Is An Organized Tour the Right Choice For You?

You know you want to go somewhere foreign this year but how to do it – take a tour or find your own way around? It’s a big decision. Here are things to consider to get the most out of your trip.

You’ve decided that you want to visit a foreign country this year. The decisions on where to visit, what to see, and how to travel around can be overwhelming. Adding to your stress levels is not the way to plan your holiday.

After all, a vacation is to get away from stress, not create more. Unfortunately, there are so many options out there now that it can easily become a bigger ordeal to plan a trip than it is to find the time to take one.

Organized tours can help relieve some of those problems but they aren’t for everyone. Some people absolutely love them and always choose a tour when travelling while others won’t go on one for any reason.

Here’s a few of the pros and cons of organized tours to help you make your own decision.

The pros:

#1 All the arrangements are made for you

You don’t have to worry about choosing hotels to stay in, where to eat, or how to get to each destination. It’s all organized for you. The average tour includes most off your meals and all of your accommodations.

You travel as a group, usually by motorcoach. Some tours even include your airfare. This means no negotiating with travel agencies, no calling foreign hotels and trying to arrange your stay, and no trying to decide which restaurant you should (or should not) eat at.

#2 Fewer Budgeting Concerns


Because you’ve paid for everything in advance, the only spending you will do on your trip is a few meals and snacks and any shopping you wish to do while away.

Through your tour you have already paid for your entry to the museums and other sightseeing sites you’ll visit, your accommodations have been paid for and so have the majority of your meals.

You also don’t have to worry about unexpected road tolls, the price of gas (which can vary a lot between countries), and ensuring you have enough money to get through your trip.

If sticking to a budget is not your forte, this can be a real help. Hitting the end of your holiday and having to forego things you had been looking forward to because money is running low can be disappointing and frustrating.

#3 You Don’t Have to Drive

This can be a real stress reliever. Driving in a foreign country can be very overwhelming, especially if you hit a big city and you are not used to that kind of driving.

Sometimes traffic signs can mean different things than they do in your home country. You may need to pay more to get a vehicle suitable to your driving skills (this is especially true if you don’t drive a manual shift normally).

Add to that the need to find your way using maps and GPS and you can find your vacation much more stressful than you wanted it to be. I doubt I will ever forget my first experience driving in Madrid, Spain.

The traffic lights meant different things and a fellow driver actually rapped on my window at a stop light to explain it to me because I was supposed to be moving and had no idea why everyone was honking at me (the light was yellow which means prepare to stop in my country, not proceed with caution).

It took twice as long to get to our hotel as it should have because we got lost and I was close to tears because the pace and sheer amount of traffic was so different from what I was used to.

#4 Tour Guides & Lines

A tour has a well-trained tour guide with you while you are driving as well as at all the tourist sites. They know all the pertinent information about the places you visit as well as small tidbits that might be locally known but aren’t necessarily found in the guidebooks.

When you visit a site, particularly a really popular one, you don’t wait in line like everyone else and you don’t have to pay extra to get an audio recording of information or wait to join a regularly scheduled tour.

You can wander on your own but you don’t learn as much as you will with a guide that knows his subject well.

#5 No Language Barriers

Although English is commonly spoken at most Western tourist places, less popular places and many Eastern countries do not offer quite the same degree of language ease.

Your tour guide will speak the local language and can help you with any needs so that you are not left trying to mime that you need a bathroom to a clerk that is staring at you with a complete lack of comprehension.

The cons:

#1 Everything is Chosen for You


There is really only one big con to taking a tour and that is the lack of choice. You don’t have the ability to choose where you eat, what you visit, or what you see. You have to follow the tour itinerary.

Although there is usually some free time, it isn’t the same as being able to decide on the spot that you want to attend a performance you hear about while out sightseeing or stopping at a restaurant that catches your eye with the aromas coming out its doors. Depending on your personality, that can feel really restrictive and be frustrating.

Everyone has their own interests and hobbies. While some tours cater to hobbies like food and wine, most are generalist in nature. For a musician, visiting a local concert hall may be the highlight of a trip but it’s a highlight that doesn’t appear on many itineraries.

You can get around this by spending a few extra days in a place at the end or beginning of a tour so that you can do some exploring on your own.

You also have no choice in your accommodations, which means if your budget is a little tight and you’d rather stay somewhere less fancy with more money spent on seeing the sites or you’d rather splurge and stay at that beautiful chateau you just passed, you don’t have that option.

You also don’t get to choose who you travel with. Yes, some tours are geared towards specific age groups or demographics but you still don’t choose the individuals that you get on the motorcoach with.

This means that if the really loud obnoxious guy is driving you crazy with all his inane questions at every sightseeing stop, you’re stuck with him. You get some reprieve at night when you can retire to your room but he will be on all the tours and the motorcoach with you throughout your holiday.

By the same token though, many people make lifelong friends on tours that they continue to stay in touch with and even travel with long after the tour is over.

There are a lot of advantages to tours but if you really need to be able to make choices on the fly to enjoy yourself, then avoid tours. Really, it’s up to you. The important thing is to enjoy your holiday.

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About the author

Heather B

Heather is an avid traveller, lover of dogs, and baker supreme. She lives in a small town in Ontario, Canada where she raises German Shorthaired Pointers with her family. An explorer at heart, she travels whenever she can, wherever she can.

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