When I travel it is usually independently, with my partner or with friends. I love nothing more than to plan and organise a trip so I had never thought about going on an organised tour, until recently that is.
I read about G Adventures and Intrepid Travel on other travel blogs and I liked the experiences that travellers had. I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do so I spent a lot of time doing some research. It was a tough decision as these tour companies offer trips to amazing places from China to the Antarctic.
I ended up choosing Morocco as my first organised tour with G Adventures and it was a country I always wanted to explore. Travelling through the Atlas Mountains, sleeping in the Sahara Desert and exploring the souks of Marrakesh was an amazing experience. It’s also possible to hire a private tour guide if you know where you want to visit and you can find out the pro’s and con’s of that here.
However, like everything, there are pros and cons to this type of travel. If you are thinking about going on an organised tour or if you would like to know more about what is involved, then keep reading. I think that all of these pros and cons can be applied to any type of group or organised tour.
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The Pro’s of an Organised Group Tour
Not everyone has the time to go on independent trips. Most people only have a few weeks of holiday time a year so if you want to see a lot in a short amount of time, then going on an organised tour may be ideal for you.
This way you don’t have to depend on local transportation, worry about getting lost or waste precious time trying to find somewhere to eat. That’s the beauty of an organised tour as it takes all of that stress away from you, thus giving you extra time to enjoy your holiday.
Meeting new people
The great thing about an organised tour is getting to meet new people. There were people from Canada, America, the U.K, Ireland, Spain and Australia on my tour of Morocco with G Adventures. It was a small group that consisted of couples, friends and solo travellers ranging in age from 25 – 65. We all had our own stories to tell and I learned so much about their respective countries and where they had travelled before. We got on so well that even during our free time we often chose to spend it together!
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No Planning required
This is by far the biggest pro of organised group tours. Even if you love planning trips (like me!), it can sometimes be nice to let someone else take charge for a change. And who better than an expert guide who will ensure that you see everything the country has to offer and more! The only planning I had to do for my tour of Morocco was to book flights, pack and decide what to do after the tour. There was no booking accommodation, trying to find places to eat or figuring out things to do.
There is no doubt that organised tours bring an extra sense of security. You will not be left wandering the streets at 3 am looking for accommodation after a 12-hour bus journey and there is less chance of being pick-pocketed when travelling in a group. If you’re travelling to a country with known security issues, it can often be better to travel there with a tour company.
It doesn’t matter where you travel in the world, safety will no doubt cross your mind. No country in the world is 100% safe but I will always state that you should never rely on the media when it comes to travel safety either. There are so many countries out there with a bad rep due to excessively bad media attention. However, always check with your embassy if you’re worried.
I didn’t have any major safety issues or concerns when travelling with a tour company in Morocco. However, I did stay on in Marrakesh for a few days after the tour ended and without the tour guide, men did approach me and follow me throughout the Medina in Marrakesh. I had been there a few days earlier with our guide and it was a completely different experience.
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Having a tour guide
One of the best pro’s of being on an organised tour is having a tour guide. I learned so much more about the countries I was in due to the knowledge and expertise of the tour guides. It’s great to have someone there to answer your questions, who will bring you to local and cultural places which you may not have heard about and also someone to recommend the best cuisine.
A reputable tour company will always hire locally, which is great as this means that they are supporting the local economy even further. Every tour that I have been on with G Adventures, there was a local guide and bus driver provided.
The Con’s of Doing an Organised Group Tour
Meeting new people
As well as being a pro, meeting new people can also be a con on organised group tours. The reason for this is that you have no idea in advance about who is going to be on the tour with you. It can be a risk because what if you find someone on the tour irritating and/or vice versa? You spend a lot of time with the people on your tour so having a good group is key. If you find yourself on a tour with someone you just don’t gel with, make sure you have earphones and podcasts/music on hand when you need a break.
Also, it’s important to note that if you’re a solo traveller, being on an organised group tour can mean sharing a room with someone you don’t know unless you’re willing to pay extra. By researching different tour companies, you can figure out which one is more suited to you and your travel style. I chose G Adventures for my first tour and went with their classic tour as it’s their more comfortable option.
Most organised tours designate a certain amount of free time but it is set for certain days and specific times. Organised tours are hectic and almost every second is scheduled which means that if you want to spend longer in a place, you can’t. It can also work the other way around too, you’re ready to move on but you have to stick to the schedule.
I’m an introvert which means I sometimes just need alone time to build up my energy, clear my head and relax with no-one around me. This can be hard if you’re on an organised group tour. Towards the end of the trip, we had free reign over where to eat but nobody in the group could decide. I was already feeling socially exhausted by this point so instead of joining everyone, I hung back at the hotel by myself.
Depending on where you travel, the food choices on an organised tour can definitely be a con. This is largely due to the fact that you have virtually no choice about where you’ll be eating. I highly recommend letting the tour company know about your dietary needs as far in advance as possible and a reputable travel company will always accommodate you.
A lot of the meals are recommended options by your tour guide and group ordered meaning little choice, which is completely fine if you’ve no dietary needs. G Adventures were brilliant in terms of this – we had one lady with an intolerance to gluten and another who was vegetarian and restaurants were always notified in advance.
More Expensive than Independent travel
Okay, so this isn’t always true but it generally is more expensive to go on an organized group tour. Most tour companies are hoping to make a profit so while the company might be getting group discounts, you are still paying full price.
There have definitely been times in the past when I wanted to do a group tour but figured out a way that I could travel cheaper by myself. However, since I have now experienced a couple of tours I’ve realised that you get a lot more in return for the extra cost.
Tips for choosing a tour company
Do your research
There are so many companies out there now who offer organised group tours. Make sure that you choose a reputable company that is highly regarded for the destination you want to visit. Check out travel forums like TripAdvisor, read reviews on sites such as Lonely Planet and look up their Facebook page to see what people are saying. Be absolutely certain that the tour company you choose is the right match for you!
Think about your comfort levels
When choosing a tour company, it’s important to think about what you want in terms of comfort and style. For example, are you looking for a party atmosphere or a relaxed vibe? What kind of accommodation do you want to come back to each evening, hostel or hotel? Do you want a fast-paced tour whereas much sightseeing as possible is crammed in or would you like your tour to take its time at each spot? Keep your travel goal in mind always and you’ll choose the right tour for you!
Weigh up the cost
It is often said that organised tours are more expensive than independent travel but that isn’t always necessarily true. However, what you do need to keep in mind is the “hidden” extra costs to your tour. Certain activities may cost extra, some meals may not be included and if you choose to upgrade your accommodation, then that will be extra too. Also, find out a rough estimate of how much spending money you will need to bring too.
When choosing a tour company, check out their stance on sustainability. Choose a company that not only respects the local environment but the local culture as well. It is incredibly important to leave a positive impact wherever you are going and a good tour company will ensure that this is the case.
Overall, I loved my group tour experiences and I definitely plan on going on more in the future. I highly recommend G Adventures and Intrepid Travel as the best in the business for organised group tours. I truly hope that this post about the pros and cons of an organised group tour has helped you make a decision about whether an organised group tour is for you or not.
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