Tour Group vs. Private Travel

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.

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