Solo vs Group Travel | Is It Worth Paying for an Organized Tour Service?


Hey, it’s Ernest from Trip Astute. In this
video, we’re exploring whether it’s worth traveling on an organized group tour or
just traveling on your own. (light chiming music) 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. First off, if you’re new
here, I want to welcome you to our channel. Trip Astute is a travel channel
that is focused on sharing ways to make travel easier, affordable, and more
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innovative gear. If that sounds interesting to you, please consider
subscribing. When talking about group vs. solo 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. Number 1: Safety. I think the
biggest issue 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 pickpocketed. 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. 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 Guanacaste, 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 traveling solo versus with an organized group? Do you prefer one
over the other? Please share your experience below. If you enjoyed this
video or found it useful, please give us a thumbs up and consider sharing our
video with others who might benefit from our content. Until next time, travel safe
and travel smart.

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