To group travel or not to group travel?

Group Nalanda

Why go for a group?

Jump the queues — often tour groups have tickets pre-arranged to major or busy attractions meaning you don’t have to wait in crazy, boring long lines to get into an attraction.

Everything’s done for you — it’s all organised on your behalf, including how you get there, what you see and where you stay. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

It’s super social — if you’re on a multi-week tour you get to know your other travelers.

Local expert — most tour groups provide you with a host or guide knowledgeable about the area you’re travelling in/to.

It’s all inclusive! Once you’ve paid your fee for the group tour, all you’ll really need is spending money (note: look to what meals are included as sometimes not every meal is covered in the fee).

Skill up — choose a tour group that has some kind of ‘learning’ aspect involved (like cooking school, a local craft workshop etc).

Big and small — there’s SO many group tour providers to choose from and you can go as big or as small as you want (check out the “tour capacity” to see how many you’ll be travelling with).

You don’t need to group it the entire way — consider something like adding a small five day group tour in the middle of a trip.

What are the pitfalls of group travel?

Follow the flag — a big downside to being a part of a group is that you’re a member of a really conspicuous pack, so you don’t blend in and can be a target of pesky street vendors.

Odd man out — group tours can be a bit like travel Survivor if you don’t like you’re fellow travellers you may want to have yourself voted off the bus stat!

Everything’s done for you — the downside to having things organised for you is that the choice of where to eat and stay is taken away from you.

I want OUT! Group tours do offer some free time but you’re on a schedule, so this will be the first thing to get cut if there’s a scheduling issue.

 5 golden rules for group travel

Check the total capacity of the tour so you know if you’re joining a big beast or a petite bunch.

Read up on the itinerary — make sure you’re covering the things YOU want to see. If it cover 3/4’s of what you wanted to see then it’s a great option.

Try and travel with a companion — that way if you can’t stand the other travellers you’ll have someone to talk to and you can share your accommodation with them.

Choose a tour group that has an ethical or sustainable ethos.

Find a tour group that facilitates a lot of free time so you can go off exploring yourself, also meaning you spend your traveler cash with locals and inject some money into local economies.

  • Taken from an interview of Chris from Lonely Planet.  You can read the full interview

About Author

Sharon Thrupp
Sharon is passionate about India and the Himalayan region. She believes that while her Australia is her country by birth, India is the country of her heart. She first went to India in 1996 and later returned to volunteer helping Tibetans in Dharamsala in 2001, fell in love with the Himalayas and stayed. She is currently involved in a NGO in India helping underprivileged girls continue their education and spends her spare time walking in the foothills of the Himalayas and doing yoga.