Do you prefer escorted tours or driving yourself when travelling?

When you travel, do you like to drive yourself or pay a little extra to join other like-minded travellers on an escorted tour? We enjoy both, but if you have never tried one or other of the options, keep reading for our thoughts and findings as to what you might like to do on your next holiday.

Run your own race

A self-drive holiday is great if you are unsure about your destinations, how long you might like to spend in each place, and if you want to avoid some of the crowds and just travel by yourself or with a few friends. As long as you have some flexibility over your accommodation options, driving yourself can be a real buzz where you can go when you want. That might mean you can take a few shortcuts on the spur of the moment to avoid some boring sights, while spending longer at the ones that interest you. On a self drive holiday you really can sail your own race, going where you want at any time and you are in total control.

Go with the crowd 

Escorted tours come into their own because of the expertise and experience many companies have in taking coach-loads of tourists around the state, country or even globally to many of the main tourist sites, and all from the comfort of air-conditioned coaches. Many will provide a driver and tour director who will literally do everything for you: pick you up at the airport, get you settled in your hotel, organise all the meals and accommodation throughout the trip, move your baggage from hotel to coach and hotel, and return you to the airport. All you have to do is get up each morning, get on the coach, and they do the rest. You don’t have the same freedom as a self drive as the company has to please the majority of expected travellers to that region, and so the pre-set tour might not go exactly where you want to go. That said, there are many tour companies offering a wide variety of tour itineraries and so you will probably find one that ticks most, if not all of your boxes.

Make new friends

Are you the type who can just walk up to a complete stranger in a campground or hotel and start talking, or do you prefer to get to know people for a while and become familiar with them before talking? If the former, you will have no problem travelling the world under your own steam, making friends as you go. If the latter, then an escorted tour will put you in a coach with the same people day after day. They might also organise get togethers at the end of the day as well as randomly switching your seating around in the coach so you get to see different people every day. Two weeks later and you tend to know most people on the coach! Of course, you might hate everyone on the coach and be stuck with them as well. On the other hand, many escorted tour companies make a special effort to link single travellers up with other singles who can provide some company along the way.

Know your stress triggers

Travelling can sometimes be stressful, especially if you are fairly new to it. But if you handle it well, then a self-drive could be just the ticket for you. Pick up the rental car at the airport, grab a good map or GPS and away you go. Hopefully if you have done your planning well, you know where you are going, can keep on the correct side of the road, know where you can grab a bite to eat, are able to refuel as you need it, and can negotiate all the foreign signs and directions. If not, then the coach is a real bonus, because the only stress for the day is probably going to involve how much you eat for breakfast!

Keep an eye on the money

In most cases you are going to pay extra for an escorted tour due to them providing the coach, driver, tour director, and doing all the pre planning. The costs of the tour are generally made very clear and you will probably pay up front when booking. So apart from daily expenses, additional sightseeing and tipping, everything else is paid for. On a self drive you will probably not pay for the car until it is returned (hopefully free of damage or they will slug you big time!) and accommodation, gas, entry fees, and food will be paid for as you go. Just don’t overspend and run out halfway through the holiday or you can be in trouble.

Keeping safe

While no travel today is totally risk-free, we do believe that every traveller should be conscious of this aspect when travelling overseas. And that ‘risk’ is going to mean different things to different people. One 25 year-old girl or guy might feel perfectly safe backpacking around Europe, while another might like the safety in numbers. One older couple might find it less stressful not having to walk the streets alone, while another will relish getting out into the new community soaking up the culture. Only you know what you are comfortable with, and your holiday option will either help remove that risk and stress, or increase it.

So which would you choose for a holiday?

Our overall feeling, having done both is to think about an escorted tour if you have the money available up front and are visiting a region for the first time. If you choose carefully, you can pick the one best suited to what you want to see, the time frame you have available, and the pace you wish to travel at. It is low stress and a great way to make new friends, especially if you are single. And providing you choose carefully you can pretty well determine the type of age group, the size of the group, and whether kids are allowable or not.

If however, you are a seasoned traveller or are returning to a region you have visited before then a self drive holiday might be perfect. You will have the freedom to choose where you go, what pace you wish to set, whether you stay longer at some spots you really like, and you can pay as you go. This type of holiday does take a little more planning and you will be left to look after all your needs along the way, so it does help if you are committed to doing the research and making some solid plans, even if you adapt them along the way. A self drive holiday can be more stressful and sometimes you don’t get to enjoy the journey as much due to constantly checking the map, and keeping an eye on the roads so as not to miss your turn.

So which would you choose? Drop us a comment below and let us know your preference. 

Some well-known escorted tour companies include:

Living each adventure, 
Christine and Trevor
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DISCLAIMER: This article is written for informational purposes only and is based on Christine and Trevor’s own life experiences. No food or drink featured on this site should ever be consumed or handled if known or suspected allergies exist. Nothing featured here should be taken as medical, professional or legal advice. It is always recommended that you consult the appropriate professional before changing any routine or adopting any new procedure. 

Do you prefer escorted tours or driving yourself when travelling?

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