Think a group trip or organized tour isn’t for you? Julie Urquhart shares 10 great reasons why organized tours are the best way to travel:
I recently had the opportunity to travel on the adventure of a lifetime with Topdeck‘s Road to Miami tour. This was a group bus tour that started in New York and travelled for 7 days down the US eastern seaboard through Washington DC, Charlotte North Carolina, Savannah Georgia and ended in Miami, Florida. Having never travelled on an organized tour before, I had no idea what to expect.
My travels have taken me around the globe but were mainly planned independently and like many of my peers and clients I had preconceived notions of what a tour would entail – not getting enough time to see the things you want, limited local/cultural experience and the main one, “I don’t want to follow a leader around carrying a flag all day.” My trip with Topdeck completely changed by view. Although I still enjoy aspects of planning my own travel adventure, here are my top 10 reasons why organized tours are the best ways to travel:
Limited pre-trip planning
With organized tours, you simply need to pick where you want to travel in the world and the style of tour, and the tour operator plans the rest! For my tour, I knew the cities we were visiting and a rough daily itinerary but that was all. I didn’t mind as I knew the experts who run this tour weekly would know the best places to visit. I also saved hours of pre-trip planning – no researching every location, where I was going to stay and getting from point A to B.
You will spend less
It is easy to get sticker-shock when you look at the initial price of any tour, but in many cases you will spend less overall on a tour than independent travel. Tour companies include most travel expenses including accommodation, transportation, meals, tour leaders, and excursions and because they are the experts in these markets they know where to get the most value with no money wasted. I remember getting lost in Europe and having to spend extra money on a train ticket, or arriving in a city without accommodation and spending way more than I wanted to on a hotel. This doesn’t happen on a tour as it’s already covered!
You will meet like-minded travellers
Depending on the group size of a tour, there can be anywhere from 10 to 40 people on the trip so you are sure to enjoy the company of at least some of your travel companions. Generally they share similar interests – the love of travel, discovering new cultures, adventurous activities so there will be lots in common. Also there are tours for all demographics and comfort levels – Topdeck focuses on the 18-39 year range, while others are all ages, and styles ranging from camping tours to luxury tours. There is something for every budget and travel style.
No one wants to spend their precious travel time waiting in huge lines to see the best attractions. On a tour you not only get to skip the line, you get access to little-known places that only the locals know about! Whether it’s visiting a family-run restaurant, access into the hottest night club or skipping the 4 hour line at the Vatican, you’ll get this VIP treatment on a tour. On our Topdeck tour VIP highlights included lunch with an astronaut at NASA and shooting a free-throw on the court at a Miami Heat basketball game.
I love reading travel books before heading to a destination but found having expert guides was a bonus and I learned so much more than traveling on my own. In each city we visited our guides took us step by step through the history with interesting facts and added in funny stories. They were extremely knowledgeable and it was great to sit back and enjoy the scenery while they educated. On our Topdeck tour, the guides went out of their way to make sure we got to experience the cities. For example, in Savannah Georgia I was eager to go on a ghost walking tour of America’s “Most Haunted City”, but I couldn’t find a tour last-minute. Our guide spent time over dinner calling companies and arranged the whole thing so I could go that evening. It was a highlight of my trip and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity without their efforts!
This is an important aspect of travel that is often overlooked in planning and can get people into sticky situations. On a tour, you will never have to worry about booking a hotel in a dangerous neighborhood, wandering down the wrong street or getting on a rickety bus with a sketchy driver, or worse it breaks down! You will also always have travel companions to adventure out on your own for the day.
Most of us have limited holiday time every year (and limited budgets!) so need to make the most out of our time. Tours are extremely efficient means of travel. The way they are structured allows you to see a lot in a short period, and because these tours have been run many times over by expert travel guides, they have structured them to maximize time in the best places. You will never get lost on a tour, end up on a boring excursion or take a slow mode of transportation to your next city.
Based on the last reason for travelling on tours, people may assume this type of travel is exhausting and limited personal time. It is actually the opposite! Definitely there are some early morning starts and jam-packed days, but there are lots of tours that give travellers free time to explore.
On the Topdeck tour, we often came to a city and were given a city tour (via bus or walking) to get our bearings and learn about the city. Then we were given free time to explore for the day. There are always optional excursions on tours so you can participate as much or as little as you like.
Due to many of the reasons listed above, the Topdeck tour was the most stress-free trip I have ever been on. I really enjoyed leaving the planning up to the experts and every day I was just along for the ride! I trusted they would take me to the best cities, attractions, and restaurants and they didn’t disappoint.
At the end of the day, organized tours are simply fun! You’ll experience new cultures, meet like-minded travellers, eat amazing meals, have loads of laughs and have once-in-a life time adventures. When you get home you’ll think, ‘When can I go on my next one!” I know I did.
For more information on travelling on an organized tour or with Topdeck Travel, contact Julie who is an International Consultant at Flight Centre Saanich Centre in Victoria, BC and can be reached online or by calling 1-866-299-5614.