Travel with a tour group or go it alone?
When I was a senior in high school, I had the chance to travel with my classmates to Europe for a 14-day professionally guided tour. I grabbed the opportunity, scrounged up any money I could find with the help of my parents and went off on a trip with 20 others. Little did I know that it was the beginning of my love affair with travel and how I saw its value. I learned a lot that summer, as we bused our way across England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Liechtenstein.
How did this trip change me? I’ll tell you.
I’ll share what my take away was from that trip and how it helped shape all my future trips.
#1 – Pros and Cons of traveling with a tour group
Pros – Usually when we think of travel, we think of taking a trip with friends or family. So when the high school trip came around, it was logical thinking to go with a group and a detailed itinerary. On this trip, we had an awesome and friendly tour guide. He guided us to not only well known touristy spots, but also to lesser-known places that were just as unique and photo-worthy. Professionally run tours can really help the novice traveler learn a great amount of information in a short period of time. It’s also the best way to travel when you have no time to plan anything yourself.
Cons – Tour groups have a habit of cramming a lot of information in a short period of time. You won’t be able to linger and “hang out” to really soak in what you just learned. Photo opportunities quickly come and go. Unless you are constantly ready to snap that photo, it will be another missed chance. Sorry. Oh and that cute little cute gift or antique shop you just passed while on the tour, no time, got to keep on schedule to get the tour moving through its agenda.
Often we are in such a hurry to see so much with so little time, we never stop to ask why? I am not talking about the questions you ask the tour guide as you enjoy the sites. I am referring to the lingering questions you’ll never get to ask or learn to answer on your own by just staying in one place long enough. I can’t tell you how many times I have visited places on my own and have lingered for hours to keep learning or reading about something. This is what leads me to believe that some places can easily become our soul place, when the proper attention and time is given.
It may also be, you have no lingering questions and maybe you just want to enjoy the scenery for just a little longer. Just because. These are the moments that I am talking about. The moments that truly make up the true value of your trips. These moments stay with you forever.
So the next trip you plan, make an effort to balance the trip agenda to also include time away from tour groups, especially for the sites you have at the top of your list. Because the places that you will truly enjoy alone as you linger, will really be the places that you’ll find most memorable. I promise you. Give it a try on your next trip and make it a truly enjoyable trip without the hustle and bustle of a tour group and see all the things you fancy without being in a hurry.
Continue on to my next post “Should you travel alone or with friends?” where I go more in-depth about the joy of traveling alone and why some people fear traveling alone.