If you're new to the world of solo travel and can’t see yourself travelling alone, joining a group tour could be the perfect start. But how can you make sure that you pick ‘the right one’?
Start by comparing the tours based on the following 7 basics, to narrow your focus and make choosing your ideal holiday a whole lot easier.
1. WHAT'S THE SIZE OF THE GROUP?
Whether a large or small group, each have their pros and cons so there’s no right or wrong answer. But the group size does play a role in the group dynamics.
A small group tour is a more intimate experience. Whereas with a large group, you may not get to know everyone in the group but, on the flipside, there are going to be more personalities and more new people to meet.
Also, the logistics of things like checking into hotels, getting on and off the bus and gathering as a group, are easier to manage and less time consuming when compared to a larger group where you’ll need more patience.
2. CHOOSING A TOUR TO MATCH YOUR FITNESS
Never assume the physical demands of a tour. You need to read itinerary and the background information to check that the pace is a fit with the way you like to travel.
Many tours are graded on a scale based on the physical demands of the tour. Also most itineraries will tell you about each day, including if they are full days of sightseeing, half days or a mix, so you can have an idea of how much free time is available. If all else fails and you don’t feel like you know the tour pace, contact the tour company or your travel agent to check.
3. WHAT ’S THE AGE GROUP?
Sure, age does not define a person but the reality is that if you can find a tour with people close to your age it’s more likely you can find some common ground and it’s going to help you to enjoy the company of the others in the group.
The best ways to get an idea of the age group that the tour attracts is to go to the source and ask the tour company. No company can give you an absolute until the group is finalised, and then it’s too late, but they should be able to give you a guide.
4. ARE THERE OTHER SOLO TRAVELLERS IN THE GROUP?
Like age, your marital status shouldn’t make a difference but if you find yourself landing in a group where everyone else is travelling as a couple, there’s some chance it could make you feel a bit like ‘the third wheel’.Often smaller to medium sized operators are more likely to be able to share the make-up or likely make-up of the group compared to a big tour company that may not or can’t provide this information. Better still, book yourself on a group exclusively for solo travellers.
5. WHAT ’S THE NATIONALITY MIX?
Do you want to travel with a bunch of travellers from your own country, or would you prefer to mingle with travellers from different parts of the world?
There’s no simple way to know what the mix of nationalities will be on tour just by looking at the brochure. If it matters to you, ask your travel agent or the tour operator about it. If the tour company can’t tell you the exact mix of nationalities, you can usually get an indication based on asking in which countries they’re selling the tour.
6. WHAT’S THE LANGUAGE FOR THE TOUR?
As an English speaker, we expect to be booking onto English-speaking tours, but not all tours are exclusively operated in English. There are some, although less common, that are run in multiple languages.Languages.
Travelling alone, and landing yourself in a group tour with others that don’t speak your language is going to limit your ‘fun factor’ and chance of making some travel buddies on tour.
7. WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE TOUR?
Comparing tours can be like comparing apples to oranges with so any variables.
To help make comparisons look for these points of difference;·
- The hotel standard included.
- How many meals are included and what standard are the meals; simple hotel dinners or special highlight experiences?
- Is sightseeing included in the tour price or optional at an additional cost?
- What’s the comfort level for tour; the type of vehicle used and is it public or private?
- Does the tour include a tour director and/or local guides?
- Is tipping included or not?
Written by Justine Waddington, founder of Encounter Travel, the tour and cruise specialist travel company for solo travellers. She is also the author of The Solo Traveller’s Compass, How to Travel Solo but Not Alone (www.justinewaddington.com)
Encounter Travel partner with RSVP to offer holidays for solo travellers to destinations across Australia and around the world.
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