Do you prefer to travel solo or with groups?
If you’re a regular group traveler, then we don’t have to tell you how rewarding it can be to surround yourself with fellow adventurers. You already know how much can be gained by sharing travel experiences and learning how to travel with strangers. But for those who prefer to travel independently, group travel might surprise you.
Here at Discover Corps, we think it’s wonderful to venture out on your own to face the challenges and the rewards of traveling solo. But as the organizers of small group (8-15 people) tours, we see many benefits of group travel that are often overlooked.
If you don’t think small group tours can be just as rewarding as independent travel, if not more so, then we invite you to consider the following benefits of traveler with others…
Knowledgeable Tour Guides
There’s only so much information you can uncover on your own. A knowledgeable, local tour guide will have intimate connections to the place you’re exploring. They can offer history, anecdotes, and insider information along the way. Without the guidance of a knowledgeable tour guide, we run the risk of only skimming the surface of our travel experiences.
When you travel with a group, your tour guide stays with you for the duration of the trip. Instead of bouncing from one excursion to the next, with different guides along the way, you have the opportunity to get to know your tour guide. You’ll learn about their life and their experience with this new place. You’ll learn what they love about it, and why they were inspired to share it with others.
Not only will you benefit from the knowledge of your tour guide, you’ll also have a whole group of fellow travelers to learn from. Speaking of your fellow travelers…
Being part of a tour group means an automatic set of travel companions. If you’re intimidated by the idea of introducing yourself to people on the road, small group travel is a great opportunity to meet new people without the pressure. Many solo travelers will join groups in order to meet people, so even if you join the group on your own, you’ll find new connections quickly.
The people you’ll meet in a group tour can be from all over the world. They’ll have different backgrounds, different opinions, and different travel styles. These differences can present challenges. But facing the challenges of acclimating to an eclectic group of people will make you an even better traveler. You’ll learn so much about each other, and even about yourself, as you adjust to the group and navigate these travel experiences together.
Group tours are often designed by local guides with local connections. When you join a group, you’re not only benefiting from the knowledge and experience of your guide. You’re also benefiting from the knowledge and experience of their connections. Group tours will often involve many people within the community who can give you an even better idea of what it’s like not only to travel in this new place, but also to live there.
Since these local experts will often speak a language other than English, your tour guide will be key in communicating with them. The connections you’ll make with the local community through a group tour can be incredibly valuable. These connections would be nearly impossible to find if you were traveling without the guidance of a knowledgeable guide.
For those who would like to strike out on their own, a group tour can be an excellent starting point, where local connections can provide information and inspiration for your future solo adventures.
Group tours often involve itineraries. A detailed plan of your time in a place might seem to squash the opportunity for unique experiences, but the truth is, you’ll find experiences in a group tour that often aren’t possible for the independent traveler.
The power of groups can open doors in new places. There are meals, classes, excursions and community involvement that only groups can have access to, thanks to their size. If a solo traveler wanted to take a cooking class in Thailand, they would pay a pretty penny to join one on their own. But a group cooking class could be covered by the expense of the tour at a much more reasonable rate, thanks to the size of the group.
When it comes to volunteer experiences, group tours make more possible. One person can only do so much, but when you work with a group that’s led by a knowledgeable, local guide, you can be connected to the causes that really matter to a place, and do work that will make a difference.
The work done by our volunteers in Guatemala has been an incredible example of how much can be accomplished when volunteers and the local community come together. Throughout the years, various groups have traveled to Guatemala to work on building and improving a local school for Mayan children. This type of project would never have been possible without a group effort.
A Balance Of Group And Alone Time
It’s great to be surrounded by new friends, knowledgeable guides, and local connections. But everyone needs some alone time on the road. With the right group tour, you can the time and space for both.
Alone time is crucial to a rewarding travel experience. It allows us to process our thoughts and reflect on our experiences. It allows us to absorb and analyze without the opinions or disruptions of others. This is probably why so many people are drawn to solo travel — the opportunity for endless alone time is enticing.
On the other hand, too much alone time can also become down right lonely. The time we have on our own can be even more rewarding when we can talk to other people about what’s going on inside our heads.
A balance of group and alone time can come together for the perfect concoction of travel experiences on a group tour — especially a group tour that’s designed with flexibility built in. With Discover Corps, we won’t pack your schedule so full that you never have time to breathe. Instead, you’ll have options. If you need more alone time from a group, you can find it. If you want to be with people as much as possible, then people will be there.
Group travel is an incredibly rewarding approach to seeing the world. You’ll meet new people, discover new knowledge, and absorb new experiences with people to share them with.
BIO: Britany Robinson is a freelance travel and culture writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her works appears in BBC Travel, Mashable, The Daily Dot and more. Her blog, Travel Write Away, shares advice and musings on travel writing. When she’s not planning her next big trip, she’s scoping out Portland craft beers and local hikes. –Britany Robinson
6 responses to “5 Reasons Small Group Tours Can Be More Rewarding Than Independent Travel”
I really love how you said you can meet people without the pressure when you join a small group tour. My wife and I aren’t the most outgoing people, but we do like to meet new people. I think a group tour is the perfect ice breaker.
Hi Randy – absolutely. We hear this ALL the time. A lot of people who think they aren’t the most outgoing shy away from group trips, but in reality, they are an excellent way to get you out of your shell because you don’t have to take the initiative to meet like minded people, and you’re able to really get to know them as opposed to just quick conversations (usually not something introverts enjoy). Thanks for reading!
Thanks for pointing out that taking tours means we can take advantage of the history and anecdotes that knowledgeable guides have to offer. My husband and I want to take our two kids on vacation next month and are currently researching fun and interesting activities in the area. I’ll have to look for some day tours we can book so we can get the most value out of the experience!
Hey! A really well put together article, loved reading it!
For me the biggest advantage of group travel would be that I get to meet and interact with new people and make connections and also the fact that it wouldn’t burn a huge hole in my pocket!
Thanks so much for reading! So happy to hear you have the right thoughts on small group travel – meeting others is the best part!