Solo Travel or Group Travel?
In this article, we’re explaining whether it’s Solo Travel or Group Travel which one is best . Traveling to unknown places can be a difficult and scary experience, especially if you’re traveling on your own. A question that I’m often asked is whether it’s worth paying for an organized group tour. The answer is, unfortunately, it depends. I’ve done both so I thought I’d share my thoughts on both approaches.
Traveling can be stressful and expensive, so we’re looking for ways to help you maximize your experience. Through travel tips, points and miles, and innovative gear. When talking about Solo Travel or Group Travel, I know a lot of people who are passionate about this subject. In fact, a friend of mine claims she would never pay for a group tour since it costs too much money and she would rather organize her own itinerary. I totally get that perspective, but on the other hand. I’ve had some incredible experiences while an organized group tours, and I honestly feel like. I saw and experienced more when I had a local guide and other travelers to share the experience.
Also, if you’re wondering what I mean when I say organized group tour; I mean a tour company and service that is more than a day. So I’m not actually talking about a tour that you might take for a day to see a few attractions. These are generally multi-day trips where you travel, eat, and stay with a group of fellow travelers and a local tour guide. A couple examples are G Adventures and Intrepid which operate tours all over the world. I’ve actually used G Adventures twice, once in Panama and once in Southeast Asia, and I’d say both were amazing experiences. So, let’s talk about the advantages of traveling solo.
Number 1: Freedom. Obviously, you’re in charge of your own itinerary and schedule. If you want to sleep in on a certain day, then you can do it. If you’d rather see certain attractions over others, you have complete control over where you go and what you do.
Number 2: Self-development. Traveling solo can be challenging at times, especially when there are language barriers and mistakes. However, those are also opportunities to grow as a person. I remember being anxious the first time I traveled overseas on my own, but I feel like being out of my comfort zone was a good thing and helped me to develop as a person. Some of you might recall that part of the Trip Astute creed is that traveling is like an education that helps you grow as a person and is an experience that can never be taken away. I truly believe that the experiences during travel, both good and bad, have really helped shaped my views and perspectives.
Number 3: Ability to leverage points. One thing that this community will appreciate is the ability to use your points to book hotels and flights. This is often not possible when you’re traveling on a group tour and the hotel fees are built-in as they have arrangements with the specific local hotels. I still have managed to use my points to book my flights at the beginning and end of the tour, but any travel that occurred during a tour was just part of the total fee. So what about the cons? There are definitely some drawbacks to traveling solo.
Also Read – Travel the World on Budget
Number 1: Safety. I think the biggest issues when traveling alone is safety. I hear horror stories all the time of people walking through the wrong parts of town only to get mugged or pick pocketed. You’re especially vulnerable when you get off the beaten path, which I like to do since I dislike being around tourists all the time. But it’s something to consider if you’re travelling on your own.
Number 2: Logistics. Getting from one location to another can be confusing, especially if you’re in locations where there isn’t strong infrastructure. Crossing land borders can be very intimidating and confusing, and you sometimes have to deal with corrupt officials. Having a group tour organize logistics can make the process so much easier.
Number 3: Loneliness. This is actually a big one. When you’re traveling solo, you’ll often be eating meals alone and really spending a lot of time with yourself. While that’s not a horrible thing, it is something to consider when booking a solo trip. You’ll often meet others but it can be isolating to travel on your own. So what about traveling as a group?
Well, there are definitely some advantages and disadvantages of both Solo Travel or Group Travel . Let’s start with the advantages.
Number 1: Sharing experiences with others. When you travel with a group, you’re going to have the dynamic of experiencing things with other people. There is something to be said about sharing memories and experiences with people, and living with them over a period of time. I know I’ve made some great friendships over the years when traveling in a group, and I still keep in touch with many of them.
Number 2: Local expertise. When you travel in a group tour, you’ll often have a guide with local expertise and language skills. This is helpful for so many reasons. I remember when I visited Panama a few years ago on a group tour, our guide warned us whenever we were vulnerable to any scams. It was nice having that extra expertise and also support whenever there was a communication issue. In fact, I arrived a day early in Thailand before joining my tour in 2016 and was nearly scammed by a tuk-tuk driver when leaving one of the temples, so it definitely happens!
Number 3: Pre-planned itineraries. Group travel means that you don’t have to plan anything. The tour will often plan out your schedule. You might not want to wake up at 4 a.m. in the morning to go visit the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but guess what, your entire group is scheduled to do it and you have to be downstairs by 4:15. I know that might sound terrible, but seeing the sunrise at Angkor Wat was an incredible experience, and honestly, when I think back at my group travel experiences, I appreciate the fact that we had a full schedule of activities. In a way, it forces you to see more and take advantage of your surroundings.
Number 4: Greater security. There’s no denying that there is safety in numbers. When you’re in a group, you’re less likely to get targeted and you always have each other to depend on. So group travel sounds great, right? Well there are a few cons.
Number 1: Drama. It’s inevitable that there will be some personality conflicts in your group. I’ve never been on a group travel tour where there wasn’t an argument or some kind of dramatic situation. I think it’s kind of funny, but just know that it’s part of the experience.
Number 2: Lack of control. When you travel in a group, you definitely have less ability to do your own thing. Most group tours give you the option to opt out of certain activities or meals, but if you’re going to another city or location, there is no option. You have to be on the bus or else everyone your group will be looking for you.
Number 3: Less privacy. This is also an inevitable consequence of traveling on a group tour. There are ways to still have some privacy. For example, when I traveled to Southeast Asia on a G Adventures tour, I opted to have my own private hotel room and paid a little extra. I was traveling with a younger group so I figured that there was going to be a lot of late nights and partying. Since I’m in my late 30s, I figured I might want to catch up on my sleep at night and have more peace and quiet in my hotel room. Yeah, I know, I’m old! Cost for either option is difficult to measure.
On the one hand, you could argue that doing it all yourself is cheaper. However, in my experience, I don’t know that that’s always the case. When I look back at some of my trips, it would have been expensive to hire a driver to take me to all the places that we visited during the tour. In fact, because the group tours have arrangements with local drivers and guides, it seemed like we often had our own private transportation. In terms of recommendations, I think the biggest reason to go solo is if you’re going somewhere where you don’t plan to move around.
For example, if you’re going to Costa Rica and you’re planning to just hang out near the jungle surrounding the volcano in Arenal, you could probably do it on your own very easily. But if you want to see more of the country, including the cloud forests of Monte Verde or the ocean city of Guana caste, then it might make more sense to join a tour. That way, you don’t have to worry about the logistics of getting from one place to another. Plus, you’ll share the experience with others and make some great friends along the way. If you’re interested in traveling on an organized group tour, I do recommend G Adventures and Intrepid.
My understanding is that Intrepid tends to attract a lot of Australian travelers, while G Adventures, which is based in Canada, attracts more European and North American travelers. There are other organized travel companies out there. But if you’re just starting out, these are two that I would recommend. What do you all think about Solo Travel or Group Travel? Do you prefer one over the other? Please share your experience below.