There are many reasons why I shouldn’t join tour groups: I sketch, I get tired pretty easily, I wake up late, I can be a bit shy around new people, I have poor listening skills, and I enjoy wandering around the streets and making my own discoveries. Here are more general reasons why being part of a tour group wasn’t for me.
You’ll be operating on a very tight schedule, meaning no one will stop for you if you’re tired, meaning if you’re anything like me you’ll be beyond exhausted half-way through the tour. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind having such detailed criteria set for every, then fine, maybe a tour group is your cup of tea.
2. Lack of freedom
The places you visit will already be decided for you. Sure, once in a while some tour groups give you an hour or so of free time but I hate the idea of having to forego seeing a place I wanted to take a look at because time wouldn’t allow for it. Think about this as well: if you decide last minute that you want to have a look at a landmark or make a short trip somewhere, you won’t be able to if you’re with a group.
While one could argue that joining a tour group can save you lots of money, I believe that if you really do your research ahead of time, you should be fine. I’ve been on many family trips where we were with tour groups and spent money on trips to places, a few of which I didn’t even care to see. I would have preferred to spend more time in fewer places to really take in my surroundings. It doesn’t help that I like to sketch when I travel, and having more time to draw what catches my eye is ideal.
While I understand that tour guides are very knowledgeable people, I sometimes find that the wealth of information they put on my ears is a little too much information to process. I get torn between having to listen to them and looking at what is around me and actually enjoying it in a relaxed matter. To me it makes a little more sense to read enough about the place you’re visiting ahead of time. I mean, if you don’t know much about that place before you go and see it, why do you care to visit it at all?
I truly have a problem travelling with people I don’t know well enough. If you’re a lot more social than I am, then okay, this might be fun for you, but I prefer going abroad with and only with my loved ones.
That said, there are many reasons why I can’t be part of a tour group. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be. Before you sign up for one, think about what your needs as a traveler are. If they fit that of a tour group, then by all means go for it. If not, then do your research before you hop on that plane and learn at least the basics of the language of the country that you’re visiting. One big thing about travelling on your own is that you’ll have to do a lot more planning, so keep that in mind when making your plans. Make sure you thoroughly research your hotels, the kind of neighborhood you’re staying in, and the places you want to visit.