Should you take a group tour or plan one for yourself?
When we decided to tour Europe, the question of opting for one of the standard tours or planning one on our own came up. We opted to plan things ourselves.
What made us take this call?
- The most critical factor was that we felt that if planned well, we could do it cheaper than a standard package
- The next factor was the ability to decide exactly how many days / how much to time should be spent at a location
- Most European location would have much more to see than what time you could afford to spend there. So making a choice of what to see is very important. In a package one hardly has a choice.
- The most irritating aspect of a group tour is that you are as fast as the slowest team member. Also the departure and break times are decided based on the general requirements – may not be what you want
- We were covering only Schengen countries, so visa was simple
- Our past experience with package tours has not been great!
Is it very difficult to plan a tour?
Not really. It certainly requires some time and dedication from your side. A bit of familiarity with the geography that you are touring would be a great asset. The following are essential if you are proposing to plan a trip yourself.
- Skill and inclination to pick-up and read tons & tons of material on the internet to figure out which places are worth a visit – you can certainly do a good job if you have specific interests, as standard tours are designed using a ‘typical tourist’ in mind
- Comfort of using Internet for booking hotels, train tickets, bus tickets and making other reservations. Language is usually not a big issue as popular websites offer English as a choice. Else, you could use integrator/intermediaries who offer online booking on their website. These intermediaries, in some cases, may have a charge.
- Using information on places of interest and size of museums and palaces to plan the number of days required for each place.
- Sufficient time for planning and making reservations
What is on the flipside of the ‘do it yourself’ plan?
- It is always easy to pass on responsibility to others! In a group tour you don’t have to bother about making individual reservations, looking for the hotel, searching out a restaurant etc.
- You have support from the tour operator in case of any emergency while overseas
Hope this note would help you make a choice between organized tours and one for which you are the organizer.
Note : Please note that many of the suggestions and observations made in the note are with reference to Western and Central Europe.