We know that you want to hit the road and go exploring. You know it. Your best friend knows it. But here’s the hard part, if none of your regular travel buddies, soulmates, family members or friend-of-a-friend wants to travel with you, what will you do? Will you travel solo? Or, will you join an unforgettable tour of a lifetime? It’s time to compare group tours Vs solo travel: which travel style is for you?
Disclaimer alert: naturally, we’re biased that multi-day touring is the way forward, but we’re going to keep it neutral for your enjoyment. Besides, we want you to make the right travel choice for you, and only you.
What is a group tour?
In short, we’re not talking about a walking tour around Rome, or a half-day experience with a small group up in the Highlands of Scotland. When we talk about a ‘tour’, we’re talking about a multi-day group tour. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, here it is. A multi-day tour can be described in a number of ways and refers to tours and activities that last for several days, such as sailing tours, hiking tours, coach tours, small group tours, river cruise, or even hop-on, hop-off tours to name a few examples.
Fact is, multi-day tours are not just restricted to 48-seater coaches charging through Europe – which, by the way, is an awesome way to travel if you’re short of time and want to meet a bunch of new best friends. In reality, it’s about deciding which travel style suits you, your budget and ticks off your bucket list destinations.
What type of person should go on a group tour?
Well, we don’t want to say ‘everyone can go on a group tour’, because that would be too obvious (even if we think that’s the truth), but we’re going to address this question in two parts.
First of all, any type of traveller can join a group tour, as there is an experience or travel style for everyone – you just need to filter through the options to find what works for you. Secondly, you need to determine what you want to achieve most out of the experience, and how to go about achieving it.
If you want an open-dated ticket, or want to travel forever on a journey to who knows where then maybe a group tour at the early stages of your travels isn’t the best option for you. Or, while you’re on that same mystery journey, there is always the possibility to add a short tour to break up your travels, meet some new faces and maybe find a new pal to carry on travelling with.
If you’re ready to meet new people, soak up the knowledge and local expertise of your Tour Guide and forget about the hassle of organising your transport from A to B, then you should definitely consider a group tour. If you’re not about that life, we get it. It’s your journey, after all. Or, if you want to travel exclusively with your sister, loved ones, best friends or similar, maybe your next adventure won’t be a group tour, as long as you’re not restricting yourself by saying, ‘I will never go on a group tour’, then we’re cool with that.
Unsure about taking a group tour? Take a look at our collection of articles focused on group tours to help guide your decision of group tours Vs solo travel.
- The Biggest Misconceptions About Group Tours
- This is What Happened on My First Group Tour to Cuba
- What to Expect on a Multi-Day Tour to France
- 8 Reasons Why Being A Tour Guide is the Best Job
- What to Expect on a Wine Tour
- Why Touring is Perfect for Eco-Conscious Travellers
- Secrets of Travelling Southeast Asia from the World’s Best Tour Guide
- The Truth of Being a Tour Guide: Exposed
What should I budget for a group tour?
Ah, budget. The eternally impossible question to answer. Yes, it might hurt your wallet to book a tour upfront and it will probably feel more expensive than travelling solo. But, the best part about booking a group tour before you travel is that you’ll have accommodation, food, transport and experiences all paid off well in advance which means you can set your budget focused on spending money as the basics will already be paid for.
Most importantly, the included activities and rates for optional extras are sometimes cheaper when booked through a tour as the operator will negotiate cheaper rates for their travellers in advance, which is something you won’t be able to benefit from while travelling solo.
As for your actual budget during your tour, you can focus on planning for the restaurants you want to visit, the museums you want to go to, the historic sites or castles you want to stop by without having to worry about accommodation or some meals depending on what tour you booked. If you’re travelling in Asia, this will be considerably lower priced than travelling across some parts of Europe (for example, Norway, Denmark, Iceland).
Your daily budget, depending on the tour you book, might only be $20-40 USD per day, where a similar tour in the European countries mentioned above might be upwards of $60-100+ USD per day. If you’re a true shopaholic, double, triple or quadruple this amount just to be safe. Just remember everybody’s spending habits differ so you’re best placed to make that decision.
Best places to visit on a group tour
Some countries are near impossible to travel solo, and without the help of a local expert or by joining a group tour might you might come across more problems than you anticipated. What might be defined as ‘hard to travel solo’ will be different for each and every individual, but if you’re thinking about a solo jaunt through the savannah plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania, or maybe even a visit to Egypt, Morocco, Bhutan or Djibouti for example, these destinations might be more difficult to travel solo than expected.
Take Cuba, for example. An incredible, mesmerising and inspiring place to visit. But, if you’re an American traveller, there are a few more hoops you will need to jump through in order to visit. For American travellers, there are 12 categories of authorized travel that will allow you to visit Cuba including, journalistic activity and family projects. Depending on the current administration, regulations can change without notice but a people-to-people tour remains the safest option.
Another location that might be perfect for you to travel to on a group tour is in Russia. In order to visit, you must file a lengthy visa application. It demands details on every country you’ve visited in the last decade, and all charity organisations to which you belong.
You also need to be sponsored by a Russia-based hotel or tour operator registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia, so while travelling solo is possible, a tour takes a lot of the hassle of the visa process away.
Another far-flung destination where a group tour might be your best option is Turkmenistan or Iran, where travelling through a travel agency or tour operator are your best options. For a destination not many people visit or know about, you can really make the most out of going with a tour group to remain respectful of culture, gain valuable information and, of course, share this unique experience with new friends.
This isn’t to say you can’t travel to these places unassisted, but to save the stress of planning and other travel woes, a tour might just be your best bet.
What should I pack for a group tour?
The best and only piece of advice we can offer is to pack as little as possible! Simple as that! If you’re travelling on a safari tour through Africa, some last minute supplies might be harder to find than others. Start packing sooner rather than later, and future you will thank old you while you’re on the road.
If you need further inspiration for what to pack, we’ve compiled a list of packing guides for various destinations and seasons. Take a look here for a quick list of packing guides:
- The Perfect India Packing List for Summer
- Camping in Iceland: Rules, Packing Tips and Everything You Need to Know
- The Perfect Italy Packing List For Spring
- What to Pack for a Safari Tour in Tanzania
What type of person should travel solo?
When it comes to travel, doing it solo for the first time can seem overwhelming, unrealistic and just flat out intimidating. Everyone should travel solo at least once in their life. Whether it be for two day or two years, there is no greater feeling than struggling through the backstreets of a foreign destination and reaching your accommodation without any major mishaps. It’s a huge learning curve for anyone at any age and is not something to be overlooked.
One of the biggest things you’ll notice is that your confidence will get a bit of a booster. When you get back home, you realize how incredible what you just did really is. You realize that you did it on your own, every step of the way and that fact alone would make anyone’s confidence rise up and expand their mind into thinking they can do anything
What type of traveller should go solo?
Travelling solo does wonder for your personal development and growth, and if you’re ready to embrace a new adventure without the support of your nearest and dearest, a solo adventure this year might be calling your name. The biggest thing to note here is that you need to be prepared to be uncomfortable, to get lost, and to learn how to be comfortable with your own company.
It might sound daunting, but we promise it will get you out of your comfort zone in every way. Between meeting new people, eating new food and discovering a new destination on your own, it’s an unforgettable learning experience.
The best thing about travelling solo is that you realize you can do things on your own that you really didn’t think you could. You overcome situations you may have never thought you would be in – like having to eat at a restaurant alone.
If you’re nervous about your first solo trip, or just about the destination in general, talk to people who have been there, stay in hostels, book some day trips or jump on a quick tour at the beginning. This allows you to meet people quickly, get advice and make friends that truly last a lifetime.
Unsure about taking the leap into adventure solo? Take a look at our collection of articles focused on solo travel to help guide your decision of group tours Vs solo travel.
- Is it Safe to Travel Solo in Egypt?
- Is it Safe to Travel Solo in Myanmar?
- Hardest Countries to Travel Solo
- 10 Things You Shouldn’t Do While Travelling Solo in India
- Most Affordable Places to Stay in Kyoto for Solo Travellers
- River Cruises for Singles and Solo Travellers
- Top 3 Islands for Solo Escapes
- Travelling Solo as a Woman
- Why You Should Travel Solo, Now
What should I budget for a solo adventure?
A word of caution to solo travellers; be careful. During your travels, there will always be unexpected costs that appear out of nowhere including expensive train tickets or flights, costly museum entry fees and taxes at some hotels or airports when leaving some countries. That’s not to say that those travelling on a group tour shouldn’t also be prepared, but the nature of a solo adventure is likely to throw a few financial curveballs at you. Make sure you plan to expect the unexpected.
With the right planning and resources (blogs, travel guides, friends and family) you can effectively map your budget to make your solo adventure work for you and your bucket list.
Best places to visit solo
You would have heard the saying, ‘The world is your oyster’, which really says it all about where the best places in the world are to travel solo. For example, a trip to India can be completely life-changing (in a good way), and there are many incredible lessons you will learn during your travels that you won’t find elsewhere. For the first time traveller, let alone the first time solo traveller, you might need to be prepared for a moderate culture shock (depending on your travel experience) and this might not be the best choice as your first adventure.
But of course, we don’t know you – if you’re comfortable travelling solo to India then go for it! We won’t stop you. Just make sure to keep reading and do your research beforehand.
What should I pack when I am travelling solo?
Like we said above – you will want to pack as little as possible! Whether you’re travelling solo for the entirety of your trip, or maybe travelling part on a multi-day group tour, there are a few things you need in your suitcase or pack.
If you’re travelling solo, it is important to note that sometimes the essentials will not readily be available at convenience stores, and you may not have access to a 24-hour pharmacy. Without being able to ask your trip leader or a friend to help out, there are the essential items you need to pack (just in case of emergency).
Some of the essentials include prescription medicines, pain relievers, diarrhoea treatment (the joys of solo travel, right?), a quick-dry towel, a travel converter, bug spray and maybe even a life straw or instant water purifier. All of this will be much easier to pack into a backpack, so you might want to leave your suitcase at home. After all, you’re not as likely to have a vehicle transporting you from door-to-door like on a group tour.
Have we helped you to decide whether you should travel on a group tour or if you should travel solo? Maybe even both? Comment below and tell us your thoughts.