With the internet so readily available, and so many websites with different deals on flights, accommodation, day trips etc., it can be quite confusing. Is it really worth me doing a tour? Do I want to be on a bus with 48 other people in the middle of a European summer?
To begin with, there are so many tour companies out there that offer a huge variety of tour options that your ideas of sitting next to hungover 18 year olds and listening to somebody drone on about Roman Ruins is certainly not what you’re going to get – promise!
My personal tip is to do a 50/50 balance. A tour is going to help you get the absolutely most out of your country/countries of choice and then you can spend the rest of the time going somewhere different, or revisiting the bit you loved. Maybe you thought you were going to love Amsterdam – aren’t you glad you booked a tour that only spent two days there when you realise that Berlin is actually the place you really want to be!
Some huge benefits of using a tour company to see parts of the world are:
· Nine times out of 10, you will be paying less to do the tour than to do this by yourself, when you look at the daily breakdown costs, keep in mind the included meals, transport around the city, and between the countries, entrance fees, accommodation and the benefit of having somebody who knows all the nooks and crannies.
· Guaranteed, you will see something you did not think of doing yourself – and absolutely love it. Like that old castle in Germany you did not know existed, or the old war bunkers in Turkey where you can see the original soil from so many years ago!
· You don’t have to follow them around. Most tour companies will have two days in each city, the first being an orientation day and the second being completely your own to do whatever you like.
· Your tour leader can jump to the front of queues to get your tickets – huge plus when you’re standing in 40+ degrees to see Hagia Sophia and the line is 100m long!
· There are tours that go to places you can’t go by yourself, or can be difficult to access – like crossing the border into North Korea with On the Go, sailing for four days around the coast of Italy with Intrepid, or visiting a Michelin star restaurant in France with Topdeck!
Having been a huge advocate of independent travel, in my field of work I have come to appreciate tour companies and what they can offer. Some companies have a max of 12 people for those of you who like a small group size, some have age restrictions if you want to be with people of the same age bracket, and almost all of them will have different trip styles, from ‘active’ hiking trips up Mount Everest to ‘comfort’ 5 star luxury accommodation on the Cambodian coastline.
Or you can even do what my mum and her friends did this year and got a trip tailored for them. It cost not much more than what they would have normally paid for the standard itinerary, but they had a private guide to hike to the Great Wall of China with, who even went all the way to Shanghai with them after the tour was finished, just to make sure they got their safely – even when he was no longer being paid! Money can’t buy that kind of trip.
Written by Madelin Baldwin