I’m actually a big fan of group travel, having been on three Contiki tours, one Topdeck tour, a Sail Croatia boat and several group tours in Spain to different festivals.
But with the good always comes the bad, and there’s a few downsides of group travel you should be prepared for when joining any group tour…
As you’re not always in control of the food you get to eat, it’s not always going to be to your taste. Especially if you have special dietary requirements – something a vegetarian friend of mine came to realise on our group tour last year.
2. Over-Priced Excursions
Although group tours always offer you fabulous add-ons (a limo ride in Las Vegas, white-water rafting in Croatia or a guided tour around something amazing) these are usually overpriced.
Yup, you could probably find the same thing for nearly half the price, if you booked it on your own. Unfortunately this is usually not allowed (and often isn’t possible due to time restrictions) – so spending the money is often unavoidable. These excursions are a big part of how these tour companies make a profit, so suck it up, and prepare to pay more than you want to!
3. Forced Sales Pitches
Group tours often make a lot of their profit on the commission of sales from affiliate businesses. You’ll notice this as you’re lead to specific shops and are encouraged to buy something from each one – a classic tourist trap. These too are usually not the cheapest places, and listening to the forced sales pitch in each place can be a bit much.
4. Everyone Gets Sick
This is especially for longer tours, and of course I mean it’s only natural. A standard tour bus can have as many as 50 people on it. If just one person is sick, it can spread through the bus in a matter of days. There’s not a lot you can do about it.
Just eat a healthy diet, to keep your immune system strong, and avoid close contact with the infected!
The thing with hangovers on a group tour, is that you’re almost guaranteed to get one at the dreaded ‘never-drinking-ever-again‘ level. And yet, you’ll be forced to drink again, later that night or the next day – especially if you’re on one of the group tours I mentioned above.
Recovery time is also almost non-existent, as group tours usually have busy itineraries. If you’re not busy visiting a new tourist attraction, you’ll be swaying from side to side on what will be ‘the worst bus ride of your life’ with a plastic bag on your lap, and regret all through your body.
Oh man, I can’t stand snorers. I know they can’t help it, but I literally need complete silence (and darkness) to sleep.
My advice is to take earplugs (and an eye mask) and change rooms with different people at the beginning of the tour, to work out who snores and who doesn’t. Then for the rest of the tour, you know who will make a good roommate, and who’s better to just keep as a daytime friend.
7. When you reach breaking point…
Try and remember that you’re only feeling this way because of the situation, and they’re probably feeling the same way towards you. Take alone time when you can, and try your best to stay zen.