There are pros and cons to both taking a tour and to planning a trip on your own and being in control of your own destinations. I have done both and have enjoyed each one.
Pros of Tour Travelling:
– Everything is looked after for you, i.e.: your large pieces of luggage. You just have to look after your personal items and get where you’re supposed to be on time. When travelling on your own, you are in charge of all your luggage and it can be a lot of hard work depending on the type of travel and places you are going.
– Many of the meals are included. You don’t have to scout around or find suitable restaurants. For the meals not included, restaurants, or at least areas, will be recommended to you with suggestions of places to stay away from.
– You have a pretty good idea of what your trip is going to cost you. There will be extra costs but you can limit them because you know what they will be, i.e.: optional tours, the meals that are not included and of course, souvenir shopping and general spending money.
– You have many friendly (hopefully) travelling companions, especially if travelling on your own. And often there is the option of room sharing to cut down on the costs.
– When travelling in a group there can be a lot of laughter and camaraderie adding to the enjoyment of the trip. I definitely found this to be the case.
– Your various modes of transportation have been taken care of for you. You don’t need to find out train schedules and prices, metro stations and if in a foreign country, how to get along with a language unfamiliar to you. All will be taken care of for you.
– There are explanations and historical commentary about the areas you are travelling through. It’s always nice to get to know the area you are travelling in. Tour travel means you will know without having to search it out for yourself either before your trip or after.
– The included meals are usually quite good and almost always includes breakfast and many of the dinners.
– Besides the optional tours you can choose to take, being on a tour includes many interesting places you may not have been able to get to on your own or have known about. An example of this was when we were in the Outback of Australia and we went into the bush and had dinner; when we were able to try some bush food of the variety that the Aboriginals eat, and the opportunity to be able to try and throw a boomerang.
– During free time, you have the option of staying with your tour group or of exploring on your own. The choice is there to be able to do what you want.
The Cons of Tour Travelling:
– The destinations may not be exactly what you would have chosen on your own. Tours include certain areas, i.e.: you may go to a particular park, a certain area in the city or a factory that you may not have wished to do had you been on your own.
– The trip is generally more rushed than it may be if you were travelling on your own. You are more in control of your travel decisions if you have planned your own trip.
– You have the opportunity to change your mind about what you’re going to do on any given day and do something else. You are more able to be a free spirit.
– Your time is your own and your decision whether to spend the day relaxing on some wonderful beach you’ve just found or enjoying other experiences. When travelling with a tour group you don’t have this opportunity. You go where they go, when they go, or you get left behind.
– You can better make the decision about how you are going to spend your money. When travelling on your own, you may decide to stay at budget hotels or even hostels which is not done when travelling with a tour group. You may decide that by doing this, you’ll have extra money to be able to see more of the sights. This is also the case when travelling by train and public transportation versus flying or going on tour coach buses.
For myself, visits to different countries would determine which way I decide to travel. I think on a trip to African and going on safaris, or if going to Brazil, I would choose to join a tour group. But if I was going to visit Ireland and Scotland, I would rather plan my own trip, choosing my own places to stop and possibly rent a car for travelling. Any decision would have to be, by necessity, based also on whether it is a single person, a couple or a family and even the age of the travellers would need to be a consideration.
When I went to Europe with my daughter-in-law, we planned our own trip, staying in hostels and travelling on public transportation. It worked well for us. The only tour we signed up with was one to Pompeii. Both ways of travel, however, have their pros and cons and each must be evaluated on their own merits.
Sylvia Behnish has had numerous articles published in magazines and newspapers in both Canada and the United States on subjects relating to travel.
She has also published a non-fiction book entitled ‘Rollercoaster Ride With Brain Injury (For Loved Ones)’, ‘His Sins’, a three generation family saga and, ‘Life’s Challenges, A Short Story Collection’.