Why go it alone when small-group tours offer so many surprising perks?
If you’re the sort of traveler who thinks two’s company but three’s a crowd, you still might enjoy exploring a new destination with a savvy guide and a few like-minded compatriots. “Some people are skeptical about group tours until they discover all the upsides,” says AAA Travel counselor Karen TenBroeck, who points out these ways you can benefit.
Enjoy Special Access
Off-hours museum tours, front-row concert seats, private winery tastings: Group tours open doors that solo travelers can’t always get through. TenBroeck cites one favorite trip that includes a visit to an olive farm in Greece’s Olympia region. “You enjoy the special touch of joining the farm’s owners for an authentic meal,” she says.
Tap into Local Knowledge
Small-tour operators hire the best of the best to lead their groups. “The guides are passionate and handpicked,” TenBroeck says, “and they’re eager to share insights that you wouldn’t easily come by on your own.”
Choose Your Own Adventure
Contrary to a common perception, group tours aren’t regimented. “If you want to break off for a few hours to see a specific sight, or you’d like to order something different at a restaurant, you typically can,” TenBroeck notes. “The guide’s goal is to give you the experience you want.”
Find Flexible Itineraries
You’re part of a group, but not tied to it. “People may worry that group tours limit their freedom,” TenBroeck observes, “but you can break away. I’ve seen travelers go off for a few days on their own, then rejoin the group later in the trip.”
Take Comfort in Strangers
Group tours bring together compatible travelers. “You can make new friends and share incredible experiences,” TenBroeck says. You’ll also have help from tour leaders in overcoming language barriers and other glitches you might encounter.
Mind the Bottom Line
Traveling with a group can get you discounts from airlines, cruise lines, hotels, museums, and more. TenBroeck estimates you’ll spend 25 to 50 percent less, on average, than if you’d booked the same trip on your own.
This article was first published in July 2015. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.