There’s a reason why people “wax poetic” about travel. A quick search on the Internet for “travel quotes” would provide you with enough inspiration to want to pack a bag and leave tomorrow. As someone with a personal case of wanderlust, I can empathize with those who suffer the same symptoms as I do: constantly daydreaming about trips to bucket list destinations (and on a related note, a travel bucket list that never shortens but always grows); a web browser with a “Favourites” list that reads like a travel manual – flight search engines, hostel websites, “The Top 10 Things To Do In (insert city name here) articles; an obsession with maps, country guides, and travel memoirs; the need to acquire additional bookshelves to accommodate said guides and memoirs. At one point an entire wall in my bedroom slowly became covered in maps of places I was determined to visit, and eventually looked like what could have been a display for a Tourism Board.
Let’s just say, I love to travel and can relate to others who share this passion.
The past few years have seen me take a variety of different styles of trips. I travelled from Toronto to Vancouver by myself on the train, then joined a small group tour through the Rockies; I flew to Spain with the intention of hiking a historic route through its northern regions on my own, but ended up befriending a small group of women who became my sisters on the journey; last spring I backpacked through Eastern Europe with two close friends, and that summer saw me road-tripping it to Newfoundland. This Fall, I’ll be discovering Scotland while on a group tour, followed by a week of solo travel to visit areas in the country that are important to my family’s history.
I’ve travelled with groups of strangers, small groups of friends, a significant other, and with no one but myself. I’ve felt both utterly alone and lost in a foreign city, and completely nurtured by companionship. After experiencing these different travel styles myself, I have to admit that I’ve become a fan of group travel. Here’s why:
You get to travel with people from around the globe.
Trips offered by tour companies can usually be booked by anyone around the world. Because of this you not only get to visit new destinations, but you eventually end up learning about the various cities and countries that your travel mates are from. An added bonus of this is the creation of an international network of friends.
If you’re an inexperienced traveler, it’s a good way to introduce yourself to the world.
If you’ve never travelled before, or have only travelled with family, group travel is an awesome way to get your feet wet. It’s also a great option for those who aren’t comfortable with travelling solo. You can feel confident in knowing that you have a point of contact throughout every leg of the journey, and most times your group leader will be a local, so you can experience your destination from a more personal perspective.
Stress-free trip planning.
You don’t have to fuss over building an itinerary, or booking accommodation, or having to know the difference between an express train and a local train (or having to worry about transportation at all for that matter). All you need to consider is your overall budget, what countries you’d like to visit, how many days you can spend away from home, and what style of trip you’d like (active, full of adventure vs. leisurely paced, etc.) Depending on your budget, you can even choose your accommodation style: camping, hostels, cabins, hotels, or even private chalets in the Swiss Alps. Tour companies take care of every detail so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
You don’t have to worry about unexpected costs.
The price you pay covers accommodation, transportation while travelling, and most meals. Meals that are included take place with your trip mates, but you also get the option of venturing out on your own and discovering local restaurants for the meals that are not covered. Aside from international flights to/from your trip departure point, travel insurance, and spending money, you’re covered. Group travel lets you enjoy your trip without having to worry your money.
Group travel can be more affordable.
I previously mentioned a backpacking trip I did last year through Eastern Europe. We visited Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. I flew into Berlin and out of Amsterdam and we travelled around by train, staying in hostels along the way. Adding together my flights, rail pass, accommodation, travel insurance, food costs, admission fees and spending money, I easily spent around $3,500 for a ten day trip. I’ve since found some group trips with similar itineraries that cost much less. Plus, that trip took months of detailed planning that often had to be put on hold because it was stress-inducing.
You still have options.
Some of the biggest misconceptions about group travel is that you’re basically stuck with a group of strangers for every moment of the day, or that you’ll end up on the same tour with people you won’t get along with. I’d like to personally interject here to remind anyone with these thoughts that there’s a reason why people end up on the same tour – because they were all interested in the itinerary. Group travel gathers together like-minded people with similar interests. If you do feel like you need some alone time, however, tours normally provide ample “free time”. So if you need to get away from the group for a bit, you have the option to.
You don’t have to stick to one travel style.
Got time? Why not go on a group tour and follow it up with some solo travelling? You can also look into short stay options for your pre/post-departure cities. You’re not confined to one trip style; why not experience it all?
Ashley Macnie is the Student Product Manager for travelcuts. She is an avid traveller, a budding writer, and a music junkie living in Toronto, Canada. She’s been travelling since she was a toddler, having been to the UK, Europe, South America, Central America, the Caribbean and throughout North America. Her biggest travel bucket list items are hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, standing in front of ancient moai on Easter Island, and spending time on a tall ship like Captain James Cook in the South Pacific.