So, you’re about to embark on a tour of a lifetime. You’re ready to pack your bags and go. But, before you travel, there are a few essential questions that we know you might want answers for before you travel.
Travel to: Europe
Read on as we answer every question you’ve ever had about group tours.
Already prepared to pack your bags? Find your next tour with TourRadar.
1. Why should I take a group tour?
We’re not going to tell you that you should go on a multi-day tour, but we’re also not going to say that you shouldn’t. We all have preferences when it comes to the way we travel, and perhaps you might think that touring isn’t for you. Joining a tour gives you the chance to experience new cultures, both in the country you visit and amongst the nationalities of your fellow tour buddies.
With transport, accommodation, activities and some meals all organised for you, you can spend more time enjoying your destination and let your guide worry about the details. Need we say more?
2. What time will I have to wake up every day?
We’re not going to sugar-coat it and tell you that every day will allow for a sleep-in. As a general rule, on days where you are travelling, it is expected that you’re up early to hit the breakfast buffet and get moving by 8 am in some cases. The logic? The sooner you hit the road, the sooner you can unpack and start exploring the next exciting destination on your itinerary.
On the other hand, days that are listed as ‘free days’ on your itinerary are exactly that, and so you can do as you please. Waking up at midday after a big night out? No worries – as long as it’s not a travel day, or you’ll hold up your group. Simply ask at the time of booking to make sure you have the wake-up times in mind along with everything else you need to know.
3. Can I travel by myself on a group tour?
First of all, anyone can travel on a group tour! If you’re travelling with ten of your nearest and dearest friends, or whether you’re travelling by yourself, a group tour welcomes all types of travellers. Most tours will have a few solo travellers join the group so you can easily make friends with the other travellers within the first days of the trip!
Depending on the tour or travel style, solo travellers will be sharing a room with other solo travellers in a twin-share room, or if it is a hostel tour, then there may be 4-8 travellers in the same room. If you’re travelling solo, then you’ll be sharing with someone of the same gender. Or, if you want to pay a little bit extra for a private room, single supplements are available for many tours on request.
If your new roommate snores, well, we’re sorry to hear about your situation. But, if you do have any minor conflicts like this while on tour, you might be able to ask your Tour Guide if you can move rooms but keep in mind that you run the risk of hurting someone’s feelings (and if it’s the start of a 40-day tour, you might land yourself in hot water). Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen on your travels…
4. How many people will be on my tour?
To that, we ask, ‘How long is a piece of string?’ Okay, but in all seriousness, this answer will be completely different for each and every tour operator, and even the same tour operators will offer different travel styles, so this will change the group sizes. For example, some tour operators host 48-seat coaches that travel across Europe, however, that same tour operator will also host sailing itineraries across the likes of Ibiza, Croatia or Greece, and each boat will host a different number of travellers.
Either way, you’re bound to find a travel buddy during your travels and can bond by sharing your mutual interest in the destination and tour you’ve both booked.
If you are concerned about the number of travellers on your tour, you can always reach out to the friendly customer support team at TourRadar who might be able to let you know exactly how many travellers have booked on the tour along with the age and demographics of the group. Some operators won’t be able to release this information, nor can they reveal any other information about who is travelling with you cannot be disclosed before your tour starts. If you do want more information about your group there are many forums and communities that enable you to meet with other travellers on your tour before the first day.
5. Do I need a visa?
Most likely yes, you will need a visa for some part of your travels depending on where you’re from and how long you plan to stay for. Some parts of the world, for example, Europe, allow some nationalities to stay for up to 90 days and will be granted entry on arrival.
Other nationalities, however, will need to apply for the same visa before travelling. Obtaining correct visas is your own responsibility, and it pays to do your research in advance as not having correct visas could mean you missing out on part or all of your trip. The best source of information? You should also double check with the individual embassies before you depart, remembering that visa requirements can change at short notice.
Save yourself a headache, and organise your visas at the time of booking your tour (if possible) to allow for any last minute changes or applications that require supporting documents. For further visa advice, take a look at our visa guide here.
See Also: The Hardest Countries to Travel Solo
6. Where will I join my group?
Almost all group tours will start at a central meeting point in the form of a hostel or a hotel at a set arrival time. Some groups will meet at 8 am on day 1 at the hostel or hotel, and might then immediately hit the road to the next stop. If this is the case, make sure you arrive either the day before your tour, or if your group meets at 6 pm on day 1, make sure you allow ample time to get from the airport to your starting point, as you might miss a welcome dinner, or a group orientation tour of the starting city.
If in doubt, at the time of booking you can always ask for pre and post accommodation to make sure you start your tour at the right place.
Most importantly, if the start of your tour doesn’t go to plan because you missed your flight, or maybe you lost your luggage just keep calm, and whatever you do – do not panic! We promise it will all work out even if there is a small bump in the road. On your travel documents, there will always be an emergency number to contact the tour operator, or you can call the friendly TourRadar team for additional support.
7. What does my trip include?
Some tours might include everything from three meals a day, entrance fees, unique local experiences and hotel taxes. Others tours might include accommodation, transport between cities or just a few meals. Both cater to a range of travellers, as some travellers prefer greater freedom of choice for meals and included activities.
On the other hand, some would prefer not to lift a finger and have everything down to the minute included and organised – and that’s totally okay! If you want to enjoy three included meals a day, just remember this might increase the cost of your tour yet could also allow you to save in the long run (especially if you score a sweet deal when you book).
The key takeout here is to do your research before you book, ask the right questions, decide what you want to achieve most out of the tour and cater each adventure to your own needs. Read the itinerary in detail, because someone out there sitting on the other side of the world has spent hours making sure it covers everything you need to know about your tour. If you’re still unsure, just ask!
8. What is NOT included?
Unless otherwise specified, most tours will not cover the cost of visa, personal travel insurance, entrances to museums or bucket list attractions, flights and some meals.
This is just a generalisation of course, as all tours are different and some might include internal flights whereas others will not. Like we said, make sure you ask at the time (or keep reading to find out more).
9. Do I need travel insurance?
For some tours, it is a compulsory requirement for travellers to obtain a comprehensive travel insurance policy which covers you for all medical expenses (including repatriation) and any expensive items like a camera or smartphone, just to name a few. If it seems like an expensive addition to adding on top of your flights, tour cost and additional spending money, just Google how expensive emergency air evacuation is from the highest mountains in Europe or across the world for that matter.
We’re not going to tell you to pay for travel insurance (as it might not be compulsory for some tours), but we are going to tell you that you’d be crazy not to make a small investment that could save you from insane medical debt. If it is compulsory, you’ll simply be declined from joining the tour on day one, or have to buy a policy on the spot to travel. It’s that simple.
Top tip: If you’re a long time credit card owner, you might even be covered for travel insurance or can upgrade your existing card for a small fee. Just make sure you read the policy wording, as some credit card travel insurance will not be accepted by tour operators if it fails to tick all the boxes.
10. What sort of people will be on the tour?
Travellers from all walks of life will be hopping on or hopping off your group tour. You’ll often hear tour operators talk about ‘meeting other like-minded travellers’, but they’re not wrong! You WILL meet like-minded travellers on your tour, and even if you have nothing else in common, you will share a unique bond and a love for the destination you both choose to travel to on a tour – and that’s a fact.
11. What if I am a smoker?
Smoking will not be permitted on any forms of transport on tour, nor will it be allowed at any of the properties that you stay at while on tour. Of course, you can stop for a cigarette break during long drive days but make sure you are respectful of your group.
12. Do I need a sleeping bag?
Some camping-style tours will require you to pack a sleeping bag as you will quite literally be staying in tents. If you’re staying at hotels during your tour, it’s unlikely that you will need a sleeping bag.
13. How much luggage am I allowed to bring?
As with any adventure across the world, it is best to pack as little as possible. Why? Because no one wants to haul a 30-kilogram suitcase up five flights of stairs at your boutique accommodation in France. And your Tour Guide, as much as they might want to help, are not there to help lift your unnecessarily large suitcase up those tiny stairs or to load your luggage on or off the coach. Before you travel, check the luggage restrictions as some tour operators limit this to 20 kilograms per person. By the way, when we say ‘some tour operators’, we really mean most tour operators.
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
- Ultimate Thailand Packing List for a Solo Traveller
- What to Pack for a Safari Tour in Tanzania
14. What if I am on a special diet?
Then you can’t travel on a tour, ever! Just kidding, of course, you can travel on a group tour. If there are included meals, all you will need to do is let the tour operator know of your dietary requirements and update your details at the time of booking.
While you’re travelling, the Tour Guide will almost always double check for any dietary requirements verbally with the group before each meal. Or, if the Tour Guide does not ask the group, it never hurts to politely remind them of your dietary requirements. We’d hate for you to go hungry!
15. How much time will I spend on the coach?
Truth be told, sometimes you will spend up to 12-hours on the coach, car, or minibus each day. Sometimes, you will hardly travel. In some parts of the world, it is simply unavoidable however it will always be broken up with frequent toilet breaks or food stops, and drivers in Europe have to stop every 2 hours or so. Keep in mind that tour operators are not purposefully tormenting you with long drive days, and each itinerary has been tweaked over the years to craft the perfect journey for you.
Some of the best scenery in the world can only be seen through your window. So, sit back, and enjoy the journey and take the time to get to know your tour buddies.
16. What are optional activities?
These are activities that are not included in the price of the tour, however, they are available for you to purchase additionally while on the tour and your Tour Guide will be there to help you plan your activities along the way! Most optional activities can be arranged directly with your Tour Guide while on tour.
17. Do I need to advise if I have a medical condition?
Yes, you sure do. Not because tour operators are nosy and want to know everything about you, but so they can be prepared to cater to your needs or be prepared in case of a medical emergency. Before you travel, make sure you consult a medical professional to make sure your condition does not hinder your travels or cause any danger to you.
18. Do I need to print my travel documents?
It is recommended to print your vouchers as well as having an electronic copy so that you have a backup copy when travelling. However if you do not have the facility to print the voucher, an electronic copy to show your tour leader will be fine.
19. How much spending money will I need?
If you’re a high roller, then your budget will be very different to someone travelling for the first time on a shoestring. As every traveller has different spending habits, there is no set budget amount required. We recommend $50-100 USD a day knowing that some days you may not spend anything at all and other days you may buy souvenirs for family, meals and other activities. This amount will vary of course, especially if you compare Thailand (inexpensive to visit) to Norway (significantly more expensive to visit), as the budgets will be on the completely different end of the spectrum.
See Also: 2 Weeks in Thailand for Every Budget
20. Do I need to tip?
Each operator has their own policy on tipping drivers and guides, and it can also vary between regions. As for tipping in each country, this can be a difficult field to navigate. For example, the tipping culture in the United States is very much expected. An 18% to 22% tip at restaurants, cafes, salons and spas is standard, while a $1-2 per drink tip for bartenders is the norm.
In other parts of the world, tipping is not compulsory, however, it will always be appreciated if you round up your bill and leave a few extra dollars around the world.
21. How far should I book in advance?
Generally, it’s best to plan in advance and book a few months ahead of time where possible. Some tour departures like festivals such as Octoberfest of La Tomatina are incredibly popular, will sell out fast, or if you’re looking at hiking the Inca Trail, hiking permits need to be organised well in advance.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling spontaneous, it might be possible to request a space on a tour last minute (within 7-10 days).
Have we missed anything? Share your questions and comments below and we will answer below.