I have travelled a lot over the years. Made new friends, new memories, seen parts of the world I never thought I’d have the opportunity to see. Solo travelling has allowed me to be free to do it all on my own terms, travel as slow or as fast as I want and have no obligation to travel with people I may not get along with. I have also done a fair share of group tours. Oh, the ease and simplicity of the process. As a bit of a control freak, it’s brilliant to sit back and not plan anything. That’s the beauty of it. Travel and holidays are a luxury and occasionally it’s nice to let the experts do the work and get the highlights of a trip. Essentially, group tours are organised to allow us (the travellers) to be care free and relax. Because ultimately, once we relax, we have more fun, we aren’t worrying about our finances, what we’ll be cooking for dinner, what tours we should or shouldn’t spend our money on. We have our hand held. It’s rare as an adult living away from home to have this so let’s enjoy it. In this article, I highlight some of the key factors to consider when you choose between groups tours or solo travel. Check it out to see which one best suits you.
- You’re guaranteed to meet new people on group tours
Although travelling always offers opportunities to get to know people, it can sometimes be quite frustrating when you constantly have to meet new people in hostels or bars. It happens every day and it really gets quite exhausting. It’s also sad when you have to go separate ways with someone you’ve really clicked with but only been able to spend a day or two with. I often think back to the times I met some amazing people and just wished we’d have had more time together. Whereas in group tours, you have this amazing opportunity to create strong ties with people that will accompany you throughout the whole adventure. In this sense, the way you can join a group to learn about a new country or city or experience is a great way to get to know new people that share the same interests. You may even find lifelong friends.
2. More security when travelling in a group
Another advantage of being part of a bespoke tour in a group is that everyone takes care of each other, something that really protects you from uncertainty and problems that can arise when in a new place unfamiliar to you. It is unlikely to be a victim of a crime or robbery if you are travelling with lots of people and moving around as a group. However, tour agencies may often plan a trip with so much attention to ensure the group stays safe that it may become a hindrance on your experience. You may be moving around in vehicles instead of walking and spending a large part of your group tour in crowded areas. In this sense, it may become an annoyance for you and you may prefer to solo travel.
3. Shared costs can help to keep your costs down
There’s no doubt that the total cost of a trip will be reduced if you travel in a group. Attractions, transport, hotels often offer large group discounts, which can be shared among the group. You may not really notice this but think of it this way: If you book yourself a minibus and then fill it with lots of people, the shared cost will be cheaper so therefore your individual cost reduces and you pay less. Simples!
- Solo travel allows you to be free and independent
Travelling solo is definitely the most independent and free I’ve ever felt in my life. The choices in front of you. Dare I say it but ‘The world is your oyster!’ You can choose where you want to go, when you want and how you want. It’s a wonderful feeling to wake up one morning and think ‘Hmm maybe I’ll go on a hike today or maybe I’ll sit and tan.’ ‘Maybe I’ll meet some people and go on a boat trip or maybe I’ll go find a salsa class.’ The choice is yours! When you meet new people when you are a solo traveller, there is often common ground in finding out what that person has been up to. You’ll soon realise that you’re getting some amazing recommendations from them to save onto your Google Maps or Maps.me. “I did it with a tour and I’d suggest you just do it on your own.” Freedom tastes sweet.
2. Experiences that are unique
When I think about the travelling I’ve done. The most memorable and insane experiences that have stuck with me throughout my adult life are the ones that happened because I was travelling solo and independently and ready for anything life threw at me. One time, I got chatting to a Costa Rican man in a shared taxi to the airport in Mexico. We soon realised that we were both flying to San Jose International (Costa Rica). We shared a beer at the airport and then boarded our separate seats. I fortunately managed to take his phone number before we landed. We texted afterwards and he offered to drive me to his family home 3 hours from Costa Rica in a beautiful town called La Fortuna. I ended up staying for 2 nights and went on an amazing hike with him and his daughter. I wasn’t tied to any itinerary, any plan, any group and I could say ‘YES!’ to these amazing experiences. Solo travel opens you up to these more local experiences.
3. Growing as a person as a solo traveller
Facing some difficult challenges day-to-day when travelling or backpacking solo can strengthen your sense of self and empowerment. You are suddenly thrown into the world, perhaps for the first time, which can help to mature you as a person. It takes you out of your comfort zone, it can sometimes even be uncomfortable. This time, instead of confining in a friend or family member, you have to face these challenges on your own and this can be extremely beneficial in growing as a person and as an adult. My self esteem grew so much over the years from putting myself out there, not caring who is around me because they don’t know me! I could be whoever I wanted to be.
I hope this gives you a little insight into which type of travel suits you better: group tours or solo travel. If you find that group tours are much more your cup of tea, check out our day trips and weekend trips designed for student groups across the UK & Europe.