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Need some advice - Joining a tour vs. going solo?

Travel Forums Europe Need some advice - Joining a tour vs. going solo?

1. Posted by pinkdagger (First Time Poster 1 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

I'm a 24-year-old female, and want to know which would be the best way to see Europe for the first time? I've been thinking of either going at it solo or joining up with a tour group (like Contiki or maybe even Busabout).

I'm no newbie to foreign travel. I lived and worked in the UK for 9 months last year but unfortunately didn't really get the chance (due to lack of funds) to travel and experience the rest of Europe! I want to go back this year... but I think I'd be much prouder of myself if later on I could say "Yeah, I backpacked across Europe all by myself!" I'm a solitary person and enjoy being by myself.. while in London I stayed at a few hostels and didn't find it difficult to meet people.

I have to admit I am a little intimidated by the prospect of having to navigate through a city not speaking a word of French, German, Italian, etc. but I won't let that stop me!

What do you think? Are the tours worth it? Could I gain so much more going at it alone than with a tour group?

Thanks in advance!

2. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4138 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Tours are great and you'll have a lot of fun. You'll see a lot of places in a shor period of time and meet some great people. You can feel like you're on a school trip though.

Solo travel gives you more freedom, but probably more hassles. Hassles can turn into good memories though.

Given that tours are generally quite short, can you combine both? That's what I'd try and do.

3. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3290 posts) 6y Star this if you like it!

Contiki is a party bus.

I clearly remember a TP member who went with Contiki around Europe stating that during most of the time she didn't have freaking a clue where she was. But she didn't care at the time, she was 19, she was drunk more often than not (flipping the bird at U.S. American laws) and she was partying like there was no tomorrow with all the other 18-21 year old people on the bus.

If that is your idea of fun...

What do you think? Are the tours worth it? Could I gain so much more going at it alone than with a tour group?

YES! From what you wrote about yourself I think you would most likely hate it on the Contiki bus.

BTW, busabout is no tour, they leave you alone to do your own thing. It is just a transportation network with hostels attached. It is very easy to navigate, I've run into the busabout crowd quite a few times. Essentially you show up in the hostel reception in the morning, tell your wishes to the attendand on the bus and they will take you to the next city - door to door from one hostel to the next. Takes a lot of hassle out of travelling around, ie you do not have to navigate the public transport system first thing in a new city just to find your hostel. There is a lot less partying going on on busabout and you are free to do your own thing. The downside of busabout is that their network is really limited compared to European trains, not to mention that it is not that cheap.

I suggest you take a long look at Busabout. If they go everywhere you want to feel free to hook up with them - after you have compared the cost with regular point-to-point train and bus tickets or a Eurail pass.