Friday, January 24, 2014

Traveling with a Tour Group: Pros v. Cons

I have mentioned on here a few times that this next vacation of ours is going to be on a Trafalgar Tour. This will be my third tour with the company and I'm sure I will do more in the future (see my other tours here). I thought I would write a blog on the pros and cons of traveling with a tour and why I think it’s a good fit for us.

I like the tours because we'll get to see a lot in a short amount of time. We don’t live in Europe (I wish!) so traveling there takes time (a solid 15 hours of travel one way!); we both have full time jobs and have a total of 15 days off, not nearly enough to really explore. So I opt for a tour to give us a real bang for our buck!


Enjoying the bus ride; Germany to Czech Republic
Let's start with the pros of traveling with a tour company:
Pros
- Everything is planned out for you - From your transportation to/from the airport to most of your meals. You don’t have to do a single thing! Removing the stress is important for me.
- You don’t have to worry about purchasing venue tickets in advance and don’t have to wait in line. Trafalgar has already purchased your tickets and your tour director will lead you to the front of the line!
- The tour directors are locals and know whats up. They know when to arrive to places to avoid the crowds and they know how to spot pick-pockets and scammers and will hold the group back until they pass. And if for some reason you get lost you have someone to call.
- Always having someone to take a picture of you

Cons
- Some places you'll only get to see by night or by day. When we took our tour to Italy we only saw the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon at night and therefore picture taking was tricky.
- You don’t get to experience the city as a local might. During our upcoming trip we will be in Amsterdam for less than 24 hours!
- If there is something in particular you want to see you might have to take time out from an excursion or stay on an extra day to see it. When we traveled to Italy it was my first international vacation (not including the time I studied abroad) and I'll admit I wasn’t a "seasoned" traveler. So when we were in Florence we didn’t see the Pont de Vecchio and now I regret that (it wasn’t on Trafalgar's schedule and I didn’t Google our destinations before we went).


Rome sites by night

Bridge of Sighs at night and under construction

All-in-all it's really your call in the end. If you live in Europe there is no need for you to take a tour because you have any city at your disposal for a weekend, possibly even multiple weekends! Traveling from city to city in Europe is cheap; you can get round trip tickets for less than $100 most of the time. I can't even get a flight from Houston, TX to Dallas, TX for less than $100!

Have you ever traveled with a tour? If so how did you like it? 



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