Pro's and Con's of Guided Tours


Whether you are a solo adventurer, or a group traveller guided tours such as Contiki and Topdeck have something for everyone. Which makes it a great reason for all travelers to try a tour at least once in their travelling careers. The pioneers of the group travel industry are Contiki, with their first tour being operated all the way back in 1961. Ever since then they have continued to improve and craft the perfect tours. Following the success of Contiki many similar companies such as Topdeck, Busabout and G - Adventures were founded, offering similar services all across the globe. Personally having travelled with guided tours before I would highly suggest them to anyone planning their next adventure. Although do be aware that these tours are generally full of young adults, as the target group is 18 -35.

 

Now without further a do, let's get into the Pro's and Con's of guided tours.

Pro's 

1) The People You Meet

Without a doubt the best thing about guided tours are the people you meet. It's funny what being on a bus together, exploring new countries and cuisines for weeks at a time can do to create ever lasting friendships. Guided tours have created thousands and thousands of friendships between people all across the globe. I know personally thanks to my own tour I now have friends from all over the world who I still keep in contact with to this day. Spending so much time with these once strangers creates some unbelievable friendships and if you're lucky like many others, maybe even some romances. This is why these tours are so perfect for all types of travellers whether you are solo or a group as you are bound to meet new people and make friends for life.

 

Now if you are worried about being stuck with a bad group or people you won't get along with, then don't be. I guarantee you will learn to live and make friends with even the most difficult of people. That is the beauty of travelling, it really does bring people together.

 

2) Everything's Planned

A year ago when I first started planning my recent trip to Europe for two months I was overwhelmed with all the planning I needed to do. I was originally going to use Rail Europe to explore the continent. However after some deliberation and discussion with my friends we finally decided on a tour. This was generally because it was all planned for us and we wouldn't have to try and work our way through all the foreign train stations.

 

From the transport to accommodation to most of your meals these tours are planned down to the last detail. They have been extensively reviewed and customized in order to ensure the only worrying you need to do is what sight you should see first? I can't tell you how great it is to wake up with a terrible hangover and all you have to do is get on the bus and relax while your guide and bus driver take care of the rest.

3) Expert knowledge 

When speaking to my tour guide on my last tour I was very surprised with just how much training and research they need to do before the trip. They are required to submit hundreds of essays on significant historical events on all the places you visit. All while keeping up to date with the current news and events. The knowledge of my guide was incredible and truly made the trip even more enjoyable. Upon entering each city we were told all about it's history and even all the local spots we needed to check out. Being a history buff this was an unexpected added bonus to my tour. If I were to do this trip solo I'm sure I would have missed out on many historical sites I was un aware of. As well as all the great local bars and restaurants which were suggested to our group by our leader.

4) The Partying

Now this may either be a major pro or a major con depending on the type of person you are. As to be expected since the main target audience of tours such as Contiki or Topdeck is 18 -35 so partying goes without saying. There is a reason these types of tours are so notorious for partying and drinking, because it happens that frequently. For the younger travellers this might be one of the reasons you choose a tour, I know it's partly why I decided to do one. It's great having people to constantly go out and party with to the break of dawn, rather than being by yourself in a foreign country.

 

However if the partying scene is not for you don't worry you wont feel left out. My tour had a mix of the "party animals" and those who were in bed by 9pm each night. So I am sure you will get to know people you can enjoy the nights with.

 

Con's 

1) They can be rushed

My tour I recently went on covered 18 countries in just under 7 weeks. Although it was great to see all of Europe being the first time I've been there. I couldn't help but feel it was all a bit rushed. We only spent about 2 nights in each city and factoring in driving days it only left you with really one full day of seeing sights. If you were like most of my tour these days were probably slightly tarnished with the constant hangovers. Although this is not the case for all tours, due to mine consisting of so many destinations we spent a lot of time on the bus (which is still enjoyable with the amazing people in your group). However there is more location specific tours that don't travel so much and spend more time in the one place. If I were to do another tour I would look at doing one of these tours.

2) Sleep deprivation

Now this con is entirely my own fault, so your experience may be different. The mix of constant partying, early wake ups and fast pace of these such tours can leave you extremely tired. Although the bus becomes your best friend as you can catch up on all your sleep. However if you enjoy a sleep in then forget it. Most travel days you will need to be up around 7 for breakfast and departure. If you go out partying till the early morning this can be a deadly combination. Although I guess it's all just a part of the fun, but not to worry the excitement of exploring a new city will ensure you are always up and ready to go.

3) The Cost

Now these tours can be extremely expensive or great value for money depending on your comfort levels. I chose the mid range tours which were majority of our nights in hostels and occasionally a upgrade to hotels. All the hostels we stayed in were all of the highest quality and would definitely recommend them all. However if you would prefer a bit more comfort and luxuries, they do have hotel based tours available. Although if you are a real budget traveller and don't mind compromising comfort then tent only tours are available and are extremely great value for money.

 

Personally I think tours are great value for money. Of course it may be slightly cheaper to book your own transport, hotels etc, generally it isn't worth the hassle. When you look at what is included in your package it is actually quite cheap. Usually each package will include all accommodation, majority of meals, transport tickets occasionally, some tours and sightseeing, and the invaluable knowledge of a local guide.

 

4) Not Suitable For Older People

Generally tours such as contiki, topdeck and G - Adventures are aimed at the younger generation ranging from 18 - 35 years old. Although the 30+ age bracket is a bit of a stretch. Mostly you will find these tours are filled with 18-25 year olds, who want nothing more than to party into the early hours of the morning. However don't let this deter you if you are in the older age bracket, just be aware you will have to deal with a lot of adolescents and their antics.

Well there you have it our complete list of Pro's and Con's of guided tours. Now of course each persons opinions will differentiate with their own experiences. Although from my own experience, I highly recommend a guided tour. It was a wonderful experience and the people, professionalism and planning of my whole tour was exceptional. The only change I would recommend is find a tour that is more location specific. That way you will have more time to discover all those hidden city secrets in each new destination.

 

Do you agree with our list? Have some Pros or Cons of your own? Then leave a comment below with your own experiences!

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