To tour or not to tour?

This is the question you are faced with when deciding your holiday strategy. Do you embrace your inner traveller and plan your own trip or do you join a tour that has everything planned, all you need to do is arrive?

I would normally lean more towards tours because they have simply never let me down but I have finally experienced both sides of the spectrum and it is a tough decision! I have summed it up into 5 main elements that you would be considering when deciding!

COST

 TOUR

Tours will always come out more expensive because you are paying for convenience, someone to hold your hand and tell you when to wake up. I normally aim for tours that are never more that R1000 ($100) a day. This would be a bargain though! Tours include everything such as accommodation and transport but then don’t forget those darn “Extra activities”. Everyday there will be a couple to choose from such as bungee jumping or a sight seeing tour. They are completely open about it so it is easy to budget for them. The last cost that always gets us is tipping. You often need to tip the tour leader and the driver. It is not compulsory but who wants to be that guy!

VS

SELF-SERVICE

You decide on all aspects of the tour so it is easy to budget. You get to choose whether you will be staying in a hotel or sharing a hostel with someone who believes hygiene is for the weak! You can spend money on exactly what you like because there isn’t a whole group to try accommodate. I say it is cheaper if you put in the time to look for specials, compare a few places and buy online instead of in person to save that extra cash dollar. This will always depend on the country, the tour company has more experience than you. You might think taking the bus is cheaper than the train but then next thing you know your bus has wifi and in-house entertainment.

MEETING NEW PEOPLE

TOUR

I think it is practically impossible to spend 24/7 with a group of people for over a week and not make some friends. Depending on the tour leader they often encourage mingling with games and an excessive amount of small talk. People come from all over so there isn’t a shortage of things to chat about because everything is new! Your culture, your family stories and all your party tricks no one back home cares about anymore! This is normally a great option for solo travellers that are shy but do love a good party or meeting new people.

VS

SELF-SERVICE

So by no means can you not make friends just because you not on a tour I just think it is a little harder. There is no pressure to get to know anyone and when you on the move things don’t often go from can you please pass me the jam to would you like to come to my brothers wedding back home that quickly. There is always opportunities when you stay in hostels or if you join day walking tours or if you like going going out at night. On a tour friends will come to you if you on your own it is completely up to you whether you want to make friends or whether you already have enough friends and have no time for the effort!

INFORMATION

TOUR

You travel to go learn about another countries culture, check out all their beautiful monuments history has given them. What makes everything special is knowing the story behind monuments and cities. Knowing the reason behind the way things are done. A tour will give you this sometimes even on a funky infographic. The tour leader knows a bit about everything to answer your 29 questions and if you go somewhere they will get an expert in to explain everything as you go. A tour knows what the average tourist wants to tick off their bucket list. All you need to focus on is on making sure you get the best photo for instagram. They are able to tell you fun facts and ancient myths you wouldn’t always find on Wikipedia.

VS

SELF-SERVICE

The internet is a beautiful thing and there is little you can’t find. There are thousands of help guides, blog posts and top ten’s to do for every place you go to. If you have a soft spot for history you can read up about all the places before you go. Most transport or accommodation and often tourist attractions will have websites with all the information you need. FAQ is everyone’s best friend. No matter where you go I can guarantee a free walking tour is not too far away. By tagging along to these kind of things you get the benefit of information a tour gives but still get to do your own thing.

STANDARD

 

TOUR

You get what you pay for. Touring is not only for young and poor travellers under 35 anymore. Intrepid provides more luxurious tours for the older crowds that enjoy afternoon tea over bottomless drink specials. The risk in tours is you never know what you are going to get. What I think is a 3 star hotel is not always what someone else thinks it is. Tours normally include a lot of travelling by bus instead of public transport. This will come down to what you as an individual find important during a holiday. There are tours for all walks of life but unfortunately some with bigger price tags than others.

VS

SELF-SERVICE

If you planning on your own you know what you like and can plan exactly for that but all you have is review on the internet and some carefully selected bedroom photos on websites. Many countries feed off the ignorance of tourists and you need to be aware of this and try only go on reliable sources.  If you in India and choosing where to go for dinner who are you going to trust a local or your tour guide that is actually concerned about your well being rather than healthy exchange rate money?  You will be involved in every step of the process so can easily make sure you’re staying near to bus stops or in walking distance from tourist attractions.

CONVENIENCE

TOUR

You have a week off in the upcoming holidays. You know you can squeeze in a little holiday. Go online scroll around a bit. Compare a few tour companies for countries you know you saw good flights for the other day. A week later you have paid your deposit and all you need to stress about is a visa and whether you need to pack 6 or 5 pairs of shoes because you just never know. Everything is sorted! Someone is fetching you at the airport, bus is taking you every where you need to be. Tour guide knows exactly where you can go out for a good stress free night. Doesn’t matter that you forgot your selfie stick because all your new friends don’t mind taking a photo of you!

VS

SELF-SERVICE

A tour wins this one! With enough planning doing it on your own can definitely be hassle free but you make assumptions a lot about how long things will take or that there will be a bus stop close by that takes cash. You can’t book everything online in advance so you also hope for decent wifi connection or that your credit card doesn’t ask for an OTP when you try book something because you can’t receive SMS’s without roaming on! You also don’t think of everything always. I didn’t even consider that India has a separate domestic airport no where close to the international airport which caused us to miss our flight! Some say that this is what makes a holiday an adventure figuring out the underground in London or by accident going left instead of right in Paris and ending up at the right place still!


I think that everyone should experience a tour and planning your own holiday. They both are very rewarding and amazing in completely different ways! Everyone is different and what works for one is not going to work for the next person necessarily. You might not get a great tour guide which ruins the tour but you might be a terrible planner and spend more of your holiday lost and frustrated than enjoying yourself! Don’t hate anything until you have tried it!

 

The TravelBug 🙂

16 thoughts on “To tour or not to tour?

  1. Sara

    I have never gone on like a group tour during travels that was more than just like a day tour. I have heard good things, but mostly from a younger crowd and people who are traveling alone for the first time and things. This is a great comparison. I am usually a do it myself kinda girl, but I like adding in tours/excursions for things I cannot do myself (like boat tours, and adventures like skydiving).

  2. Alonso

    This was really useful and helped me make up my mind regarding whether to go alone in or tour or not☝️.

    1. Laura Neto Post author

      For India I highly recommend a tour. We did one last year in October. There is a lot to see in India but they are not close together and with public transport not being top notch if you really want to get your money worth and really experience India a tour is a must! We used Gadventures! I actually have a post on it if you would like to hear our experience!

  3. Nina

    Great comparison! I’ve always been a huge fan of day trips with a tour group, but haven’t done anything long term. I think that at the end of the day you just have to decide what kind of experience you want.

  4. Anna

    I did an eight day group tour in Costa Rica by myself and it was nice not to plan things. I think now my travel style has changed, especially if I’m by myself or with my boyfriend. Since I take a lot of photos, I hate holding people back hah. Also, it’s sometimes hard to be with strangers, even nice ones, 24/7!

  5. Natasha von Geldern

    I used to hate travel tours with a passion but recently I’ve come around to finding some good ones where you get interaction with local guides – which in my view is the main reason to book a tour!

  6. Christine

    Great comparison! Sometimes I like doing guided tours with locals that are knowledgeable on a place I have never been. A lot of cities even have free walking tours and you just give a tip at the end!

  7. Lara

    I used tour companies like Top Deck or Intrepid when I first started travelling – I think of it like the training wheels that I needed to gain the confidence to do it by myself. You’ve summed up the debate quite well here!

  8. Eniko Krix

    I very rarely go on tours, even then they are day trips. I like to have my own plan, organise everything myself and not depend on other people. I think planning my holiday is part of the fun. But of course I understand why some people would choose a tour instead.

  9. Kris

    I think that depending on the tour and your interests, it can be a good deal. I tend to prefer wandering alone, so I’ve never done one before. I like the freedom to linger at a place that really interests me or move on from somewhere I don’t enjoy as much. It all comes down to knowing yourself and your budget to make the best decision.

  10. Maria Angelova

    I’m a self-service type of traveler. I hate it when I have to depend on other people and I get really mad when something in the plan goes wrong. If I have planned it myself, though, it’s only me to blame, so I don’t get angry, I just accept I need to double-check next time.

  11. ada

    I normally plan my whole holiday, what to see etc and doing big research online. Sometimes I feel like I could organise tour haha. I only did one, it was a tour to Phi Phi Island. I like that you can see few places without worry about transportation but I wish I had more time to explore. So for me being on my own is much better

  12. Cassandra

    Really good comparison! I have only joined day tours for things that I can`t organize by myself and usually hated the “being dropped off at a place, taking a picture and then quickly leaving” – mentality. Maybe I will give Tours a shot in India during my next visit. 🙂

  13. Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad

    This is a great comparison! I’ve never really been an advocate of tours but they definitely have their advantages. I find self-planning is much more rewarding as a whole, but you often learn more and do some really interesting things on tours that you would never do on your own! One of my absolute best travel experiences of all time was down to a tour I was on, so I would never discredit them completely!

    P.S. I love the layout of this post! 🙂

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