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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Self organized vs package tours: Pros and cons


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)

Package Tour

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)

Cons
·         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

Please do share your thoughts and experiences. Have I missed any key points?

Similar: Pros and cons of cycling to office * Road trip by Auto companies-Pros and cons * Branded or Local?

11 comments:

Team G Square said...

All our trips are self planned . Should try package tour to find out the difference .

magiceye said...

nice objective analysis

prefer self planned travel

Mridula said...

Till date whenever I have tried anything packaged in tourism I have not liked it!

Sudha said...

Well, I have done both and like you have pointed out both have their pros and cons. One care I take while travelling in groups is to keep an eye on the size of the group—if the size is more than 12-15 then it is not worth it.

Anu said...

i have been on packaged tours, but always came back wishing i had gone alone!! it does have its moments, like making friends among the group and really having a blast, but i dont think u can ever really enjoy any place while going as a group....on the other hand, while going for certain specific purposes, such as pilgrimages, a package tour is probably much easier than going on our own and trying to make all the arrangements by ourselves. only if we want something extra out of it that it becomes a problem!

Anonymous said...
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Deguide said...

Packaged tour generally tailor made for quick fixes, it is useful for travelling to unknown destination or guided city tour. One or two destinations generally are skipped or drive through is adopted by the operator. If one is provided a cab, by tipping the driver one can additional spots, which we experienced during our North East Trip. Precious morning time is wasted between 6 to 10 am.

Self drive with a little bit of research would extract maximum milege. The pace of visit can be suited to our style and many a times groundswell research can be undertaken.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts TGS, Deepak, Mridula, Sudha, Anu and Umesh Sir

Ms S said...

Package tour is best for certain destinations like jungle safari, pilgrimage or even for certain destinations in the developing world where the local tour guide is also a caretaker. My parents and older relatives routinely go on tours to Amarnath, Katra and other temples where they have the convenience of just buying a tour and then all issues are taken care of by the agency. Perhaps this is a benefit of being retired in a good fiscal position. Also some young friends have taken safari tours in African countries where the only choice is to hire a tour company or skip the country.
But for Western, English speaking countries in Europe, Americas and Australia, self travel my be best.
Sorry to read about your being victim of a common scam in Malaysia. This is a well known con in many countries even in Eastern Europe and S America besides Asia. Always a good idea to read the warnings and dangers that are mentioned in travel guide books . A simple internet search could have warned you: http://blog.hotelclub.com/tourist-scams/

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Ms S: Welcome back..

Thanks for sharing your insights...

you're right-no amount of preparation is ever enough. Had studied enough to be aware of taxi frauds, but didn't come across police dupe alert..

CARiD said...

Like you’ve said both have their own pros and cons, I guess it all depends on the one traveling and the purpose of travel. There are times when no matter how friendly you are, you still want to go alone. At times when you don’t feel like going into a group of people you will realize that package tour is not for you and when you decide to back out it might already been too late.

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