When you decide to go on a trip, do you sit down and plan everything on your own or do you look for a package tour that meets your expectations and budget limit? By and large I’ve been doing self planned trips, but package tours do have their advantages.
This post shares pros and cons of Self organized tours vs Package tours
Self Organized tours
Pros· If you drive on your own, you’ve full control on the itinerary, cost etc and everything can be planned as needed
· Increases your knowledge and experience about the destination. Second time you’ll be able to plan a near perfect trip.
· Ideal for short trips where time is limited and you need to make the most of every minute
· Ideal when participants share similar interests and passion
· If well planned, cost can be less than package tour cost
· Works well if one or more members know the local language, territory etc
Cons· Cost escalation is very common. You’ll end up spending more than what you’d thought.
· Considerable effort needed in studying the destination and planning.
· Chances are that you’ll miss out on one or more key things, despite best of planning and preparation-need plan B
· There could be post trip hassles such as credit card overbilling, some participants not paying up etc
· Not all things go as planned and you’ll end up doing things not originally planned for- this may not be positive from convenience/cost perspective, but you get to experience new things and gain more confidence (example- missing a train, flat tyre, getting lost etc)
Pros· Ideal if you’re not familiar with the destination and want a guided tour that covers key places
· Draw from the experience of tour operator/guide
· Covers most of the key tourist places
· No worries of doing separate bookings of vehicle, hotel etc etc
· Better than being ripped off by local taxi drivers and operators
· Get to meet people from different backgrounds and make new friends
· Convenient to claim LTA (Leave Travel Allowance)
· A 5 Day 4 Night package tour usually means 3 effective days. Day 1 is usually check in, Day 5 is only checkout- so what you get effectively is 3 days, while it sounds as if you’re touring for 5 days
· Package cost is not all inclusive. As a rule of thumb, actual spend could be 20-30% more than the tour cost quoted in the brochure.
· Tour manager may have his own agenda- like he may want you to shop only at a shop where he gets commission, or skip some items on the itinerary under some excuse etc
· In a large group of 40+ people, everyone will have different preferences, priorities and interests. What happens in package tour is a compromise of preferences of all participants or sometimes majority opinion wins. Customization is sometimes impossible or otherwise expensive
· Can’t stop at will (say for photography)
· In every group, there’ll be couple of families/members who just can’t be on time. All the time they’ll be the last to report and end of delaying the departure by 30min-1 hour while rest of the passengers wait patiently for these people. There’ll be no penalty for late comers and no compensation for those who are on time
· If you can plan well, you can get up early and do some useful activity/visit places early in the day- 6am to 9am- usually this time is not optimally used in package tours, as majority of people prefer to get up late
· When you’re driven, you don’t learn much about the road taken
· Package tours are subject to minimum passengers. During off season, tours are subject to cancellation if minimum no of people do not book