Ready to book an overseas adventure but don’t have anyone to travel with? Here, we discuss the benefits – and even the drawbacks – of group tours compared with venturing off alone.
We’ve all been there – you’ve got plenty of annual leave to take, but no one to share it with. Friends are shacked up with partners; your sister can’t take time off work; your mum… Let’s not even go there. You have two options: do you join a group trip or venture off on your own?
Both are great ways to explore the world; each comes with its own pros and cons. Group trips suit extroverts who enjoy meeting new people, and don’t mind having their schedule set by someone else. Solo trips appeal to those who like to be in control of the plan, and don’t mind spending time alone. Here are the other important things to consider when you’re booking a group tour versus solo travelling.
On a group trip, all the planning is arranged by the travel company. Your itinerary is entirely mapped out for you – including accommodation, activities and often meal stops, too. This means all you need to do is book your flights, join the trip and rock up at the airport. Less planning means more time relaxing when you arrive. If you’re travelling alone, you have to arrange everything yourself. This is good if you like to be flexible and autonomous. However, it can create a lot of stress, especially in terms of money and time, plus you don’t have the insight that an expert team can provide, guiding you straight to the best spots.
We’ve all been there: a group holiday where you have to pass up an opportunity to see an incredible sight because it isn’t what the group wants to do. Solo travel eliminates this problem: you can spend as much or as little time in each place as you like. On a group trip, sightseeing is scheduled, so there’s less freedom to swing by a temple you’ve spotted from the road – although you can go back and do this if you want to when you have free time. Group trips also offer the advantage of a local expert guiding the way, ensuring you discover off-the-beaten-track sights you might not have found travelling alone.
Travel companies do a lot of work to ensure the safety of their group tours, including insurance against theft, issues with transport and health risks (such as Covid-19). Solo travel is as secure as you make it. Depending on where you’re headed, it can take a lot of work. It’s great to strike out alone and set your own schedule, but a single unforeseen issue can be the difference between a holiday and a horror story.
Depending on where in the world you’re going, having the right currency can be an arduous exercise, and if you have to carry cash on you, a nerve-wracking one. On group trips, nearly everything is prepaid, almost entirely removing cash as a day-to-day worry. Travelling alone means that, without meticulous research on overnight rates, tour prices and more, your money might not stretch as far as it might have done.
On every solo trip, there’s a chance you’ll make a friend for life. Solo travellers tend to stay in hostels and frequent similar spots, so you’re likely to spend much of your time around like-minded people. The catch is that you have to be brave enough to open up a dialogue. This is true of group trips too – but with all the activities arranged with a single group of travellers in mind, the social wheels have been greased a little, making life easier for people who are shy.
Any trip carries a certain amount of risk. Luggage can be stolen, or injuries sustained; travel plans can go awry. On group trips, your tour company will have it covered – contingency plans are in place for any worst-case scenario. If you’re alone, you have to set up all those contingencies yourself.
Group trips aren’t cheap. Everything is bundled up into one price, from what you eat to where you stay. Solo travel, on the other hand, enables you to be more thrifty, selecting budget options to leave more money for experiences. Of course, if you want private accommodation, faster or more direct transportation and reputable tour guides, you’ll still need to spend large amounts, so it really comes down to what you value most.
Ready to join a group adventure? Stay tuned – we’ll soon be launching a carefully curated collection of small-group trips that will fast-track you to the world’s most exciting cultures and destinations.