I tutor students in the English Language and English Literature at A Levels. I also help students with their college applications.
Travelling Is For Everyone
Today, travelling is no longer exclusive to the rich and the privileged. In today’s borderless world, information is easily accessible and just about everyone can travel. Of course, money is always an issue and many families of have to save for a period of time before the journey is undertaken.
My family consists of my husband and I and our two teenagers. Although not frequent travellers we have covered most of our local destinations and a few international ventures. When making our holiday plans, we are often faced with the decision of whether to take a charted tour or to do everything on our own. Based on my own experiences, let me share my take on this issue.
Holidays Must Be Fun
Travelling On Your Own
To most of us, a holiday is the time we want to get away from people. It is a time we seek to rest; to be quiet and enjoy a slower pace from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. It is a time we want to bond with our family members, regroup and spend quality time together. To those of you in this category, travelling alone would be the obvious option as it has many advantages.
You Decide Everything
You are the master of your time when you travel on your own. The pace of your holidays and the way you decide to spend your time is yours and yours alone. Sometimes your might want to linger a little while longer at some places and not even visit some of the tourist sites. If you are travelling with young children or older persons, their needs might be easier to be seen to, if you are travelling alone with your family.
A Great Holiday Does Not Have To Be Expensive
To go on a holiday and to do everything on your own is definitely cheaper. There is no denying this. For new travellers begin by experimenting with local destinations. Visit travel websites and hotel home-pages and make your reservations. As you get accustomed to the different packages offered by the hotels, you will learn the different options available and how to decide what works for you. Do your due diligence and spent some time surfing the net. Read the reviews offered by those who have stayed at particular hotels and travelled to similar destinations. The Internet is your best buddy for information. Use it!
When you are on your own, you can go on a holiday whenever You want. you can choose dates according to your own convenience without having to wonder if there is a chartered tour leaving on a particular date. Planning is a breeze and holidays can be planned even a year ahead and preparations can be made in advance.
You may even want to take a few days off work and choose dates to travel during the off peak seasons. The hotel rates are better and you don’t have to spend your well-earned holidays with the holiday crowd. Here, again go online and look at the rates offered. Sometimes, booking online can be cheaper. Search for the best dates and rates.
The Joy Of Sleep
If you are a person whose idea of a holiday is mainly to rest and relax, doing things on your own is also an advantage. You will not enjoy being forced to wake up early and follow a rigid schedule that charted tours require, on your holiday. For you, waking up late and doing things at your own pace would be a better option. Renting a car and exploring on your own might give you the freedom you seek. If your family consists of very young children, you might find the charted tour stressful.
If you want to save costs and want to make the arrangements on your own be careful when booking hotels overseas. Cheapest does not mean the best. Look at the location. Will you end up spending more travelling to the tourist destinations? Read the reviews and make sure that it is located in a safe neighbourhood. Travelling overseas exposes you to many uncertainties. Cover all bases when you are planning your holidays.Today, there are many web sites that offer flight and hotel reservations. Go to the hotel homepages and read the reviews there. You don’t want any surprises!
Kids Can't Be Rushed
My Pace Is The Only Pace
The charted tour also has the disadvantage of having to do everything as a group. If you like a particular spot or town and want to spend more time there, the charted tour does not offer this option. You have to move on when it is time to do so.
Travelling with a group of about twenty other people would also require an exercise in patience. Some of your travel companions can be very, very slow or even go missing when everyone is already on the bus. We are all different and the ability to adapt and travel with a group of people with different needs and wants can be difficult for some.
When you travel alone, you are your own master. You can linger in places that aspire you and skip sites that you would deem uninspiring. If you love shopping, you can spend more time at the bazars and less at the historical sites. You have the choice of doing whatever you like.
Time Stands Still On A Holiday
The Chartered Tour
The chartered tour is an option for its simplicity. For the very busy person, it is an excellent option as everything is done for you. All you need to do is just attend a tourism fair and you will find so many different packages to choose from. The destinations are usually for both local and international and there are all sorts of deals offered.
So lets look at the plus points of the chartered tours.
For me the chartered tours have an advantage of security, especially when visiting ‘new’ destinations. Experienced tour agents arrange most of these tours. These agents have visited these destinations and reviewed the hotels and the ground tours before making the selections. They have the contacts at different parts of the world to ensure that any last minutes surprises are removed. You will be told of the hotels where you will be staying in before departure and if there are problems with the hotel at the last minute, you will be transferred to a similar hotel on arrival.
The most important point here is the Travel Agency that you choose. Get a reliable tour agency. This is vital. You will end up paying more but you want to be safe in a foreign country. When you visit travel fairs, go for the names you recognize. The unknown ones might not be able to offer the service you desire. Talk to people who have travelled too. They can point the way to choosing a reliable travel agent.
For future travels in that country, you may want to do it on your own, but for the first trip, I recommend the security that a chartered group offers. Of course, if you are young and travelling alone, you make like the idea of an adventure but for families with kids, the chartered tours are still the best.
Eat As Much As You Want
Comfort is another area to consider. From my experience, chartered tours will offer decent hotels in safe neighborhoods. Since the tour package often includes breakfast everyday and a certain number of lunches and dinners, you don’t end up spending too much on food too.
When we travel on our own, we don’t eat as well or should I say as much! My teens really loved the breakfast spreads on our trip to the United States last year not to mention the Tony Roma dinner, the Brazilian BBQ dinner and The Bubba Gump lunch. I know I would not have had the opportunity to savour such wonderful food had I made the arrangements on my own. I am also aware that I might be reluctant to spend so much on such dinners if left to my own devices.
You Experience Everything
If you are travelling to destinations that you will probably not visit again, you want to see everything. Here again, the chartered tours score. Tour guides know where to take you to give you the best experiences. They will take you to all the tourist spots and more. Tour guides will show you places that at times are not even available in travel guides, in other words, places that you will never find on your own. My family and I were taken to abandoned ‘ghost towns’ and shown what life was like in the Old West. I know I would never have known how to get there had I moved on my own.
Tour guides have been trained to give you snippets of information of each and every place you visit throughout your trip. The historical facts and some fun facts are always there to inform and entertain you. In fact, on my last trip to America, my tour guide was also a shopping expert who could tell me the prices to look for.
You See Everything
My Final Word Of Advice
My final take on this issue of chartered tours versus travelling on your own is simply this. Travelling on your own is cheaper but you might end up forking more then you intended along the way. If you are traveling to a country where the exchange rates are not in your favor you will end up spending a substantial amount on food and travelling (cabs can be very expensive).
Apart from this, you must be willing to invest a certain amount of time planning for your trip. The Internet offers a lot of information and you need to search, evaluate and search some more. It would be an advantage if someone in you group has been there before. For a holiday focused on rest and relax, travelling on your own is the best. There is nothing like checking into a good hotel in Hawaii and lazing by the beach for a week. I would love to do this!
Chartered tours cost more but they offer security and comfortable hotels. Today, most tours will inform you of the hotels you will be staying in when you book the tour. The tours are generally extensive and cover everything you hope to see and experience.
On the flip side, travelling with a group can be problematic. You don’t have the freedom of movement. The schedule is rigid and everything is done by the clock. You even have to eat when you are not hungry!
So, the next time you plan on travelling, keep these issues in mind. Choose whatever works best for you. Consider the place you are travelling to and the people travelling with you. Place this against your budget and I am sure you will be able to make the best choice.
travmaj from australia on May 17, 2014:
Great hub, your detailed everything about travel and the advantages, disadvantages. We sometimes travel alone and make our own arrangements which can be time consuming, but is usually worth it. At other times we use a tour company. I agree sometimes it works best to use a tour company initially to get the feel of a place. Some great tips here, thank you.