I recently went on my first ever organised tour with Travel Talk Tours to Egypt. Up until then I had always travelled independently and only done tours in places you really need to do one, which I had booked once I was in the destination, e.g Fraser Island in Australia, 4×4 trip in Bolivia, Amazon Rainforest tour in Ecuador.
This was the first time I had looked up a trips online, chose the trip I wanted to do by the itinerary, arrived in the country to be greeted by a representative from the company, spent the whole trip with the company and then left saying goodbye to them.
Therefore I wanted to share my experience in doing this organised tour because like with everything in life there were pro’s and con’s of travelling this way (just like there are pro’s and con’s of travelling independently) and I think the pro’s and con’s I experienced are likely to be general ones that everyone will experience and will need to consider before booking an organised trip so here goes:
Not being alone.
- The biggest pro of being on an organised tour is being in a group. I know a lot of people are worried about travelling solo and not meeting anyone or just like being around people so this is a huge advantage of going on a tour, even if you go solo you won’t be solo.
No time spent planning.
- I am a planner and I enjoy planning trips however life can get very busy and planning trips can take up a lot of time so I did love that all I had to do for this trip was book it, book my flights and that was it. I didn’t need to think about doing anything else until it came to packing just before I left. If you don’t like planning, haven’t had much experience planning a trip or haven’t got the time, then organised tours are great because you won’t need to spend ages researching things to do, accommodation, how to get from one place or another etc etc.
Having a tour guide.
- Having a tour guide who is with you for the whole trip to explain what you’re seeing and to ask questions about the country to is such a huge plus! There have been so many times when I’ve travelled to somewhere interesting on my own and had lots of questions but no one to ask. I also love that Travel Talk Tours employ local guides as not only is it supporting the local economy even further and providing jobs it means you get local knowledge and opinions, so always consider this when booking tours.
Being able to budget easier.
- Because you would have pre-paid for your tour which will include accommodation, transport and normally some meals the only extra things you’ll need to spend money on are the rest of your meals, entrance fees, extra activities and shopping. Travel Talk Tours have pre departure files for each of their trips which advise you how much you’ll need to spend on these things (except shopping as that’s your choice) so it will make it so much easier to budget and know how much you’ll need and how much the whole trip will cost in total.
- Looking back, this pro was probably one of the main reasons I loved being on an organised tour. Although I love travelling on my own I get really anxious when it comes to travelling from place to place, having to get a bus to then get on a train in a country where you don’t know the language can be daunting and stressful and I get worried that I’ll miss by train, bus, flight etc (although I never have so I don’t know why I worry so much) however on a tour you do not need to worry about any of this at all! It’s all pre organised and if there is any worry about timings this is for the guide to worry about, not you!
Seeing a lot in a short amount of time.
- We saw so much in Egypt in 7 days and most tours fit in a lot in a short amount of time and it’s do-able on a tour because as I’ve said above you don’t need to organise anything yourself. Often if you travel independently you have to spend time out of your day booking tickets and accommodation in your next place, giving yourself extra time to find the train station and your accommodation etc which takes away from the sightseeing whereas on a tour all of this has been taken care of so you have the time to see more in a shorter time period.
Peace of mind on safety.
- Egypt is unfortunately one of those countries where safety is questioned, a few people asked if it was safe to visit and to be honest I had no idea of the real situation in the country, however the way I looked at it was that if Travel Talk Tours, a big company with a great reputation are still hosting tours there then it must be fine, and of course it was! This could apply to a few countries that you might do tours around especially in the Middle East, Africa or Asia and I know people who have parents that seem to be scared of every slightly-lesser-known country so if you book on a tour, you and those around you can have peace of mind that if the tour company is running the tour then it’s safe to do so.
Someone to ask questions to.
- Question about visas? Questions about money? Questions about anything else? You have someone to ask these questions to before you leave rather than having to search google which is really helpful!
More expensive than independent travel.
- Honestly, the main reason I had never done an organised tour before is because of the price. I’ve always looked at tours and thought ‘but I’m sure I could visit that country myself so much cheaper’ and once I’ve researched hostel prices, transport prices etc I’ve realised that yes I can and I have. However saying that, after doing a tour with Travel Talk Tours I’ve realised what you get in return for that extra cost (aka all of the above ‘pro’ points).
Not being able to plan.
- This is a pro but it’s also a con for me (we can never be happy with life right?!) because I do really enjoy the planning stages of a trip, I love researching places and getting excited about where I’m going, whereas with Egypt when people asked me where I was going I had no idea and the people who knew me knew it was strange that I didn’t have it all planned out (although the itinerary is online so technically I could have looked again to see where I was going but I was just enjoying being care and stress free for once).
No alone time.
- I am quite an introverted person sometimes and like to have some time alone in my day, because you are constantly surrounded by people on an organised tour with not much down time alone time can make this hard. Although my roomie was my friend and I got on with everyone else on the tour so it wasn’t a bad thing being surrounded by these people.
Having a good group is key.
- Like I said, I was very lucky with my tour group but I can imagine people go on tours and unfortunately not get on with the people they are with. This is probably due to age, where they’re from and their travel style. Although you can’t pick your exact group there are ways of making sure you’re with people more like you by picking the right company. For example, Travel Talk Tours is popular with Aussie and Kiwi expats living in London as well as Brits, Canadians and Americans and for 20-30 year olds so if you think you’ll fit in with this audience then this is the company for you!
- My Felucca Odyssey tour was very fast paced and as I said above (and in this blog postin this blog post) we saw so much in 7 days. However I don’t regret doing it this way at all because we saw everything we needed to see without taking too much annual leave from work but if I was doing a Euro tour or a tour in Asia then I like the fact that independent travel means you can choose the amount of time you spend in each place and if you need a rest day you can take one.
Being told what to do.
- Before going on this trip I thought I wouldn’t like organised trips because I don’t really like being told what to do, what time to get up, where we have to have dinner etc and although the trip was certainly not as military style as I had thought it may be, of course you have signed up to a set itinerary so you need to be ready for certain times and have to go to the sights you’ve signed up for.
I hope these points help you decide whether an organised tour is right for you although I realise a lot of my points are pretty contradictory (e.g a reason I liked it was also a reason I didn’t like it so much).
Overall I really loved my organised tour through Egypt, I left on a total high wanting to go on another one and like travel in general I can see how they can get quite addictive!
I would 100% recommend considering taking a tour, whether you want a last-minute trip and don’t have time to plan (and you can get some great last-minute discounts!) or you’re worried about travelling alone or you’re quite time poor and need to fit a lot in in a short amount of time or maybe there’s a country you really want to go to but know it’s hard to travel solo in, like Egypt, or right now I also think this about Countries like Iceland, Morocco & India then organised tours are perfect for you!
*Have you had any experience with organised tours, good or bad? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter*