The Pros and Cons of Organised Tours
For anyone who’s planning a Eurotrip, there comes a point where you have to decide between doing an organised tour or self-itinerising. I have been on two Topdeck tours around Europe, a Contiki around Croatia and a Paddywagon about Ireland, but have also done quite a substantial amount of travelling on my own. I couldn’t say which mode of travelling I actually prefer, but I can identify some definite upsides and downsides of the tour option.
Pros of Touring
You can be lazy as fuck
Everything is done for you. You don’t have to think; you don’t have to be sober; you don’t have to worry about a thing. The Organised Tour decreases travel stress and the sheer number of, “Fuck, where’s my passport?” moments considerably.
You see heaps of shit
The Organised Tour will take you to a large amount of famous sites and places, so much so that you will become that annoying pretentious person who points at stuff in movies and TV shows and says, “I’ve been there!” or “I’ve seen that!”
You will have the time of your life
There is no doubt about it – you can’t not have fun.
The price is right
Initially, when you look at some tours, you might be offended by their cost. However, in my opinion, you really do get what you pay for and, ultimately, you’re probably going to spend just as much doing it on your own anyway. By the time you factor in accommodation, food, flights, trains, buses, activities, vino etc., shit starts getting pretty exy. Also, as you usually pay for these tours a good six months prior to actually doing them, it really doesn’t feel like such a financial burden by the time you get to your desty.
Cons of Touring
You win some, you lose some
As a single and rather thirsty straight gal, I will admit that my entire life is often dictated by one purpose: to find equally-as-thirsty single guys. On my second Topdeck tour, I stepped on the bus with my six girlfriends to find a disturbingly and disappointingly high ratio of female travellers — roughly 57:3. However, that said, I still had a sick time, and made lasting friendships blah blah blah; but there was still a niggling feeling of nostalgia for my prior Topdeck cohort, where there was plenty of penis to go around.
You can’t escape a mild-to moderate-illness
Now I’m no doctor (though incidentally, I am a med student), but 15-40 days of daily binge drinking, eating pringles and sleeping in a bus/wet tent/16-bed dorm is a sure-fast way of contracting a minor disease. You can end up missing out on some sick touristy activities (such as taking suggestive photos with the Leaning Tower of Pisa). There’s no rest for the wicked
There’s no rest for the wicked
That saying, “I just about need a holiday to recover from my holiday,” that I usually hear my mum reciting when Dad drags her away on trips in their Winnebago could not be more true after doing a tour. There’s no lounging about, “downtime” or hours of restful napping: you’re on the move with a constant onslaught of activities 24/7. Prepare to be absolutely exhausted at the end of it and to require a good week or so of recovery in a dark quiet room.
Depending on the company, they’re often centred around alcohol
Pub crawls and bar-hopping are often big features of these tours, and though you can of course exercise some autonomy and not participate, tour environments can often be high pressure. If you’re not a big drinker, shop around to find a company that will attract customers who also don’t prioritise getting shit-faced every day.
If you’re a useless, unorganised, naïve traveller who wants to see it all and get pissed all the time, then the organised tour is for you. If you’re a mature, responsible, and travel-savvy tourist with a poor immune system, a dislike of being shunned by locals and ample supply of available travelling time, stick to your own devices.