Helpful Tips for Planning a Year Long Trip Around the World Part 5
[Tour Groups / Solo Travel]
Travel is a very personal experience, and as such it differs from person to person. Some people love the community building of hopping on a coach bus, and travelling across a country or a continent in one large group, jumping out at every major attraction, on mass, and flooding forward for the allotted forty minutes, then filing back on the bus, in order to make the next destination while the sun is still burning over head.
Other people will find a grassy hilltop, and sit for hours by themselves reading and writing to their hearts content, chuckling as they see said tour group file out and then back in to their bus, which tears away down the road. It is not for the setting of the sun that these travellers will finally leave their destination for the day.
Staying with the Tour
There are some very important things to realize about tour-based travel. You are with a group. This means you will be staying with the same group for the whole trip. If it’s a one or two day hitch, then this won’t be an issue – but if it’s three weeks in length and you find that you can not stand someone in your group… well… buck up – because you’re in it for the long haul.
Also, tours operate based on giving you the maximum experience in, often, a very limited amount of time. Some tours will take you through twenty countries in thirty days. Do the math there, and factor in travel time. You’re out, then you’re back in and moving on.
It’s also important that you feel comfortable riding in coach buses. If you need a lot of legroom, or are prone to back pain, this is probably not the way to go. Try a one day bus tour, at any rate, before signing up for the three month tour around South America with Gap Adventures.
Why Would you Want to Travel With a Tour
There are so many reasons why a tour is a great idea, but I’ll narrow it down to the top few.
- Safety. If you’re going through Africa, or South America you may not be familiar with the country, the customs, the roads, or what to do if you pop a tire. If you’re on a tour you have safety in numbers, the tour director knows what areas to visit, what ones to avoid, and will be able to get any breakdowns (unlikely as reputable tour companies have rigorous vehicle maintenance schedules.) fixed up quickly.
- Instant Community. When you’re with a tour, you are spending time with the same people, for long stretches of time, and you will get to know them. Perhaps you’ll even make a life long friend out of the experience.
- The Most in the Least. You are gaining access to a wide variety of locations in a very short amount of time. If you’re on a time budget, or don’t want to do the research yourself, hopping on board a tour bus could be the best thing for you.
- Price. It’s not that expensive, because you’re travelling with a group. This often means the savings in overland travel, and sleeping arrangements are passed on to you.
Why Would I want to Be a Solo Traveller?
Do you like being told what to do? Where to go? When to leave? If you can’t handle this you need to be a solo traveller. There’s nothing worse than finding a beautiful area in the Scottish Highlands and only being able to spend thirty minutes there. Everything is telling you to stay there, except for the drive who is screaming at the top of his lungs for you to get back on the bus. You’ll re-board to the passive aggression of twenty other staring travellers.
Being able to set your own itinerary, and go where you want to go, when you want to go is a fantastic freedom. There’s nothing better than having breakfast, and overhear someone talking about a great place four hours away – then having lunch in that destination. If you’ve managed to rent a car, then there are few better ways to see a country than stretched out in front of you.
The problems here, of course, arise when you pop a tire, or get lost, or run into a less than desirable area. Provided you’re aware of the risks and willing to accept them, solo travel may be the best choice for you.
What Tour Company Should I Use?
This is a big tour company. However, they are only for people under the age of 35. The drugs, drinking, and sex filled experience may cause anyone older to have a terrible heart attack, and die on the spot. Think of what that would do for their insurance rates?
It’s possible that this is just a rumour about Contiki and all the people who come back claiming that is pretty much how it is are liars. It’s possible. I’ve heard of some people who went on Contiki tours, and never noticed it at all – so it could be based on time of year, and luck of the draw. But for many people, this party atmosphere is the reason they love this company.
This is a tour company for the serious traveller. If you’re more interested in cultural awareness, learning about your surroundings, and enjoying the country for what it is, I highly recommend Gap Adventures.
Not only is their website easy to navigate, they also offer one of the most comprehensive lists of tours possible. You can search from budget tours, where you’ll be camping in the bush and hosteling, or you can search through their more expensive trips that will see you in nothing but the best hotels.
Gap Adventures also offers trips to Antarctica, which – while growing in popularity – are not that easy to come across. There’s no reason not to at least check out this companies web site.
Regional Tour Companies:
A quick google search of +”[CITY/COUNTRY NAME]” +tours will reveal a number of great options. In Scotland I travelled with Haggis Adventures, and highly recommend their three day Skye High trip from Edinburgh through the Highlands, and back.
Next we will look at all the various gear you need (and some which you don’t need, as much as want because it’s just so cool.) From tech, to clothing, we’ll look at the best things to take with you, why you might want them, and where you can buy them.
Jump to other Parts
0. Index / Summary
1. Planning Destinations
2. Budget / Culling
3. Hotels vs Hostels
4. Internet Research
5. Tour Groups / Solo Travel
6. Important Travel Gear
7. Packs / Packing
8. Medical Requirements
9. Saying Goodbye / Staying Connected
10. No Fear Travel
Bonus: Overlooked Travel Tips and Tricks