In my latest blog post, I shared a number of tips for avoiding getiting totally overwhelmed on your first ever solo trip. One of the things I suggested is considering a group tour rather than going at it alone.
As I stated in that blog post, expect to encounter a few so-called ‘real travellers’ who gloat that travelling on a tour is not “real” travelling. I am yet to understand what this means and what a “fake” traveller looks like, but I digress. So, today I am going to give you my top pros for choosing an organised group tour. My next blog post will be the other side of the story – the cons – so stay tuned!
Now, a big disclaimer here is that it is really hard to make a blanket statement about whether tours are good or bad, or even the pros and cons. As I will explore, that depends on a lot of factors! I can try to give you some guidance, but at the end of the day – it’s up to you, and probably luck as well.
Pros of travelling in an organised tour
1. You stress less on an organised tour
While I absolutely love travelling (obviously), it is inarguable that there can be a lot of stresses. Figuring out how to get from airports, where to stay, dealing with airport connections – it can all be pretty daunting and stressful to organise. Plus, messing up any of this can be a total pain. Therefore, put the stress on someone else’s shoulders and allow your tour guide/company to do all the boring stuff!
2. Your tour guide is an expert
Trust me, I love spontaneity as much as the next person, and agree that sometimes the best adventures occur from would-be disasters. However, just as often, spontaneity ends terribly and sometimes things end up being straight out disasters. While you’ll often hear travellers tell you about that time they took a wrong turn and found the best restaurant ever, what they won’t tell you about is all the times they got hopelessly lost and found nothing except hunger and sunburn. Avoid all of this with a tour guide, who knows all the best places, including the small ones!
3. A guide helps you appreciate things more
This is probably a blog post in itself, but I am a passionate advocate for having tour guides at attractions and sites. I truly believe that having someone tell you about the background to a place, makes it a thousand times better. As I was told at spectacular Sigiriya – ‘without a guide, it’s just a big rock!’. With most tours, you are lucky enough to have someone on hand to tell you all about history, culture, and more.
4. You make new friends
Much like staying at a hostel, it is so easy to make friends when you are on an organised tour. I think there is something really lovely about the connection you make with people on tours. It may seem lame, but for people from all over the world’s paths to cross and to find yourself with a group of people, in a fascinating new destination, is really interesting. You can make friends for life on a tour.
While I tend to not let concerns for safety dictate my travel plans too much, I’ve opted for taking an organised tour in a few destinations where I’m just not quite sure. This includes Egypt, the first country I travelled on my own in, and also during my trip around south and east Africa. There’s certainly a level of reassurance that comes with knowing people are looking out for you, and a tour can be an especially great introduction to a country.