I usually prefer travelling on my own but sometimes it is better to join a tour group or join your friends on a road trip. Each method of travel has its advantages and disadvantages. I hope to summarise, from my experiences, what I think of each method.
Group of friends/ road trip
In 2009, I went around South Island, New Zealand with a group of friends. That trip is still in my top 5 travel experiences so far. We rented 2 cars and drove around the island and saw some amazing places and sights. I probably had the best burger of my life at Red Star cafe, Wanaka.
1. Travelling with a group of friends is always fun and can lead to some great stories. In my case, swimming with the dolphins after being encouraged by my friends is one such story.
2. Stress of travel is distributed. You don’t need to plan everything. You don’t need to worry about reaching a place. It works out as everyone tries to chip in. I had 2 folks in the group who are master planners and they did a very good job.
3. Food: In a large group, it is economical to try different cuisines (multiple dishes) unlike other methods of travel.
1. Costs tend to move higher in a road trip type experiences. As many folks want different things, the equilibrium tends to be towards expensive stuff – better hotels, better restaurants etc. Path of low resistance is important – you don’t want many leaders.
2. There is a remote chance of meeting new people. You tend to stick to your group and generally don’t mix as much with the locals or other travellers.
I have not done one of those complete packaged tours (including flights and boarding). However I have done a mix – where they provide transport (one of those hop off and hop on) and you still have the flexibility of booking your hostel (not always).
I joined adventure tours in Australia to travel around the country. And I loved it!
1. You get to meet new people. I met quite a few people in Australia and I am still in contact with many.
2. You get to see remote places or experience something different (like camping). In a way, it removes the stress of doing any planning.
3. You can cover more distance in a shorter period of time.
1. You lose flexibility in planning especially if you want to stay in a place for more days. You can do that with a hop off hop on tour but you are constrained by their timings.
2. Food: If you are travelling alone and have joined a group, it may not be possible to eat at many places or share multiple dishes
I have done solo travels on short trips to Europe – mostly weekends. I have yet to do a long haul solo travel but that is a possibility when I finally do the big one next year.
1. Flexibility: you can do what you want, when you want. That is just brilliant.
2. I tend to stay in hostels so meeting new travelers is always nice.
3. Costs: depending on how one travels, you can spend very little money.
1. Stress: you got to plan everything and that can be quite stressful.
2. Food: Again you are constrained as it is difficult to try multiple dishes.
There are many more views on the above such as becoming more independent and resourceful (solo) but I haven’t done long haul solo to experience that.
For my big trip next year, I am more or less convinced that it would be a combination of solo and group travel.
Till the next time…