PLANES AND PLANS

Pros and Cons of Group Tours

There are many pros and cons of group tours, and I am a huge advocate for this type of trip. In fact, it can actually be a great introduction to solo travel or an option for those who have never before travelled internationally. However, there are definitely a few key things to consider before booking one for yourself. There are many reasons you might consider a group trip, including the social and safety aspects. But, the convenience does not come without cost. This post shares some of the pros and cons of group tours, having myself booked five group trips around the world so far. 

Contents

Table of Contents

Pros of Group Tours

Making Friends

Group tours are hands down the easiest way to make friends as a solo traveller. In fact, most people booking a group tour will also be travelling on their own! So, you are guaranteed to meet like-minded people. You will be travelling with the same group for the duration of your trip, rather than making new friends every few days at a new hostel. This means you have an incredible opportunity to make some incredibly close friends for life, as you essentially live with them for over a week!In my experience, I have made lifelong friends from around the world on every single group tour. This is absolutely the biggest pro of group tours. 

Organisation

When you book a group tour, everything is organised for you. The only decision you have to make is which one to book! This completely takes the stress out of having to plan a route as well as book accommodation, transport and activities. In fact, this is especially good if choosing to travel with friends, as it can help to avoid any disagreement. Note that whilst the tour company does not book your flights, they do always give a very clear start and end point in a major city. All you have to do is show up at the meeting point on the first day and everything else will go from there!

Safety

One of the biggest pros of group tours is the added safety. You will have friends to do everything with, as well as a local guide. This makes it a lot easier to visit places which you would not otherwise feel comfortable visiting alone. It really opens up places including Africa and the Middle East or more remote areas of the world for exploring. Additionally, it makes it a lot easier to explore the nightlife of new cities without feeling uncomfortable walking alone at night. This pro is particularly relevant to female travellers, who still face safety concerns in most parts of the world. 

Local Knowledge

An often overlooked aspect of group tours is the local guide. Each tour will be led by a guide with extensive local knowledge. I found this to be the most insightful way to learn about a country’s history and landscapes. Not only are they local experts, but they always have the best recommendations for food at each destination along the way. Oftentimes they are also really keen to join in on the social activities during the tour as well, which is a great opportunity to make yet another friend!

Cons of Group Tours

Price

Despite so many pros, it is true that group tours tend to cost more than travelling to a destination on your own. This is particularly true for backpackers and those travelling on a lower budget. Keep in mind that whilst you do get the added convenience, you are also expected to tip your guide at the end. Additionally, there will be some optional activities that are not included in the trip price. This is one of the larger hidden costs on most trips, especially ones of longer duration. So, it is worth waiting for a sale before booking where possible. 

Party culture

Most trips that target younger travellers will have a strong party culture. Whilst this can be great if you enjoy partying, it can also be quite an intense atmosphere. If you love to party every night, then this might even be a pro for you. However, there were times I found that I was the only one choosing not to drink and party. It made it more difficult to walk home at night, and I felt like I was missing out at times. In fact, a lot of the time I was just already tired from exploring all day and did not want to risk a hangover on the bus the next morning. But I found that sometimes it was an assumption that you would be going out, and this was hard for me to say no to. However, this is certainly not experienced on all trips, and is largely dependent on your destination and your group. 

Lack of Flexibility

Whilst it is convenient to have everything organised for you, this also means that there is little room to customise your trip. You will often end up visiting somewhere that you really love, but are unable to extend your stay there. Alternatively, you may wake up feeling exhausted but are unable to sleep in due to an early bus ride. It may even be that you cannot find an itinerary that visits all the places you would like. So, it is important to thoroughly read through the itinerary before booking to make sure that a specific trip fits your interests.

Fast Pace

One often overlooked cons of group tours is the fast pace. Yes, this is good in that you are able to see a large amount of destinations in a short period of time. However, it often means spending only two nights in a destination without being able to explore in any depth. Some of the stops along my group trips have felt very surface level and left me feeling like I had missed out on a lot of sights. It is certainly very different from the kind of slow travel that allows you to explore places in such great depth. 

Group Tour Companies

If reading through the pros and cons of group tours makes you want to book, then the companies I recommend most include:

Contiki – best for large group social travel with a strong party culture

Intrepid – best for small-group adventure travel to remote and off the beaten track destinations

G Adventures – best for small-group sustainable travel to all continents.

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