Organized Tours vs. Independent Travel

Anyone going on a vacation in an unfamiliar place wonders about this question, often to others who have tried both options. Personally, I have heard it both ways and it most definitely depends on where you're traveling to more than anything. However, I'll let you all decide with all of the information at hand, the good and the bad. Enjoy and make sure, whatever you choose, you have an amazing time on your upcoming student group trip!

Organized Tours

  • PRO: You're guaranteed to see everything on the itinerary. This is a major plus for some people when taking organized tours. On your own, you sometimes bite off more than you can chew and end up missing some of the most anticipated attractions.
  • PRO: You don't have to bother with travel planning. Most people, we understand, don't enjoy planning out every detail of their vacation. Organized tours will do that for you and include it in the price.
  • PRO: Guided tours usually offer better travel at a better value. Travel companies can usually get better deals than individual travelers and they pass the savings on to you. You can see a lot more of your destination guided by a professional and still save a lot of money, in most cases. Plus it's safer in some parts of the world to tour in a large group rather than solo.
  • PRO: It's all-inclusive! Transportation, admission to attractions, food, and lodging are all included in the price (in most cases) and that's a mighty attractive prospect. Imagine not having to shell out more money every time you stop somewhere. It's magical.
  • CON: Organized travel and tours often limit freedom of choice. The package might be all inclusive and save you a few bucks but everything is already chosen for you and you don't have a say in it. If you like roaming free in a new place, exploring as the locals do, then organized trips are probably not for you.
  • CON: You don't get much free time. Everything is organized for you from eating in the morning to when you can go to bed at night after everything's all done. You might get an hour here and there to do some free time shopping but it's typically not enough time to really discover something new about your destination.
  • CON: Guided tour groups can get pretty big. Smaller groups are better, generally speaking, as large groups can get overwhelming. Also, you get to know people better in a smaller group.
  • CON: You have to spend your vacation with strangers. It's not always the most pleasant of thoughts, and this especially depends on what type of vacation you want. Most of the people you'll meet will be a delight but you might not get along with all of them and then you're stuck taking a vacation with them.

Independent Travel

  • PRO: Do what you want. The freedom of independent travel is the number one reason why many people bypass guided tours all together. Go where you want, stay as long as you want, choose your hotel and food and itinerary all on your own. You don't have to do what everyone else in your group is doing if you don't want or you can spend the entire time by the pool. It's completely up to you. You're your own boss.
  • PRO: Independent travel is liberating and self-affirming. This one might stem from my mother's "be an adult" speech but truly, traveling on your own and making all of the challenges work to your advantage leaves you feeling very confident and self-affirmed.
  • PRO: It's an adventure. Being spontaneous and discovering new things is one of the biggest reasons to travel and travel often. Millennial travelers especially find this particularly attractive. The world, in my opinion, should be seen as a big adventure and there's nothing quite like exploring a new city or country and finding out how the locals live, what they like, what the culture is like from a first hand, non-touristy angle.
  • PRO: It can actually be cheaper. I know what I said earlier but if you know where to look and compare deals, you can make a grand vacation pretty affordable. Know your limits, such as your budget, and pick only your top desired attractions. Plan wisely and you can travel beautifully.
  • CON: You have to pay for everything individually and think about all of the expenses. Traveling on your own isn't all-inclusive. It can all add up quickly with transportation, parking fees, admission prices, hotel and food, etc.
  • CON: Can be difficult in some countries. If you're in the U.S. then it's no problem. But if you're traveling somewhere you don't speak the language, if there's civil turmoil, or doesn't have a definitive infrastructure, it can be very challenging.
  • CON: Planning. It's just plain time consuming and can often give even the best of us headaches. This is easier or harder depending on  your destination, the time of year you're traveling, and how many people are in your group. The good thing is, if you want independent travel, you can still get a travel agency to plan all the basics for you.
  • CON: You're responsible. When something goes wrong, you're pretty much going solo and you have to figure it out. You don't have a travel guide to take care of it for you, unless you have a travel agent back home to help (psst, we do that!), and managing setbacks when you're in an unfamiliar place can get overwhelming.

Hopefully, you'll be better able to find your groove with these pros and cons and choose which tour style is right for your student group. You can also call our talented travel representatives and they can give you sound advice on which style would be best for your particular group, taking budget and group size into account.