Tour Group vs. Going Solo – Pros and Cons of Each

Originally Published in the PacSafe Blog

Planning to take a trip somewhere is the easy part. Usually you have a destination, a rough region, or maybe even just a continent in mind for where you want to head. After that, the details can be a bit overwhelming.

Usually the biggest decision you’ll have to make while travelling is whether to join an organized tour group or to travel by your own accord. It is a big decision, too – it will dramatically affect the style of your trip. If you are having trouble deciding, here are a few observations that will help you choose.

Tour Group Pros:

  • Meeting new people: The very definition of “group” means you’ll be with others. Everyone will be on the same page and eager to discover new things on the trip together. And if strong bonds are built anywhere, it’s while traveling.
  • No Planning Necessary: Since the tour company is working out all the details, you’ll have more free time to enjoy yourself instead of stressing about how to get to the next place, or trying to discover which spot is the best. Instead there is someone guiding you along the way, answering your questions, and showing you the best spots.
  • Priority Access: When a company has built a reputation with a local operator, they will get better treatment than if you were some bum off the street. This is very helpful in busy areas when priority treatment will save you time and hassle.

Tour Group Cons:

  • Expensive: You are paying for more people than just the guide – also everyone in the office, the trip organizers, etc… It all adds up to extra expense that you may or may not see the value in.
  • Rigid: Most tours have to stick to an itinerary, which can be a bummer if you fall in love with a place and want to stay there for a little while.
  • Fast-paced: This obviously depends on the group you go with, but often times the itinerary will be packed with places to go and see, leaving very little time to get to know the place.

Solo Travel Pros:

  • Independence: Some people get a kick out of doing whatever they want, whenever they want. Getting up in the morning without the faintest idea of what you are going to do can be the most exciting thing ever. When you are traveling solo, you have no one to consider but yourself. If you want to stick around in a spot for an extra week, go for it! If you hate a place and want to move on, you can do that, too.
  • Meeting Diverse People: Traveling solo means that you will be forced to meet people. Even the most solitary individuals want to communicate from time to time. Travelling alone will get you talking to those you might have otherwise never even considered talking to, thus broadening your horizons.
  • It’s Exciting: If you are the adventurous type, there is no better adventure than to create your own journey. You’ll look back and wonder how it all came together so well. As long as you have a positive attitude, you’ll have a positive trip.

Solo Travel Cons:

  • Lonely: Often times you crave that connection for a friend, someone who knows more about you than where you are from and where you are traveling to next. Part of traveling is the stories you can tell after you have returned home; something that is difficult to do without someone to share it with.
  • Stressful: You might get stuck in a bus station at midnight where nobody speaks English. When you are by yourself, you have no support net to lean back on.

Ultimately it depends on your personality. What’s your preferred method of travel? Share with us in the comments.