Some of you know that I spent spring break on a 10-day tour of the Holy Land. My first “tour group” experience.
Prior to this I have traveled all over the world on short term missions and on personal excursions as a non-tour group person. I like having a good travel guide, a public transit map and willing spirit to get lost, which usually happens. So let’s put them head to head. Which form of travel is better: tour group or private travel?
Benefits for the tour group include:
- one price package paying (including airfare, accommodations, & fees)
- group discounts to museums and sites
- local tour guides from a reputable agency
- pre-paid admission to many locations
- nice coach buses
- less walking…since you have a driver and bus
- nice tourist-friendly hotels
- large group dinners in the hotel
- fuller day-to-day schedules because you are following someone’s schedule and not trying to figure everything out yourself
Disadvantages of the tour group includes:
- being with a group all the time (limited time for private exploration)
- potential for slower group members to hold things up
- many shopping breaks
- hearing the tour guide say “let’s stay together” all the time
- not able to get up and make your own schedule
- not able to “do something crazy” upon the suggestion of a book or friend
- limited interaction with the locals
So which is better? I think it all depends upon the trip and the travel purpose.
For example, when Jennifer and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in 2012, we will be traveling alone. No tour group. No daily schedule. Part of the romance and fun for us is exploring a new place together. The people and the purpose demands us to go on our own.
However, when I join the School of Theology in touring the Greece & Turkey in 2012 and when we return to the Holy Land in 2014, I want a tour group. I want a local guide. I want to pre-pay for everything. I want the group discounts for me and my students.
So consider your who and why you are traveling and you should get your answer.