty self-explanatory and guaranteed to leave you with epic stories of adventures to tell your friends.
  • Cultural tours: More in-depth immersion with culture and people of the country you’re visiting.
  • Destination tours: Designed with a specific location in mind and all it has to offer.
  • Educational tours: Great for picking up new language skills, volunteering or gaining knowledge to take back with you.
  • Family tours: Made with the whole family in mind with plenty to do for everyone.
  • International tours: Trailing across multiple countries and a great way to build up the number of countries you’ve been to.
  • Rail tours: Iconic and scenic routes in the style and comfort of the days gone by.
  • Sightseeing tours: The best way to explore a specific destination in a short time, usually don’t have to book far in advance.
  • Specialty tours: Anything from golfing, religious pilgrimages and yoga to cheese making, culinary sampling and wine tours.  

Things to keep in mind about group tours

So, you’ve made a list of group tours’ pros and cons and decided on the type of tour you want. There are few things to keep in mind before you commit to a specific tour experience.

Tour operators

With so many tour operators out there, you have many choices. Sometimes that is a good thing, but not always. It might be tempting to pick a tour operator that is the cheapest or offers the longest tour. It definitely pays to do some research ahead of time. The time invested in research will pay dividends in the future.

If you are not sure about the reviews on the tour operator’s website, google them. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Ask them questions yourself. If you’re not sure about something, address it before you book. It will save you time and help to enjoy your trip.

TripAdvisor

Tour packages

Lots of options once again. Read the little print carefully. What accommodations and food does the tour operator include? Not all tours include all meals, and that is an extra cost for you. Some tours offer different tiers of accommodations as well. While you might be okay sleeping on a mat in a tent, someone else will prefer a bed and hot running water. It’s all down to individual tastes.

Duration

Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a month-long adventure, there is a tour with your name on it. You might want to enjoy a one-day experience while you’re on vacation anyway. On the other hand, you might want to take off for an extended amount of time. Duration always comes down to affordability and the ability to take the required time needed for the trip. 

travelling with a group
group travel – is it for you?

Transportation

Trekking in the wilderness of Bolivia can be an appealing thought; you might have to consider how you’re getting there. What types of transportation does the tour provide? If there is a lot of time spent on a bus, car or train, you might want to consider bringing smaller luggage. It will be difficult to lug your largest suitcase from one bus to another or drag it around from place to place.

If you’re like me and get motion sickness, having to spend hours on a bus can be daunting. Add an old bus that spews nasty fumes and you got yourself a disaster. I always make sure I bring anti-nausea meds with me; I’d rather not have to use them. Alternatively, while that camel ride into the sunset might seem romantic, you might find it uncomfortable for many reasons. While you can’t predict the weather, knowing how you’re getting around will make things a lot easier to plan.

Are group travel tours for you? | kasiawrites cultural travel

Cost

While organized group tours can be expensive, what is included sometimes makes up for the price tag. Most tours don’t include airfare, so getting there and back is up to you. If the location is different at the end, then when you started, you have to factor that cost in as well.

Typical costs include a tour guide, transportation, accommodations and a meal plan. Depending on the tour operator, your experience will reflect on what’s included. Make sure you are comfortable with the options and ask questions before you book.

Other things to consider about group tours

Travelling in a group is not that much different from travelling on your own. There are some basics that you should keep in mind as you plan your adventure.

Plugs and adaptors: I have invested in wall plug for Europe so that it’s easy for me to charge my phone without worrying about adaptors when I travel. This makes it so much easier. I’ve recently invested in an all-in-one charging pack that makes travelling a breeze to any country.

Insurance: This should be a given any time you travel. Always have coverage, as you never know what can happen during your trip.

Vaccinations: Do you require special vaccines for travel? It’s good to find out what shots you need ahead of time, as some require a certain time of time to kick in or repeat doses. If you require multiple vaccines, ensure that you have enough time before travel to administer them all.

Visas:  Checking visa requirements for admission to specific countries also falls under your responsibility. Some countries have an easy process while others require a longer, more onerous one. Always check before you set out. Otherwise, you might find yourself left behind if the country on tour refuses you entry.

So is group travel for you?

I can say that I am definitely up for group travel. In the past, I’ve gone on a fantastic day trip to the Loire Valley in France, an awesome snowmobile tour as well as unforgettable lava and ice caves tour. I have also had some terrible private tours, but the positive ones easily outnumbered those.

I am now ready to try a destination group tour that requires me to travel with several strangers for a set time frame. While I’m not fully decided yet what I am taking, a few contenders are on the line.

Have you done any organized group tours? What was your experience like? Let me know!

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    Endless Travel Journey
    11 Sep 2018
    4:25am

    I have travel in group tours during my teen age and in this past 6 years I always backpack and travel solo. If make comparison, I will prefer to travel alone, given me more flexibility, more freedom to choose what to eat, where to stay and where to explore. The only time I join a small group tour is when the place is more rural and less public transportation option. Thanks for sharing. Cheers

      kasiawrites
      11 Sep 2018
      3:12pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience! I always prefer to do my own thing, hence the hesitation of doing a group tour.

    travellingfoody
    11 Sep 2018
    10:40am

    I was like you, not sure about group travel. But my last few trips have been groups and I’m converting. One of our tricks is to create our own group within a group by Travelling with friends.

      kasiawrites
      11 Sep 2018
      3:10pm

      That is a great idea! I’m not sure I’d be able to get friends to go on this so that would be tough! Any favourite tours?

    nomads4life
    11 Sep 2018
    6:24pm

    Thanks for this post. We are planning our first retreat/getaway for our facebook community members next year. This article will help people decide whether they want to do a group trip!

      kasiawrites
      12 Sep 2018
      7:55am

      That’s excellent! Hope it makes your decisions easier 🙂

    Eric Gamble
    11 Sep 2018
    6:33pm

    Great post! I am usually not a big fan of even considering group tours because I always want the freedom to do what I want, when I want it, and find the off beaten path hidden treasures. But sometimes I feel that we miss out on certain popular things because either I didn’t know about them or something got lost in translation. Whereas, a group tour could have clued us in better.
    So Darcee & I for the 1st time ever are taking a group tour in Morocco in November! Figured it would be safer and we could navigate the Arabic language better with a guide. So we shall see!

      kasiawrites
      12 Sep 2018
      7:55am

      Oh nice! What tour group are you going with? I’m hoping to do Egypt as it’s one of those places I want to see but don’t want to go on my own.

    shreyasaha1987
    11 Sep 2018
    9:18pm

    I love planning my own travel itinerary and go with it, but sometimes I feel the same as you mentioned. The pros of group travel like not worrying of booking hotels, food, and excellent itinerary packages can’t be ignored. So sometimes I plan my own trip and opt for join-in day tours, so it’s a combination of both.

      kasiawrites
      12 Sep 2018
      7:53am

      Yes, I agree! I’ve done few join-in tours but now I’m thinking of doing the whole deal. Haven’t fully made that decision tho

    Dippy Dotty Girl
    11 Sep 2018
    10:51pm

    I have never been part of a group tour except for when I used to go on junkets as a journalist. It sucked then — mostly because of annoying journalists from other publications. I figured it could not be that different in a group tour. I could be wrong though. Loving your travel updates on Instagram, K. xx

      kasiawrites
      12 Sep 2018
      4:36am

      Awww thank you! I’m having lots of fun with Instagram 😁 I hear ya about the annoying factor. There is always that one person that can ruin the whole trip. I haven’t committed to a tour yet but if I do I will write about it!

        Dippy Dotty Girl
        12 Sep 2018
        10:54am

        I hope you have a group tour without that one bug 😉 Keep soaking up the joys of the Med. xx

          kasiawrites
          12 Sep 2018
          11:26am

          For now I fully am!

    runningtotravel
    12 Sep 2018
    9:41am

    I’ve never done a group tour but would consider it for reasons of safety and/or access to areas that aren’t so easy for the general tourist.

      kasiawrites
      12 Sep 2018
      9:44am

      That is exactly why I am considering it!

    Epepa Travel Blog
    12 Sep 2018
    9:42am

    I have not participated in group travels for a very long time. Now I travel on my own and I see too many advantages in it to give up. I like to be independent, plan my time and I have a lot of satisfaction from organizing the trip alone.

      kasiawrites
      12 Sep 2018
      1:26pm

      Same here! That is really why it’s so hard to convince myself to do a full blown tour!

    Lisa
    12 Sep 2018
    3:12pm

    I still enjoy taking a tour, but it has to be within a small group. You’re right that personalities can clash, and it can be hard sticking to a limited schedule when you want to stay! Still, I always have fun on them.

      kasiawrites
      13 Sep 2018
      5:00am

      Small groups are definitely better! Nothing worse than being stuck with bunch of people you dislike!

    OurSweetAdventures
    12 Sep 2018
    8:48pm

    There is definitely so much to consider with tours. We like going off on our own as much as the next person but it is also nice to not have to plan anything for once. We like the flexibility of being on our own in case what we are doing was not as interesting as originally thought.

      kasiawrites
      13 Sep 2018
      4:59am

      Yes, that is why I the the itinerary would have to be really good. I need to like everything about it in case I get bored and can’t leave off.

    emptynestbigworld
    13 Sep 2018
    12:08am

    I’ve always been concerned about travel groups because of some of the things you listed. The strict itinerary, food and people were concerning to me. However, some of your pros have me considering it. I like the idea of making friends and not having to worry about transportation.

      kasiawrites
      13 Sep 2018
      4:57am

      And here lies my dilemma. I am really tempted to try it at least once!

    thewonderer86
    13 Sep 2018
    4:22am

    I can see the advantage of going to Egypt in a group – not because of any safety issue. I think that’s fine, but because you will be shielded from the constant hassle, manipulation and arguments over ‘baksheesh’. That really did my head in when we were there. On the whole though, I have to say, I’d choose independent travel every time. Whenever I see one of those groups shuffling along behind a raised umbrella, I think what a nightmare!

      kasiawrites
      13 Sep 2018
      4:22am

      I hope that an extended organized tour is not part of the umbrella carrying sort 🤦🏼‍♀️

    Medha
    17 Sep 2018
    12:09am

    I have very mixed feelings about group travel and I think you’ve done a great job in listing the pros and cons! As for things like convenience, I actually derive a lot of fun out of planning and I am not willing to let go of that with a pre-planned (and fixed) itinerary and arrangements! Also, making friends is certainly easier when you’re in a group but what if I don’t want to really hang out with other people? I do, however, agree with getting access to certain places such as Antarctica which cannot be done by yourself and that’s why I guess I will only give Group Travel a shot when I have to visit a place like that!

      kasiawrites
      17 Sep 2018
      11:22am

      Thank you! I tried to make my own pros and cons to decide. I still haven’t made up my mind, but I think I might try a group tour at some point to see what that’s really like!

    AlwaysCarryOn.com
    4 Nov 2018
    5:37am

    I know that organised group tours aren’t for everyone – but when i took my grandma to India for a week, the tour we did through Holiday Places was just perfect. It was at a comfortable pace, the guide was amazing, the hotels we stayed in were all 5 star luxury, and the food was delicious 😀 I could not recommend that your enough! X

      kasiawrites
      4 Nov 2018
      10:10am

      I think there is a certain appeal to group tours. I definitely will want to try one at some point. Thanks for sharing your experience! Great food and luxury accommodations are always a nice bonus 😁