When it comes to planning a once in a lifetime vacation, nothing should fall through the cracks. You want to make sure that you get exactly what you want out of your trip! There’s no room for mistakes or disappointments. You’ve been dreaming about your time off for weeks, months, or even years. This precious opportunity should rightfully be held to a high standard.
But for many people, planning a trip to an exotic location can be confusing. Not only have you likely not been to the location before, but you also might have a lot of questions! What is the local culture like? What are some do’s and don’ts of being a guest in this country? What activities and sites are a must-see? Or on the other side of things, what should I be sure to avoid? Even with the help of the internet, sites like TripAdvisor can lead you astray. It’s difficult to discern what information to trust and which information to throw out. In the age of the internet, we have all come to know that not everything you read can be trusted. Everything must be taken with a grain of salt!
And in the end, there’s nothing that can truly replace the advice of an expert who’s gained their experience and knowledge firsthand. So where are the experts and how do you get their help? This is where becoming part of a tour group can help.
You’ll need to decide, though, whether a private or a group tour is best for you. The decision will likely take a number of factors into consideration. To help you out, we’ve assembled the pros and cons of both private versus group tours. Hopefully after reading this post you will be able to know what option will help you accomplish your travel dreams! What’s right for one person or group won’t always be what’s best for another.
Let’s start with group tours! These tours are open to the public and are most often in large groups.
Pro: Lower price
The most obvious pro to booking a group tour for your next vacation is the price. Typically, a group tour comes at a lower price when compared to a more stylized, private tour. Just as when you buy in bulk at the grocery store, buying in bulk also helps when traveling for large tour companies. By reserving large groups of people, these companies are able to get a cheaper price, which makes the price per person cheaper as well.
Pro: Meet new people
Another pro to booking a group tour is that there is sometimes a sense of family togetherness fostered among members of the group. This type of tour offers the chance to meet new friends and acquaintances, in some cases, from all over the globe. Since it isn’t restricted to a specific group booking the tour, a great mixing of people can happen on this kind of trip. The more people, the more opportunities for new friends! You never know who might end up on the same tour trip as you. Some travelers quite like to meet new friends and make new connections as they travel. If you are looking for new relationships with people who are similar to you or share common interests, this could be a good way to do that! The more specific your tour is, the more likely you are to find compatibility among the tour members.
Con: Fixed dates & itineraries
This brings us to the cons of group tours. You normally aren’t allowed much leeway in terms of the tour you take when you sign up for a group tour. Normally, these types of tours rely on pre-fixed departure and return dates with little to no flexibility. The itineraries are also commonly set well in advance and are not available to be altered by vacationers. This helps keep the cost down of the tour, but is at the expense of your personal wants or needs. If you have other ideas on what you’d be interested in for your trip, there’s no room for individualization. The company only offers what has been previously set in stone.
Con: Fixed transportation
As well, another con to group travel is fixed transportation. This usually means a large tour bus that makes pre-planned stops and may even lead to you missing out on certain locations and sites. It’s just not practical or possible for tour buses to fit or drive in the same roads as a mid to large size vehicle. Some historic sites may not have room to accommodate large buses. Consider what the roads and sites will be like where you’re traveling. Will the size of your tour vehicle limit what you can access?
Con: Tourist-rich experiences
Group tours also heavily rely on tourist-rich activities and sightseeing. For travelers in search of a more “authentic” adventure, you may not find yourself fully immersed in the culture of a region by taking part in a large group tour. And as you make your way along the tour route, you will find it’s difficult to have individual questions answered or explained in depth. Your experiences will be largely dictated by the needs of the group.
Next, let’s take a look at private tours. With a private tour, you and those you have chosen to travel with are the only ones in your group!
Pro: Customized for travelers
For many travelers, private tours afford unique vacation opportunities that can be customized to reflect personal needs and wants. You don’t have to depend on pre-planned itineraries. Private tours are designed around what travelers want to get out of their vacations. Often a private tour company has itineraries pre-made, but this is just the starting point. The itinerary can be changed in order to suit your desires to the best of their ability. Everything from accommodations to meals to activities like cooking classes and private guided tours are taken care of. Your wish is their command!
Do you love exploring a new country through the world of local cuisine? Add a cooking class. Interested in biking or cycling around your new destination, seeing it on two wheels? Add a cycling day. Has a certain national park caught your eye? Adda guided hike to see the best parts of what nature has to offer, while feeling safe and without getting lost. Are you wanting to learn more about local embroidery or other handcrafted goods? Add a workshop…that’s the beauty of being able to personalize your travel experience.
With you and your chosen traveling companions as the sole clients, it’s all about you. If there are things you would rather skip or would hate to miss, it’s as easy as telling your tour representative. This is really one of the best pros of choosing to travel with a private tour! You get all of the perks of traveling independently, where you have full control over what you do and where you go, but without any of the stress. You can have the trip you have always wanted with the peace of mind that comes with having everything taken care of for you.
Pro: You set dates/times
Along with this, it is up to you to set up the private tour and guide to fit your schedule. With a private tour, you can set the date which is most convenient to you. The dates of your tour can be according to what works best for your personal calendar. Do you have specific dates that you need to work around? No problem! Starting and ending your tour is totally dependent on what you prefer. You can also choose to stay in one destination longer, and one shorter. You don’t have to depend on going along with the group. If there is a certain city that you have been dying to spend more time in, you got it! If you want to add in extra days to relax along the way, no worries! Customization is all for your benefit. Additionally, you can make your vacation as short as you want, or extend it as long as you want and you can afford. Rather than working with a set amount of days, you tour is however long you would like it to be, allowing for time and budget restraints.
Pro: Vacation with friends/family
Another pro to taking a private tour is that you know your fellow travelers. Because the tours are private, you get to decide who joins in on the tour. This may mean just your immediate family, your extended family, or your invited friends. You don’t have to worry about vacationing with strangers if you don’t want to. This affords you the privacy that you might come to want during a get-away trip.
The comfortability factor increases greatly when your time abroad is spent with those you love! A private tour might specifically be the best option when it comes to special celebratory trips. Some examples are honeymoon trips, wedding anniversaries, birthdays, or to celebrate retirement! These kind of lifetime achievements are obviously more enjoyable when spent with your loved ones! You can let go of all pressure to get to know new people or stress from being around people you don’t know
Pro: Private transportation
With a private tour group, you can also rely more on private transportation to get you around. While large tour groups may end up on large buses and other services, small private tour groups often get around by private car or minibus. The smaller size of these tourism vehicles are great at offering travelers more flexibility. While a large tour bus has difficulties fitting down smaller streets or roads, your private transportation should have no problem. The small nature of your group makes it easy to see more intimate places and little known corners of the world. Your personal driver and guide will take you where you would like to go, to what you would personally like to see! There will not be any limitations because of your tour group or vehicle size.
Pro: Special assistance
Private tours are also useful for those who need some extra assistance. This might include older relatives, those with small children, or travelers with mobility or medical concerns. If there is something that’s making you hesitate on traveling abroad, there is a good chance that a private tour can accommodate you! From years of experience with clients with a variety of needs, private tour groups are often well versed in working around the needs of their clients. Service is individualized and the experience of the customer comes first.
Con: Cost (sometimes)
As for the cons to private tours, such tours do traditionally cost more money. However, because you are planning the vacation you want, you aren’t wasting money on things you don’t want to do or see. If you don’t want to stay in a luxury resort, for example, you don’t have to. If you aren’t interested in a guided tour of a specific site or city, you don’t have to. That’s more money for you to take part in the range of activities that you do want! Since you work with your representative to plan the exact vacation you want, you know exactly what you are getting and exactly what you are paying for. The power is in your hands to create the experience you’re dreaming of. Overall this works together to make a more meaningful vacation for you, to remember for a lifetime.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
At the end of the day, your trip is up to you! Your decision should be based on what will work best for you and whoever you are traveling with. Consider all of the different factors. Weigh the pros and cons of each. Think about what your travel goals are. What is most important to you as you travel? Sometimes the choice is more dependent on your location. Look into the logistics of where you are going to be traveling and what you would like to see. Do some research and see what you discover!