When planning a trip there are a million things to think about. Like are you the kind of person who books a group tour or are you a solo traveller planning your own way.
There are pros and cons for every means of travel, the important thing is to find what’s right for you.
Less Planning More Travelling
Planning for a trip can be exciting, but it can also be exhausting. More than just picking where you want to go and what you want to see, you also have to organise accommodation, transport, insurance and visas- and that’s only the beginning!
Arguably the best part of a group tour is that a big part of the research and organization has been done for you. This also goes beyond just bookings. If you’re travelling to a country for the first time it seems unlikely that your knowledge of the destination will rival that of a tour guide or company. They’ll have you living like a local wherever you go, lunching at the best eats, avoiding the tourists traps and getting around with ease… it’s their job.
Travel Buddy Benefits
With all the big things planned and paid for before you leave surprise expenses can be kept to a minimum. Making it easier to stay within your travel budget. Travelling with a group also means you will have fast friends to borrow things from should you find yourself in need. But, travelling as a group has greater benefits than just free toothpaste when you run out!
It’s a far safer way to travel, you are much less likely to be targeted by unsavoury characters as a group. Your guide will also have experience avoiding sketchy areas and steering you all clear of unsafe situations.
No more selfies. On a group tour you will never be short a hand to take a quick picture of you (and your new friends) in front of an incredible view.
The friends you make while travelling will likely be your friends for life. It’s difficult to go through scary, exciting or testing times with someone and not come out the other end closer for it.
Clash of the Companions
Travelling with a group of strangers comes with its own challenges as personalities are bound to clash. However, on a group tour you are bound to find like-minded people from all over the world who are just as eager to have a great adventure and avoid drama as you are.
Flexible Tour Options
What seems to scare people away from a group tour is how inflexible they are perceived to be. Tour companies have been hearing this for years and have changed accordingly. Nowadays trips include more free time to explore on your own. Otherwise Bamba offers flexible tour options for solo travellers who don’t travel well on a strict timeline. With tailor-made trips and hop-on-hop-off passes, make sure you get the most out of your trip on a timeline that’s as flexible as you are.
Travel your way
Your schedule is yours. You want to spend the whole day in the hostel napping, go for it. You want to catch that midnight train to a random festival in Greece, book that ticket! You get the point, when you travel solo your time is yours.
Although there’s freedom in making your own travel plans, you are also the only one to blame when things take a turn for the worst. And when things do go wrong it will also be you and you alone, who solves the problem.
Only those who spend their vacations locked up in hotel rooms watching Friends re-runs are immune to the personal development that takes place while travelling.
You will find yourself able to accomplish things you never imagined. You will learn what things you can and cannot live without. You’ll find your new favourite food and have long hours in transit to think about life.
Together and Alone
Rarely in life do we have the personal space and freedom that comes with travelling solo. One day you may be all about making friends, the next you may spend atop a mountain on your own.
However, very few of us travel solo just for the experience of truly being alone. Most solo adventurers are on the hunt for fellow travellers to split a taxi fare or pizza with. You will find them, and they will find you along the way.
The friends you make while travelling alone will also be friends you have found and chosen to spend your time with. Friends who will stay friends long after you part ways.
Remember though, everyone is on their own journey and although you are likely to remain friends for life, you are not likely to remain on the same travel path for very long. Sad goodbyes along the way are inevitable.
These goodbyes, long hours spent alone and yearnings for comforts and people from back home can lead to some pretty lonely low points when travelling on our own.
We all have ways to combat these low points, a Skype call home, comfort food or just treating yourself to a facial or foot rub.
Any of these “make yourself feel better” treats could end up an expense that you haven’t budgeted for. As you travel you will see that these little extra unplanned costs add up quickly.
Effectively budgeting for an overseas trip when travelling solo is a difficult task. If possible, try and have a reserve kitty for when this happens, or at the very least make sure you have enough money to make it home.
Money is not the only thing you need to make sure you have enough of when travelling solo. It can be uncomfortable to ask strangers in a hostel bathroom if you can borrow their shampoo or toothpaste. It can be even more uncomfortable to be caught out without essential healthcare products and no 24-hour pharmacies around.
Tour companies will require you to get travel insurance before you get on the plane, but when you travel alone remembering to book it is on you. It may seem like an unnecessary cost as many of us think we are invincible, but neglecting to get travel insurance can mean the end of your trip and the end of your savings. Of all the unexpected costs you may come across medical bills and stolen objects will be the most expensive. So make sure you are fully covered for everywhere you go, before you leave.
There is no way to prepare for all possible outcomes, shy of packing your entire house in a suitcase, but if you dedicate the time to planning before your solo trip it can flow just as smoothly as a group tour.
There will never be a perfect “right” way to travel but this also means that there is no “wrong” way either. Whatever you decide, making the decision to travel in the first place is the important choice. Do it one way or do it the other. Just make sure you do it.
So are you a solo traveller or all about those group tours? Let us know in the comments below!