|My group tour to Rajasthan last week, Jan 2017|
I’ve just returned from a group tour of a well known travel company. This is not a review of the company but an article on the pros and cons of actually going on a group tour. So if you are travelling anytime soon and are considering choosing a group tour, here are the things you should consider before you actually invest in a group tour.
What is a group tour?
So a travel agency normally conducts group tours where people travel to popular places within a region. People from all over sign up for this tour. They arrive at a common location and from there, the tour begins. These passengers travel in one common bus and visit places together. The travel group arranges for everything including food and visiting charges and guides and what not. So basically, everything is included in the fees. You may not even carry your wallet (though I would not recommend that. Just in case you need to shop or for some other emergencies.)
The PROS of a group tour
1. Safety…especially if you want to travel alone. Also good for those areas which are politically sensitive, because the travel agencies know the how and the where about these places.
2. Ideal for unknown destinations where you need reliable groups and also there is a paid for guide who will take you around to see the places.
3. Economical because the quality of the hotels is especially excellent and if you book hotels and flights individually, it will turn out to be far more expensive.
4. Meals are taken care off and luggage is taken care off except at the airport. So you don’t have to do all your lugging around and see the places at ease.
5. Perfect for those who are interested in seeing a place and knowing its basic culture and landscape. But if you are the types who wants to experience and explore first hand, I would not recommend a group tour for you because they only take you to the tried and tested age old spots. Nothing new to explore here.
6. No wait in lines for tickets to see popular attractions. So in that way, you save a lot of time and effort. Everything is taken care off by the travel company.
CONS of a group tour
1. Very hectic pace. Waking up in the early morning is bad bad bad for me. Worse, is having a full meal so early in the morning. But on a group tour, they have a deadline to meet and have to tick all the boxes of places for that day. So you are forced to wake early and trudge out.
2. Long long bus rides:
We were travelling close to 200 kms everyday. So on a group tour, you spend a lot of your time in the bus. Feel free to hop on one if you can do the road journey. In fact, it’s like one long long road trip.
3. A part of the herd: So the travel agency schedules a certain amount of time to a particular place. If you particularly enjoy and want to spend more time there, it’s not an option. Also, there are some places which you don’t really want to visit. But you cannot opt out of those places and are forced to go since it is a group tour.
4. Take it or leave it:
When it comes to food or choice or places to visit, it’s a no option thing. Either you choose to eat what is in their fixed buffet, or then you have to spend on your own and go separate. In a lot of cases, the food is repetitive and the menu is rather boring. When I visit a place, I like to explore the place and try the local cuisine. If you are not so particular about these fine details, group tours are the thing for you.
5. You are practically at the mercy of the tour manager. He tells you when to wake up, when to travel and when to leave. So basically, I felt like I was a small child on a school trip, throughout my journey. It was not the best of experiences for me. And I especially, don’t like to be ordered around…so therefore this type of a trip doesn’t really work for me. But as I said, for the above mentioned reasons, in the prior para, it does work for a lot of people especially those travelling alone or those who need company to travel.