The Rebel's Guide to Going on Tour
When it comes to going on tour, there is a great divide between travellers; what is seen by some as a great adventure is viewed by others as a 'lazy' or 'uninspired' way to travel.
But, love 'em or loath 'em, the fact remains that tour companies are a HUGE part of the travel community and cater for just about every traveller demographic on the planet: from first time backpackers looking to see the world on a shoestring budget; through to cashed-up retirees looking to screw their kids out of their inheritance.
Sure, there have been stories of wild nights, bus shenanigans, and getting totally fucked up a little overindulgence.
But honestly? Those are the exception, not the norm.
And if you go in with a firm plan on how to make the most out of your experience, you'll find there are many advantages to joining a tour.
Your transport and accommodation is taken care of
Basically, it’s like travelling for dummies.
You get on an air-conditioned bus, they drive you around, and presto! You’re in another country. No fuss, no muss.
You don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to sleep or figuring out how you’re going to get to your next destination.
It’s easy, economical and convenient.
Perfect for first-time solo travellers
Travelling solo for the first time is a daunting process.
The overwhelm kicks in; self-doubt clouds your mind; and suddenly this whole traveling alone mishegas is just too much to handle.
You can kick that negativity to the curb by booking a group tour, as it allows you to travel solo without actually being alone. You will always be surrounded by people, so the safety issue is covered, but you can also claim bragging rights by saying you travelled on your own. So suck on that, nerves.
Hang with the group or go your own way
There’s always a heap of group activities to do if you feel like getting social: walking tours, excursions, dinners out, shows, drinking, partying, dancing…
But if you prefer to do your own thing and crave some solo time, then that’s cool too.
Don’t feel obligated to sign up for everything on offer during your tour; pick and choose the experiences that feel right to you and don’t even worry with the rest.
Some of the best memories I have from being on tour were the times I went and did my own thing and then met up with my tour buddies afterwards.
Don’t be afraid to wander off on your own to explore a city while the tour group is doing something else. Trust me, they’ll be there when you get back.
See a lot in a little
It’s pretty hard to get around an entire continent when you’re on a tight deadline. If you’re a student and only on 5 weeks holiday between semesters, seeing the whole kit and caboodle can be challenging.
Tours give you the chance to see a whole lotta’ the world in a very short time.
You get to see the big sites, mingle with the locals, immerse yourself in the culture, and then BOOM! You’re off again, ready for the next destination.
Think of a tour as a travelling tasting board: you get to sample all the goods on the menu, but in bite size portions.
The awesome part of being on tour is the responsibility. Or should I say, the lack thereof.
In fact, your biggest obligations are to get back on the bus as quickly as possible during stops and to not annoy too many people in your group.
That’s it, really.
The tour guide handles all the gnarly stuff in between, which means you can go out and party all night without a care in the world...as long as you can drag your tired, sick, hung-over ass on to a bus at 6am*.
If you’re down with that, you’re golden.
*Unless you forget to get back on the bus at the right time/place. Then you're fucked.
Pick the one that suits your needs/personality
Whether you’re a twenty-something Contiki-Freaki looking to party like a rockstar; a TopDecker craving some culture and fun; or an independent Busabout vagabond searching for the next adventure, there’s a tour made for you.
It’s up to you to decide what kind of experience you want and what suits your personality the best.
My advice? Don’t sign up a Contiki tour if you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing trip. It ain’t gonna happen.
Peace of mind
Sometimes, when traveling, shit will hit the fan and it’s nice to know that someone’s got your back. It’s not fun, but I’m just sayin’, it happens.
Whether it’s feeling homesick, coming down with the flu, or having your face accidently set on fire by a cute barman in Vienna [don’t laugh; it happens], you’ll feel better knowing there’s a new travel buddy or guide there to help you.
Or at the very least, speak enough of the local language and have some spare cash to bail you out of lockup.
Visas? They've got you covered
Dealing with immigration can be a royal pain in the ass.
Visa requirements can be tricky in some places, depending on your nationality. And remember, on any given day, in any given country, a person may choose to close a border to you for any given reason.
Being denied access to the country of your dreams can really be a downer. Tours alleviate this stress because they take care of all the visa hassles for you, as most companies include visas as part of their package price.
It’s a total win.
You'll meet some of the most interesting people of your life
I promise you, even if you’re going on a tour solo, you’re going to make some awesome friends.
You obviously have something in common [duh, travel] and these are the people that are going to be sharing one of your greatest adventures with you, so you’re bound to get close.
Some of the best mates I have in my life are travellers I met while touring Europe three years ago. And I love them all the more for it.
Because it's freakin' FUN
Just like your 21st birthday or driving your first car, going on tour is a rite of passage that everyone should experience at least once in life.
It’s not going to be perfect, it’s not always going to run smoothly, but damn it, it’s going to be one wild ride.
You’re going to have a blast, meet some cool people, be challenged, and possibly do serious damage to your liver.
But trust me, it’s all worth it.
Just remember the golden rule of touring: What happens on tour, STAYS on tour.