We have been packaging up our destinations now as Allworld since 2007, and between our main staff we have been organising these destinations even longer. One question that keeps coming up is “Do I have to travel with a Group?”which is normally followed pretty soon afterwards by the query “Isn’t it more expensive to travel on your own?”
To me it feels in some ways like a running battle to keep people informed, but the truth is that almost anywhere that you travel on group tours you can do individual tours with your own private guide and drivers, so the answer is always NO, you do not have to travel with a Group. See? Nice and simple! The next answer though is not, because the price will vary widly dependant on where in the world you are travelling. For example if you travel in Egypt or Vietnam the cost of independant travel is usully within a few dollars per day of what you would pay on a group tour on a daily basis, so no it isn’t really more expensive to travel individually. In Europe though a private tour is incredibly more expensive then a group tour, so yes in some cases it is more expensive to travel individually.
It is for these reasons that we work differently in each of our destinations. For most of our destinations we work on individual tours, because the price is similar to group travel, or in some cases (like Yemen for example) trying to run scheduled group departures just are not feasable. In some destinations we offer a combination, like in Peru where we can orgainse a trip suited for you, but put you on regularly scheduled day tours with other travellers in the main cities and towns to keep costs down. Then we have destinations like Turkey, where the majority of our tours are group departures, simply because doing things individually with a private guide and driver for small groups (2 – 6 people) can be incredibly expensive.
So as you can see, the whole “Group vs Individual”travel is not something that is always straightforward, at least as far as cost reward goes. In general though for the majority of our destinations we don’t hesitate to tell people that Individual Travel Options are much better than group travel, and we can tell you why!
When I talk of Individual Travel, I do not mean you head to a country and then get yourself around. For us individual travel is the ability to travel, as you would with a group but on an individual basis. So rather than visiting the Pyramids with a group of 30 or 50 you would be there on your own, with only your selected travelling companions alongside your guide. So What Are The Benefits Of Individual Travel Arrangements?
Flexibility With Dates! When booking an individual or private trip you can choose when you want to travel, at least within limits. This means if you can only get away between certain dates, then those are the dates that your tour will run – because it is built around you and your desires, rather than the general desires of a group movement, which as such are tied to specific departure dates.
Choose What You Want To See! The major benefit with an individual itinerary is that they can be tailored to see what it is you want to see, and you can add sites and visitations that are not normally seen wit groups can be added in to accommodate your desires. For example, whe you are in Cairo, most groups do not include “Old Cairo”, that is the area of the Old Coptic Churches and Jewish Synagogues, nor do they include the old Palaces from the Ottoman and Colonial Periods, if as an individual traveller these are things that you wish to see arrangements can be made very easily to take in these fantastic areas of Cairo.
Choose Where You Want To Stay! This is again an option that will allow you to make the best of your trip. With group departures you end up staying in specific hotels that the group uses, these might be 3 star hotels, 5 star resorts or any number of combinations. Individual travel though means you can be flexible with where you want to stay. So if you want to stay at a hotel in Roatan while touring in Belize you can, or you can elect to stay in a Jungle Lodge or a Beach Resort at your discretion.
Include What You Want! This is what is important, if you want full sightseeing every day, it can be done, if you want only basic transfers and sightseeing every few days, it can be done. If you want breakfast only, or or meals, it can be arranged!
Day by Day Flow Adjustments! Here is a major upside, with a group you are locked into their arrangements, but with individual travel you can be flexible. If for example you are in Bagan and were exhausted from seeing the temples on day one and don’t want to get up at 0800 on day two you can negotiate a pick up time with your guide to suit the times you are ready for. Again this is all within reason, but the ability to be flexible is there for you, where as with a group you are always tied to what the group needs. This means that they need an hour at a site for a group of 40 to pass through, where as an individual you may be able to get through it inside 30 Minutes.
Personalised Service! This is, im my estimation, the biggest and most important bonus to private travel, the fact that you do get personalised service. For example you have a private guide and driver at your service for touring, this means instead of trying to explain a little bit of information on each site to a group they can spend in-depth time with you alone, helping you explore the nooks and crannies, relating unique stories and be at your personal disposal to answer any question that may ocur to you.
Flexibility With Pricing! This is perhaps the most, complex of all the options. With a group departure, you are set to either accept their price or not. With individual travel you can always look at altering arrangements to bring the price into a range that suit a budget that falls within your means.
So as you can see, there are any number of benefits for travelling individually as compared to a group. To leave off tday though I will answer another question that we are often afsked in regards to individual travel “Is It Safe?”, and the answer is that travel in groups or individually there is always risk, by going with us on any ndividual tour we work with people we trust, and that have proved themselves reliable, and we do all we can to negate the difference between travelling somewhere individually or in a group, and take it on face value, if we didn’t believe we could get you around a destination safely – we wouldn’t organise your trip there.