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Travel independently or with tour group?

Orlando, Florida
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2,973 posts
133 reviews
111 helpful votes
Travel independently or with tour group?

Hello solo travelers, particularly those of Medicare age (or 60s and above). Do you prefer traveling completely independent or with a tour company? Are there destinations that you would NOT travel independently and would do a tour, even if it means paying a single supplement? On the other hand, or there places that you would prefer to travel independently?

Edited: 19 January 2019, 04:08
8 replies to this topic
I wander the world
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4,967 posts
25 reviews
24 helpful votes
1. Re: Travel independently or with tour group?

The very definition of solo travel is independently. My guess is the majority of the members here are going to say independently.

While I take the occasional day trip with a group, I travel independently.

r c
Portland, Oregon
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10,316 posts
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2. Re: Travel independently or with tour group?

welcome,

some disclosures..

- im not of the medicare age - yet.

- im an older solo male traveler

some unsolicited advise/comments/thoughts....

- some people dont care to be alone. Be it in their daily life or anyplace else. If thats you, then you may want a group tour.

- if you dont mind some "me" time, then you maybe able to do your own trips. You can plan, if you care to, your own transportation and lodging and everything else. Or you can mix and match what you want. You can do the lodging and transportation by yourself and then pick up tours at your stops. You can plan/reserve them ahead of time or not or you can do them spontaneously. Just understand that doing any tour at the last minute may not happen or you may have few choices. there is no 1 way to travel or do things.

- i have yet to pay a singles supplement in my solo travels- so far. who knows what will happen tomorrow or on my next trip.

- i personally like the freedom traveling solo brings.

- the mealtime is when being solo will hit me the most. but i do things to keep me busy such as go over that days plans/activities, review the many photos i took and make notes about those photos. If im lucky i will be able to chat with someone closeby.

- mind you there are some places that a tour would be of benefit. I dont care to drive, so thats where a tour would come in handy. Some places you may find a car would be better such as Normandy. I took a personal tour up there, but to see more of whats there, a car would be better. But again, you can mix it up. Car and tour, or tour and car.

- I was in Cusco, Peru this last year and a car would have been better, but i chose for a personal tour. It allowed me to get to the sites much quicker and without beating up my body due to the higher altitude. I also had someone to translate some of the info and to point out whats not on the signs. Also, i wouldnt care to drive in the places i have been to in S.America . A different breed of driver and no sense of "personal space" when it comes to cars. At Machu Picchu i was able to skip many people in line to board the bus up to the top. They dont let buses depart without ALL of the seats in use.. So that was an unforeseen bonus for me - solo person.

- So far in my travels in Europe and now S.America, i have yet to regret going anywhere solo. Im sure there are those that want someone attached to their side, but for me and what i like to do and see, no problem.

- there are places you may find that arent to nice on the feet. Places that use cobblestones or stones sidewalks/streets so your footing isnt so flat and smooth. That can be an issue for people that arent so mobile or sure footed.

good luck.

Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
2,973 posts
133 reviews
111 helpful votes
3. Re: Travel independently or with tour group?

Thanks r c. That's the type of feedback I'm looking for. When traveling with a tour group, I sometimes feel more lonely than when traveling independently if there are not other single persons included. Also, many of the tours I take allow for down time when I can do my own thing.

I did an independent trip to Greece recently, visiting Athens, and two islands. I took a ferry between the 2 islands. Boarding was rather chaotic. While in Athens, I took public transportation (train) from the airport to the city and was was almost pick pocketed. I tend to like public transportation when traveling however am finding it more grueling as I get up there in age. But there are some cities where I'm afraid to take a taxi alone. I don't like driving alone either.

Thus, the reason for my post. Just curious what other older travelers who travel solo prefer :-)

Canada
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11,163 posts
91 reviews
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4. Re: Travel independently or with tour group?

I am glad that I chose to take a tour ( 9 people) in China. The tour included priority access to the usual sites like the Forbidden city and Xian warriors. The guides got us through 4 domestic flights seamlessly and efficiently. We had the best rooms on the Yangtze cruise without a single supplement and handled any and all language issues.

The tour ended in Hong Kong and I extended the trip by 3 days. Solo. I had no problems in HK, Transit was easy, language no problem, felt sage even in the Ladies Market late at night.

Another tour that I went on was Egypt including Sinai peninsula . A Canadian tour of 36 people. and this was before the Arab Spring. Again guides dealt with language issue, priority entrance to nationals sites like the Valley of the Kings and Cairo Museum and suggested places to eat when meals were not included. As a woman ( albeit a senior) I was happy to have a go to person to handle problems. Going to St Catherines Monastery would have been a difficult challenge to organize as a solo trip. Even back then we had armed guards on out tour bus when we went into certain areas like the Coptic Christian zone.

Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
2,973 posts
133 reviews
111 helpful votes
5. Re: Travel independently or with tour group?

Thanks you mathlady. Yes, traveling with a tour group in certain locations can provide a sense of security.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
4,000 posts
9 reviews
7 helpful votes
6. Re: Travel independently or with tour group?

I prefer to travel independently, and in places where transport infrastructure is good, it is easy to do. So in Europe, Japan, Taiwan I travelled independently because the train systems are excellent. In Australia and New Zealand, I drive. But I did join a tour in Vietnam, because there some attractions in country areas in central Vietnam which could not be reached by public transport. The traffic is also pretty crazy there, so best not to drive. So I did take a private tour there and it was excellent.

I have not been everywhere in my own country, but there are some less developed bits of Australia where I would consider a tour. For example the Kimberley in the north west. Travelling independently over there requires more survival skills than taking trains in Europe or Japan.

Italy
Level Contributor
9,788 posts
7. Re: Travel independently or with tour group?

Some of this will depend on your personal comfort level but for Europe and North America I don't think you ever really need a tour group.

Okay if you're hiking in a remote national park it's better to have a guide or hiking partner but in cities? You're fine alone.

r c
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
10,316 posts
1 review
2 helpful votes
8. Re: Travel independently or with tour group?

welcome back,

When i was on Easter Island, i did 2 tours. The shuttles were not full and there was a mix of people. Couples, Mom/daugher and solos.

one guy from Australia made a point to meet everyone. he was on his 7th Round the World trip. I normally dont chat with people on tours since i find its a great way to miss out on things or to miss taking some photos. But after the tour was over we had a nice chat over pizza. I learned some about Round the World travel.

Ive been on a handful of tours and the way i do/see things i dont see them as a "meet up" thingy. If i meet someone, great, if not, my trip is still good. I know the some solo travels want to meet/chat with people, but i dont know of any good 100% way of doing it other than to say "hi" or "bonjour" ..ect. And then its not a 100% guarantee you will find someone wanting to chat or has the time to chat.

Usually when i travel, im so awed by where im at or in front of that i dont have time to feel lonely. Some places get me thinking about life and such as when i was in Pompeii ,Coliseum in Rome, or Machu Picchu. But for the most part, not alot of lonely time.

As far as being pick pocketed, thats always a issue anywhere you go. I just try to use common sense and not have anything on me im not willing to loose or have it in someplace not so accessible.

The only time i had an issue like that was in Brussels. And i had broken my #1 rule. Dont let someone get close enough to pickpocket you. If they can touch you, they can pickpocket you. So if a stranger approaches me, i keep my distance. But i dropped my guard and thats all it took. I was able to push the person away and tell him to "back off". This was in broad daylight an in a vary public area.

Also, there are those that will take advantage of your age and offer to "help you". Thats when they have their hands on you and its too late. My cousin was pick pocketed that way in Rome when the "nice" strangers offered to "help" her up into the bus. Her kids were right there too, but it was too late.

Traveling solo is something you just need to be more aware of. Again, if you want to pickup tours you can.

I have met more nice people on my travels than bad. I think there are more out there just doing their thing, doing the job and just trying to get by just like the rest of us.

with regards to taxis. If im at an airport i will try to find a taxi desk INSIDE the airport. My first time in Lima i was swamped with taxi driver wanting to drive me someplace. But after the initial shock, i was able to get past them and move on. I NEVER get a taxi without some type of taxi desk at an airport. In Brasilia? i think they dont have an office "taxi desk", but they use a kiosk. I didnt know this and asked someone about it.

If i need a taxi while wondering around a town, i will look for a hotel/restaurant/shop to help me order one. Some hotels may have at taxi phone where you just request one. So far i havent need to get one from a restaurant or shop but i have walked into hotels and ask for a taxi. But if you arent sure about directions, ask a shop/restaurant/hotel person. chances are they wont steer you into a trap.

when i do use a taxi from a street, some places will have a taxi "rank" where several are waiting for customers. I have used them, but i always get a price estimate first.

when you are out and about dont carry more money than you need. If you dont need your credit card with you leave it in the room and if it has a safe, leave it in the safe. If im taking the metro i will have a spare ticket on me somewhere if they use them. If they use a card type ticket, then its in a separate pocket. I also have the lodgings business card in my pocket too, just in case i get lost, i have the lodgings address on me.

good luck on your trip.

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