I find a lot of travelers have a stigma against tour groups such as Contiki/G Adventures/Trafalgar etc. When I worked at a travel agency, I found a lot of the time if I suggested a tour to people they would shut down the idea with excuses like “I don’t want to be stuck with a large group of people” or “I don’t want to be on a tight strict schedule”. While these may be good reasons, there are also a ton of good reasons that a tour is actually a really good idea.
1/ It can be less expensive.
A lot of people look at the cost of the tour in a brochure and assume it is too expensive. In a lot of cases it is actually cheaper to do a tour, as tour companies negotiate contracts with accommodations/excursion companies etc to get a really good discount. Also a lot of tours also include breakfast daily, and while it may not seem like that big of a deal, trust me it sure does add up over the days!
2/ You get to meet new friends.
This may be a more obvious advantage of a tour, but I find it a lot easier to make friends on a tour than in a hostel. Not all people are like this, but I still find it awkward to go start a conversation with a bunch of random people in a hostel common room. At least on a tour your catching the same transport, staying in the same places and often doing the same activities together so it is a lot easier to make friends with everyone.
3/ A great introduction to an area you have never been before.
I first went to Europe on a Contiki tour. Even though we only had a couple of days in each place, it gave me a good idea of where I really want to go back to! Barcelona for example- 1.5 days was not enough, so I can’t wait to go back and spend a good week there. Where as Nice didn’t really do much for me and I am not too fussed if I don’t spend much time there again!
4/ It can be safer.
Some countries – India, China, the Middle East – I personally would not feel safe doing on my own, especially as a solo female traveler. Having a tour group means you always have friends to watch your back, and a tour guide that knows the ins and outs of the area and will only take you to places they trust.
5/ You don’t need to stress about not knowing the language.
Sometimes it can be fun going to somewhere you don’t speak the language, and try to communicate with people and test your skills. However it isn’t always that fun when your trying to cross borders, or have any run ins with scary looking security guards etc – at least you will have your guide nearby that can do the translating for you!
6/ Perfect if you want to see a lot but only have a couple of weeks vacation leave.
Tours are planned out so you get to see the areas best attractions in a limited amount of time. It cuts down time visiting disappointing places that weren’t worth the time, time spent trying to work out which bus or train to catch, or time spent trying to find a vacant yet reasonably priced clean hostel.
7/ Get the expertise of a guide who knows the area like the back of their hand.
Sometimes a local may recommend you a bar or restaurant that they love and think you would really love it as well – except you get there and it isn’t really your scene at all. A guide not only will have great knowledge of the city you’re in and great places to go, but over the tour they will also get to know you as well so they can recommend a place they know you will love.
8/ Get to know the locals.
G Adventures is especially great at this one – they will organize a nights home-stay on a lot of their trips, or dinner at a local families home or similar. These kind of things can be a bit trickier on your own – there is couch surfing and sites as such, but if I am spending a night with a local family in Vietnam or Kenya I know I would much prefer to have a tour companies seal of approval on the home!
I am also a huge fan of solo travel don’t get me wrong! But I feel like more travelers out there need to give tours a chance – they may be pleasantly surprised!
P.S This post is not sponsored in any way- all opinions are my own! 🙂