Are Group Tours for You?
By Modupe Sonuyi
So you’ve done it!
You’ve finally bit the bullet and decided that this year is the year that you throw caution to the wind and embark on that exotic adventure of a lifetime. With some of your best mates at your side, you can’t wait to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and culture of lands unknown. You plan to bid a tearful adieu to papa and forward all mail to your P.O. box. All your ducks are in a row and it’s full steam ahead, right? Wrong. Slowly but surely your brother, grandma and Aunty B begin to call, text, Facebook message and smoke signal their sincerest apologies, as they are suddenly unable to travel with you. With traveling plans crumbling before your eyes, what’s a budding wanderer to do? Worry not friend, life happens. Have you ever considered traveling with a group tour? We know what you’re thinking: How do I know if this groupie thing is for me? Here are some useful tips to help you decide if exploring the unfamiliar with strangers is right for you.
- The idea of sharing a life altering experience with strangers can be intimidating. Social phobias will begin to consume your thoughts. Will my travel companions be like me? Do I love my personal space more than I’m willing to admit? Am I prepared to step outside of my comfort zone? First things first, take a deep breath and acknowledge that groups are going to be composed of a variety of personalities. More than likely, the individuals in your group will come from all walks of life, but that common passion for wanderlust will offer you the opportunity to discover new lands with like-minded individuals. Remember, the magic begins outside of your comfort zone!
- Make it short and sweet. Traveling companies offer tours for hours, days or months on end. Choose a length of time that works best for you. If you’re feeling timid about the idea of a group tour, book a shorter excursion for your first foray into group traveling.
- What are my out of pocket expenses? One of the greatest perks of group travel is that you choose just how organized and structured you want your adventure to be. Booking a tour where your company reserves most, if not all, of your meals and activities will minimize extra spending. On the other hand, a more flexible schedule will require you to budget for food, transportation and activities. Always budget for unforeseen expenses!
- Calling all introverts. Did you know that you can travel with companies/groups that offer ‘free’ days for tours lasting a week or longer? These days allow you to explore and create experiences at your own pace. You can choose to hang out with newly made friends or take some quiet time away from all the commotion to truly reflect on your new experiences.
- Are you a freshly turned vegan but still want to explore the culinary delights of Italy? Done. Can’t bear the thought of leaving your four-legged friend at home? Bring Lassie along for that walking dog tour of Hamburg, Germany. Or if you’re looking for a spiritually rewarding trip, try exploring the real South Africa by signing up for a community service adventure in Soweto. There are tours out there that cater to just about any hobby, activity, fetish or fad. Regardless of your interests, there’s a suitable tour out there waiting for you to take a leap!
- Don’t charge that MasterCard just yet! Do some research. Read up on reviews for your touring company. What did previous travelers think about accommodations, food, transportation and overall experience? Get some insight in order to set your expectations accordingly. Don’t like what you see? Then use another company. It’s that simple.
- Last, but not least, keep an open mind and heart. This openness will be a part of the journey and unlock the doors to your most treasured memories.
Now that you’ve got some handy helpful tips, what are you waiting for? Go, get lost!
When not delivering laughing gas to her patients, Modupe is a full-time dreamer, adventurer and abuser of exclamation points! Intrigued by the wonders and whimsies of the world, she is constantly plotting her next opportunity to grab a camera and explore the beauty, life and culture of unfamiliar lands. She loves sharing her travel experiences with others, in hopes of inspiring just one person to get up and get lost!