Tours vs. Solo Travel: Pros and Cons & How To Decide Which Is Right For You
Everywhere you turn, you'll see budget travelers, upscale tourists, adventurers, adrenaline junkies, backpackers, hitchhikers and every other traveler you can think of.Some travel with new friends they might meet in hostels, some do ample research on tours beforehand and book the best possible one they can find. Some like luxury travel, where everything is catered to their upmost comfort. Someare totally okay with sleeping on a park bench or in a train station while en route to their next destination. Whichever method of travel you prefer, there's a way to make it happen and one that you will enjoy.
The question is, which one do you prefer? Those who know themselves pretty well and have traveled a decent in amount in their lives can answer this question easily, but what about those who've never set foot across-the-pond, or on any foreign soil for that matter or generally inexperienced newbie travelers. How will they know they'll like? Do they fear the unknown or are they excited by it? Are they risk-takers and explorers or are they safe sight-seers? To help you decide, we've put together this list of pros and cons so you can pick for yourself which method of travel suits you best.
Pros: You see the world on a dime. You pick your own schedule, make your own plans, are reallyinto the 'sharing economy', and don't mind getting your hands dirty helping out in hostels and home stays in exchange for free room-and-board. You typically like to spend your time in places where your money will stretch pretty far. Youenjoy meandering to the grocery store to buy your own groceries, make your own food, and generally don't splurge too much on the fancy cheeses and bottles of wine. In short, you truly get to live like a local in the city or town you're in. Cultural immersion on the cheap? Yes please!
Cons: This typeoftravel isn't that glamorous. You spend longer in one place than you may have time for or necessarily want to, and you don't go crazy ordering all the best meals and drinks on the menu in restaurants because, frankly, you can't afford it. You may not have the best accommodation; sometimes you may be sharing with 20 other people in a hot, stuffy, non air-conditioned room with mosquitoes slowlysucking you dry. Youmay not like or know how to cook for yourself. Youmay not want to do your own laundry and do your own cleaning. In short, you like a little pampering on your vacation.
Verdict: If you resonate more with the cons than with the pros, budget backpacking isn't your thing.
'But I can't afford to spend half a years wage on a trip either! What do I do?' Don't you worry. I'm just getting started. We'll find you something that fits justright.
Pros: Hallelujah! You can relax! You've picked a country, found a trip you liked, saved your pennies, and now you're on your way. All you have to do is pack, show up at the airport, get to your destination and then lay back and relax. Tours can be a true vacation for those hard worker desperate for a couple weeks of chill time. Your tour guide organizes everything for you, right down to the time you wake up, to the time you go to sleep. All you do is show up and enjoy and you get to see all the best bits without having to do the heavy lifting. Seaside coconut drinks with funny straws? You know it!
Cons: Your time is not reallyyour own. You're on a schedule. You have limited time in each place, which can be a bit of a bummer if you loved a certain stop on the trip. Youdon't necessarily get to pick where you eat, or who your roommate is going to be if you're sharing a room. Some days you have to get up earlyto get to the next place when all you want in life is to sleep in til noon and watch Netflix or read a book by the beach or do nothing. You're stuck with the same people for the entire length of the trip; a real downer if you don't jive well with them. More importantly, you don't get a true in-depth feel of the way of life in the places you visit, justa quick snapshot.
Verdict: If you like to spend more time in a place and you don't being on a tight schedule, you might want to give the tours a pass.
'So I don't want to set my alarm on vacation, but I don't want to slum it either. What does that leave me?' The list ain't over yet; sit tight, we'll get there.
Pros: You have found a good blend of both Budget Backpacker and Tour Traveler. You value your downtime and are perfectlyfine chilling in a tranquil bungalow in the jungle or by the sea for a couple days. You maximize your downtime from tour travel with midday naps, tasty snacks, and swims in the ocean. Youdon't necessarily feel the need to go out and sight see til you drop because you know you'll get plenty of that on your next tour. You're content to go see what you can see and you do so at your own pace. And, when the time comes to start your next tour, you're refreshed, excited, and ready to go again! Nature hikes to UNESCO Heritage sites? Let's do it!
Cons: You're still on a schedule, but a more relaxed one and one of your choosing. You still may have to share a hot, stuffy, non air-conditioned room with others and cook a fewof your own meals, but you're also going out for dinner and drinks when you feel like it. You still may go grocery shopping, but it'll be because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to. Youstill may wash your own clothes, but it's not so big a deal when you know you can get it done for you the next tour. All in all, the cons aren't all that bad because they're not happening every day with no let up.
Verdict: If a blend of both tour and solo travel sounds appealing, then you fall into the Well-Balanced Wayfarer category. You get the best of both worlds after all.
So dear would-be traveler, does this sound more manageable for you to enjoy yourself and still save a fewbucks here and there? 'Sure does! Thank you! You're the best!'
What kind of traveler are you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and let us know what you would choose!
Featured image: Julentto Photography