We all want to travel the world. That’s a fact. Go to cities we have never been before, explore mountain ranges and rainforests, and spend hours on end in the ocean getting our hair as sandy as possible. When deciding to go abroad, it’s always a hard decision on whether you should plan your own trip or go with a tour group.
With a tour group, you can be rest assured that you will be taken care of and see everything that you want to see if you are on a time constraint. This is definitely the best choice for those wanting to sit back and enjoy your vacation. Tour companies are extremely organized and know the best spots to take you to ensure you have an amazing experience. Your tour group will become a little family that you will be devasted to leave by the end of your trip. I guarantee you will never want the tour to end!
Alternatively, planning your own trip allows for a ton of freedom and flexibility to do your own thing. You can go at your own pace and cater your itinerary to your bucket list items. If you aren’t on a time crunch, it may be perfect for you. Even if you are, you may enjoy the planning process enough to do everything yourself.
Whatever you decide to do, your travel experience is sure to be a memorable one. If you are still unsure, we have compiled some pros and cons of both that will hopefully sway you in the direction that is right for you. After all, it is YOUR trip, so do whatever you please.
20 Tour Group - Everything is organised for you
Probably the most obvious perk of travelling with a tour group is that everything is planned out for you from the time you arrive at the airport to flying home at the end of your trip. There is no need for months of research or any detailed word documents mapping out your every move, because they do it for you!
Not only does this save a ton of time, but also creates a stress free environment where you don’t have to constantly think about what you are doing next and how you are going to do it. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy your vacation!
19 Tour Group - You have an instant travel family
While you meet a ton of people travelling solo, it’s a lot more convenient when your travel buddies are given to you. Travelling with a tour group is like being given an immediate group of best friends to enjoy your experience with. Almost everyone that does a tour is travelling alone, so everyone is in the same boat. You are all like-minded individuals that want to make lifelong memories abroad, and you will likely all get along smoothly. Your tour group will become a little family and by the end of your trip you will have made friendships that will last a lifetime.
18 Tour Group - You have someone to go to for advice at all times
Having a tour guide is like having your own personal wealth of knowledge at all times. Whenever you are unsure of something (which will happen a lot while abroad) you will have someone to go to that is an expert, since they have probably heard the same questions about a million times. You have someone that knows the best possible solution to any problem you may have, whether it’s a health issue or simply the best place to see some live music. If you are in a non-English speaking country, you will have a personal translator when you are unsure of the language.
17 Tour Group - You save a ton of time
Time is money! Tours are usually more expensive than you would spend on independent travel because there is a lot of planning that goes into it by both the company and tour guides.
If you are travelling on your own, not only do you have to map out all of the best attractions, you have to organise the best place to stay based on the things you want to see. If you choose the wrong area, you could save money on a room but spend a ton of money going back and forth to the sights. On top of that, there is meal planning, public transportation, and nightlife to work out.
You could spend some time researching everything each day, or if you are on a tour you could use these couple of hours per day enjoying your time.
16 Tour Group - They know the best hot spots
It’s always stressful planning a trip when you want to make sure you do the best possible activities that a location has to offer. The great thing about going on a tour is that the itineraries are designed by professionals who have a ton of travel experience. Tour companies do an amazing job at maximising sightseeing time to all of the hot spots, while also leaving time for relaxation.
They have fine-tuned the schedules to perfection, from the famous monuments to the best place in Venice to get your pasta and gelato fix. You can feel rest assured that you are being shown the best of the best of a destination in a short amount of time.
15 Tour Group - …and the hidden spots
Live as the locals do! These guides have been to these locations so many times that they basically become locals after their tenth visit. I guarantee that they know all the secret spots that no guide book could ever tell you.
While you may be hesitant to reach out to locals during independent travel, on a tour group you have your own personal local with you that is happy to share all the ins and outs.
Whether you are looking for the best rooftop patio to get a refreshing beverage or the most amazing coffee shop down a secret alleyway, your tour guides have you covered.
14 Tour Group - Your guides become the best part of your trip
Anyone that has gone on a trip via a tour group will likely tell you how fantastic their guides were, and how they made the trip what it was. Your guides will make it their mission to ensure your experience is the best one possible, and they have a passion for the destinations that will get you buzzing.
They are aware they have the best job in the world, and want to share their positivity with you.
They will be sure to throw out a ton of interesting facts throughout your trip, will have a laugh with you, all while spreading feel-good vibes throughout your time with them.
13 Tour Group - Higher quality at a better value
While you are likely paying more for a tour than you would if you were solo on a budget, you are getting a lot more bang for your buck. Tour providers get crazy good deals on luxurious experiences compared to if you were booking solo, because they are booking at very high rates. A company that books 20 hotel rooms every week with one phone call will receive deals that independent travellers would never have access to. The same applies to restaurants and excursions. Even if it may seem like you are paying more, you definitely aren’t being ripped off.
12 Tour Group - Higher security
While traveling is never 100% safe, tour groups allow for a lot more reassurement that you are not going to be in danger. The tour guides are working on your behalf to make sure that your experience is as safe as possible, and will help out if they see you are in a situation that compromises that.
You will never find yourself alone on the streets without a place to stay, or in a dodgy area that tourists are not recommended to visit. A tour company’s reputation depends on clients making it home safety and with all their ducks in a row, therefore they make it a high priority to do just that.
11 Tour Group - Completely stress free
All of these factors listed above all contribute to the fact that booking your vacation with a tour group is a very stress-free way to travel. If you are trying to escape from the real world, the last thing you want to do is to feel stressed, lost, or unsure while trying to enjoy yourself. Tour groups are designed for just that—for the traveller to enjoy everything that the destination has to offer without worrying about all of the nitty gritty. If you are in a time crunch to see a lot in a short amount of time, tours are the way to do it.
10 Independent - Go at your own pace
The beauty of travelling independently is that you have no one telling you to rush from one place to the other. You have the opportunity to go at your own pace in order to fully appreciate the destination you are in. If you want to take a day to relax, you can. Alternatively, if you want to fast-track to a new place, you can do that as well.
Going at your own pace gives you total freedom to do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it. Tour groups are great in the way that they fit in a lot in a small amount of time, but you find yourself being rushed from place to place on a tight schedule, where you only get a taste of everything you are seeing.
9 Independent - Flexibility to change plans
If you have ever been travelling, you know that plans can change on a dime. When you are on the road, your set out plans you once had can be thrown a curveball that you didn’t see coming. Bad weather may permit you to be stuck in a small town for a few days, or you may meet amazing people that you want to spend more time with that are going the opposite way in which you had mapped out.
You don’t want to ever feel constricted while travelling, because the beauty of being on the road is to surrender to the experience and change along with the tides.
8 Independent - More budget-friendly
While group tours have an obvious mark-up because of the planning and organisation that goes into it before and throughout your trip, travelling independently is ideal if you are more budget-conscious.
You can choose where to stay, where to eat, and what mode of transportation you want to take that coincides best with your budget.
Group tours tend to give you a more comfortable experience, rather than the cheapest.
They may also bring you to tourist hot spots that are more expensive to eat at, and where you are kind of forced to spend money. When you plan your own travel, you can live as budget-conscious as you choose.
7 Independent - You have your own space
There is nothing worse than being surrounded by people when all you want is some alone time. if you’re like me, you don’t always want to be around people. After travelling independently for a year, I value alone time more than I ever have before.
When you are not constrained by a tour group, you have the chance to be alone, but also have access to an amazing travel community of solo backpackers if you want to socialise.
Tour groups are very “go go go”, and there are times when you have no interest in socialising and want a day to yourself (which is not always possible when you have a tight schedule).
6 Independent - Planning can be exciting
If you enjoy lists, calendars packed to the brim, excel sheets, and group chats exploding with excitement, than you may enjoy the planning process more than you think. In my opinion, the planning process is one of the best parts of your trip, where you are bursting with excitement over all of the activities and amazing hotel rooms you are going to stay at. With a tour group, while the convenience of having it all planned for you is nice for some, you miss out on the exciting times prior to a trip where you are spending hours planning away. You also have the chance to learn more about a place before you go and actually know where you are going (somewhat) upon arrival.
5 Independent - Fully immerse yourself with the locals
One of the best parts about being in a new city is getting to know the culture of the destination and the people that live there year round. And what better way to do that than to approach a local to ask them for advice? Don’t be afraid to ask them what their favourite spot to eat at is, or their favourite hike that is off the beaten track from the most popular, touristy one.
If you take the time to ask and get to know them, I’m sure they will be happy to give you suggestions to ensure you have the most authentic experience possible.
4 Independent - You meet travellers spontaneously
While having an instant group of friends on a tour is awesome, it’s also just as awesome to meet travellers in the spur of the moment. Some of my now best friends are people I have met while waiting for a bus, or someone who slept beneath me in a bunk at a hostel.
You have the opportunity to meet just as many people as you would on a tour, if not more, because you aren’t constricted by one group of people. This also gives you a chance to go outside your comfort zone by meeting people that weren’t just given to you.
3 Independent - You will improve your problem solving skills
With no one there to telling you how to get to your hotel or what to do when you miss your train, travelling independently forces you to problem solve your way out of every situation.
You don’t have a personal map there for you every step of the way, so you have to use your survival skills to get your way out of every sticky situation you come across. Not only does this add to your adventure, but allows you to grow as a human being by learning to do things for yourself.
You will become so much more self-reliant and confident in travelling on your own, and will be more prepared to tackle anything that comes your way.
2 Independent - You can create a more personalised experience
Creating your own itinerary while travelling allows you to have a totally personalised experience, catered to you and only you. You won’t be forced to join in on excursions that you don’t necessarily want to do, since you have complete control over your schedule.
On a tour, you are generally brought to every place by your guide and always have someone telling you what you are doing that day.
Planning your own vacation allows you to check off absolutely every bucket list item you have, so you won’t be coming home with any regrets on things you wish you had done.
1 Independent - You can go off the beaten track
Probably one of the best parts of travelling independently is that you can go off the beaten track instead of being herded around by a tour guide.
Most tour groups will only take you to the most popular tourist spots, rather than the ones that the locals would choose to go to.
Being a local in your city, you would probably never go to the most touristy spots, as that isn’t a true representation of your city. If you take the time to explore outside the touristy spots, you could discover places that you would have never thought of coming to, that don’t have crowds of people around them.