There are plenty of decisions to make when it comes to travel. Where will I go? How long will I 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. Or will you head off into the unknown on your own? There are pros and cons to both types of travel. I have done both myself, and I enjoyed both for different reasons. Here is my take on group travel vs solo travel to help you choose which type of travel may suit you.
Please note, I first wrote this blog post a number of years ago and it appeared in my travel guide ‘Ready, Set, Go – Travel‘. I have updated this blog post for travel in 2022.
What is Group Travel?
Group travel refers to any organised tour. It could be for a day, a number of days or weeks. The trip is pre-booked, fully paid for before you leave and you travel with a group of other travellers who booked the same trip. The group tour will have a tour leader who you can go to for any problems you may have plus, they often provide information about where you are and take you to pre-planned activities. Included in the tour is your travel, usually by bus, accommodation and most meals. The goal of the group travel is to make the holiday easy for you to sit back and enjoy your trip without having to worry about any logistics.
Advantages of Group travel
- Everything is included.
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. This is great to help you budget.
- The trip is planned for you.
That’s right choosing group travel can be less stressful because you don’t have to organise the above (which can cause fights with travel partners).
- Meet Like-minded people.
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.
- No single supplements
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 and G-Adventures.
- Everything is pre-planned for you.
Group tours take you to the places you want to see and go and you will have a tour leader to assist with any problems. Plus the tour guide will provide a rundown on the places you are visiting. You don’t get this if you are travelling solo.
- Luggage is safe while you are travelling.
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. From the bus to your room.
- Safety in numbers
This is a biggie for some solo travellers, particularly female travellers. There can be safety travelling in numbers. This can be true in countries where women aren’t treated at the same level as some men.
- Always someone to take your photo
When you choose group travel over solo travel you won’t have to take selfies because there will be others who are happy to take your photo for you.
- Choose the tour length that suits your time available.
If you have limited time you will want to make the most of it. Tour companies usually have tours lasting for a different number of days and weeks to different areas and countries.
Disadvantages of Group Travel
- No deviations allowed
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 to the touring schedule compared to solo travel when you can change your schedule at a moments notice. So there is less flexibility to deviate from any travel plans.
- Stuck with the People on the same tour
You may unfortunately on a group tour get stuck with people you have nothing in common. 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.
- No Privacy
You won’t have much privacy as you will be with the touring group most of the time. And singles are often paired with someone to share a room.
What is Solo Travel?
Simply put, you are travelling alone. You plan everything by yourself and undertake all the travelling alone. Travelling solo can be very rewarding, yet at times, scary. Travelling solo gives you a lot of flexibility with your travel plans. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of solo travel vs group travel.
Advantages of Solo Travel
- Flexibility and Freedom
Solo travel provides you with the freedom to do as you please. You can go where you want, when you want and to stay as long as you want. There is a lot of flexibility to change your plans whenever you want.
- You are the captain of your own ship
Yep, you make all your travel decisions yourself so basically, you are the captain of your own ship.
- Get off the Grid
When you travel solo you can get off the well-worn beaten tourist track and immerse yourself in the local culture. You can get off the grid if you wish.
- Personal Growth
I think everyone should try solo travel at least once in their life. The solo travel experience will push you beyond your comfort zone in many ways. You may overcome a lot of fears. You may do things you would never thought you might have done before. Your confidence will grow and you may strike up conversations with people at many different places. Accomplishing these things will give you pride in yourself and along with confidence you will conquer the world!.
Disadvantages of Solo Travel
- Solitude and Loneliness
You can get lonely when you travel solo but here are my suggestions on how to find friends.
- Carry all your possessions with you
You must carry your luggage around which is why most travel with a backpack or luggage that has wheels.
- You need to find your own accommodation
- Uncomfortable Eating Alone
Solo travellers can feel uncomfortable eating on their own in restaurants. An option is to choose to eat in a food court, food market or fast food joint. Or stay in a place where other solo travellers stay, like a hostel.
- Cooking on your own
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 limited cooking facilities.
- You may Get Lots
You may get lost looking for tourist sites when you are travelling solo. But isn’t that half the fun? Sometimes the best travel experiences occur when you least expect them!
Being alone can sometimes 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 if you feel unsafe remove yourself from the situation.
Tour Companies to Consider for Group Travel
Here are some tour companies to consider. They are in alphabetical order and in no order of preference. I have not been paid to list them, I have chosen them for the tours they offer. There are probably many more I could add to the list. If you can suggest one, please do.
Abercrombie & Kent (Luxury Group Travel)
Chimu Adventures (Polar Group Travel
Contiki (18-35 year olds)
DuVine Cycling (Biking Tour Group)
EF Go Ahead Tours (Educational Tours)
G Adventures (budget tours)
Intrepid Travel (Responsible Group Travel)
Kensington Tours (Private Group Travel)
Top Deck (18-39 year olds)
Final Thoughts on Group Travel vs Solo Travel
As you have read, there are advantages and disadvantages to both solo travel 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 group tour with Contiki 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 by myself or 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! Let me know in the comments following what travel you choose.