Take a tour or be your own guide? This is a question we get asked a lot, and although we encourage all types of travel, there are many great benefits to taking a group tour as well. After recently travelling through Europe with Contiki Holidays, our Travel Consultant Erika shares the benefits of taking a tour and what to consider to help decide if it's right for you:
While I have always been a supporter of independent travel, there are times when a group tour can be the better option. The benefits of travelling with a group can sometimes heavily outweigh trying to travel on your own. So here are my top 6 reasons to travel on a tour:
Although there are some pretty swanky tours out there that will burn a deep hole in your wallet, most tours are budget friendly and priced based on their inclusions and comfort levels. From camping through Europe to staying in 5-star hotels on the water in Indonesia, there are so many types of options. However, when you break down a cost per day for transportation, accommodations, meals, activities, museum passes, gondola rides, etc, tour companies usually come in less expensive overall. It's also much easier to budget whilst travelling knowing all of your accommodations and transportation have been paid in advance. All you have to worry about on your trip is which souvenirs to buy and which activities you'd like to try out.
Not everyone can take 5-6 weeks off for their vacation. Most Canadians only get 2 weeks a year and have to make use of every minute of their adventure. Catching local transport and and guiding yourself from one country to another when there is a language barrier and you are unfamiliar with their metro or train system can take a whole day or more. Guided tours include your transportation to get from A to B and have comfortable coaches to catch a few hours sleep on, and hosts on the bus that inform you about your upcoming destination so you can get a feel for the history and culture before you arrive, and can let your mind relax and gain your bearings. For travellers that want to see as much as possible in a limited amount of time independent travel is generally not an option, a tour can get you to a lot of places in a limited amount of time.
3. Safety and Dependability
There is a great comfort in knowing you have someone guiding you, that can protect you as you wander through new territories. For single female travelers some destinations are highly dangerous to visit traveling solo, and a group tour is a fantastic way to experience these places. Having a company organize your transportation and accommodations also means you know ahead of time what will be happening, so you can depend on things going smoothly and the company can assist with any unforeseen hiccups in your travel plans.
4. Making New Friends
When you travel with others for a few days you start to get to know them, and strong friendships develop when you are experiencing amazing events and sites with one another. For shy travelers this creates a fun and safe environment to meet people from other sides of the world and make long lasting bonds. There are also tour companies that focus on certain age demographics, like Contiki, which provide tours for 18-35 year olds, so people can feel comfortable that they will be traveling with others that are of the same age, making it easier to find common ground and shared interests.
Not everything can be learned out of a Lonely Planet book and read on information signs when visiting historical monuments and sites. Having a guide with you is a great way to walk around and admire the sites while having someone accompany you that can tell you about what it is you're looking at and the history of how it came to fruition. You can learn much more from a person, and you can interact and ask questions about the things that interest you the most, while still having the option to walk away and explore on your own. Most of the guides have more knowledge of each destination than the locals because it's what they've lived and breathed for years and they've taken the time to learn every bit of history and facts to share with their guests.
6. Hassle and Worry Free
Planning your own trip can be fun, but getting around in an unfamiliar place, having to check-in with hotels, book day tours, finding the nearest restaurant, shopping area, and figuring out transportation all while working within a budget can become irritating quickly. A guided tour takes all of that hassle out of the picture and takes the reigns on all of the small details so you don't have to worry about them. You can sit back and relax, and enjoy your journey without worrying. You're provided constant support from a guide and they have endless access to information and ideas for where you should go for the best Gelato in Italy or the best bread in Paris – things that can be hard to find in a book.
When considering the options for your next adventure, it is always good to weigh the benefits of travelling with a group compared to you doing it on your own. For more information on tour companies around the world and finding the best one to suit your needs, contact one of our Travel Consultants at 1-877-967-5302 or find your closest store.