Guided Tour vs. Solo Exploration: Which is Better?

 

Are you planning an in

travel couple walking around city on vacation with guide book having fun

ternational trip and aren’t sure if you should invest in a guided tour or not? Click here to learn which is your best option.

Are you among the 66,960,943 Americans traveling abroad this year? If so, you may be overwhelmed with decisions about your exciting trip.

If you’re unsure of whether you should book a guided tour or explore on your own, keep reading.

We’ve got everything you need to know about touring to help make your decision easier and fitting for your trip.

Types of Guided Tours

Knowing your options for guided tours will help you decide whether one is right for you.

Personal Guided Tours

A personal tour is just how it sounds. It consists of a guide designated to just you or your group.

It is intimate and great if you don’t like to deal with crowds or strangers.

A large pro to personal guides is that you can generally customize your tour to your liking. You will also have more opportunity for changes and questions.

The best part is that you have the chance to get to know a local and can ask them to take you to their favorite “local” spots. Personal guided tours are the best if you want to immerse yourself in the local culture and experiences.

Group Guided Tours

Touring with a group and a guide means you will be paired up with other travelers. This is the generally the cheapest option and provides an opportunity to meet other people.

If you are new to the area and/or don’t love to plan your own itinerary, then a group tour is perfect. These are almost always pre-set and scheduled to ensure a smooth and time-managed experience.

The downside is you won’t have as much one-on-one attention.

Audio Tours

If you’re visiting a historical site or museum, an audio tour is an option. These give you more privacy and flexibility as you’re not following a person.

You will still be able to capture all the information. Plus, audio tours are often complementary with museum or site admissions.

Pros of Guided Tours

Here are just a few of the benefits of choosing guided tours for your trip.

Array of Information

Your guide is an except in the local history, landscape, culture, and more. Thus, with a tour guide, you will gain an array of insight about the area that you may not be able to find on your own.

Guides also know how you can get the most out of your trip especially if you’re on limited time.

Local Perspective

Along the same lines, having a guide will let you in on the local hidden gems. They will likely show you spots that you would not have found on your own or that may not be on the top 10 Yelp list.

Safety

Having a guide who knows the area, especially if you’re in a place of high crime or dangerous wildlife, will improve the safety of your trip.

You won’t have to worry about researching and preparing for emergencies. Plus, you won’t have to worry about getting lost, either. A guide can make a huge difference in safety on a hike or camping trip.

Lastly, a guide will speak English fluently, which will make traveling to an area with little English speaking skills easier and safer.

Stress-free and Time-saving

A guided tour means you don’t have to do extensive research before your trip. You won’t have to spend time researching and deciding which sites and venues to see.

You also won’t have to worry about transportation, which can be extremely stressful when you’re in an area that does not have good public transportation.

Cons of Guided Tours

When there are pros, there are always cons as well. Here are some of the disadvantages to booking a tour with a guide.

Cost

Guided tours will cost you more than exploring on your own with a guidebook. If your budget is tight, a tour will take away funds from other fun. So, think carefully about your budget when you’re deciding on whether you should use a guide or not.

Less Control

With a tour guide, you won’t have control of where you go and what you see. You also won’t have control of food locations, time, rests, etc.

If you’re someone who does not like to stick to a tight plan and schedule, then a guided tour may not be your best option. If you have children, you may want to do a personal guided tour or adventure on your own.

Draws Attention

Being in a large group with a tour guide will make you stand out as a tourist. In areas where tourists may be prey to crime, this could hinder safety.

Missing the Less Touristy Parts

Some guides will only stick to the general itinerary and won’t be able (or want to) show you the more local spots during your tour. Of course, you can still ask them about the hidden gems.

However, your time is limited. You may miss out on some things or places a guide wouldn’t take you.

Pros of Independent Touring

Guided tours are great for certain places and people. But independent touring can be just as advantageous. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of individual exploring.

Spontaneity and Flexibility

A guided tour is planned and it removes the spontaneity and exciting discovery from traveling. Exploring independently will allow you to find places on your own, take in the sights from your own perspective, and do it all on your own time.

This is why solo traveling is so freeing. You won’t have to worry about making the next stop or waking up early.

Save Money

You will save money by not booking a guide. It is generally cheaper to explore on your own and today you can find tons of coupons, promotions, and information on deal timings online.

Check out TripADeal for the latest travel deals.

Blend In

When you explore on your own, it is easier to blend in. This makes it easier to avoid pickpockets and people trying to sell to tourists.

Cons of Independent Touring

There are some negatives to exploring a new area on your own.

Safety Concerns

Obviously, when you explore independently you can run into issues. If you don’t speak or read the language, it is easier to get lost, overpay, eat something you should not have, and for people to know your tourist.

If you’re in unfamiliar wildlife, it is safer to have someone accompany you that is knowledgeable about the animals, dangers, and safety techniques.

Miss Out

Traveling on your own may keep you from managing time in a way that gets the most bang for your buck. Without a set itinerary, you could miss out on some great sites and memories.

Plus, you want as much opportunity as possible to ask a local, facts, history, logistics, hidden gems, and/or advice.

More Tips for Travel Destinations

My travel chronicles can help you decide if you should book a guided tour for your next destination.

Whether you’re going to Europe or South America or anywhere between, you can read about my own personal experiences to help you prepare for your adventure.