There are plenty of decisions to make when it comes to travel. Where will go? How long will you go for? How much will it cost? These questions can be hard to answer particularly for a first time traveller. And another important decision is will you choose group travel or solo travel? A group could be with a group of friends or on a group tour. There are pros and cons to both group travel and solo travel. Here is my take on it.
Please note, I first wrote this blog a number of years ago and it appeared in my travel guide ‘Ready, Set, Go – Travel‘. I have updated this blog for 2019.
Group travel, the pros
- If choosing group travel and going on a group tour the transport, accommodation, most meals, some entrance fees and a tip for your tour leader are included in the cost. With all these things paid for you only need to take spending money.
- Choosing group travel can be less stressful because you don’t have to organise the above (which can cause fights with travel partners).
- Group travel gives you the opportunity to meet other like-minded travellers. You can make lasting friendships and even meet the partner of your dreams. You will be bound with these people forever by the experience you have together.
- Many tour companies do not charge single supplements to people travelling on their own. Particularly those aimed at 18-35 year olds such as Top Deck and Contiki.
- Group tours take you to the places you want to see and will have a tour leader to assist with any problems. Plus provide a rundown on the places you are visiting. You don’t get this if you are travelling solo.
- You do not usually have to carry your luggage around as it will be in the transport or at the accommodation. If you do have to carry it it won’t be very far.
- There can be safety travelling in numbers.
- When you choose group travel over solo travel you won’t have to take selfies cause there will be others who are happy to take your photo for you.
Group travel, the cons
- Group travel stick to an itinerary and there is restricted time in each place. Thus only providing an overview of each place you visit, which limits you from immersing yourself in the local culture.
- There are no deviations allowed to the touring schedule compared to solo travel when you can change your schedule at a moments notice.
- You may unfortunately on a group tour get stuck with people you have nothing in common with or find that someone annoys you immensely. If you don’t like a tour you are not obliged to stay on it. But if you leave of your own accord, don’t expect to receive a refund for the remaining portion of the trip which you did not undertake.
- You won’t have much privacy as you will be with the touring group most of the time.
- If travelling with friends, decisions may become difficult to make as each of you want to do different things.
Solo travel, the pros
- Solo travel provides you with the freedom to do as you please to go where you want, when you want and to stay as long as you want. You make all the decisions yourself so basically, you are the captain of your own ship.
- When you travel solo you can get off the well-worn beaten tourist track and immerse yourself in the local culture.
Solo travel, the cons
- You can get lonely when you travel solo – but I suggest you stay where other travellers stay such as hostels cause you just might meet a friend.
- You must carry your luggage around.
- Solo travel will mean you need to find your own accommodation (if you haven’t pre-booked). I suggest using booking sites such as HostelWorld for a hostel bed and Booking.com for a hotel room.
- Solo travellers often feel uncomfortable eating on their own in restaurants and choose to eat in a food court, food market or fast food joint.
- It can be more expensive being a single traveller because you might need to pay a single supplement on a tour or accommodation.
- Cooking for one can be hard due to a lack of cooking utensils and being unable to carry fresh ingredients around with you. Lucky then I have written Travellers Fare — Fast & Fabulous Meals for Travellers. An ebook full of easy recipes that use limited utensils and ingredients – perfect if you are staying in a hostel or hotel room with cooking facilities.
- You may get lost looking for sites – but isn’t that half the fun? Sometimes the best travel experiences occur when you least expect them!
- You will need to take more selfies when travelling solo.
- Being alone can be scary particularly if you start to feel unsafe, because your safety should be utmost. I would highly suggest you always be wary of your surroundings and keep your valuables close.
Travellers Fare – Fast & Fabulous Meals for Travellers
- Take less than 60 minutes to prepare and cook.
- Use minimal cooking facilities.
- Provide nourishment and taste great.
- Help you save money while travelling.
As you have read, there are advantages and disadvantages to both solo and group travel. And you should realise there is no right or wrong way to travel. I suggest you weigh up the type of travelling you want to do. You can always do a mixture such as I did. I went to London on a working holiday by myself. Then I went on a Contiki Tour through Europe by myself and I met a couple of people I am still in contact with today. Other times I travelled independently and often bought a train or bus ticket and went away on weekends or longer with friends. I hope you have found ‘my take’ on solo travel vs group travel helpful and no matter what form of travel you choose, I wish you happy travels!
Sharyn McCullum has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. In her 20’s she went overseas on her own for the first time and found herself in London where she spent 4 years living, working and playing and travelling through many countries. Her travels have inspired her ‘Live Work and Play’ series of working holiday guides and a number of travel websites. She continues to travel regularly and currently calls Melbourne home.