After taking a two week group tour through Nepal, I can safely say that group tours are not for me. Although I enjoyed my trip and there were times when I was happy to have a guide that was able to help communicate with the locals, I have also been able to get to know myself better and realize I need more freedom while traveling.
Here are a few pros and cons to traveling with a group tour, which may help you decide if it’s right for you.
You Don’t Get To Call the Shots
I don’t like people telling me what the entire schedule for every day of my trip is going to look like. At first I thought it would be nice to leave the planning to somebody else, but what I found is that this causes me to be very unprepared, especially when the tour company does not give good instructions on items that are necessary to bring for things they have planned each day.
When the tour company tells me there will be no strenuous hiking and only light walking for short periods of time during a two-week trip, then I do not bother to bring hiking shoes, which take up a lot of space in my bag. Imagine my surprise when we are then told there will be a 13-mile hike on somewhat rough terrain to get from one hotel to the other. The result: a swollen and sprained foot that became very painful for the next few days of my trip.
Lack of Alone Time
I’m an independent person and I need my own space. I found that when I chose to do something different than the rest of the group for part of the trip, I was then questioned as to why I didn’t want to go. I don’t like when I’m constantly questioned for things that I want to do or don’t want to do while I’m traveling. I sometimes have my own agenda and enjoy spending time alone.
Choosing Your Travel Buddies
Since you won’t get to choose your travel buddies, you may get stuck traveling with people who drive you nuts and test your patience. There were also a few times during my trip when I wondered if some of the people in my group had ever traveled before. They complained constantly when the hotel wasn’t perfect and were completely inflexible whenever there was a slight change in plans.
Leave the Planning Up To Someone Else
When you travel independently, sometimes it can get stressful finding a hotel or getting from one place to another. If you are the type of person who doesn’t want to deal with any stress, then traveling with a tour company or booking all inclusive holidays can make that part of your trip significantly easier. However, you are then stuck with whichever hotel or hostel they pick for you and sometimes they choose hotels only because they know the owner and want to give them their business and it may not be the type of hotel you would have chosen for yourself.
There are a few positives to traveling with a group tour. If you are traveling alone, it’s a lot less likely that you will be lonely. You will always have somebody to talk to and the ability to share your experiences with other people. It’s also possible to build great friendships with the guide or the people in your group. I met interesting people from Holland and learned a lot about their culture and picked up a few Dutch words.
The Best of Both Worlds
I personally only chose this tour because it was a photography workshop and I thought I would enjoy traveling with other photographers. I also wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to photograph areas that only the locals can take you. If I were to do it over again, I think I would have enjoyed spending half of my trip traveling alone and half of my trip traveling with the photography workshop so I could get the best of both worlds.