For anyone planning an overseas trip, the first decision is whether to choose a package tour, or opt for independent travel. There are advantages and drawbacks either way.
Package tours can range from fully escorted, to just the bare travel arrangements. Fully escorted usually means traveling with a group, accompanied by a guide throughout the trip. A more independent type of tour involves having the tour operator simply make all the arrangements (air, hotel, transfers, day tours, local attractions, etc.). This can result in considerable savings, and leave more time for individual interests.
For the traveler who seeks real freedom, the alternative is a completely self-directed trip, making all arrangements independently. This can be done through a travel agent, on the internet, or by dealing with airlines, hotels, etc. directly. For all but the most seasoned overseas traveler, at least some use of a travel agent is advisable.
- Pros of package tours:
A reliable tour operator makes, and guarantees all the arrangements. If fully escorted, the guide handles all the day-to-day planning, and provides knowledgeable insight into the local history and culture.
Language will be less of a problem, as the guide will provide translation as needed, and is familiar with local customs and culture. Sharing the travel experience with a group is an additional reward.
The power of bulk purchasing leads to savings compared to putting together a package on your own.
- Cons of package tours:
A group is great when everyone gets along, but unpleasant when there is friction, and you are stuck with these people for the entire trip.
The operator guarantees that you get what is described in the itinerary, but makes no promise that you will enjoy it. Make sure that the offering suits your personal interests before signing. There is little freedom to explore on your own, and it may become frustrating being locked into a schedule not of your own choosing.
- Pros of independent travel:
You are free to see what interests you. There is no need to adhere to a rigid schedule. You aren’t locked into an inflexible itinerary.
Rather than being with the same group for the entire trip, there is more opportunity to meet others, including locals.
- Cons of independent travel:
It is often a challenge to make a complex itinerary when a number of countries, airlines and hotels are involved. A lack of knowledge of local languages, cultures and customs can Self Growth make it difficult to interact, and can lead to awkward, or even dangerous situations.
The lack of the companionship found in a group can lead to a feeling of isolation on a lengthy overseas trip.
Costs are often higher, as you miss out on bulk purchasing.
Overseas travel arrangements can be complicated. Time differences make scheduling a nightmare, and airlines have no responsibility to warn you if your connections don’t make sense. Language is a barrier when dealing directly with overseas hotels, and you are on your own when it comes to transfers and local transportation. The language barrier, and a lack of knowledge of local customs can make life overseas difficult.
Independent touring suits the more experienced traveler with specific interests. For those making an overseas trip for the first time, a fully escorted package tour is a safer choice. It gives the opportunity to experience different countries with the guidance of knowledgeable staff, and leaves all the arrangements to a capable agent.