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The Pros and Cons of Tour Group Travel

tour-groupBack in the late 1970’s I went on a gourmet bus tour of Romania – no I’m not making this up. It was several days into the tour before a few of us started to question what meat we were eating; it always seemed the same and was a little tough; some said pork, others beef, some thought venison. We asked our server one evening and the language barrier was quickly, if somewhat unfortunately, overcome when he raised his hands to his chest, reared up and neighed! Needless to say the gourmet part of the tour ended right there. But, I do remember that the Romanians made excellent French fries, which fast became a staple of our diet whenever red meat was on the menu. Having said all that, the trip was wonderful; we shared many unique experiences and made long-lasting friends.

There is a wide variety of types of tour group travel; the industry has gone a long way from those days when a tour involved several hours on a bus followed by a quick photo stop and then back on the bus to the next attraction. The tour group sector of the industry has become increasingly sophisticated and while scenic bus tours are still offered, there are many specialist tours available, often in small groups, hosted by a local guide or an expert in whatever you are interested in.

The biggest consideration when thinking of booking a tour with a group of people is be sure you will spend your time with like-minded people. If you are 30, taking a tour which attracts mostly seniors might not be for you – and of course the reverse is true. You are going to be on a bus, boat, ship, or hiking, cycling, or whatever for several days so you want to at least try to be with people you are likely to have something in common with. That’s where booking a more specialist type of tour can make sense. For instance, if you are passionate about renaissance art, the likelihood is that a tour hosted by an art historian is going to attract people just like you. And, if you book a winery tour you are not likely to be with people who believe in abstinence!

The more specialist the tour, quite often the smaller the group. So ask yourself, do you want to be one of 72 on a bus, or one of 12 in a minivan?

tour-busRemember the larger the group the less flexibility you are likely to have. Smaller groups can influence the guide to tailor the tour to what they want.

When it comes to the pros and cons they are much the same – what is a pro to one person may be a con to another. Here are a few things to consider:

  • You get to meet a lot of people and spend a lot of time with them – but do you like travelling in groups?
  • It’s very convenient – but you give up a great deal of control.
  • It’s safe, especially in more exotic place – but will this sanitize the experience a little for you?
  • No need to labour over planning the trip – but perhaps planning is part of the joy of travelling for you?
  • Tours often offer good value – but maybe watching your pennies is not your style?
  • Less stressful – it depends on whether you find travel good stress or bad stress.
  • Preferred entrances to attractions can be great – but you’re still with a crowd.
  • You can see a lot in a short period – but perhaps you like a more leisurely pace?

As you can see whether a tour is right for you very much depends on what you want out of a holiday. They can offer an amazing vacation, with like-minded people, and be hosted by experts that provide you with information you might not otherwise get, and show you things the lone tourist might never get the opportunity of seeing.

Many tour group operators use one or more of the five Accent Inns locations in Kelowna, Kamloops, Richmond, Burnaby and Victoria – so if you decide on a winery tour, or just about any other adventure, you may be lucky enough to find yourself in one of these wonderful family owned hotels. I know that many times when I’ve stayed at an Accent Inns I’ve seen tour groups arrive, or just about to depart, with everyone looked pumped and ready for the next step of their journey.

Mike Wicks
Blue Beetle Creative