Group Tours vs Independent Travel: Which one is right for you?

There are good and bad tour companies. Here is our guide on what to look for when picking a tour company.

Tour companies are usually associated with big buses, Bermuda shorts, and camera clicking tourist. But most tour companies are not like that at all. Tours can help people adjust to the travel lifestyle and break out of their comfort zone.

Like all businesses, there are good and bad tour companies. The bad ones don’t pay guides well, destroy the environment, don’t help the local economy, and only take you from one place to another for photos.

There are also some amazing tour companies, and today we will help you find them.

Here are what to look for when picking a tour company

Group Tours vs Independent Travel

Check the company’s reputation

Find out the truth before you book. Things might not always be what they claim. One unsatisfied customer does not mean the company should be avoided. But if there is a pattern, you might want to be more careful.

Look at the price

Find out how the money you are spending to see if you are getting the best value. Is your money funding local businesses, activities, and guides? Or company overheads?
Ask if there are fees to pay on arrival or attractions along the way. These costs can make a cheap tour become expensive.

Learn about the guides

Guides can make or break your holiday as they are with you throughout the trip. Make sure the tour company uses knowledgeable local guides. Those that knows the local language with travel knowledge and life-saving techniques.

What’s the environmental impact?

Choose a tour company that supports ecotourism. This means avoiding big buses and large resorts. It also means staying in places that looks after the environment and conserve energy. We want to only leave behind footprints and not waste. Make sure we are not destroying the places we came to see.

Find out your group size

Larger group size means higher chance of environment impact. Larger buses or ships means more resources are being used. Tour companies with smaller groups then to be more mindful of the environment. They also tend to be more personal.

Follow the money

Check the providers that the tour company use. Are they using local companies? Are you staying at locally owned hotels and using other local services? A good tour company supports and keeps the money local.

If you choose to take a larger, multiweek tour, our favorite is Trafalgar. Their tour programs include local experts and operators. Their unique Be My Guest experience includes visit to a host and dining with the locals.

Trafalgar also partnered with One Tree Planted organization. One tree will be planted for every guest who uses e-Documents. In 2020, Trafalgar chose to plant trees in Australia after being damaged by bushfires.

For the budget conscious, Trafalgar offers a sub-brand named Costsaver. The free and easy tours include a half day sightseeing and free time, which guests can explore the city on their own.

For youth tours, our go-to company is Contiki. They offer in-depth history, food, and cultural tours in cities around the world. Their tours offer exclusive behind the scenes access other companies can’t get.

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