Are Package Tours Really Worth Their Price Tag?

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INDIA TRAVEL

South Africa… The trip that started it all. I volunteered for two weeks with VESA during a summer while at university and well and truly caught the travel bug. I’d never been further than Spain at that point and hadn’t been out of the UK since I was 8 years old. Since then I’ve travelled to 18 countries over 4 continents, many of which have been on package tours.

Girls are constantly told that travelling alone is dangerous. WRONG! Solo travel is one of the best things I’ve ever done, but it can be nerve wracking, especially at the start! So why not travel with a group of like-minded people? I love having total control over my own trip and doing things at my own speed, but I will always have a love of package tours!

When I started travelling, I was too afraid to go solo, but rather than miss the trip altogether, I found a tour and packed a bag! If you’re worried about being on your own, then adventure tours could be exactly what you’re looking for! I ended up making some amazing friends that I’m still in contact with today. We’re even planning a reunion for later this year! I’ve met some inspirational people and gained knowledge of countries I’ve never been to just from hearing stories from people I’ve met while travelling. I’ve added countries or activities to my bucket list that I didn’t even know existed (like tobogganing down the Great Wall of China- yep, that’s a real thing!).

GREAT WALL OF CHINA

The first thing people say when I tell them I’m going on another package tour is ‘but they’re so expensive!’. It’s true, they can be pricey, but in my opinion, they are more than worth their price tag! The amount you see and do while on group tours is incredible! In just two weeks, I watched a cricket match in Pushkar, watched the sunrise over Jaipur from a hot air balloon, touched the Taj Mahal, rode a camel through the desert at sunset and so much more. I learnt how to do things I never thought I’d do; scuba diving, horse riding, drawing, painting, block printing, different languages, the list goes on. Even better, you may even get to skip the queues if you’re part of a group – bonus!

We stayed in 8 different destinations throughout our two-week stay in India and got a real sense of how the country differs between North and South. Tours can be very fast paced and aren’t always the most relaxing of trips, but you do have the option to pick a slightly less intense one. They’re a great way of seeing as much of a country as you can in a short space of time. So for those of you who are trying to travel around your job, tours are a great option!

As strange as it sounds, it may be actually be cheaper to go on a tour despite the upfront costs. In cheaper countries like Thailand you could probably do the same trip yourself a lot cheaper, but in more developed countries like America, it may actually be cheaper and more cost effective to go on a tour. When you look at the amount you would pay individually to do the same activities, have the same accommodation and use the same transportation as you would on the tour, you see that most package tours are actually great value!

So many of my friends have travelled through Asia alone or with their friend or partner and had the most amazing time. I’ve only ever been to Africa or Asia as part of a tour. The transportation is different, the language, the traditions, the culture and social norms are all so different to ours that I feel safer and less stressed being with a group. I’m just not comfortable in those countries alone yet. Maybe I never will be. And you know what… that’s fine! Travel in a way that makes you happy!

TRAVEL LILY TRAVELLA PSYCHOTRAVELLER

If your parents are like mine, then you’ve had the ‘but it’s not safe’, ‘i just don’t understand why you have to go alone’ conversations. Yep, all too familiar with those. That’s where package tours are great. You’re not going alone! There will always be someone around if you need them. And if you want some alone time, that’s fine. In each destination of your trip you will be given free time to do whatever you want, with whoever you want.

Knowing that there is always someone around if I need help makes me feel so much safer. On my trip to India, I ended up spending 2 nights in hospital. Of course the tour couldn’t stop just for me, so the rest of the group carried on to our next destination, leaving me in the current town. Before I was even aware of what was happening, I was in a private hospital room with my own nurses assigned to me. All thanks to my guide. My CEO (G Adventures Tour Guide) stayed right by my side the whole way! When he eventually had to leave to join the rest of the group, he always made sure I wasn’t alone. He asked his friend (who we’d met earlier that week) to bring me a mobile phone so I could stay in touch with him and so that he could keep an eye on me. He also got other tour guides to come and keep me company, bring me food and watch TV with me while I was away from the group.

After being discharged with various pills and injections, I took a taxi to meet my new friends. A few hours later, I was riding a camel through the desert on my way to a sunset dinner. Just a heads up, if you’ve just been discharged from hospital, maybe give the bumpy camel ride a miss. Everyone at home asked me why on earth I didn’t come back home straight away. Finish the trip early?! No way! I’d been dreaming about India since I was a little girl. Although, if I’d gone alone, I think I definitely would have come home early. I don’t know how I would have coped without the others in my group and my CEO.

ANGKOR WAT

As much as I try to learn a few phrases at least before I travel to a new country, there will always be a language barrier. Having an English-speaking guide has made trips so much easier and they teach you some of the language while you’re on the tour anyway! I’ve mostly travelled with G Adventures and I cannot rate them highly enough! They are always my go-to tour provider!

As soon as you’ve chosen which tour you’d like to go on, you’ve got 100% support from the provider (admittedly some companies are more supportive than others). All you have to do next is pay the money. You can pay in installments, or all at once. The company will then take care of everything for you (except for your Visa). So you don’t need to worry about researching as much, or have to remember where you’ve left all the details for your flights, accommodation, etc. With package tours, it’s all taken care of for you. All of your information will be together in one place, you’ll have email updates and someone at the end of a phone should you need to find any information again or want to get any advice. I still advise that you research the country you’re going to a little, but you don’t have to go into as much detail as you would if you were going alone.

So what’s stopping you?! It can’t hurt to look. Take a look at G Adventures, Gap 360, and Real Gap. WARNING… These websites will cause severe wanderlust!

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I’m Lily Travella, a 20-something-year-old-blogger from the UK, with a serious case of wanderlust. I have a slight obsession (ok, an unhealthy addiction) to travel, chocolate and F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Working 40 hours a week in healthcare, I’m hoping to showing that you can travel the world with a full time job.
  • Kathy Ramsey Myers

    First, I love the pics!! I also love to travel and worry about the safety. This is a great way to travel safely!!

    • Lily Travella

      Thank you! It’s definitely made me feel safer on trips.

  • Great article and great pics. you parents must be happy that you found a safe way to travel on your own. I travel with my husband and kids, so we are a group on our own

    • Lily Travella

      Glad you liked it 🙂 It’s taken them a while but they’ve finally come around. That’s lovely. Lots of memories you’ll look back on later.

  • I think that a package tour is a great way of ensuring you are safe because you will be surrounded by other people!

    • Lily Travella

      Exactly! You get to meet so many people and make tonnes of new friends too.

  • Silvia Galván Peña

    I have travelled with tour groups before and I certainly agree with you! I did a roadtrip in the west of the USA with a tour group and it was dead cheap compared to what it would have cost us, and not to mention super comfortable not having to drive ourselves all the time!

    • Lily Travella

      It’s surprising isn’t it? I think it feels more expensive because you’re paying it upfront, all in one go. Whereas you’re paying as you travel on your own, and rarely add it all up afterwards.

  • I love solo travel but also think tours can be great for the reasons you mentioned! I sometimes like to do short tours at the beginning of a longer trip in an area, so I can see a lot of the main sights and meet other travelers, so then when I go off on my own I have my bearings and also a new set of friends in the general area.

    • Lily Travella

      That’s a great way to meet people. Who knows you may end up travelling for longer with the people you meet on tour.

  • Alison Rost

    I’ve always wondered about package tours .. and was really interested to read your post. We have neighbors who swear by them .. but to date we’ve been solo travelers. Maybe next time we’ll try something different. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

    • Lily Travella

      You won’t regret it 🙂

  • I’ve only experienced packaged tours like maybe twice in my life, they’re worth it to be honest especially if you don’t really know what to do during your vacation. I’d say if you can afford it, it would be nice to go for it.

    • Lily Travella

      Agreed! It’s totally up to the traveller, their budget and their comfort.

  • Kate Allan

    I totally agree that solo travel is the best! I am very familiar with that one! Group packages are also such a great idea! I spend two weeks on a tour around Italy and have made friends for life. Some whom I have already visited in their own country ☺️ Had no idea that you could toboggan down the great wall of China! I’ve now got an addition to my bucket list!

    • Lily Travella

      Glad you had a great time in Italy! It’s beautiful there! Where did you go? Neither did I! It’s AMAZING!

  • Crizzy Kiss

    I was in a group tour in Israel and so far, it was one of the best trips ever! 😉

    • Lily Travella

      You have some fantastic experiences don’t you?

  • Husband and I been to 3 different package tours and we’re loving it, honestly. It might be expensive but for me its all worth it, knowing that everything are well taking cared off and less stress. You’ll get meet a lot of new friends along the way and it’s priceless!

    • Lily Travella

      It’s a load off your mind isn’t it? Well worth the money 🙂

  • Anton Listov

    Here in Asia, the package tours aren’t that expensive and you get pretty good value for your money. I’d go on them more but i really enjoy the process of discovery.

    • Lily Travella

      Yeah, I love the spontaneity of solo travel too. Basically… I love all kinds of travel 🙂

  • Victoria Hawkins

    No shame in a package tour for a solo trip! You’re by yourself yet not, and you have a chance to meet new people!

    • Lily Travella

      Exactly, you have free time to explore solo if you want, but there’s always the option of having new friends around you.

  • Romy

    I love solo travel, but a tour can sometimes be a great solution. I’ll be traveling to Southern Africa in a week and doing part of it in a tour. Namibia and Botswana don’t have that much public transport so doing a tour was a great solution for me.

    • Lily Travella

      Wow have a great time! I’m jealous 🙂 I always find that too. When travelling in Asia or Africa, I’m not sure how I’d get around on public transport without a guide there. You can use what you’ve learnt when you’re continuing on solo 🙂

  • I am amazed at the care the CEO took. That could have turned out badly. I am glad you were able to enjoy the rest of your journey.

    • Lily Travella

      So true! I can’t thank him enough, he went above and beyond!

  • Gokul

    I usually dont go for packaged tours. I love figuring out things by myself. But if you want to explore a remote location, it is better to go for a group tour as it would be a safer option.

    • Lily Travella

      It always depends on the location for me 🙂 I will always love solo travel too.

  • Kimberly Caines

    Package tours can be fun. I did that when I went to Paris and it was soooo worth it.

    • Lily Travella

      Totally agree!

  • I know there are some great deals to be had on package tours but I can just never wrap my head around going on one! I don’t like having such a plan. Maybe I should try one- your post makes them sound not so bad!

    • Lily Travella

      Could be worth a try one day? See if one jumps out and grabs your attention!

  • I have a love/hate relationship with tours. I’ve been on some good ones but also some where i couldn’t wait for an escape. Depends on the destination and the company i think

    • Lily Travella

      I’ve been really lucky so far, I’ve got along with everyone in my groups and had fantastic times. But I have known some people who haven’t got along with their tour mates, which isn’t great!

  • Colby

    I’ve always steered away from package tours because, as you mentioned, the price is sometimes pretty steep. But, also because I like the idea of just going with the flow and not having such set plans. However, after your post I think it’s something I should definitely look into more. I’d love to go to Egypt but it’s not somewhere I would go alone right now and a package tour may be the right solution. Great post!

    • Lily Travella

      I think the price puts a lot of people off. It’s scary seeing that amount of money upfront. But if you added up everything you’ve spent on a similar trip (without a tour), there’s a lot of times or destinations where they aren’t that different.

  • Matt @ Travel Tales

    I have to admit that I generally like to travel with no real set plan and to make it up as I go, however, I did travel through Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda on a tour (2 of us) and it was such a brilliant experience! We felt safe, had excellent knowledgeable guides and Safari vehicles, great accommodation and meals and saw so much wildlife! We were able to see and do so much in a limited time which was great! Great blog post!

    • Lily Travella

      They can be a bit hectic can’t they? But it’s amazing how much you can cram in to a short amount of time!

  • I think you are right that package tours are a good way to go to make things easier but I’ve never tried one yet. There are a lot of places that I would prefer a group tour and getting to hang out with other travellers is fun too.

    • Lily Travella

      Where would you like to go on a tour? It’s definitely a lot of fun meeting people 🙂

  • Amy Butterfield

    We don’t normally travel on tours as a family, but I can definitely see the many perks, especially as someone traveling solo. It’s a comfort level, and a bit of a safety net and the people you would have the chance to connect with would be amazing! They tend to be very pricey here in Canada, but we are comfortable with driving everywhere. I could see us doing one in a place like China or India where we may easily get overwhelmed!

    • Lily Travella

      Yeah, it’s different all over the world. Prices and value for money. Even using an international company may be cheaper than using one from your home country.

  • Finding Jing

    Package tours have their own advantages and drawbacks. For me, it depends on the destination, your traveling style and situations like being more secure especially if you’re going solo. The best part of package tours for me is having a local guide who can give you insights you probably won’t learn when traveling independently.

    • Lily Travella

      Definitely. It’s best to go with your gut, travel however YOU feel comfortable and happy travelling.

  • Sainab Sharif

    Wow! You’ve sold me! Package tours sound amazing. I’m not one to travel alone, so travelling with other like-minded people sounds great!

    • Lily Travella

      Yay! It really is a great way of seeing places you may not be comfortable enough to see otherwise 🙂

  • Sandra Mo

    This is a very cool subject ! I never tried travel package before because I was not really sure about the answer to that question 🙂 thanks for this post !

    • Lily Travella

      Let me know if you try one out now 🙂

  • JuliaSan

    I am not a big fan of package tours, to be honest. Although I have to admit thereare a advantages like safety, more comfort as everything is taken care of and meeting cool people (although if they are not cool you are also stuck with them… 😀 ). We are traveling individually since a long time now and I find the freedom that goes with it very pleasant. But there are definitely destinations where I would not travel individually… Thanks for sharing.

    • Lily Travella

      Luckily I’ve never had a bad tour group so far, which has definitely helped, but I completely agree. Not as easy to get away from people you don’t get on with if you’re in a group with them for two weeks.

  • Brianna

    Package tours definitely have their pros and cons. I think they’re great for travelers without much experience on their own. They are a great introduction to the travel process.

    • Lily Travella

      100%. I think they are such a great stepping stone for younger solo travellers, but I’ve also been on tours with people 50+.

  • Clare

    I have done quite a few tours with G adventures they are a great company. I like to do solo travel but group tours are great if you are short of time or feel that a country is not safe enough to travel around as a solo traveller 🙂

    • Lily Travella

      They’re amazing aren’t they?!

  • Like everything when we travel, there is something for everyone. Packaged tours are not for me but they exist in the market for a reason, others love them. You’ve pointed out some great tips here for those who are more likely to do them.

    • Lily Travella

      It’s great that there are so many ways to travel now 🙂 No one is limited to one particular way.

  • Anamika Ojha

    I booked a South India tour package through Make My trip a couple of years ago and had a bad time. Their tour was more like a school with hectic schedules. I didn’t enjoy that trip as it was very stressful. From then onwards, I try to make my own travel itinerary as per my own convenience!

  • Eemma Iseman

    I have never thought of doing a packaged tour before, but I imagine they would certainly take a lot of the stress out of traveling! It sounds amazing like you were able to see and do a lot on your trip, as well as learn a lot with a guide.

  • Abhinav Singh

    I agree with all the points you made here. Off late there is a lot of noise on solo female travel and the safety concerns. I know what you are talking about. A female friend of mine has seen most corners of India solo and she has only great things to say. P.S.: Delighted to see Taj Mahal. That’s so close to where I live!