To Tour or Not To Tour? The ultimate travellers dilemma in a day and age when the internet is telling you to quit your job, put on a coconut and travel the world care free. Now maybe you just want to put on that coconut, travel the world care free but only for a short period of time? Or maybe it’s your first time leaving the country, doing multiple border crossings and you want a hassle free experience?

Who knows what your travel style actually is. Taking an organised tour with a reputable company can be a wonderful way of discovering your travel style.

Why Take An Organised Group Tour?

For ease of life. I’ll admit it. We’ve been on a few organised tours and it’s a really pleasant and easy way to see a destination. There’s a perverse pleasure in not having to organised our accommodation on the road. Not worrying (too much) about missing flights/buses and generally having someone guide us and hold our hands. Yes we are fiercely independent travellers but every now and again we need to have a break and let someone else take the reins. We don’t always have weeks or months to travel together.

Your tour, should you choose to accept, will have most things organised. The main important things like transport and accommodation, as well as a few preset activities. There are always additional activities to be added along the way. This gives you the freedom of choice on the road. It’s a mild choice but always an enjoyable one.

Is It Worth The Money?

On a day by day basis tours do look rather more expensive compared to independent travel. Generally speaking your daily price will include accommodation, a group guide, transport and breakfast. Be sure to check the detailed notes before booking so you know what is and isn’t included. For the ease of mind it’s worth the money.

In saying that though ALL the tour companies have regular discounts including early bird specials or last minute deals. If you’re after a sneaky discount sign up to newsletter or don’t be afraid to ask if you’re going to book directly. We recently missed a Dragoman sale, asked and still got 20% off the total tour price.

To Tour or Not To Tour? A Travellers Dilemma

What If I End Up Hating Everyone?

Well you can always untie that knot in your knickers and go home at any point. At no point in your tour are you being held as a hostage. If you do find yourself in a situation where you hate everyone, the food, the culture and generally life then you’re welcome to go home. Your tour guide will assist you in making arrangements, however these arrangements will be at your own expense.

Part of the pleasure of travelling is meeting new people. Some people will become friends for life. Others just a brief moment of pleasure. And I won’t lie to you there probably will be a few that you will be oh so very glad to see the backside of as they walk out of your life.

To Tour or Not To Tour? A Travellers Dilemma

Group Tours Are Not For Everyone

And that’s ok. It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around. Maybe the idea of being stuck with 12 or so other people in close quarters for a period of time terrifies you then maybe a solo trip is what you need. You’ll still make friends along the way and have a marvellous time I’m sure of it.

To Tour or Not To Tour? A Travellers Dilemma

Traveller or Tourist?

It really doesn’t matter. Going on an organised tour doesn’t make you any less of a traveller. Being a dick and defining yourself as a “true traveller” is more of an issue here.

Which Company Deserves My Money?

Well that’s a tough question. It really depends on what you want to do, who you want to do and your life values. Take the time to research different companies. Look at the reviews with a pinch of salt.

The two main companies that we are happy to recommend – G Adventures and Contiki.

G Adventures run smaller and more intimate group tours. Generally capped at a maximum of 12 participants. These are best for the more ambitious and adventure traveller. For those who want to stray off the path less travelled but still have someone there to guide you back. You can read more about our G Adventures Indocycle Adventures.

G Adventures also offers family travel adventures. Just because you’ve settled down and had kids doesn’t mean your adventuring days are through.

Save up to 25% on Last Minute Adventure Travel Packages

Contiki runs small to medium sized group tours. These are aimed at the 18-28 market. Though Contiki does mention on their website that their tours are aimed at 18-35yo. Traditionally these have been known as shag & tag tours. You see a lot, do a lot and get a generally good feel for an area. You’ll notice that Contiki is wildly popular with young Australian and New Zealanders.

Indeed a Contiki trip to Europe is almost considered a right of passage in Australia. Save up to 30% Off Departing Soon Trips to Europe – BOOK NOW!

What Do I Need Before I Tour?

Once you’ve chosen a company, tour and your preferred operator then it’s time to prepare. Each tour company will have a suggested list of items. One thing you will need is comprehensive travel insurance. This will be checked on your first night. You will not be able to join in your tour if you do not have adequate travel insurance. Yup, even if you have paid in full and are ready to roll. Get your quote for travel insurance right now.

Final Thoughts.

Spending money with a tour company is a big commitment. You’ve worked hard for that money and there’s so many on offer and each has their own perks and pitfalls. Do your research. Check out different companies and more importantly see who’s a sister company. Ask lots of questions.

Are you thinking about joining an organised tour? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll answer any and all silly questions that you have.

 

Jeanette

Jeanette

Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker

Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.
Disclaimer:
This article contains affiliate links. If you do decide to purchase any items from the links above we receive a meagre sacrifice from the accounting gods. This is at no additional expense to you. These funds help us continue to live, feed the dogs and go on cafe runs. Which Milly really does appreciate. Any and all views and opinions expressed are entirely my own based on personal experiences when travelling and are honest and factual without any bias.
To Tour or Not To Tour? A Travellers Dilemma || Traveling Honeybird

60 Comments

  1. Pendown M Talks Here

    Some times when you want a extremely lazy and a hiccup-free trip, tours can be really good but for most of the times, I love planning my trips. Its tough to keep up with every member of the trip.

    Reply
  2. tatumskipper

    Being someone who ABSOLUTELY HATES group tours…I will say for some people, they are really the best option. Since I do my research and spend lots of time mapping out my journey, plus I hate group anything haha, I think thats why! For people who just like to have someone else handle all the ins and outs of going places, group tour is right for them! I can definitely appreciate your post though because people need to know they can take either option without feeling pressured!

    Reply
  3. Barbara Wagner

    I dont really go on organized tours, but I m very independent and I like to do things in my own way. I see that tours are a good fit for people who are less experienced in travel and for people who dont want to hassle with travel planning. I think tours are a good idea for older travelers or people who have not been traveling much in the past.

    Reply
    • Jean

      We are very independent and experienced travellers too but still see the value of an organised tour. Organised tours are a good idea for all people who are alive with a beating heart.

      Reply
  4. Vicki Garside

    I’m a big fan of organizing my own trips – but definitely agree there is a time/place/need for a an organised tour. Tours a great way for people to travel who are not all that confident, and takes a lot of stress out of the planning/logistical side leaving them to just enjoy the experience. I think tours are also great for regions that might be difficult to traverse independently – we took one in Africa and it was the best decision ever.

    Reply
  5. Megan Claire (@mappingmegan)

    Thanks for putting this together – I think that group tours are great for some people, not suited to others, and that some people might enjoy them some of the time but enjoy independent travel also. We’re fiercely independent travelers too, but I started out traveling on organized group tours, and I found it was a great way as a beginner to dip my toes into traveling the world. And then as I grew in my confidence I started organizing trips myself. But I still enjoy the group dynamic from time to time and like to join organized tours for the friends you meet. There are pros and cons, I don’t think it’s a bad way to travel at all, it’s just a personal preference thing 🙂

    Reply
  6. Courtney Jones

    I totally agree that going on a tour doesn’t make you any less of a traveller. SO many people seem to imply that it does!

    I can definitely see the pros and cons. I think the best part is not having to think/plan, because it’s all just done for you! My favourite kind of tour is a wine tour – I love being shuttled around to all the different wineries by a guide!

    Reply
  7. Penny

    At first I was totally against tours. It was only after a lot of traveling that I realized that short tours (basically day tours) are doable. The rest however I would prefer to organize on my own. I like the slow pace of my own vacations. I don’t like to be rushed. I guess that is what helps me make up my mind.

    Reply
  8. thesecretlifeofanactress

    I definitely prefer to organize my own travels & itineraries. But sometimes, when I’m short in time, I book an organized tour. I just pay attention to feedbacks, to not boot a too touristy one! 😉

    Reply
  9. Sarah

    “Well you can always untie that knot in your knickers and go home at any point” – this made me laugh! I haven’t done a tour yet but I have definitely thought about them and would like to do one at some point. I’m not keen on sharing a room with someone else so I know that I’ll have to pay the extra for single supplement.. sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do and stop whining about how it’s unfair. I think they are a great way of seeing a snapshot of places.. great article

    Reply
    • Jean

      Some companies don’t charge you the single supplement!

      Reply
      • Sarah

        No.. I know of some who do early bird deals where they waive the supplement.. just usually when I don’t have the $$ or time off work 😂

        Reply
  10. Melody & Taylor Pittman

    I love this post! I agree that organized tours are an easy way to do things, especially if it is your first time going to a destination and are not sure what to expect. Plus planning from beginning to end can be overwhelming, especially for travelers who are not well versed. Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
  11. Swati Sam

    We generally prefer to travel alone. This way the itinerary is completely designed as per our likes and dislikes. Sometimes we do opt for tours but that too which has a maximum of 10 – 15 people. With a smaller group it is a personal experience.

    Reply
  12. saraiaab

    Like you , I am usually an independent traveler but every now and then I do use a tour company. And like you say, it is worth it for the peace of mind because everything is taken care of and you meet interesting people. In fact, I’d probably do I more often if it was cheaper than traveling on my own. I’ve also been on a Contiki trip in Europe and I’ve enjoyed it.

    Reply
  13. wellcaffeinatedtraveller

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on whether or not to travel with a tour group. I’ve done both so I know there are pros and cons to every type of travel. One of the nice things about travelling with a tour is that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride since almost everything is done for you. On the flip side, you have limited time in every destination so you may find yourself wanting more.

    Reply
  14. Vegas Beyond the Strip

    Interesting post. I have never gone a group tour, but I can say that as I am getting older my tastes in travel are changing and I have actually started looking into taking a group tour so this post is very helpful for me. I especially like your statement that part of traveling is to meet people and a group tour may just be a really good way to do that.

    Reply
  15. Zinara

    I agree. I’m mostly an independent traveler myself but there are things that I need to be preorganized by an agent or a travel company. Like say, camping in a deserted place and some hikes etc.

    Reply
  16. Hendrik

    Great post about one of the “problems” traveling people have nowadays…
    We actually also didn’t make such a tour, only as a child with parents,which was cool. But honestly, what speaks against it? In my opinion, everyone should do the way they prefer (or budget wise allows). Ours is for example road tripping for weeks with a rental car – just perfect. I can also imagine to sometimes do a tour like this with a small group and interesting destination, even though “true travelers” may laugh about it. Things like that don’t matter at all, what matters is if you like what you do 🙂

    Reply
  17. Lauren

    I couldn’t agree with you more! We have done both and sometimes a group tour is perfect especially if you are short on time 😄.

    Reply
  18. Kate Andrews

    This is such a great post and it’s something my husband and I debate every time we go away. Though we love the freedom of doing things on our own time, you do end up seeing so much more than you might on your own. Thank you for writing this!

    Reply
  19. Kavey Favelle

    I did a lot of group tours with my parents and sister during my childhood. While I could never regret the opportunities to see the world, and certainly had a great time, these days I rarely choose an organised tour, though many friends of mine do and enjoy them. For me, the issue is that the itinerary rarely matches up to my interests and priorities, or perhaps doesn’t give me enough time in one place but gives too much to another. I am also someone who loves the research, I love to pick my hotels, pick my restaurants and that pleasure is taken away from me if I book a tour. That said, they can often be very good value because of the bulk buying power of the tour operators, so you get a lot for your money if you choose the right tour. And if you have limited time (both to organise and to do the trip itself) they can be a godsend!

    Reply
  20. Karen

    I’ve tried a few different ones and I’ll agree all tours are different. Tours can be a great way to travel – with company and ease. Great article.

    Reply
  21. Blank Canvas Voyage

    Hi Jean,
    Joining a tour has its advantages and disadvantages for sure. I actually liked to read your perspective about it. We try our best not to join, purely because we like to do things at our own pace. Of course, we have joined tours in the past, and ended up meeting great people (some remain friends) but ultimately having the freedom to stop when we want, take as many picture as we like and not having to catch up or wait for people remains our biggest reason for not joining. In Australia, Fraser Island, we got lost because we stayed behind appreciating the views, I hated having to see things in such a rush! And when we trekked to Everest Base Camp we did it independently because I surely couldn’t keep up with people walking fast hahah

    Telma @ Blank Canvas Voyage

    Reply
    • Jean

      It really is horses for courses isn’t it. Some times I just like not having to organise stuff 😂 but do enjoy like you going at our own pace too.

      Reply
  22. Maninio

    I have done a few touring and I can admit that I am not really a fun. It depends the tour whether you will enjoy it or not. thanks for the post! 🙂

    Reply
  23. Reading the Book

    I love to go on small group tours – I also love to travel solo. But with a busy full-time job, it’s nice to have someone else do the legwork for me so that I can just show up, relax and enjoy the experience.

    I love your comment that you’re no less of a traveller by going on a tour – I couldn’t agree more!

    Reply
    • Jean

      It’s so true!

      Reply
  24. Nisha

    I keep it a mix of both. Generally we try to explore a place on our own but when short of time or we really need somebody’s help to explain things, we like to go on a tour. Especially food walks. Group tour reduces the amount considerably.

    Reply
  25. Ana

    Always a good questions, but I guess it depends on the destination. I would definitely chose a tour for some exotic location, but I really enjoy “getting lost” by myself in a foreign city. I’d rather roam the streets of an Italian city and take a tour to Machu Picchu.

    Reply
  26. Paroma

    I found this info useful. I don’t drive and if I am traveling alone to places which are not big cities,I will def consider an organized tour.

    Reply
  27. Only By Land

    There are advantages to touring and not touring, I think you covered them all. As a solo traveler who has been on tours it can be a good way to meet other people and yes there are people you won’t like, the ones who are always late and make everybody wait. The tour companies you mention are worth checking out, I’ll do that now.

    Reply
  28. Christie

    Great post! I never done a tour but it’s something I’m definitely interested in trying. I had actually looked into some G Adventure ones in Southeast Asia that sound really good! I like that there are so many different types of tours you can do depending on your personal travel style!

    Reply
  29. Jessica

    Great post, I am yet to do a tour and have never heard of G Adventures but they look good. I’m going to look more into them 🙂

    Reply
    • Jean

      You really should! They are affordable and a whole
      Lot of fun

      Reply
  30. Catherine - Red Door Ponderings

    A good post. We have done tours and organised our own adventures. Often when we are new to a place we may do a small tour to familiarise ourselves, and use that as a springboard to making our own discoveries.

    Reply
  31. natalietanner

    What a thought provoking post! This is an idea that all travelers have to consider. Early on I had a tour experience and decided that this route was not for me and I have not looked back even though we now travel with the kids and in theory, a tour would be easier. Each path, each adventure, an each tour is so different that you are so right that you need to look at everything and this post will really help someone walk through that process!

    Reply
  32. Buddy The Traveling Monkey

    I love this! Everyone has their own style and preferences. I’ve explored with and without tours; it all depends on time and money. No one should be judged by how they travel. At least their getting out there!

    Reply
    • Judi Cohen

      I agree completely that to judge is wrong! small groups benefit financially and experientially from all of the options available. It is definitely one size fits all! Enjoyed this article.

      Reply
      • Judi Cohen

        Sorry, meant to say it is definitely NOT one size fits all for travellers needs

        Reply
  33. AdventureFaktory 🐪 (@AFtravels)

    We certainly agree with what you are saying, tours are not for everyone and can often be constricting for those travellers who want to get out and do their own thing. In saying that, a tour is a great first time experience and can be very hassle free. We often use combinations, travel by ourselves and then find good little day tours to hard to get to places.

    Reply
  34. Melody Pittman (@melodytravels)

    So well put. Loved this post! I have traveled my entire life and the comments made by those who have barely lived long enough to even function daily without parental guidance ranting about “quit your job and do this” and “tours are for dummies” and “I travel solo therefore I am superior” really just make me ill. Like they have trumped the rest of us in the travel world or something. I agree with every word you have written here. Do what you love and if you don’t like it, don’t do it again, but take different paths to see what you truly do like. Life is short. 😉

    Reply
  35. The Travel Ninjas

    We agree. When we travel, we just try to pick the best options for us at the time and place. Now that we travel full time, we do lots of independent planning, but often a tour is the best option. And there are some places where you’re required to take a tour or go with a guide.

    Reply
  36. Krix

    I don’t ever travel with others on a tour. I just prefer organising my own adventure. I love planning our holiday with my boyfriend. However I can see also advantages to tour travel, especially to day trips.

    Reply
  37. Carmen Edelson

    If I feel like taking a private tour (which isn’t that often), I’ll splurge for a private one! I just know I’m not a group tour person. Great insight, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  38. Natasha Haley

    I often have this dilemma. I really like how you have analysed them. I agree that having someone else organise stuff makes things a lot easier sometimes

    Reply
  39. Dariel Lim

    Depending on locations and type of activities, I may join an organized tour or plan my own. Sometimes it is simply easier to just follow an organized tour like when I wasn’t confident enough to drive in Iceland during winter. But most of the other times, I would just plan my own tours and go free and easy. Never joined Contiki or similar when I was younger but probably should have.

    Reply
  40. Erin Pocket Rockets

    I confess I’ve never done a tour! I think I get a bit snobby and would rather find my own way, but this is so true – but be so nice to not have to plan anything. Cause of that I imagine it’s actually great value for money!

    Reply
    • Jean

      I felt the same way until we toured with G Adventures. I’ve turned my views around a little bit since then. Though usually I’m still a solo traveller.

      Reply
  41. Alice Chen

    It’s such a great idea to look into a tour! I definitely agree that for many situations, it’s very easy to use a tour. I have actually taken several day-tours in a variety of countries and like them a lot!

    Reply
  42. Salomé

    I like to take tour for couple of hours to get more knowledge about the place that I visit. But I usually like to explore by myself.

    Reply
  43. Bri

    I too am more inclined to book a tour, because you learn a lot more about the culture and history of the place! It may seem like a “touristy” thing to do, but I feel like you can usually get more out of the place vs. trying to explore it on your own.

    Reply
  44. Any Place But Home

    Great post! There is no right or wrong way, it’s all about choice. Personally tours aren’t really for me, I don’t like being tied down or having a regimented plan, I like to do my own thing. However, I think organised tour are perfect for those who don’t travel full time and only have a limited amount of time to travel.

    Reply
  45. Tendelle

    I love this post! Many bloggers nowadays put down tour companies and “tourists” – but like you said there’s no right way to travel, everyone has his own cup of tea. Love your perspective.

    Reply
  46. shobha42016

    My big fear has always been forced to do something and I don’t want to! I did a photo tour once and we had people who wouldn’t walk anywhere. Not sure why they were on a photo tour but we wound up driving everywhere. And, I also fear hating the rest of the group. Although I have found that I generally click with a couple of people in any group I’m in.

    Reply
  47. Diana Chen

    I’ve never taken a more than one day tour, like with G Adventures or Contiki, but I know many people who have and they enjoyed it. I really like the flexibility that comes with traveling on my own – if I like one place a lot, I can spend more time there. On the other hand, if I end up not liking a place as much as I thought, I can move on more quickly. Pretty much the only time I’ll book an excursion is if I’m trying to go somewhere that’s impossible or nearly impossible to get to on my own. All great tips here though for those who are contemplating whether to travel with a tour company or on their own!

    Reply
  48. Aarti Kamath

    My husband and I prefer doing all the tours/excursions on our own. Be it any sorts!.. That way, we get to spend more time on what we might enjoy the most :)…

    Reply
  49. Joanna

    I sometimes book a tour and sometimes travel on my own. It all depends really on the budget and on the place I am visiting. I have traveled with G Adventures one time and loved it, even if I felt it was a bit rushed (we did however see a lot of things but waking up at 5am almost every day to catch a train or a bus, in the Indian winter it wasn’t that much fun). When I was in Cuba I joined another tour, a locally sourced one which was also very good value for money and saved me a lot of headaches with organising a trip in a country without internet. I do like this kind of tours, but I don’t think I would ever go for a classic tour where you have to stick to a schedule and there is no freedom at all.

    Reply
  50. Carolina Colborn

    We generally do not join tours except for the excursions from a cruise ship or we just have a day to go around.

    Reply
    • Jean

      And why is that? Personally I’m more inclined to join a G Adventures tour then ever go on a cruise!

      Reply

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