I was always one for independent travel. For finding my own way from place to place, for wandering the streets in search of where the locals eat, and hoping to meet fellow travellers who shared my spirit for travel along the way. That was until I discovered solo traveller tours. I realised that while I loved the brag rights of doing it all myself, I was actually missing out in more ways than I ever thought I would. Here are 10 reasons why I’m all for touring holidays – no matter how old you are, where you want to go, or whether you’re in it for the luxury or the all-out adventure.
You get a personal tour guide
There’s nothing quite as unsettling as landing in a new country and feeling like you have no grasp of the language, the culture or the geography. Not only do you have no idea what direction to head, you risk having only part of the experience you could. Travelling on a tour, everywhere you go you’re with an expert who can clue you into all of this before you arrive, so you go in with context, and an idea of what makes the place the way it is today.
Want to know where the best yiros are in Athens, or where to go for a day off the beaten path in Barcelona? Chances are your tour guide has been there and done it all before, and now they’re on hand so you can too.
You’re guaranteed to meet locals
The experiences you have access to on guided tours are numerous, but the most memorable are always those when you get a glimpse into local life. Tours usually include some kind of local experience, whether it’s a dinner in a local’s home, a walking tour or language class.
You can choose a tour to match your travel style
It doesn’t matter if you’re keen for a hot lap of the continent with a group of mates on uni break, or you’ve reached a stage where you’ve got time only for the finer things in life, there are tour styles to suit all travel types. Luxury river cruising, premium coach tours, adventure expeditions, camping tours for 18 to 35 year olds, you name it, there’s a tour for it.
You never have to worry about missing your train/flight/bus
This is a big one, especially if you’re doing a victory lap of Europe on a youth tour and each new city calls for a long tasting of the local drink specialties. It’s also useful if you’re the type of traveller who wants to experience it all, but organisation and planning aren’t your strong points. Travelling on tour means someone else is in charge of the organising, so all you need to do is wake up and show up. And if you don’t, there’ll likely be someone else ready to drag you out of bed so you don’t get left behind.
Touring means you have instant travel buddies
There really is no better way to make fast friends than being thrown together in a foreign country and having a whole host of new experiences. Plus, because there are tours to suit different travel styles, chances are the people you meet on tour share a whole heap in common with you already.
You’ll have experiences you couldn’t if you were travelling solo
Think VIP entrance into the Vatican, a private tour of Versailles and dinner in a castle in Germany – these are things that you usually can’t get yourself into as a solo traveller. Of course there are advantages to the freedom of travelling DIY, but tours for solo travellers mean you not only have these incredible opportunities to explore iconic landmarks, see world-famous shows and experience local life, it’s all organised for you.
Touring is a great way to explore destinations you might not want to visit on your own
We’ve all got a destination on our bucket list we haven’t ticked off yet because we’re not 100% certain of how to do it. Whether it’s an active adventure you want to challenge yourself with like hiking in South America, or trekking across a glacier in Alaska, or exploring a country you’ve never been sure how to handle, jumping on a tour, with an experienced tour guide, transport, accommodation and activities organised, is the ideal solution.
Avoid the tourist traps
It’s a common perception that travelling on tour means you’re taken right into the most touristy parts of the city. And this is true – to an extent. Tours will take you to the most famous sights, like the colosseum in Rome, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Yosemite in California, because that’s what most people want to see. What a tour guide also does though, is show you how to avoid the tourist traps, teach you what you should pay for certain things so you won’t get ripped off, and guide you to where the locals eat, drink and play.
Go straight to the best food spots in town
Tour guides spend their lives travelling around the places they take you to, so of course they know their stuff. Sure you can hop off the tour bus and head to the closest restaurant strip in sight, or you can ask your guide and head for where the locals eat. You don’t travel for a living and not know where serves the best burgers in NYC or bobotie in Johannesburg.
Touring is the most cost effective way to see multiple destinations in one trip
No matter where you travel to, internal flights are often expensive, and in places like Europe, train travel isn’t too cheap either. Just like cruising from island to island is undoubtedly better value than inter-island flights, coach and train tours, whether the budget kind or haute luxury, offer unbeatable value for the number of destinations you can tick off. In other words, touring is the easy and best value way to see it all.