So you’ve decided you want to go away by yourself, but you’re a little nervous at the prospect. Are tour groups the best option to put your mind at ease, or should you bite the bullet and go it alone?
For me, it was a bit of both. The first country I visited was India and I decided to join a tour group because I was a little uneasy at the thought of travelling as a solo female there. I chose a month-long tour with a company recommended to me by someone who had used them many times. I also joined a tour for part of my time in South-East Asia.
There are many positives and negatives to tour groups and I’ve listed the ones from my experiences below:
- Ease of travel: Everything is organised for you, including transport to and from the airport if you require it. All you have to do is show up at the meeting point and the rest is pretty much taken care of.
- Guides: A brilliant guide makes for a brilliant tour. Exploring a new country with a local person can give you a unique insight into that place. They can also help you deal with pretty much any problem, from finding the nearest pharmacy to dealing with a stolen mobile phone, and that security blanket is pretty nice.
- Feeling safe: The fear of travelling alone is enough to put some people off for life. When you join a tour group you minimise the scary aspect of solo travel.
- Meeting people: I made friends in my tour groups who I have met up with since being back in the UK and I know we’ll be friends for life. It’s nice getting to know people over a period of time and having lots of shared experiences.
- Lack of freedom: The whole point of travelling is to get away from the daily grind and experience total freedom. As part of a tour group, I sometimes felt a little like a sheep being herded from place to place. You are also restricted in where you go and how long you can stay in each place.
- Stir crazy: There are usually options to pay more for your own room, but if you don’t there is very little time to yourself. I’m the kind of person who needs my own space so I found this aspect of tour group travel quite hard.
- Meeting the wrong people: Unfortunately, being thrown together with a bunch of people in a tour group means you might find yourself stuck with someone you don’t like for a long time. My second and final tour group started to feel a bit like the Big Brother house. For this reason I would recommend doing tour groups for a maximum of two weeks. Who wants to head off on holiday and end up in an argument?
Overall, I think it was a good decision for me to start my trip in tour groups. It gave me the chance to dip my toes into the world of solo travel and ease into the culture shock of India and South-East Asia. However I found it so thrilling when I moved on to travelling entirely by myself and, having now experienced both, I think I would find it hard to go back to a tour group again.
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