News

Independent Travel vs. Organised Tour

by Sam Stephens |

 

So you've started planning your big adventure but there's one major detail you haven't quite figured out: whether you go it alone or invite some mates. Here at the Scrubba we're lucky enough to have had ample experience with vastly different kinds of travel and, because we know getting to the bottom of this issue takes some serious thought, we're here to share them with you! Read on to find out whether you should travel solo, independently, or with a tour group on your next journey. 

 

Solo Travel

It's no secret that we here at the Scrubba wash bag love solo travel and it's not by accident that we've written an entire blog arguing that everyone should travel solo at least once. There are so many reasons to embrace this steadily growing travel option, including:

 

Getting in touch with your own emotions:

Don't worry, we're not about to launch into a deluded speech about "finding yourself" or "changing your life through adventure", but we can't deny that travel offers a much-needed opportunity for reflection. And what better way to spend some quality time with your own thoughts, deciding exactly what you want to get out of your journey, than solo travel? New friends, enviable language skills, a broader sense of culture? You're in charge, so you decide!

 

Meeting likeminded travellers:

When you're relying on yourself for company day in and day out, spending a little time indulging in conversations outside of your own head becomes a sought after luxury and you'll be surprised at how bold your isolation makes you. Where once you might have retreated to the farthest flung corner of communal spaces, you'll now be emboldened to face your residual social anxieties by sitting down next to someone in the common area and simply saying 'hey'. After all, even if you happen to commit the sort of characteristic gaffe that promises to invariably wander into your mind at 2am on restless nights, resulting in the sort of cold sweats and hot blushes that utterly banish any hope of sleep, you can console yourself with the knowledge that you'll never have to see the person who witnessed your embarrassing display again. So what do you really have to lose?

 

Taking the trip of your dreams:

Don't ya just hate it when you've got your boots laced up and your bag all packed but you spend the next 30 minutes hovering restlessly around the room like some sort of pesky mosquito because your travel partners, deaf to your shouts and immune to your nudges, haven't managed to drag themselves out of bed yet? Working with others demands compromise, and although negotiation and cooperation are undoubtedly important skills, I think we can all agree they're not quite as important as your dream holiday. So go ahead and circumvent the issue altogether by placing yourself solely in charge of your schedule!

 

Staying within budget:

Just as solo trips simplify itineraries, so they often ease the financial side of travel. This is because no two travellers have exactly the same opinion regarding basic travel expenses such as accommodation and food, and where opinions vary, it's likely that at least one member of the group will end up exceeding their budget. Saving your pennies is, quite simply, easier when you're entirely in control of what you see and do, making solo travel an awesome way to avoid the unforeseen expenses that often put people off the idea of travel in the first place.  

 

Gaining practical life skills for the future:

While we don't want to go all Eat Pray Love on you, it is true that the challenge of adjusting to new cultures, languages, and people will help you in the long run. Knowing that you and you alone designed your trip from the bottom up, kept yourself safe whilst navigating unfamiliar territory, and managed to stay within budget despite the allure of new activities and the confusion of foreign currencies not only fosters a more profound sense of your own capabilities, but looks great on resumes. Ultimately, self-managed travel shows independence, confidence, flexibility, adaptability, resilience, autonomy, responsibility, apt research and problem-solving skills, a willingness to learn and to challenge yourself, and an interest in the global world. Even better, it does so while proving your ability to take control of a large-scale project without retreating into the shadows of your peers.  

 

Travel solo when: 

  • You're confident relying on your own independence.
  • You're patient and enjoy problem-solving.
  • You're looking to meet new people.
  • You desire maximum control over your itinerary and budget.
  • You're comfortable with your own company.
  • You don't want to answer to anyone else. 
  • You enjoy slower paced trips in relatively safe countries.
  • You have very detailed ideas about what you'd like to see and do.
  • You relish the journey as much as the destination. 
  • You're travelling on a strict budget. 

 

 

Independent travel with friends

Okay, so you might not be quite as free and and independent as a solo traveller, but that's not to say you're completely restricted! Sometimes you just want a travel buddy to provide a little light entertainment and, believe us, we get it it! In fact, we've been there, too. We particularly cherish travelling with friends because:

 

People have got your back:

Group travel can be safer than travelling alone as it can make you less of a target for certain scammers and thieves. And if something does go wrong, you'll find that nothing beats the warm presence of a good friend who will always be there to offer words of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, or even some spare cash if circumstances demand it - in addition to all the fun moments and friendly company they already provide. 

 

The responsibility doesn't fall solely on you:

This one can be both positive and negative, depending on the way you look at it. Organising events on behalf of others comes with the responsibility of no longer being the only one to suffer the repercussions of your actions, a burden that some find makes them a little queasy. On the other hand, it can be a relief to coordinate with others and test your strategy against theirs to see whose plan makes more sense, especially if you're on a fast-paced trip that requires careful planning and good execution. 

 

There's no shortage of good company when you need it: 

Sometimes you just want to kick back with an old friend while discussing the memories that make you laugh so hard you bypass the undignified snorting phase and head straight on to the silent convulsions and running tears stage. This simple pleasure may seem arbitrary but it should never be underestimated, especially when it comes to combating the tedium of long commutes. We'll also never say no to an assistant driver and navigator who can help out with those busy routes and unfamiliar road rules!

 

You can try something new:

Those disagreements and compromises we mentioned above can be a drag, but they can also be a blessing in disguise. After all, you never know when a friend's suggestion that you've accepted out of mere politeness will become one of the best memories of the trip - and all because they were there to talk you into it. 

 

You might save money:  

Disagreements over money and budgets are always a risk of group travel, but if you're able to compromise with likeminded travellers, you may actually find that you save some cash in the long run. This is not only because sharing the cost of food and petrol tends to save money, but also because many day tours and transport services offer group discounts. Finally, as many day tours require a minimum number of two or three participants to run, small groups tend to carry a distinct advantage over solo travellers when it comes to off-peak globetrotting and niche sightseeing that may be less popular with the masses. 

 

Travel independently with a small group when: 

  • You like working as a team.
  • You enjoy the company of others or get lonely easily. 
  • You don't mind compromise and negotiation. 
  • You enjoy slower paced trips in relatively safe countries.
  • You plan on taking long road trips that require a lot of driving. 
  • You've arranged for long train or bus commutes. 
  • You're interested in taking day tours or participating in group activities. 
  • You want to save money. 

 

 

Organised tour group

Some people hate the fast pace and micromanaged conditions of a group tour, while others love the convenience and accessibility of tour packages and trips run through companies like Contiki, Topdeck, and Intrepid Travel. Here at the Scrubba, we have less experience with holiday packages and organised group tours than with the above travel styles, but we've still got a bit of advice up our sleeve! We enjoy taking group tours when we want to:

 

Relax: 

With everything from accommodation to transport organised and with very little problem-solving required on your part, you'll be able to kick back right when you most need to. Less research and less organisation means more time getting excited about your journey and preparing for the amazing memories you're going to make, so tours are fantastic options for anyone eager to unwind and see the sites without the stress.  

 

Easily make friends: 

If you're on the introverted side, a tour may be just the thing you need to open up and make some new friends. After all, it's nearly impossible not to join a conversation when you're surrounded by the same group every day on long, arduous bus trips that offer little else to do. 

 

See a lot in a short period of time or visit an intimidating region: 

Organised tours are ideal for moments when you want to cover vast areas in a short period of time, especially when travel options are scarce or you lack confidence travelling independently, as you might when facing language barriers or vast cultural differences. Although it's highly unlikely your tour will enable you to see everything you might want to, and although you'll probably spend way too much time on a bus, at least you'll be surrounded by good company while travelling safely and in style! Just be aware that, due to their convenience, organised tours typically come with a higher price tag than their independent counterparts. 

 

Travel on an organised group tour when:

  • You enjoy the company of others or get lonely easily. 
  • You're interested in meeting new people. 
  • You're planning a fast paced adventure that covers a lot of ground.
  • Your travel destination isn't considered safe.
  • You lack confidence with the language or the culture. 
  • You want the freedom to relax and shed responsibility. 
  • You don't mind long commutes or sightseeing from a bus window. 
  • You don't mind spending a bit more money for convenience. 

 

 

With so many different travel styles offered by today's global community, there's simply no excuse not to pack your suitcase and jet off on your next adventure - in whatever manner best suits you! From lengthy trips abroad and weekend getaways to adventure trips and cosy holiday packages, find a style that works for you or mix and match until you find the perfect combination. We recommend grabbing your Scrubba wash bag and taking the plunge. You won’t regret it!

 

Girl walking on an open road

Browse our store to find the perfect travel gear for your trip. 

Get our 5 tips for staying at a hostel.

Be a responsible traveller with our ultimate guide to ecotourism. 

Tags: Backpacking, independent group travel, organised tour group, Scrubba wash bag, solotravel, top tips, travel