I'm leaving for Melbourne in 10 days and all of a sudden my travel buddy presented me with the idea of doing a guided tour along the east coast instead of the Greyhound. Here's the tour she was showing me: http://www.travelaust.com.au/adventure/nsw/syd-asp001.html
She thinks it's a better idea because everything is organized for you: food, accomodation, travel, activities...and she's really nervous about us going off on our own. I'm not really sure what to think. I was rather looking forward to backpacking on our own. Has anybody tried any guided tours like the one my friend suggested? What's it like?
Also, I just discovered the Oz Experience, and it sounds like a balance between the freedom of the Greyhound and the structure of a guided tour. Any input on that?
I have nothing against tours, but this one costs $140 per day per person to stay in a tent. That's a fair whack of money. Who puts the tent up?
Also, they can't spell "Australian" properly - The Great Australien Adventure - you have to wonder why.
Still, it's a good itinerary
Yeah, that's what I was thinking. I bet we could get around Australia on half of that by ourselves. Have you been on any tours? The thing that worries me most is the people...I mean, if you discover that most of the people on the tour annoy you, there's really not much you can do. Is it a bit of a gamble?
I don't think there is any need to do a guided tour in Australia where it's so geared up for independent travellers, especially along the east coast which is probably the most well - trodden route in the whole country. As James said, that tour seems very pricey for what you get. if you do it independently you will still meet plenty of people in hostels and you still have the option of arranging day trips to places if necessary but have the flexibility that travelling independently will give you. I would only ever do a guided tour in somewhere where the infrastructure or safety situation doesn't lend itself to independent travel.
Personally I would advise against oz experience too - it's geared towards partying and drinking from what I have heard so unless that's what you want I would stick with the greyhound. they do some really good passes up the east coast so you will be able to travel for fraction of what you would pay on the guided tour.
Agreed on everything said above, particularly the bit on Australia really being perfect for independent travellers. For the ease of mind of your friend, one thing you could do is to book all your accommodation in advance. All hostels allow you to cancel the reservation up to 24 hours (sometimes 48 hours) in advance without any costs (if you book with them directly; so call them), which means that you keep the ability to change your plans - but if you don't, then that's one less thing to keep track of once you're on the road.
All activities are supremely easy to book once in a location. Most hostels will do this for you, often even having a dedicated travel desk for this purpose. And otherwise every single town and city will have local travel agencies which will be completely familiar with travellers walking in and wanting to do something the very next day.
I'd stick with doing it by yourselves. Its a better option for the budget concious (yes, you can definitely do it yourselves for much cheaper than the tour ), and it keeps that flexibility there to allow you to change your mind and your plans. Tours can definitely be a lot of fun, its an easy way to meet like-minded people, but if you're worrying about the people on your tour annoying you, then its probably not for you!
Thanks everyone! I managed to change her mind with all of your help. :D