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Taking a Tour vs. Taking a Trip Alone: How Should You Travel?

A group of three people consult a map while standing inside a museum

When it comes to traveling, whether you take a tour or take a trip alone will have a profound impact on your experience. While the decision of what you do will ultimately come down to your personal preference, it’s important to understand some of the key differences between each style of travel.

This is the second part in a four-part series about my recent travels to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. Last time around, we talked about some considerations for traveling internationally during COVID-19. In this post, we’ll examine some of the main features that each style of travel offers, and how that can impact your trip.

Seven Benefits of Taking a Tour

While traveling independently has its own benefits, there are definitely reasons to consider joining a tour instead. Over the past few years, tours have changed for the better. They have become more luxurious, varied, and appealing to an increasingly large range of people. They’re no longer exclusive to retirees or young adults looking to party.

Here are seven reasons you should consider joining a tour on your next trip.

1. More Insight About Where You’re Traveling

Tour guides will know your destination very well, and they’ll be able to provide you with plenty of fun facts, tips, and stories that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Additionally, since it’s likely that your tour guide has done this tour before, they’ll give you insight on what the best places to visit are.

2. Tours Can Provide Safety

Traveling in a group can be safer than traveling individually or as a pair in certain areas. Especially when it comes to traveling in a foreign country, it doesn’t get much safer than being a part of a guided tour with an experienced tour guide. This can give you an added level of comfort as you visit somewhere you’ve never been before.

3. Opportunities for Connection

While it’s not guaranteed that you’ll become best friends with the people on your tour, there’s the chance that you’ll find people to connect with. It can be fun to share your experiences with people who are interested in doing and seeing the same things as you.

4. Convenience in Travel and Accommodations

When traveling on a toup, your travel and hotel stays are typically arranged for you, which is incredibly simple compared to doing it all yourself. This can be incredibly convenient, especially if you’re traveling to more than one location. In a tour, you are able to do this without having to deal with the stress of booking your own transportation and stays.

5. Simplified Payment and Budgeting

When booking a tour, you typically know how much your trip will cost and are able to pay this fee prior to even beginning your trip.

6. In-Country Partnerships

It’s common in the tour industry for a company to partner with local specialists in order to provide the best possible experiences. This means you don’t have to take the time to find additional guides, and can instead simply rely on one company for everything.

7. Access to Unique and Rare Experiences

There are some places around the world that are simply impossible to visit without the help of a guided tour. If you want to do things such as trek a remote location or travel somewhere with strict travel restrictions, it may be impossible to do so without a tour guide.

Four Reasons to Take a Trip by Yourself

While there are many advantages to choosing to join a tour during your travels, there are also some disadvantages that should be considered before making your decision. Here are some reasons taking a trip by yourself might be a better fit for you.

1. Traveling Alone is Far More Affordable

With countless internet resources and free, detailed guides to any city you can imagine, you can plan quality trips independently for a fraction of the cost of guided tours. Some guided tours can be extremely expensive, and even budget guided tours are going to be more expensive than independent travel.

2. You Don’t Want to Risk Being Stuck With a Group

While there’s the chance you might get along wonderfully with the people in your group, it can also be a huge pain if you don’t. There is not much that can be done if you don’t enjoy the people in your group—you’re simply stuck with them until the end of your tour, which can completely change your experience.

If you’re a more independent person, or want a more personal experience, traveling with a tour might not be the right choice for you. Traveling alone gives you much more agency regarding who you spend time with and how much time you spend with them.

3. Your Schedule is More Flexible by a Vast Margin

Typically, during a guided tour, they’ll try to pack in as many attractions as possible. This means you may end up feeling rushed or be unable to enjoy a certain attraction as much as you may have liked to. Additionally, if there is another location you may have wanted to visit, if it’s not already scheduled in the tour, it’s likely that you won’t have the time to go.

Traveling alone doesn’t bar you from visiting these attractions, but it gives you more choice in where you go, what you see, and how long you spend on any given activity.

4. Tours Play it Safe

Unless you’re booking a specialized tour of some kind, you probably won’t be forced outside of your comfort zone very much. This can be seen as either an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how you choose to view it.

However, sometimes one of the best ways to immerse yourself into the culture and lifestyle of a place is by getting lost, messing up a food order, and interacting with the locals. On a guided tour, you’re much less likely to have to take initiative or speak to anyone aside from the people on your tour.

Recapping the Benefits of Taking a Tour vs. Taking a Trip Alone

Ultimately, tours are best suited for individuals or groups who want to see famous attractions and simplify their trip’s logistics as much as possible. They have some downsides, such as a more rigid itinerary and their higher cost, but their benefits can be huge if a simplified vacation is what you’re looking for.

Taking a trip by yourself is more suitable if you want more control over your trip, or want to spend more time pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. The downside is that there will be more tasks involved with planning and organizing your trip’s arrangements, but as a result, your trip can be significantly more affordable.

Thanks For Reading!

That wraps up part two of this four-part travel series! Thanks for reading, and hello to those of you who are new here. I’m Altagracia—an NYC-based lawyer. However, on this site, you won’t find anything about the legal world; instead, you’ll find great resources for parenting, traveling, life in NYC, and much more.

To make sure you don’t miss next week’s post, make sure you sign up for my free email list, and check me out on Instagram and Twitter!

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