Tours. Some love them, some hate them. I’ve been on a few and found some were good, some were bad, some were terrible, some were a mix of all of these, some I liked, and some I certainly didn’t! The longest tour I have ever been on was when my sister and I went on an 11 day Trafalgar tour of Ireland when I was in high school. While I was in Scotland I did a few hour long walking tour of old Edinburgh. More recently (last week), Ried and I decided to try a day tour of Chichen Itza in Mexico because it was simple and cheaper than renting a car or taking the bus. This most recent excursion reminded me of why I generally would always choose doing it myself over taking some sort of touristy tour. We always consider the following points when deciding whether we should take a tour.
Why I Dislike Tours:
- Limited Time in the Places I Love
I hate being on someone else’s schedule while travelling! There’s nothing worse than getting somewhere you’ve been dreaming of exploring and being told you only have 2 hours or the bus leaves without you. When Ried and I were at Chichen Itza, we only had about 2 hours there. After we had a little info session and then walked around the site our time was basically over. I definitely would have liked to have sat on the grass for a while and admired the architecture and then had another walk around.
- Too Much Time in the Places I Don’t Love
Tourist traps! Ugh! Tours tend to spend wayyyy too much time at little souvenir places and touristy areas that don’t resemble anything close to the country you are visiting. You spend too much money on travelling to waste time at some random marketplace that sells cheap souvenirs made in a country you’re not even visiting.
- Terrible Jokes
Ever had a tour guide who was trying to be funny and made you cringe the whole bus ride to your location? By the time we got to Chichen Itza, I was pretty tired of the “wives are always shopping, men hide your credit cards!” and “Women talk too much!” jokes. It’s not funny and I would rather hear info about the site I’m visiting. Enough said.
I find tours difficult for eating (especially with allergies). Usually all the food is prearranged and you don’t have a ton of choice. Obviously, I’m sure a more expensive tour would be able to accommodate allergies. But it can be hit and miss and I would rather choose where I eat anyways.
Why Tours Can Be Okay:
- Low Stress
It’s all planned out ahead of time! Step on the bus and relax!
- Helpful Info
Tour guides can be very knowledgeable and teach you things you might not be able to find in a pamphlet or a quick google search.
Visiting a place you feel a bit unsure of? Tours can offer some safety in numbers. Also, if it’s a good tour they’ll know where is safe to go and where to avoid.
I think everyone has their own opinion about tours and has both negative and positive stories. It’s truly up to you and your travel style! But next time, I’m renting a car!