Thinking of going on a group tour?
Well hopefully this should help you decide! I for one am all for group tours, I have been on two; I have been on a Topdeck tour and an Australian Comic/TV/SciFi convention company who decided to open tour to America. But these tours are really a personal choice. Here is a list of reasons why you should or why you shouldn’t go on group tours;
Why you should:
- Cheap!: Group tours are cheap! Well depends on which kind of group tour you go on, but generally they are, like if you go with Contiki or Topdeck, you will find these very reasonable price. They also do early bird deals as well if you book in advance, my USA Topdeck only cost AUD$2,550 (something like that) and that had a lot of inclusions which I will go onto in the next dot point.
- Inclusions: If you notice when having a look at group tours, they include your accommodation, some food, transportation and some activities. This can make it a bit more relaxing, you don’t need to organise where to stay and what to do and how long you should stay. They will have the accommodation that they book with regularly and transport is sorted, you usually will just be in a bus.
- Touring by bus: It can be a bit annoying having to go by bus instead of just jumping on a plane, but I find going by bus creates a new adventure! I saw so much of the states I travelled around in America because of going by bus. You get to chat with your friends and newly made friends, movies on the bus, sleeping on the bus, sightseeing, not having to worry about driving and not needing to go through customs (depending where you are travelling, e.g. North America to Mexico). Also, no extra cost on planes or hiring a car, it’s all part of the price you paid for the tour group you chose.
- A Taste of Everything: I was once told that going on these tours is like eating a dessert sampler, you don’t just get one thing, you get to try different desserts, if you don’t like something, you don’t have to have it again. With a tour, you won’t spend a lot of time in one place, if you are lucky, the longest you will stay somewhere is 3 days. But usually, you will only get one – two days in one place. But that’s what is great about it! It will make you want to go back and visit in the future! You know the feel of the place and know for sure if you would like to spend more time there or not. If you didn’t like a place, at least it was only for a short stay and you know you will not ever go back there! But at least you tried it.
- Sharing a room with someone: It can be scary at first, sharing with a complete stranger, but they will put you in a room with someone of the same gender. Unless you go with a friend or partner, then you don’t have to worry about it. But you get to make new friends that way! I had to share a room with a stranger, it was fun, we got to know each other and we shared similar interest, this trip was with Hub Productions, the Australian Convention Company. My second group tour I got to room with my friend Danielle, that was great, we learnt more about each other as well, but we looked out for one another, like setting the alarm and making sure to get up if we slept through it! You will make friends with your room mate if you get someone you don’t know and it will make the trip more fun.
- Personality and Interests: Going on these trips are scary, I am not going to lie. I was terrified of my first tour, which was with the Hub Productions one because I didn’t know who they were. I am an introvert with anxiety who just wanted to be liked. But this tour and the Topdeck tour really brought me out of my shell. Still scared and shy to meet new people, but I will make an effort to say at least hello to people now. I found people who I have befriended with similar interests to me and have even hung out with them when we were back in Australia. I wouldn’t give up my experience for anything in the world.
- Tour Guide: When going on these group trips, you are designated a tour guide (unless it is a company who do not specialise in travelling trips, the Hub one was a free roam which was very different, but more freeing in a good way), this is standard, you will get one whether you like it or not, but tour guides are great! They will look after you; tell you fun and interesting facts on each place you visit. I had a wonderful tour guide on my Topdeck tour around America who loved History, he shared so many wonderful stories of each place we visited, and it was a great learning experience and a better understanding of the towns instead of just seeing it as a stopover. They will also give you some recommendations on what to do on your free days, which is great if you didn’t know what you wanted to do while you were at that town.
Why you shouldn’t:
- You don’t see everything: It’s true, you don’t get to see everything, and you don’t have enough time to see everything. You go to one place and you try to rush as much as you can or you say “I wish I did/seen that, instead of this/that”. And who knows when the next time you will go back to that place to even get the chance?
- Sharing a room with someone: Sure you may get along with that person at first whether it’s a friend or a fellow group person, but what if you’re personality clashes and you have a big fight, it will make things awkward. This happened to me on my Hub tour, we were great, but then we got in a fight, I am just glad this was at the end of the tour, in the last city. Never spoke to her again, but lucky it was at the end, it would have been very awkward if it was at the beginning or in the middle of the trip.
- Touring by bus: My friend gets car sick, so she hogged the window seat which I was happy with, but it would have been bad if we both got car sick. You will have to endure hours of sitting on a bus, no choice in what movie you want to watch and not everyone can sleep on a bus. At least you get a break at gas stations, but some are not pleasant.
To be honest, that’s all I can think of at the moment of negatives about doing group tours; I loved it too much to say anything negative. I have had some negative experiences, but the positive outweighed the negative. You will experience your ups and downs with the people, if you’re lucky you won’t, but being together 24/7 and being sleepy can cause some friction, but you just have to roll with the punches and make the best of your experience. I would say, if you are shy and scared, but you do want to meet new people, and then go for it I say, in the end, it is you who will be experiencing everything, so choose if you want a positive experience or a negative experience.