There are pros and cons to taking a tour and planning your own trip and controlling your own destination. I have done both and have enjoyed each.
– Everything is taken care of for you, namely: your bulky luggage. You just need to take care of your personal belongings and arrive at their rightful places on time. When traveling alone, you are responsible for all your luggage and it can be a lot of legwork depending on the type of trip and the place you are going.
– Lots of food included. You don’t have to search around or find a suitable restaurant. For meals that are not included, the restaurant, or at least the area, will be recommended to you with a place to stay.
– You have a pretty good idea of the cost of your trip. There will be additional costs but you can limit them because you know what they are, namely: optional tours, meals not included and of course, souvenir shopping and general spending money.
– You have lots of friendly travel buddies (hopefully), especially if you’re traveling alone. And there is often the option of sharing rooms to reduce costs.
– When traveling in a group there will be lots of laughter and camaraderie which adds to the enjoyment of the trip. I definitely found this to be the case.
– Your various modes of transportation have been taken care of for you. You don’t have to look up train schedules and prices, metro stations and if in a foreign country, how to get along with a language you don’t know. All will be taken care of for you.
– There is an explanation and historical commentary about the area you are traveling through. It’s always nice to know where you are traveling. Travel means you will know without having to look it up yourself either before or after your trip.
– The included meals are usually quite good and almost always include a generous breakfast and dinner.
– In addition to the optional tours you can choose from, taking a tour includes many interesting places that you might not have been able to visit on your own or didn’t know about. An example is when we were in the Outback of Australia and we went out into the bush and had dinner; when we try some bush food from the variety that Aborigines eat, and the chance to try and throw a boomerang.
– During your free time you have the option of staying with a tour group or exploring on your own. The option is there to be able to do what you want.
Disadvantages of Travel:
– The destination may not be exactly the one you chose yourself. Tours cover certain areas, namely: you can go to certain parks, certain areas of the city or factories that you might not want to do on your own.
– Travel is generally more rushed than if you were traveling alone. You have more control over your travel decisions if you have planned your own trip.
– You have the opportunity to change your mind about what you are going to do on a given day and do something else. You are more likely to be a free spirit.
– Your time is yours alone and it is your decision whether to spend the day relaxing on the beautiful beach you just discovered or enjoying another experience. When traveling with a tour group, you don’t have this opportunity. You go where they go, when they go, or you fall behind.
– You can make better decisions about how you will spend your money. When traveling alone, you may decide to stay in a budget hotel or even a hostel which is not done when traveling with a tour group. You may decide that by doing this you will have extra money to be able to see more of the sights. This is also the case when traveling by train and public transport versus flying or taking a tourist bus.
For myself, visits to various countries will determine where I decide to travel. I think on a trip to Africa and going on a safari, or if going to Brazil, I’ll choose to join a tour group. But if I’m going to visit Ireland and Scotland, I’d rather plan my own trip, pick my own places to stop and maybe rent a car to travel. Every decision should, by necessity, also be based on whether it is a single person, a couple or a family and even the age of the traveler needs to be considered.
When I went to Europe with my daughter-in-law, we planned our own trips, stayed in hostels and traveled by public transport. It worked well for us. The only tour we did was the tour to Pompeii. Both modes of travel, however, have their pros and cons and each should be evaluated