Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Group VS Solo Travel

If you read a lot of travel blogs, you'll hear a lot of disdain for group travel or organized tours, as if they are less valid experiences than hardcore "roughing it" with solo travel.

My opinion is any travel is good if it gets you out of your comfort zone and experiencing new things. Travel does not have to be rough, scary or constantly spontaneous. It doesn't even have to be adventurous. Just go out, follow your dreams and see the world.

So while I've never actually participated in group travel, I can understand the benefits and the appeal. As a solo traveler, I have done organized group day trips/tours. I'm going to try to compare the benefits of the two and people who have done both can correct me if you think I'm wrong!

Safety in numbers

People always say there's safety in numbers and it's true. That being said, there are tons of tips and articles about staying safe while travelling solo. Still, group travel is one way to at least make you feel like you'll have help if you need it. As long as it doesn't give you a false sense of security and you let your guard down, this is a great benefit.

Group Gouging?

The drawback to the group is touts can see you from a mile away and they see dollar signs painted on your foreheads. On the plus side, you can negotiate group discounts or deals.

Blame Someone Else

With an organized tour or group, if you don't like the food or the accommodations you were provided, you can complain and maybe even get your money back. Sure, a solo traveler could also, but there's more power in a group when it comes to complaints and tour operators want to keep everyone happy. As a solo traveler, if you've done your research and end up in a hell hole for the night, usually it's your own fault!

See More, Learn More, Do More

Some activities or sites have areas that are cut off from the general public, but will let guided tours in to special spots, so you actually get to experience more than a solo traveler would. I've also always appreciated the extra information provided during a tour, often from a local. As a solo traveler, unless you hook up with Tours By Locals, you might miss out on a lot of educational and enriching information.

Who Pays More?

This is the big question: does it cost more to take a group tour or to organize your whole trip alone? I think group tours are more expensive, but has anyone really looked at it objectively? Let me know!

Worry Free

The bonus to a group tour is you don't have to worry about getting lost and don't have to think about where you'll sleep any given night. All the thinking has been done for you. All you have to do is wake up at the right time and get on the bus/plane when they say. I'm a control freak, so I'm going to leave my personal opinions out of this one!

So what has your experience been? What other points am I missing? Lend us your wisdom in the comments! 


Terence said...

Very interesting, useful, informative and top of the range post about the group vs solo travel.

K Bron J said...

Thanks Terence! I hope you'll share my article with others.

Christine | Grrrl Traveler said...

I know what you mean about hardcore-ites having disdain for group travel and I feel mixed about it. I have absolutely no problem with mixing it up. I'm all for off- the- map travel but group tours make it easy for solo travelers to get around, you get a guide (hopefully he speaks English) and you can meet people.

I LOVE when I find a great budget tour that whisks me off through an itinerary I would've struggled to find transportation to.