Posted: 5/16/2023 | May 16th, 2023
My first trip overseas was on an organized group tour. Back then, I didn’t know the first thing about traveling. I hadn’t been anywhere on my own, and my family weren’t big travelers. My travel experience consisted of a cruise, and spring break in Montreal during college. I was as green as they come. So, at 23, a tour seemed like the best way to get around.
When I headed to Costa Rica for my first real grown-up trip, I was glad I had signed up for a tour. I didn’t speak Spanish, I didn’t know how to navigate a foreign country, and I had no idea how to figure out what to do or how to organize my time.
I was scared, unsure, and needed a lot of hand-holding.
Our guide really helped me learn how to “swim.” That tour gave me the confidence to travel on my own. By the end, I felt like I had “gotten it” enough that I was able to find my way around and meet people.
After I came home, I started planning my next trip: a non-tour journey to Thailand, and after that experience, I ended up backpacking around the world. The rest is history, as they say.
Over 15 years later, I still love (and use) group tours. They are right for certain people, certain destinations, and certain activities for a variety of reasons.
I think tours are disparaged by too many travelers, because they are thinking of those giant, big-bus groups of seniors being herded around for photo ops before being put back on the bus to be driven to the next tourist site.
And while those tours still exist, not all tours are like that. Many companies offer really unique and interesting experiences in small-group settings. Tour companies come in all specialties and sizes now. You just need to know how to pick the right tour for you.
I think tours are good for a number of reasons:
First, they are great for people who are new to travel or just don’t feel comfortable traveling solo. I’ve written before that the hardest part about travel is not the act itself but finding the courage to go. It’s not easy to just step out the door on your own. No matter where you are from, we all fear the “unknown.” When you don’t speak the language, or don’t have much experience, or are just worried about safety in a new place, you aren’t always willing to just grab your backpack and go.
Tours allow you to get your feet wet and conquer that fear.
Also, some travelers prefer tours when exploring a new region for the first time. Sure, you might have made your…
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