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Are Group Tours Worth It? An Honest Breakdown

We’ve done the rounds and created a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of group travel compared to taking on the world solo.

Are you planning an adventure abroad but struggling to decide if a group tour is worth the investment? If it’s your first time travelling independently, you’re a solo female traveller, or you’re heading somewhere off the beaten path, then a group or guided tour could be the cherry on top of a perfect holiday.

On the flip side, we also understand that linking up with a bunch of randoms as part of a group tour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. At Flight Centre, we’re big believers that people should explore the world in a way that works best for them.

To make your decision a little easier, we’ve done the rounds and created a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of group travel compared to taking on the world solo.

Before we get started, it’s also important to remember that this is YOUR holiday. There are a lot of opinions out there, from folks who are die-hard group tour fanatics to those who have travelled independently across the globe. Take everything people say with a grain of salt, and make a decision that best aligns with your travel style and personality for the best chances of a rip-roaring adventure.

Is it better to travel alone or with a tour group?

Before we dive in, let’s be clear about the differences between group and solo travel.

What is Group Travel?

Following a pre-organised itinerary as part of a large or small group tour with a guide. Group travel can range from a few nights to a few months, with a wide range of tour companies offering tours for every travel budget and style.

What is Solo Travel?

Any form of independent travel where you’re in charge of the itinerary, timings, transport and accommodation. Solo travelers may still opt to join a group tour for a day trip here and there, but the majority of their itinerary is done without the help of tour companies.

Picking what’s right for you

It’s also important to remember that group and solo travel aren’t mutually exclusive. Some folks may choose to start a big trip with a few weeks on an organised tour to build up confidence before flying solo.

people with goggles and snorkles in water

Pros of Group Travel

New friends and educated local guides with all the nitty gritty details sorted? Sounds good to us. Here are the top pros for group travel.

Instant friends. Whether you’re in a group of 6 or a coach of 50 people, you are guaranteed to meet some pretty cool, like-minded folks. Group tours have an innate way of bonding people and building life-long friendships, with many people meeting some of their best friends while away. If you’re lucky, you’ll be blessed with a great group of people that will elevate your holiday beyond your wildest expectations.

Increased security. If you’re heading overseas for the first time, are a female traveller or aren’t too sure about a destination, a tour is the perfect way to boost your confidence. Enjoy the benefit of safety in numbers, plus you can draw on the guidance of a knowledgeable leader who can speak the local language and navigate any potentially tricky situations. Most companies will only choose to operate in vetted environments, so you can trust you’re not being thrown into the deep end.

All the details are sorted. CBF making heaps of decisions while overseas? While solo travel is freeing, it also means you’re constantly researching and making decisions while potentially navigating a new destination with a unique language and set of rules. Take the stress off and enjoy the convenience of knowing what tomorrow brings

with a tried and tested itinerary. Plus, if something goes wrong, your tour guide will deal with it, leaving you more time to sit back, relax and enjoy your trip.

Cons of Group Tours

The three key cons of group tours are:

  • Being stuck with the same people
  • Having limited control over your itinerary
  • Increased cost

Naturally, when you’re thrown into a group of strangers, there is always a chance you’ll be stuck with people you aren’t super fond of. If you’re stuck with the same group of less-than-ideal people for a few weeks, then your trip will be impacted. Likewise, with a pre-set itinerary, there is little room to be spontaneous or follow your own schedule.

Finally, group tours can work out slightly more expensive than solo travel as the company has done the hard work of researching and booking your itinerary.

people riding bikes

Pros of Solo Travel

If you’re the kind of person who needs some peace and quiet after a big day, loves the freedom of travelling at their own pace and doesn’t really have a plan, then solo travel might be for you. Here are the main pros and cons of taking the reigns and travelling solo.

You’re in control. Hate the idea of a schedule, morning alarms and long days on the road? Be the master of your own travel destiny, staying longer in places you love and skipping any towns that don’t tickle your fancy.

Avoid being stuck with people you don’t like. Perfect for introverts (and extroverts needing some alone time), to travel independently means you can avoid being stuck with fellow travelers that don’t match your vibe.

Rest when you need it. Tour groups can be exhausting, with back-to-back destinations, long days on the road (FYI, here’s some games to keep you entertained) and constant interactions with new people. Solo travellers have the benefit of being able to enjoy a day or rest whenever they need it.

two girls on a bus

Pay off your trip in advance. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Generally, your tour needs to be paid in full before you go, meaning you can chip away at accommodation, flights and transfers over a few months rather than all at once on your trip.

Enjoy local insights. Tour guides literally travel for a living (the dream), meaning it’s their job to have all the goss on the historical, cultural and local details of each destination. Not only are you guaranteed to learn more along the way, but it’s likely you’ll see some local gems often missed by tourists.

Invest in sustainable travel. Many tour companies have made sustainable travel a priority, which means your tourist dollars are being invested in the local businesses that need it the most. If supporting the local economy is a priority for you, keep an eye out for companies that employ local guides, look for alternative accommodation (like homestays) and give back a portion of their profits to the communities in which they operate.

Blend in. Sometimes it’s nice to feel like a local and blend in as you walk through city streets or sip coffee in a quiet cafe. This can be pretty hard to do when you’re surrounded by 40 new travel BFFs.

Step out of your comfort zone. Solo travel is the ultimate opportunity for self-development, as you’re forced to step out of your routine, make friends and say yes to new experiences. It can be a challenging experience, but often the benefits are worth the leap of faith.

Save money. Avoid the added cost of group tours, and enjoy being able to spend your money where and when you please. Happy to take public transport and share a hostel dorm to save some cash? Too easy. Want to splurge on a night of luxury? The choice is all yours.

Cons of travelling independently

If you’re planning to travel solo, just remember that it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Some cons include:

  • Decision fatigue
  • Loneliness
  • More responsibility
  • Language difficulties

While freedom is amazing, sometimes it is stressful making constant decisions in an unfamiliar location. Add in a brand new language, and every day brings a new level of responsibility that is otherwise sorted in a group tour. There is no tour leader to rely on in medical emergencies or travel mishaps, and while it’s nice to spend time alone, it can get a little lonely.

 

 

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