How to choose between self-guided and guided tours for solo travel?

For the die-hard travelers out there, there’s really no ‘bad way’ to travel. But with so many options now on the market, it can be difficult to know which kind of travel experience to choose, especially if you’re heading out solo.

Solo travel is a seriously popular way to see the world, and currently, the experience seems to be predominately lead by females. A study by Travel Online found that 72.4% of women shared a desire to travel alone, yet only 27.6% of men were willing to do the same.

While solo travel can be exciting, when you don’t have anyone else’s input into decision making, you may feel overwhelmed when planning your travel. Here’s a quick guide outlining different ways you can travel.

What are some of the different solo touring options?

With the internet providing a smorgasbord of travel booking opportunities, it pays to research the different kinds of travel experiences that are available so you’ll know exactly what to expect on your getaway.

Self-guided tours

A self-guided tour involves you having a route, information and some amenities arranged by a company for you, but you’re responsible for getting from point A to point B every day on your own. These tours don’t come with the support of a group or a guide, however, sometimes they might include accommodation, luggage transfers, or maps.

Examples of self-guided tours

Two great examples of self-guided tours are the Macchu Picchu Trail in Peru, and the Camino de Santiago in Spain, or exploring the Sawa-I-Lau Caves in Fiji. Both of these locations are world-renowned for their stunning scenery and amazing trekking opportunities, with clearly laid out trails and plenty of information available. You might have a travel agent organize your flights, accommodation, and transport, but the actual trek will be lead by you.

Why should I choose a self-guided tour?

If you’re traveling to a popular region, then choosing to self-guide is perfectly reasonable. As long as you’re able to read signs and have your wits about you, self-guiding is a much cheaper option than hiring a guide. Self-guided tours are different from independent travel, as they still provide you with the research, knowledge, and framework you need to feel supported and confident during your trip.

Guided tours

Guided tours refer to all-inclusive travel experiences that are lead by an experienced guide and follow a specific itinerary. Guided tours are popular worldwide as they take a lot of hassle out of travel planning, and are a great option for meeting people from all over the world if you’re traveling solo. 

Examples of guided tours

Guided tours are offered by a myriad of travel companies in loads of different styles and countries. For guided tours, travelers choose a specific route and travel between the locations with the same group of people on a bus. Europe and Australia are extremely popular locations for guided tours, as with long distances to travel between locations it helps to have someone ‘in the know’ along for the ride with you.

Why should I choose a guided tour?

Guided tours are very convenient, and you often end up getting to see more sights more easily than you would if you were traveling independently. Your tour guide can offer you extra information about the locations, and they’re also likely to speak the local language.

If you enjoy the company of other travelers, then guided tours could be a great option for you. However at the same time some people find that guided tours can limit their freedom and flexibility, and take away the option to personalize their holiday, so choose carefully.

Key considerations for first-time solo travelers

Whether you want your travel experience to be packed with adrenaline-filled adventure, endless days on the beach, exciting new cultures or time spent meeting new people, solo travel allows you to have full control. It can be done basically anywhere in the world, as long as you do the proper research and chat to a professional beforehand.

If you fancy the hassle being taken out of your planning and think your experience will be made better through having someone there to answer your questions, lead the way and provide fun insider knowledge on things to do, then guided tours might be more your thing.

Either way, don’t be scared to take a leap of faith and dive right in! With so many amazing places to visit around the world, there’s an opportunity to try out different travel types within your lifetime.

Luke Fitzpatrick
Luke Fitzpatrick
Luke Fitzpatrick is an academic speaker at Sydney University via Glecture. He enjoys writing about tech, productivity, lifestyle, and is a contributor to Forbes.
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