How do you usually travel? Do you make the itinerary yourself or take package tours?
I have been asked this several times, and I guess it’s time for me to take a stand.
Actually, the debate on the value of DIY vs organized travel has been going on for some time. Some DIY travelers look down on people who go with tour groups (yup, I know some of them!), seeing themselves as the “real” travelers while the others are not.
In the meantime, people who book tours also think of DIY travelers as people who can’t afford to go on a package trip. Which of them is right?
Neither group is right.
While dichotomous thinking is common, it’s not necessarily good. Why do we have to label travelers (or anyone else, for that matter) as black or white? In the type of people who travel, there are a lot of gray areas.
Take myself, for instance. I usually make my itinerary on my own (if I can be bothered to make one). I find the cheapest way to go places, do my research on the things I can see there, and then just go visit one at a time, depending on my mood.
My primary reason for taking a packaged tour is actually the cost. There are countries where it is more expensive (or inconvenient) to go on your own rather than join a tour.
After all, you have to arrange the transportation yourself, buy a map or a guide, and then make all the arrangements yourself, increasing the chances of experiencing unwelcome surprises along the way (e.g., missed train connections).
When I went to Vietnam, for example, I could have easily done a DIY tour of the Cu Chi tunnel and the other attractions outside Ho Chi Minh City. However, when I computed all expenses, I found out that joining a tour group is so much easier and cheaper, as you split the van rental with the other travelers.
It doesn’t mean, as well, that you can’t be an independent traveler once you book a tour. You can partner up with others, for example, just to reduce the costs of an airline ticket.
The NY Times has listed several websites that offer tours to independent travelers. It lists several cruise options too, including one on rock cruises which are perfect for the music lovers!
So the next time someone asks you which you think is better, DIY travel or package tours, you already know what to say!
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Sometimes I prefer DIY and sometimes package tour as many of the time there are so many attractive travel packages available that can save your money in a better way.
@ Rob: Depends on which country. In Vietnam, packaged tours are cheaper and more convenient than DIY trips.
@ Lisa Marie: If I had only 10 days, I would spend it all in Italy. You can use up half of that in Rome and the Vatican alone, then the rest in Tuscany. I will really go back to Italy and spend at least a month there!
Assuming you have 10 days to go around Europe, where would you go and what would you see?
.. considering convenience, i think package tours are better though i have never tried one for it is always costly and goes beyond my travel budget.
@ Andrea: I also don’t like the frantic pace of tour groups. It doesn’t give you the opportunity to savor the moment more 🙂
Most of the time I make the itinerary. It’s more easy and more fun. You can visit whatever you want, you can stay somewhere as long as you want. Package tours are ok only for prices. I traveled with package tours and everytime was in a hurry way. You have 30 minutes to visit that museum, here we stay 15 minutes and so on…That’s why I prefer to make my own travel by myself 🙂
@ Fifi: Yeah, it also depends a lot on the locations. When I was in Europe, for example, I walked around a lot. I didn’t use tour groups since it was easy to go around and there are maps/signs everywhere.
when i go traveling, i usually do both. i go on tour for the far places that require a bus or boat, while i go walking to the closer locations so that i see more in my walking journey.
@ Kim: Yeah, people think it’s nice to box others in neat little packages. Like you can’t be both a DIY traveler and a group tour one. Or that people are either tourists or travelers 🙂
@ Sky: I always looked forward to talking to other travelers when I join tour groups. And yeah, to ask them to take my photo too. As a solo traveler, it’s certainly a challenge for me to have my pic taken in places I visit 🙂
Though we’re more on the DIY type since it’s more fun and have that liberty to be spontaneous. But we’re always open for package tours, as you said it’s an avenue to meet people and gain new friends. It’s also good to have companions who can take your photo souvenir of that famous (insert landmark here) without hassle.
so true! I usually do DIY trips but also get package tours when I’m with my family or a big group of friends. it’s not how you do it that matters, it’s how you engage yourself into the place and culture (at least for me). there are even some who label others as ‘just tourists’ and not travelers.
@ Nel: If I have my family with me, I would definitely choose a tour. Too much effort on my part to arrange everything! haha
@ Lisa: I agree with a DIY if the transpo system is good. It’s less hassle that way! That’s why in Europe I went mostly DIY and only went with tour groups when I got tired of my own company hehe
totally agree with you! i also joined a tour group when i went to the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam and it really was cheaper and more convenient. i find that if the country has a good transportation system (lots of train stations), it’s better to DIY. and if you’re in a big group, it’s actually better to book a tour (saves all of you a lot of headache since it’s difficult organizing for a lot of people). 🙂
Whichever is cost-effective and convenient. If I have the whole family with me (elders included), I choose packaged tours. If the tour does not fit my schedule, I go DIY. Being flexible is fun. 😀
@ Eileen: Go go go! I know you take package tours for convenience. If I had a child traveling with me, I’d probably do the same! hehe
@ Bon: When I travel alone (which is often), I sometimes takes package tours to meet a lot of people. It’s certainly another way of traveling, if you’re a solo traveler!
If I have a choice, I will choose both, DIY and organized travel tour. On DIY, I usually conduct research for the place that I want to visit. Make a simple itinerary. For organized travel tour, it is also fun. Meeting new friends, learn from them especially on photography matters and increase your network.:-).
I couldn’t agree more. I hate it when people antagonize tour group peeps and say that’s not really traveling. I was thinking of putting up a similar post like this din. Prong gaganahan ako into. 🙂