Solo vs Tour Group: Which Travel Style Is Right For You?
By Shontel Horne
Solo travel and group travel both come with unique benefits and drawbacks, and if you’re just getting started on your travel journey, discovering the style that works for you could be a costly endeavor. Your desired destination, personality, and travel goals are just a few of the elements that determine which travel style will suit you best, so keep these factors in mind to help you decide if your next trip should be a group experience or a solo adventure.
Where You Go Matters
Your destination could determine whether you decide to go on a solo trip or join a group tour. Some cities like Singapore and Tokyo have such a well-built infrastructure that exploring solo can be easy and enjoyable for even the most inexperienced traveler, while other destinations are best conquered with guides that know an area well. Research your destination thoroughly to get a feel for what others have experienced, and the feedback you read online may help you decide if a place is best when you’re with a tour group or if it works well for solo travelers.
Your Budget Makes All The Difference
Any experienced solo traveler will tell you that going on a trip alone can be expensive, even when you’re trying to keep costs down. Between paying for transportation, meals, and accommodations and often paying a supplemental fee when you book day tours or experiences for one, solo travel can come with extra costs that can eat away at your budget. Depending on the tour you book, your entire trip, aside from a few meals, excursions, and often the flight, are covered before you depart, and travelers are informed about what comes with the package. Tour group operators also frequently receive discounts because they book large groups of people often, and the savings get passed on to travelers. Since you pay for your group tour in advance, you won’t get the all-too-common solo traveler stocker shock.
There’s safety in numbers, so if you find yourself frequently worrying about your safety when visiting a new place, a group tour may help ease your mind so that you can focus on your trip. Ask travelers you know personally and travelers you meet online about the overall atmosphere of a place if you have concerns about traveling solo, but keep in mind that people may have varying opinions about the exact same location based on their biases, expectations, and experience.
Your Trip, Your Way
What kind of experience do you want to have? Before you decide whether to book a group tour or travel solo, spend time researching your options and see which travel style best suits what you want to see and do while you’re at your destination. If you prefer a more relaxed vacation where you can go at your own pace, a tour with a strict itinerary may not be enjoyable. If you want to make sure you see a destination’s most famous landmarks, a group trip could be more time-efficient and cost-effective. If you love local art but can’t find an art tour, you might regret spending time going to places you’re only mildly interested in while with a group. If booking a group tour, ask if you can customize an experience for yourself tailored to your interests or see if your schedule includes any free days or blocks of time. If there’s little room to adjust a group tour, a solo trip may be best so that you don’t spend time and money doing things that aren’t interesting to you.
Authenticity Is Key
More and more travelers are on a quest to have an authentic travel experience, and while many tours promise to show “the real” side of a destination, they can often pander to the general tourist and only show a place’s highlights. For Travel Noire’s TN Experiences, locals help curate the boutique tours so that travelers can discover a destination’s hidden gems instead of ushering groups of people to places oversaturated with tourists. If getting to the heart of a destination is something you value, find a tour group that is aligned with your mission or loosely plan a solo trip that allows you to adjust your experience based on what you see, hear, and learn while you’re on the ground.