Group tours are organized excursions where participants travel as part of a group led by a guide or guides, typically for sightseeing and experiencing destinations.

You might travel with a company that plans your entire trip—from flights to accommodations, meals, sightseeing, and beyond. Or you might meet up with a group in your desired destination and hop on that tour for just part of your trip. There are a lot of styles, sizes, and themes to group tours and a ton of reasons to travel with one.

If you’re new to tour group travel, let this be your introduction!

Why Should You Consider Traveling with a Tour Group?

There are lots of reasons to opt for a group tour while traveling—let’s look at a few of the basics:

Scheduling and Organization

Group tours come with a pre-planned schedule that covers the main attractions and experiences in your chosen destination. This is particularly beneficial for first-time visitors or those with limited time, as it ensures you don’t miss out on key sights. Plus, your tour company may arrange all of your transport between attractions, as well as your ticket bookings, meal arrangements, and accommodations—this reduces the stress of coordination and leaves more time for actual exploration!


You can save a fair amount of money traveling on a group tour rather than planning and booking everything yourself. Tour operators often get discounted rates due to bulk bookings for accommodations, activities, and attractions. And they usually offer packages that include meals, entrance fees, and other amenities, eliminating unpredictable expenses. Costs like transportation get distributed among participants, making certain aspects cheaper than booking alone.

Extras and Amenities

If you’re part of a tour group, you might get easier access to shows, sites, and events that you might not be able to enjoy as a solo traveler. Some group tours offer skip-the-line privileges at busy attractions, saving time. As well, certain places may have special arrangements with tour operators, granting access to areas not open to the general public—you may be able to get a better understanding of a historical site or see some hidden gems that you would have missed if you’d not traveled with a group. To add to the fun: group tours might include special events or performances that are exclusive or hard to book individually—another cherry on top of the travel experience!

In-Depth Knowledge

Tour guides are usually well-trained in the history, culture, and nuances of the destination you’re visiting. Their commentary can make a monument come alive, transform a simple landscape into a historical battleground, or turn a local dish into a tale of cultural evolution. And beyond textbook knowledge, your guide might share local legends, stories, and personal experiences, offering a deeper connection to the place.


When you travel on a group tour, your guide will be well-versed in local customs, do’s and don’ts, and potential risks in an area. They can warn you about places to avoid, local scams, or behaviors that might be deemed disrespectful. In case of any mishaps, like health issues or lost belongings, a tour guide or company often has protocols to handle the situation efficiently. Plus, there’s an inherent safety in numbers. Being in a group can deter potential threats or unwanted attention.

Social Experience

Of course, one of the best advantages of taking a group tour is that you can meet like-minded travelers! Whether you’re marveling at a breathtaking sunset, discussing a guide’s story, or jointly navigating a local market, shared experiences can enhance the joy of travel. For solo travelers or those nervous about visiting a new place, being part of a group can provide emotional support and camaraderie.

Group tours simplify and enrich the travel experience in various ways. While they might not be for everyone, they offer undeniable benefits that can make a trip memorable and stress-free for many.

Cons of Group Tours

Traveling on a group tour might not be for you—let’s go over a few downsides to this travel type:

Less Flexibility

Day-to-day activities are usually set in advance, leaving limited room for impromptu plans or changes. And while some tours offer free time, it’s often restricted to specific slots, which might not align with individual preferences. If you value alone time, or if you’d rather choose the times you need to rest and recharge away from other people, you might find a group tour more stressful than stimulating.


Group tours usually have rigid timelines, and spending too much time at one attraction can disrupt the schedule. So there’s usually a time limit at each stop, which can be aggravating if you’re super interested in a particular site and wish to explore it more than your time limit allows. What’s fascinating for one might be mundane for another, but the group generally moves together.

Personal Preferences

Tours aim to cater to broad interests that might not align with everyone’s preferences. Itineraries are more generic as a result, and there might be attractions you want to visit that aren’t on the tour’s itinerary.


In large groups, individual preferences or concerns can get overshadowed, making for a more impersonal experience—though you may not have this issue with a smaller tour group, so when looking at your options, be sure to account for your preferences with group size so that you don’t feel part of the herd if that’s not what you’re looking for. Larger groups might also face delays, like waiting for everyone to assemble or slower movement through crowded places—particularly annoying if you’re a go-go-go type of person!

Potential for Conflicts

With varied backgrounds and personalities, disagreements or conflicts might arise among group members, and it can make for a frustrating trip…regardless of whether you’re part of the personality clash, or if you’re witnessing it play out amongst other travelers in your group. Even simple things like choosing a place to eat during free time can become complicated with differing opinions.

Impersonal Experience

Being part of a large group makes the experience feel less authentic and more like a standard tourist excursion. And the group’s presence might limit opportunities for genuine interactions with locals.

While group tours have advantages and disadvantages, understanding them allows you to make an informed decision based on your preferences and priorities.

Should You Travel With a Tour Group or Independently?

If you’re still on the fence about whether to go with a structured tour group, consider these questions:

How flexible do you want to be? When you plan your own itinerary, you don’t need to follow a fixed schedule. You can easily adjust your plans if you stumble upon an unexpected event or place. You can spend as much or as little time as you wish at each attraction, depending on your level of interest.

How personal of an experience do you want? Planning your own trip, you can explore slowly or quickly, depending on your energy and inclination. And if you have niche interests, like a specific type of architecture or local cuisine, you can dedicate more time to those without any constraints.

How immersive an experience do you want? Traveling independently can make it easier to strike up conversations with locals, leading to genuine interactions. Without a group’s constraints, you can explore less-touristy areas, which can offer a more authentic experience.

How independent do you want to be? Handling challenges, from language barriers to navigation, can lead to personal growth and increased confidence.

How much planning do you want to do? From booking accommodations to arranging transport and ensuring you see key attractions, planning can be time-consuming. And without the expertise of a tour company, there’s a risk of missing out on certain experiences or logistical details.

What does your budget look like? Unlike tour companies that get bulk rates, independent travelers might pay a premium on some services, like entrance to certain attractions, or nightly room rates.

Do you have safety concerns? Without a local guide, there’s a risk of unknowingly venturing into unsafe areas or situations—and solo travelers can sometimes be perceived as easier targets for scams or theft.

How much interaction do you want with other travelers? While solo travel offers freedom, there can be moments of loneliness, especially during meals or in the evenings. If you feel more comfortable being around other people and sharing your travel experiences, a tour group might be a fantastic option for you.

How to Pick the Right Tour Group for Your Vacation

If you think a group tour is the right choice for your dream vacation, here are a few ways to help narrow your choices for tour providers:

  1. Research! Read reviews—previous travelers often share their experiences on review sites, providing insights into the tour’s quality.
  2. Choose your group size: Smaller groups can offer more personalized experiences, while larger ones might provide a broader social environment but could feel less personal.
  3. Know the target audience: Some tours cater to young adults, others to seniors or families. And make sure the tour’s physical demands match your capabilities, be it hiking, leisurely walks, or other activities.
  4. Understand your budget: Make sure you know what you’re paying for. Some tours might appear cheaper but have many excluded costs. Compare multiple tours to gauge which offers the best value in terms of experiences, accommodations, and meals.
  5. Pick your theme: Some tours focus on themes like wildlife, history, or culinary experiences. Choose one that matches your passion—also, decide if you prefer a comprehensive overview of a place or a deep dive into specific aspects.
  6. Know the company’s reputation: Established companies often have a history of reliability and consistency. Check if the tour operator has industry certifications or affiliations, indicating quality and safety standards.

Choosing whether to travel independently or with a group and then selecting the right tour are decisions that require a mix of introspection and external research.

Ultimately, the decision boils down to personal preference, the type of experience you seek, and the particular destination. Some travelers mix and match, choosing group tours for certain parts of their journey and traveling independently for others. Whatever you decide, you’re bound to have a truly unforgettable experience!

About the Author

Heather is a freelance writer who loves exploring the intersection of travel and history. Read her other articles on Frayed Passport here.

Featured image by Chang Duong on Unsplash

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