Traveling is one of the greatest pleasures of life especially for those who’ve been bitten by the bug of wanderlust. Traveling brings great joy and wonderful memories, but how you travel is one of the biggest considerations in how much fun you have, both while planning and while actually traveling. There are two common types of traveling: solo travel and group travel. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and which you choose will have a big impact on your travels.
Before we launch into some of the considerations you should make when deciding how to travel, we want to just go in depth a bit more on what each of these methods entails.
Solo travel doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going alone. Solo travel means you’re choosing to create the plans, make connections and reservation, and coordinate all the aspects of your travel yourself. This could be done with a friend or partner, or you could even be going alone, or with a guide on a private tour.
Group travel is an easier option where you find a pre-arranged tour with a group of people – often who are strangers to you – and you pay the guide of the tour to make all the arrangements. When traveling as a group, you don’t get to make any of the decision for where you go and what you’ll do, which can be restrictive to travelers who like to choose for themselves. However, it’s very simple. No planning necessary.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most important factors to help you make an informed decision when the time comes for you to make a choice.
Which Should You Choose? Solo Travel vs Group Travel
There are a number of things to consider when making a decision of whether to go on a solo trip or a group trip. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, every trip has different factors that will play into the decision. That’s why we think it’s a good idea to consider these 7 things to determine which is best for you.
This is perhaps the most important thing that will determine the quality of your trip. Group tours are often more expensive than solo trips because of the inclusion of a planner and guide. You have to pay for the service of having someone plan for you. So a luxury group trip will cost significantly more than a luxury solo trip.
A solo traveler can make a large number of impromptu decisions to save costs which are predetermined in group travels, such as the choice of a less expensive hotel, getting a cheaper meal, or using the less expensive option for transportation.
Group travel does not allow you to adjust the cost. It comes with a set cost. However, you will know the full cost of the journey (minus incidentals) before you travel. For someone who doesn’t like surprises, or the chance of unforeseen expenses, group travel is more certain.
Often discounts are available for group travelers but, in general, a solo traveler has a better chance of saving money.
The independence which comes from traveling solo is unmatched. Solo travel provides you with a wide-range of experience which won’t be compromised by someone else’s schedule. Only solo travelers can decide to leave a place early or spend more time in one part of the trip.
I’ve been on many group tours and the biggest annoyance tends to be that you can’t make your own schedule and you’re at the mercy of everyone else on the group trip. If someone arrives late back to the bus, you all must wait for them. If you want to stay longer at a particular destination, that’s not going to be possible.
If you’re the type of person who needs to have autonomy or flexibility and doesn’t want to go along with the herd, then a group trip will not be ideal for you.
3. Ability to Meet People
In contrast to independence, traveling with other people can greatly enhance the joy of traveling. It also allows you the opportunity to get outside your comfort zone, try new things, and meet new people.
On a group trip I took to China, I met some really great people who I ended up spending the whole trip getting to know. We became fast friends and even kept in touch after the trip was over.
Both group travel and solo travel give you a chance to make new friends and expand your own viewpoint on the world, however these are likely going to approached in different ways.
On a group trip, you will have the companionship of all the people in the group. This will give you a chance to make friends with people you’re traveling with. It also gives you someone to experience things with when you don’t have a traveling partner. For those who wouldn’t otherwise have anyone to travel with, and don’t think they’d enjoy traveling alone, it’s a great way to feel comfortable and have more fun.
Solo travel, on the other hand, gives you a chance to meet people from a great number of different backgrounds, speaking different languages and having a diverse view on things in life, as long as you’re willing to put in the effort to talk to locals and other travelers around you.
On the other hand, a solo trip can provide you solitude and a time for self-reflection when you need it, whereas this is hardly possible in group travels.
We’ve found that destinations where we don’t know the language or aren’t able to do a lot of research in advance are more difficult to enjoy without a guide.
One important reason why group travels are popular is because of the ease they offer in traveling whereas solo travel is challenging in many regards.
A solo traveler has to research every tiny detail of the trip from scratch and if anything goes wrong during the trip then he has to take responsibility and make alternate plans. If it’s a destination you don’t know, you also have to find the good stuff, which can be difficult without a guide.
In group travel, though, the traveler has no management tasks as someone else is making all the reservations and taking care of everything. All the traveler needs to do is show up. If something goes wrong, the organizers will take care of it.
One of the biggest concerns while traveling in foreign lands is that of your personal safety. Even though most places are generally safe to travel alone with the proper precautions, there are still a large number of things one has to be mindful of.
When traveling alone, you take all of the responsibility for your own safety. You need to know what areas you shouldn’t be walking alone in, you need to know the area’s travel scams, and you need to plan ahead for any accidents or health issues that might occur. Travel insurance is very important.
Safety is generally not a major concern when traveling in a group because plans have been enacted to mitigate against risk and tour guides are prepared. Your safety is greatly in the hands of the group organizers.
Read also: How to Stay Safe While on Vacation
It is very hard to define the quality of a journey, as there are no tangible parameters to judge this. However, it has been seen that solo travels give you a greater feeling of satisfaction, whereas traveling in a group is generally a rushed experience.
You can make your solo journey richer by exploring things in detail, whereas group trips have to follow schedules. There may be activities you want to take part in, but they’re not included in the trip. Having the time and ability to follow through on things that interest you the most is the number one reason to choose a solo trip.
However, group travels usually have tour guides with them who have extensive knowledge of things and they can explain more in a short time which you’d find in a much longer time on your own. They can also take you to places which you may have missed because of incomplete research.
You can weigh all these factors against each other and see which things are more important to you as compared to others and based on those parameters you can decide which is the right way of traveling for you: solo travel vs group travel.
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.