When travelling overland you’re sometimes faced with the decision between exploring all by yourself or taking a guided tour from someone who knows the area, the best way of getting around and the most interesting information. In essence, that’s the difference between a tour vs independent holidays and it’s up to personal preference which one suits you and your destination the best.
Of course, each style has its advantages. Guided tours are far more convenient and there is some accountability if things don’t quite live up to your expectations. Plus you can guarantee you’ll see everything you want to on your trip, and have the time to do it. Independent travel offers freedom, of both movement and choice. However, if it goes wrong, you’ve got no one else to blame.
Essentially, the choice between the two types of holiday very much depends on two factors. Firstly, it depends on what kind of person you are – and bear in mind that this can change throughout your life and is not set in stone. And secondly, it’s what kind of holiday you’re looking for. Assessing these accurately before you go can help you to decide exactly what kind of travel you should arrange.
Tour vs independent: personal choice
If you’re an adventure loving, rough and ready type that loves exploring and discovering new places, the regimented structure of a guided tour might be too restrictive for you. If the thought of pre-selected hotel packages, bus schedules and guides telling you their version rather than you finding out doesn’t appeal, then a guided tour or holiday package might not be for you.
However, guided tours often have the best and most convenient access to landmarks and accommodation. Turn up in a town with nothing booked and you might find your choices are somewhat limited. Go independent travelling at the wrong time of year and you might end up staying in some godforsaken, roach-infested hellhole (which is exactly what some people are looking for, of course).
One main point to bear in mind is that while self-directed travel sometimes means you stumble across incredible sites and make magnificent discoveries, this is far from guaranteed. Often it is the case that it’s only a guide who truly knows the destination and can show you the very best a place has to offer. Also some guided tours take you to very hard to reach places that perhaps you would not get to see on your own.
Tour vs independent: holiday types
Even the most adventurous types enjoy a break now and then. There aren’t many feelings in the world like navigating your own way through East Africa or South America, catching death defying buses and meeting incredibly warm locals. But kicking back at the end of the day on a planned tour on a white sandy beach, with a cocktail in hand is far more relaxing then looking for accommodation or even worse still being on a bus.
Likewise, if you’ve spent the last few years being babysat by an over-attentive tour guide, the idea of getting out and experiencing a real adventure on your own might be very appealing. We all enjoy a change every now and then, and what better time to do it than when you’re away?
Tour vs independent: time
One of the major advantages of going on a tour is time. When you have a planned itinerary, organised travel and you don’t have to spend countless hours waiting for connections, then suddenly this frees up much more time for enjoying yourself. If you’re taking a year out to explore South America, time might not be of the essence. But on smaller overland trips, a guided tour helps you to maximise your quality time away.
Choosing the right kind of break for you essentially involves striking the right balance between the kind of trip you like, and the kind of trip you need. Ask yourself both those questions and you should come up with the right answer. Both kinds of holiday have the plus and minus points, all you have to do is a simple equation.