The Top 5 Reasons to Go On an Organized Tour

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When you’re traveling on your own, it’s nice to have time to yourself and to explore the world on your own. You might avoid joining organized tours because you don’t think you need to be told where to go and what to see (as you can read a guide book), because you don’t like being herded around to fit in with someone else’s schedule or simply because you don’t feel like it’s worth the money.

There are definitely times when being part of a tour group has little added benefit, but there are also times when it can really add to your experience (especially when traveling alone). I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 reasons for taking an organized tour, based on my past experiences:

1. Being Able to Socialize with a Group

Traveling alone or with the same small group of friends for weeks or months on end can eventually become dull and you may end up feeling isolated and lonely.

Traveling as part of a tour group gives you a natural rapport with other people, and you’re encouraged to interact. This is particularly good for people who aren’t good at ‘breaking the ice’ or meeting new people, as most people that go on organized tours will be friendly and more than pleased to meet you.

You’ll never know who you might meet, and in my experience there’s often a good mix of nationalities (giving the group a wide range of culture and experience). If the tour you’re doing stretches multiple days, it’s not uncommon for people to make friends and agree to meet up later on down the road.

2. Having Someone to Take Your Picture

Taking your pictureThis really only applies to you if you’re traveling solo, but having someone to take your picture at all the sights is a massive benefit. Having pictures of the sights/scenery is great, but unless you’re in them they aren’t really personal to you.

While you CAN always ask someone to take your picture for you (i.e. a random passer-by), it’s a lot more awkward approaching a total stranger, and there may not always be someone around to do it for you.

I recently traveled to the Grand Canyon, and on the (long) coach ride there I became friends with a guy from China. Upon arriving at the Grand Canyon, we ‘swapped’ cameras, so that he could take pictures of me (on my camera), and I could take pictures of him (on his camera). The end result was great, and we both got a lot of great amazing pictures.

3. Being Able to Relax and Stay Safe

Taman NegaraA lot of the time going on a tour involves first traveling to another area (usually by car/bus/coach). Signing up for an organized tour means that everything will be taken care for you. You can sit back, relax and enjoy the sights as you’re driven to your location instead of worrying about whether you’re going the right way or whether you’ve missed your stop.

Being able to relax and let someone else do the driving and navigating lets you appreciate the sights around you more.

In addition to this, if you’re traveling unguided you never know what dangerous areas you might be stumbling into. A good tour guide will keep you safe at all times and will let you know where’s safe to go and where isn’t.

4. Being Able to Experience the Sights Better

I’ve often walked around areas that look interesting, but unless you have someone there to explain the history or facts about them, it’s difficult to really feel engaged.

Oftentimes your tour guide will be either a local or someone that has great knowledge of the area you’re traveling in. They’ll be able to teach you things and tell the amazing kinds of stories you’d never find in a guide book.

Being able to interact with a tour leader is what makes guided tours special (and so popular). Without this interaction and active learning you’re just walking around looking at the sights instead of really experiencing them.

5. Stopping You from Slacking Off

When trekking or doing something that requires effort, being part of a tour group can give you that added motivation to keep going. For example, when I was visiting the Taman Negara national park in Malaysia, we were doing a tour through the park that involved climbing up (what seemed like) and endless number of steps for what seemed like half an hour. Needless to say this was tiring work, but it was most definitely worth it for the view at the end.

Taman Negara National ParkAfterwards, we proceeded to climb another set of steps to find an even better viewpoint. Had I been traveling on my own, I probably would’ve given up after the first climb as I was feeling tired, but the other members of the group (and the tour leader) encouraged me to keep going (which I’m glad for now).

There might also be days when you wake up and you really don’t feel like doing anything (even though you should). The knowledge that you’ve booked and paid for some kind of organized tour will give you that added incentive to get out of bed and experience the world.

As you can see, there are lots of benefits to going on organized tours as opposed to exploring by yourself. When you’re traveling on a tight budget paying to go on a tour can seem like a big (and potentially unnecessary) expense, but in my experience it’s nearly always worth it.

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