Having planned my trips and been on small group adventure trips, group tours have many benefits.
With a group tour, you save time on planning, see more than you could on your own, share your experience with like-minded travelers (particularly if you’re a solo traveler) and can give you peace-of-mind when it comes to safety.
Less Planning (A Lot Less!)
Group tours are ideal for last minute trips, or for people who don’t have the time or don’t enjoy planning.
In my experience, it takes about 2 hours of to pre-plan every one day of your trip. This includes time spent reading guide books, forums, and websites to organize transportation, look at reviews on local accommodations, or find reputable companies for activities.
For example, a 2-week trip may take about 30 hours to plan; traveling with a friend reduces the work, but if you’re going solo, that’s almost a week of full-time employment.
Even when you’re on your trip, you may still spend time confirming bookings or plans. In a group tour, your guide or the tour company’s support staff would look after these details.
See More, Do More
The typical traveler has 2-3 weeks for vacation.
In this limited period, you want to experience as much as possible without worrying about logistic details like transportation between places, accommodations, or who to use for activities.
In setting the trip, the tour operator has looked at variations of the itinerary, lodges, transportation or activities to select the ones most suited for the tour.
Travellers who’ve gone on small group tours usually agree they experienced more by through the group tour than they could have if they planned the trip themselves.
Go Off The Beaten Path (But Not Alone)
Group tours are ideal for taking travelers off the beaten path, to places which are harder to plan for or places feel extra unfamiliar or foreign to you.
On a group tour, you’ll have other travelers from around the world to share the experience with. Even if you’re traveling with a companion, meeting other travelers enhances your trip and lets you make new friends.
Travellers I’ve met in my group tours range from 20-something-year-olds like myself, 65-year-old Danish retirees in top shape who hiked the Inca Trail, to snowboard designers from Italy. It’s hard to imagine how else I could have gotten to know such diverse travelers.
Value Of A Local Guide
No matter how much you research or read, the best way to connect with the local history, issues, people, or customs is someone local to the area.
You’ll learn more through their stories than you could from any guide book. A local guide is particularly useful if you don’t speak the language or aren’t familiar with the country.
I didn’t understand the value of a local guide until I planned my trips. The connection to the local environment is not the same as when you have a guide.
Peace-of-Mind on Safety
If you’re traveling beyond your comfort zone, going solo, visiting a country that’s very foreign to you or a country with social unrest, being in the group offers some peace-of-mind.
In the event of a disturbance like a natural disaster or protest, the tour company and guide would assist with navigating the situation and are reasonably responsible for your safety. They also have copies of your information, emergency contact, and travel insurance if needed.
In general, it ‘s nice to be with a group of people; you can look out for each other anytime you’re wandering around a new place, going out after sunset, or doing unfamiliar activities.
Fewer Disputes With Your Travel Companion
If you’re traveling with a friend, no matter much you pre-plan your trip, one of you may change the itinerary during the journey by staying somewhere longer, amend the next destination or the timing of transportation.
These last minute changes can cause tension and arguments.
A group tour keeps things simple; there’s no debate about the itinerary. You and your friend agreed to the trip details when you booked, and unless there are exceptional circumstances, the tour follows the published agenda.
A set itinerary keeps you both moving which is important if you’re only traveling for a limited period.