I started traveling when I was a teen – that magical age when you have way more time than money. Now, I am a near empty nester and the time versus money ratio has flip-flopped. Along with more disposable income for travel, I’ve also reached a point in my life where I have a seemingly unending list of responsibilities (and less energy to tackle them). As a result, I am reorganizing how I travel. While I used to have the time and the will to travel independently on a shoestring budget, I now find that I am increasingly enjoying the concept and the reality of guided small group travel.
Here are SIX REASONS why you might want to consider switching from independent travel to small group tours:
TOURS SAVE TIME
Booking hotels, scoping out experiences, researching visas, and figuring out transportation for travel used to be kind of fun, but now it feels like these tasks compete with the few hours left to relax. You may find that you are increasingly willing to pay a little extra for someone else to take care of those time-consuming details and research on the front end. You may also discover through making the shift to group travel how much time was wasted as an independent traveler while you were ON vacation trying to navigate the logistics and plan things on your own.
TOURS SAVE MONEY
When you look at the price for a group tour, it might appear at first like you are paying a lot more. But, if you want to travel in comfort and enjoy some of the luxuries of things like personal guides, private transportation, nicer hotels and finer experiences, the power of a group size – even if the group is small – can actually save money. In a group setting, you can split the cost with others for these perks and still maintain a feeling of being individually served.
TOURS MAXIMIZE YOUR EXPERIENCE
If you are someone who likes to explore and learn as much as possible, having a local guide with you when a question pops into your head is a distinct advantage over independent traveling. A local guide can give immediate context to what you see with an accuracy and precision that is far superior to what could ever be gleaned from a book or discovered online.
TOURS CREATE PERSONAL CONNECTIONS
When you don’t have a traveling companion, tours have an obvious advantage (few people like to eat a nice dinner alone). But, even if you travel with a spouse or a child, there is something amazing about sharing the experience of travel with a small group of people who share similar passions. The inside jokes, the different insights and questions, the stimulating conversations, even the variety of preferences… all serve to make your travel richer.
TOURS PROMOTE SAFETY
Some of the more desirable destinations on the planet have a reputation for not being safe, but if you don’t want that to stop you from exploring the most special places in the world, a tour and a local guide are your best option. With this safeguard, you can be assured that everything – from the daily status of the ocean currents, to the restaurant cleanliness, to the street you drive on, has been pre-approved by an aware local who knows the region best and is looking out for you and your loved ones.
TOURS TAKE CARE OF THE LANGUAGE BARRIER
It’s easier to travel independently if you choose to stick to regions where English is accessible, but tours with a guide who speaks the local language opens up the world! This benefit allows so much more freedom and understanding – especially in places off the beaten path where tourists rarely frequent (some of the best memories are in remote areas where no one speaks English).
If you have been an independent traveler and never tried what a small group tour can offer, I encourage you to give it a try. You may find that you are ready for the switch too.
P.S. Another great benefit of small group tours? There’s always someone happy to take your photo!