Interesting online discussion: Group Tours – are they worth it??? – Italy Forum – Tripadvisor
Pros people mention:
- Planning is outsourced to the tour operator, simplifying things for you
- Simplifies travel – all you do is buy your airfare and show up
- Good tour operators have skilled guides that share much information
- Coordinates access and transportation to attractions and events
- Can provide opportunities for new friendships
- Handles and coordinates intercity transportation (charter bus, trains, etc)
- If things go wrong, a good tour company takes charge of the situation and fixes things for you
- You have to travel with a group. If you are an introvert or not very socialable, this can add stress.
- Costs are higher than when traveling on your own. My preliminary assessment is group travel can run 50% to 100% more. On the other hand, some obtain group discounts that lower some costs too.
- Time at attractions may limit what you get to do, especially if you wish to stay longer. Some groups will include “free time” where you can be on your own.
- Many meals are “planned” at specific hotels or restaurants, giving you less flexibility.
- You may have less interaction with the local community.
What I am Thinking
I have been working to plan my own, first international trip, on my own. However, I suffer from anxiety thanks to multiple past brain injuries. Under normal travel circumstances, doing this for a first time – totally unsupported – no experience, no skills, no family or friends at the destination, no professional colleagues or work contacts either – is tough enough.
I’ve been doing tons of travel reading and learning a couple of languages too!
But in the midst of an on-going pandemic and the potential start of World War III, I am now reconsidering this. I have been on organized trips twice before – once as an adult accompanying a high school marching band that performed in a parade in Washington, DC, and once on an Alaska trip – we were invited by an elderly family member. The DC trip was poorly executed by the “educational tour” company – so bad they were blacklisted by the school district. That was not a good experience. The trip to Alaska was a good experience, the family time was excellent, and our tour host was outstanding. But the group tour, I felt, was not my thing for many reasons including we were the youngest couple in the group (all others were much older but very nice people), we are both introverts, and time limitations at many points.
Because of that, I would prefer to do my first trip by myself.
However, with the world in disarray, I am rethinking this conclusion.
In order to travel sooner, rather than later in the midst of chaos it would be simpler for me to outsource the details to an experienced travel company.
Also, my timing (due to other obligations) is that my long delayed first trip is out to the winter of 2022/2023 at the earliest. To make that happen, the simplest thing may be for me to sign on to a tour – let them do the planning and coordination. And if disaster strikes, I’ve got their backup to fix things. This is not my ideal way to travel but it would help me build some skills and familiarity in an easy way.
For my second group, possibly use a travel planner (formerly known as travel agent) to set things up for me. But then travel by myself or with my wife.
And then make my third trip on my own once I’ve had a bit more experience and knowledge about how to do this.
I have read many people, even experts, who say, just plan a trip and do it. It’s nothing. All of these people are experienced travelers! They likely traveled abroad as kids and do not recognize how much they know because they grew up with travel. Some who’ve said this, I’ve seen, also did study abroad in college. Literally, they had “hand holding” from others throughout their learning process! I have zero support.
 I have a daughter who traveled to Peru in March of 2020 -arriving about one day before Peru announced it was closing its borders in 3 days, stranding foreigners in Peru. She was with an organized group and the organizer got everyone out right away. My daughter left Peru on just about the last flight (literally less than 2 hours before closure). She appreciated that they took care of this. On another trip she took, her luggage was missing upon arrival. The travel coordinator took care of everything, and she was re-united with her luggage a few days later.