Travel

5 Things People Got Wrong About Joining Tours

I agree that when we arrange our own trip, we’ll have total freedom. However, what’s bugging me is when some people think they’re better travellers because they arrange their own trips.

It’s like the traveller snobs. Perhaps they forget to check the dictionary that “tourist” is the synonym of “traveller” 😉

Amigos siempre!

I have some reasons to arrange a private tour or join a tour, but the strongest reason is to help me attain the tourist visas. That’s how I got my very first Schengen Visa, even though I was in a complicated situation.

This article isn’t about boosting the benefit of joining a tour, just an honest opinion from someone who often travel with group tours. Hopefully, it gives you more insight about travelling in a group.

Myth: Tour Has Packed and Rushing Itinerary

Truth: Overseas Tour Operators Give More “Me Time”

I’ll go wherever I want… including the famous Copenhagen’s weed market, Christiania!

Not having freedom is the #1 fear for most people. I agree, if you join a tour you won’t have as much freedom as travelling alone.

BUT, I realise there’s a difference between tour operators from Asia and tour operators from overseas (UK, US, etc). After comparing the itineraries, it’s clear that overseas tour operators give you more “me time” than the local ones.

Robert’s dream is to see the crab migration in Cuba, so why not? Bamos!

I joined the same UK tour operator for my Italy, Northern Europe and Spain + Portugal trips. During those trips, I had plenty of free time and didn’t feel rushed at all.

For example, I had a few of one free day(s) to do whatever I wanted in the city. One free-day to discover Cinque Terre, Italy, I admit is a bit rushing. Meanwhile, 3 ½ free days in St. Petersburg is surely enough?

Each of us is given one-day free pass train ticket to explore the colourful five towns by ourselves 

What’s better, they often give you a city orientation for about 1-2 hour then let you roam the city by yourself. It’s like experiencing half group tour, half solo trip – minus the headache of arranging everything yourself!

Myth: You Can’t Choose Your Own Food

Truth: Overseas Tour Operators Give More Freedom in Dining Options

So many free time you may complete your gelato bucket list when in Italy!

While you can’t choose where you’ll be staying, but overseas tour operators give you more freedom to choose where to eat. Breakfast is mostly included, plus a few lunches or dinners.

On the other hand, most tour packages by tour operators in Asia are including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sure, you can skip if you want but you’ll feel like wasting your money since the meals are already included.

I have ample time to get lost and find Lappi, famous for their reindeer meat (Helsinki, Finland)
Love its rustic interior design!
Thank you, it looks beautiful but I still prefer beef

Also, usually after the meal you have to go to another destination, makes it an inconvenience to split from the tour group just to find your favourite dining place.

Myth: Extra Cost When Travelling Solo

Truth: You Don’t Always Have to Pay Single Supplement When Travelling Solo

My favourite hotel room in Chefchaouen, Morocco

The most painful part of travelling solo but joining a tour is when you have to pay for a single supplement fee, just because the price is meant for two people. The good thing is, you don’t always have to pay that fee!

Many overseas tour operators waive this fee as they will find a roommate with the same gender for you. The downside, you’ll never know if you’ll click with your stranger-roomie. If you don’t, keep calm until the last day of the trip!

What if there’s no other solo traveller to share a room with me? Then the room is all yours!

For Malaysian tour operators, you can inform your tour agent that you want to share a room with someone from the same gender. If there’s another solo traveller who wants to share a room with you, then both of you don’t have to pay additional fee.

Myth: Joining a Tour is More Expensive Than Travelling Solo

Truth: Some Tours May Help You Save Time and Money

So you want to hitchhike in Morocco? Good luck!

It really depends on the destination you’re eyeing, how long you’ll be there and your chosen tour operator.

For example, my 10D7N Morocco tour in December 2015 cost me around RM10,000 all-in (including 5-star hotels, flight, meals, local tour guide, driver, bus, entrance fees).

If I go by myself, the cheapest flight ticket alone almost cost me RM4,000. The locals there don’t really speak English (outside of big cities) and must-visited places are located far far away.

The best time to visit Morocco is September – December

I really wanted to see the Sahara Desert, so I joined the tour without thinking twice. Saved me time and headache.

Another example is my friend who travelled to India with her mother. She told me her biggest spending was the flight ticket. After I compared her spending and length of stay with a tour package, she spent almost the same cost.

The Sahara Desert

If she joined a tour, she would stay in much better hotels, eat better food and visited more places. But of course, she had total freedom.

To me personally, when it comes to certain destinations, especially those without easy transportation access, good hygiene, women-friendly and English-speaking people, joining a tour is a better option.

Subjective: Learning History is More Interesting on the Spot

Camillo our tour guide in Cuba said the statue is based on real people.
The man always come to the town carrying jars of water

Everyone has his own idea of travelling. To me, I won’t leave a place without knowing the history, fun facts or gossip about the place I’m visiting.

In this digital era, you can find all information about your destination online, but how many of you read them thoroughly? Do you prefer to learn it in textbook style or learn it on the spot?

As a visual learner, I find it more interesting when the tour guide tells me history about something while pointing at the actual thing (like statue, painting).

There’s a reason why the trunk of the elephant is pointing to that direction

Giving me directions on the spot is also more helpful, makes it easier for me to remember where to go and read a manual map. Yes, finally I can read a manual map!

One of many destinations where you’ll miss out the big picture if you don’t engage a local tour guide or join a group tour in Cuba. The country is full of history and interesting culture (hello Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Martha Jimenez!).

Visiting Che Guevara’s tomb

It’ll be a waste if you travel there just to snap beautiful photos without learning anything.

Alright friends, those are five things that people got wrong about group tour, according to my personal opinion.

Perhaps one day when I have a partner who loves travelling as much as I do, I’ll skip tour and travel together with him hehe…

Is there anything that you want to add? Just comment below 😉

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