Independent Travel Vs. Organized Tours

Traveling is essential for our well-being. It's a need that has to be fulfilled or lest we become stagnant. Inspiring, enriching and empowering, travel is all of that and more. But, it is also nerve-racking. With questions like, where to go, where to stay, what all to see, where to eat, how to travel- a trip that was supposed to be fun can easily turn stressful. At times, the never ending questions and all the figuring out becomes so overwhelming that instead of getting excited about the upcoming trip, we start dreading it. Get your hands on some cheap flight tickets and forget about these worries because, I'll help you decide what shall do away all your travel related anxiety.

The biggest question, however, remains- Whether you should travel on your own or head out with an organized tour? But, before I answer this question, let me first tell you a story. I can distinctly remember the first trip my girlfriend and I went on together. I was so hell bent on impressing her that I wanted everything to be perfect. I ended up planning everything to the tee. I had a list of every attraction we would explore and every restaurant we would eat at. The trip was supposed to be a turning point in our relationship. A trip that would bring us closer. It did bring us close but not in the way I had imagined. The trip was a disaster. Because the place was so unexplored, all the information I had collected was outdated. Most of the restaurants were already closed and the attractions were faux resulting in a trip that was grandly screwed. This, contrary to what I expected, brought us closer. When we went on our second trip together, we ended up opting for an organized tour. The trip turned out beautifully. Since then, we have been on countless trips across the globe. Both organized and independent. With this vast knowledge in the field of travel, I?ll explain to you, in detail, the pros and cons of independent travel and organized tours.

Independent Travel

The beauty of independent travel is the freedom it brings along. With independent travel, concept such as time do not matter. Say, you are in Egypt gazing at the Great Pyramids. You can stare at it for as long as you want, soaking in the genius and mystery of one of the greatest architectural accomplishments. Another advantage of independent travel is that it offers flexibility. I mean you do not have to stick to tightly sketched out schedules. You can always switch between plans or change it completely as per your mood or wishes. To be honest, you are your own boss. That is why, when we went to Petra, my girlfriend and I decided against an organized tour. During the day, we saw tons of tourists accompanied by guides. Most of them left by the evening and only a few stayed for the night. Almost all of them were independent travelers. We also spent the night in Petra. It was one of the best nights of my life, the whole place changed as soon as the sun set. The magnificent buildings mystified tenfold.

One more thing about traveling independent is that the whole experience is extremely authentic. The chances to interact with local customs and tradition are much more and also unbiased. This is the case because, guides are often biased and have deals with restaurants and attractions. Being independent, you are unaffected by the biases and are able to interact with the people and the customs on an intimate level. While traveling to Rishikesh, a holy city in India, we were able to experience Hinduism and spiritualism in a much better way. The intimate connection we made with the locals led us to understand their heritage and traditions in a way that no guide could have ever.

Organized Tour

Organized tours aren't travels that you plan yourself. Instead, you hire a professional to plan your trip. In any organized trip, you also get a guide. Now, most travelers think organized tour is the worst kind. Contrary to popular belief, that's untrue. Sometimes, organized tours can be the best way to travel. Their charm is so much that people often travel only through organized tours. One of the biggest reasons for opting organized tour is all the planning that goes into every trip. It takes days to formulate a concrete plan. Figuring out ways of traveling, budget, hotels, and local attractions may sound easy. In reality, it is as far from being easy as is the earth from being flat. All the planning can be quite troublesome. It leaves travelers with anxiety and stress. And in most cases, despite all the planning there will be at least one thing that definitely goes wrong.

With organized tours you can leave these worries behind. All you need is to be your excited self and enjoy the trip to the fullest. Another advantage of organized tour is that the professionals you hire know way more about your vacation destination then you ever will. They know every tiny detail.

Language barrier can often turn traveling in to an unpleasant experience. Being surrounded by people who can barely understand you can get really frustrating after a while. On our trip to Japan, the language and cultural barrier was gigantic. Simple things such as ordering food became almost impossible. There were no menus in English and even the waiter and owners didn't speak the same language as ours. However, on a guided tour, language barrier is a thing unheard of as your guide not only speaks the native tongue but also knows the cultural necessities. Another thing that came as a shocker to us, which could have gotten us on a tough spot if not for our guide, was that you cannot respond to anyone with a thumbs down. In western countries, a thumbs down is seen as a gesture of disapproval but in Japan, it is considered extremely rude and offensive.

All in all, traveling through an organized tour can be quite fun. You might end up making friends on the tour, or take back with you fond memories of your guide who goes out of his/her way to make your trip worth remembering. I think that's what makes organized tours amazing. For the people who are organizing it, guiding you, it is not just a job for them, rather a way of showing you the best things there are. Get last minute travel deals on your much awaited trip and explore local culture and cuisine with the help of a local guide.