What is solo travel?
Tour companies (at least some) like to promote themselves to solo travelers but are you really traveling solo when you take a tour?
My answer is yes.
If you set out without a companion you know you are traveling solo. Even on a tour, you are opening yourself to many of the real benefits of solo travel. I would even say that, sometimes, a tour is the best way to go.
In April, I’m going to China and Tibet as a guest of Overseas Adventure Travel – OAT. While some may think me intrepid, I have my limits. The thought of navigating China on my own without any previous experience of the country is a little intimidating. This is one of the times that a tour makes good sense. I’m also taking this tour because, in the reader survey last October, a number of you asked me to take tours and report on them. So, in one trip, I get to explore a country at my comfort level and a request from readers gets fulfilled.
When it makes sense for solo travelers to take a tour.
When I was 15 I took a cycling tour to England and Wales. It was perfect for my skill level – which was zilch. It wasn’t until last year that I took something that resembles a tour again – I went on a river cruise along the Danube and, again, it was the right thing to do. I was tired yet still wanted to travel. The river cruise was a perfect fit. Yes, despite being an independent traveler most of the time, there are circumstances when taking a tour is a good idea.
Here’s when an organized tour really makes sense for solo travelers.
- When you are too young to set out independently – as I was at 15.
- When you have never traveled before or are going to a destination that really stretches your limits.
- When you want an introduction to a country. You may feel quite capable but just a bit apprehensive. A tour of a few days will help you establish yourself, get the lay of the land and prepare you for taking the rest of your trip on your own.
- When you’ve been traveling for a long time and really need a break. Traveling solo can be tiring and turning over the reins to someone else for a while can be a relief.
- When you have limited time to plan. A tour company takes care of all the details for you so that you can still travel even if you can’t put the trip together yourself.
- When you want a vacation that’s interesting. Carrying the full responsibilities of independent travel is not usually a vacation. Fabulous, yes. But not always relaxing. Take a tour when you want to see a new country but also need a vacation.
So, while independent solo travel will continue to be my first approach, I fully believe that there is a time and a place for tours.