'I've never done a group trip before...is it really for me?'
I was talking to a new member of our community of travellers here at Wheel & Anchor recently and our conversation took a fascinating turn as we got into the subject of group travel and who it's really for.
No question - it's not for everyone. Many travellers fit the independent adventurer mold and want to do all of the planning and free-wheeling exploring on their own (I've done a lot of that myself, and it can be fun!).
But just because you've never travelled with a group before doesn't mean it 'isn't for you' - it very well may be something you love but didn't know it yet! Sometimes it's just a matter of going on the right kind of trip with the right kind of people.
Appreciating that going on your first group trip is a bit of a leap of faith, I made a short video this week discussing some of the pros and cons of group travel:
The Pros & Cons of Group Travel
There are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to travel — and one of them is whether it’s smarter to travel with a group, with a partner, or with yourself. Group travel has its merits, which make it a very attractive option for many prospective vacationers — even for first-timers.
What is group travel?
In the context of commercial tourism, group travel often involves a group of strangers coming together on a common trip itinerary via one tour company. It’s an excellent way to network, manage costs, and still experience what the world has to offer.
Nothing in life is perfect, however, and group travel comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. Here are some common pros and cons of group travel:
What are the pros of group travel?
No planning, just enjoying
With group travel, you can just lay back and go with the flow. Touring with like-minded people is a great way to live in the moment, as you won’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty. There’ll be more discovery of what a country has to offer in terms of food, culture, and experiences, and none of figuring out how much to tip and which areas are senior-friendly.
Reputable tour companies have the ability to provide a memorable experience for all sorts of people. At Wheel & Anchor, for instance, we put a premium on bringing together travellers with similar tastes. This way, all of our trips are memorable all throughout.
Experiences you might not be able to have alone
Solo travel is in many ways as therapeutic as advertised, but many trips simply can’t be done alone. Some things just are much better shared. With group travel, you’ll be able to share a meal, ask a groupmate for a photo against a scenic landscape, and more.
Safety in numbers
Not every city is postcard perfect. You can always run into trouble, such as pickpockets, poorly disciplined drivers, and the like. Many travellers sometimes run the risk of having an encounter with unsavory elements such as those listed above, but being part of a bigger group may help lower that risk.
Travelling with a group means you’ll have extra sets of eyes and ears watching your back, helping to protect yourself and your belongings. Needless to say, that is also something your travel companions will expect of you. Being in big groups also makes it harder for attackers to corner one prey and harm or mug them.
People to talk to and make experiences with
The most successful group tour companies are those that are led by charismatic and knowledgeable guides who are able to gather a group of strangers and create a memorable and enjoyable experience for them. A sense of togetherness is often fostered among members of these kinds of tour groups, and it’s also a great way to make new acquaintances and even develop friendships.
It pays if your tour company primarily caters to certain demographics, as it will give you the best chance to be grouped with persons of similar tastes and characteristics.
Rely on expert advice
Reputable group tour companies like Wheel & Anchor are passionate about your overall experience. We’ve gone lengths to ensure that we know each tour location and itinerary like the back of our hands. This expert perspective sets our group trips above the crowd.
Expert advice pays off when it matters the most. From keeping with the local customs to finding lesser-known gems off the beaten path, our seasoned travel guides and tour developers will make sure that your trip is enjoyable, safe, and one of a kind.
What are the cons of group travel?
Less flexibility with schedules
Tours are usually predefined long before the actual trip, so don’t expect a lot of leeway in terms of departure times, destinations, and the like. Tour companies often reserve the right to make changes midway, particularly for safety reasons, but the vacationers themselves rarely get to decide on those changes. This is how tour prices are kept competitive.
Many regular tours don’t allow free time
Unsurprisingly, many group tours rely heavily on tourist traps for their activity lineups. Many tour companies try to cram as many of these target destinations into an itinerary so that their customers can experience as much a country has to offer as they can. The problem with this is that between distance, traffic, and many other variables in between, there’s rarely any free time left for tourists to have to themselves.
Here at Wheel & Anchor, we intentionally plan our trips with balance in mind — which is why our tours always have room for “me” time.
Consider your own personality and interests when deciding on travelling with a group, but also, don’t forget to check on the tour provider’s reputation and track record. For instance, Wheel & Anchor is known for the quality and level of curation of the experiences we provide.
We also limit our tour group sizes, moderately pace our itineraries, and make sure that our guides have intimate knowledge of the destinations. Why not try one of our shorter weekend tours in Panama and the Azores to see what it’s all about?
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