Do you prefer a package tour or making your trip?

Travel Forums General Talk Do you prefer a package tour or making your trip?

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21. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1630 posts) 3y 1 Star this if you like it!

It's wise to consider all the options to get you where you want to go. Organized tours might be the solution for destinations and activities that would be difficult, if not impossible, for you to organize on your own; and perhaps do so at a reasonable price. I considered going on my own to Papua New Guinea, where I wanted to travel into the interior, including the Sepik River; and visit the Trobriand Islands. It was a logistical nightmare. There aren't many roads in Papua New Guinea and the same goes for Kamchatka, in Russia's Far East. While you can try to find someone with a 4WD in Petropavlovsk to take you into the interior to hike volcanoes and see brown bears, it's easier with a local tour company that also can arrange for helicopters to ferry you to places such as Kurilskoye Lake and the Valley of the Geysers.

Organized tours also can be helpful to introduce you to destinations that you might not want to do initially on your own. I used an organized "adventure" tour for my first trip in Africa. It was a road trip from Cape Town to Victoria Falls with a mixed-age group. I went on two more with the same company (from Kenya to Uganda to see mountain gorillas and from Kenya to Victoria Falls). After the trips, I felt comfortable enough traveling on my own in southern and East Africa. I plan to continue to use organized "adventure" tours in West and Central Africa, particularly to remote destinations such as the Tibesti mountains of Chad.

A cruise may be the only way you'll get access to destinations that would otherwise be difficult, if not impossible, to get to on your own. These include most of the sub-Antarctic islands of Australia and New Zealand; some of the islands of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago; and the South Sandwich and South Shetland islands. Cruises can also take you through the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz and the Northwest Passage. They can even take you to the North Pole!

Cruises and organized tours offer the opportunity to make friends. I had dinner Tuesday at the Indio, California, home of a couple I met on a cruise two years ago in the western Pacific (the Northern Marianas, the Solomons, etc.).

But as described in previous posts, organized tours, especially larger ones, can be problematic.

I continue to use organized tours and cruises. I've booked an August cruise to eastern Greenland and Jan Mayen island. I've also booked a November cruise that will take me through the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Hormuz. Next April, I've booked a cruise on an icebreaker to the Weddell Sea, South Georgia and the South Shetland and South Sandwich Islands.

But I'm also planning to do trips on my own, including parts of India that I've never visited before, such as Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.

So consider the options. Don't rule out anything. Be flexible.

22. Posted by goodfish (Full Member 332 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Wise words, Berner. I do agree that there can be very good reasons for booking the escorted package tour, for one hour, one day or many days.

There's no wrong answer unless it's wrong for the individual taking/paying for the trip, eh?

23. Posted by GeorgeRodriguez (Budding Member 6 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Thank you for your detailed insight, Berner. I tend to travel alone and plan my trips to my liking. However, there's only so much I can do when visiting a destination for the first time. I'll have a general idea of what I want to experience but I also want to be exploring non stop when traveling. Personally, an organized tour just helps me fill up the time with the main attractions that a city/country has to offer. At the same time, depending on how long my trip is, I like spending time exploring by myself at my own pace. Only introverts of this forum will understand. In summary, organized tour or not, depends on what you're trying to accomplish on your trip and how much effort and budget you're willing to put into it.

24. Posted by Pradeep Narayan (Budding Member 3 posts) 3y 1 Star this if you like it!

I like to plan my trip on my own and do lots of research beforehand. Which means I know where all to go, which places to visit as attraction spots, where to stay, what are local/regional not-to-miss things.

Having said that it’s always good to leave some time for unexpected places, retreats.

Planning your itinerary on your own gives you a virtual tour of the places you are going to, making you psychologically adaptable to the conditions.

That’s just my way of planning trips!

Post 25 was removed by a moderator
26. Posted by floydfedde (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Those options have both pros and cons. Package tours don't give you enough freedom, but you won't get bothered by anything else. I'm a man of freedom, so I always make my own trip. The only time I had a package tour was a cruise voyage last year. My sons got me the ticket as a birthday present, so I had no choice.

27. Posted by floydfedde (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting floydfedde

Those options have both pros and cons. Package tours don't give you enough freedom, but you won't get bothered by anything else. I'm a man of freedom, so I always make my own trip. The only time I had a package tour was a cruise voyage last year. My sons got me the ticket as a birthday present, so I had no choice.

Still, I liked it so much. I've noticed I have a habit of tracking the route. So, despite the fact I had no need to track the route, I still did it via -snip-. Anyway, the voyage was full of gorgeous views. That's how it works for me. Best wishes.

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

28. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 2663 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting AndyF

]My responses in bold

Cruises actually make it very difficult to do anything significantly off-piste, deliberately as they make much of their profit from selling shore excursions to the timid.

I usually take the excursions the first time I am in port, but I always also explore on my own. I do not find this difficult

Time in port is limited, often 9-5 or 9-3, sometimes just 10-1, and the start time depends upon being cleared by the port authorities. In the case of a tender port it is potluck whether you'll get a tender quickly or wait two hours, and independents are at the back of the queue after the ship's excursion pax.

At a tender port, it is wise to book an early excursion. (The same with Russian ports)

They often berth in the middle of nowhere in an industrial port area, and keep the berthing location vague beforehand, which makes it harder to plan independent transport.
This depends on the location of the cruise Most of the well used Caribbean ports the locations are pretty standard.
I've even known them move the ship during the day.
The only time I've known them to do this is for river cruises in Europe. This is because Viking started the River Cruising and they own the docking points. So even if your river cruise gets there first, if Viking comes after, you have to move and let them be on the dock and you raft on them.

Probably the majority of cruises I've done have missed a port due to weather, and others have swapped days around because of logistics. This makes it hard to book an independent tour, or hire cars.

This happens most often in the Atlantic because of hurricanes. The majority of cruises I have taken have not missed a port. If you book the Atlantic December to May this will not usually be a problem. I haven't done as much in the Pacific (only 4 or 5 cruises) and have not missed a port on those cruises. River cruises have more problems because of weather, low water or high water, but I've been pretty lucky here. I have had only one problem booking an independent tour and it wasn't because of weather. Usually I just get off the ship, go to the taxi rank and ask them how much it will be to take me where I want to go and then bargain.

That said I've organised perhaps a dozen groups going on cruises together where we've successfully "hacked" the cruise and done our own thing, using a combination of hire cars, privately-booked tours using local operators, or public transport and hoofing it. Cruises have advantages for some places: You can cover a lot of ground in a short time, which works for some places with limited things to see and do. You wake up somewhere new each day with someone else having done the driving, and at the end of a tiring day ashore you know the food and accommodation is taken care of without you needing to expend any thought or energy. Addiitonally, arriving by sea gives a unique perspective and is the best way to see some places - I'm thinking sailing down the Lofoten Islands, or the Norwegian fjords, or previously departing Venice.

Lots of advance research is the key to figuring out whether you can hack a cruise for your own purposes. Many travellers do feel hemmed in by the limitations, and they don't want to spend their trip herded around with crowds of elderly people. I find when you put your boots on and head off early you can normally get away from the cruise pax and get a rewarding visit.

My husband would prefer to travel on our boat with just the two of us. He doesn't like crowds. I'm a little more social. But I like cruises because I don't have to worry about the transportation and I like not having to pack and unpack. We were on our own boat when he had a heart attack at an uninhabited cay in the Bahamas, and that took a little of the desire from me to do more cruising by ourselves. We didn't venture out of the US on our own boat again after that.

I have only done a couple of land based tours. I did one in Ireland in 2007 with my grandson because I didn't want to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road - I don't see anything when I am driving, and he was 14 and didn't have a license. The only disadvantage (aside from the packing and unpacking) was that there was no one on that tour of near his age and he is a very social person. I did one with my mother in Spain - she was in her 80s and we had a good time together without the need of one of us doing the driving. But it's not my favorite kind of tour.

I have done a couple of independent tours. I did a safari in Tanzania in 2018 with my granddaughter where we had a driver/guide for just the two of us and all the stops and food was arranged. That worked out great. In 1996 I had a travel agent arrange an independent tour of Costa Rica - just my husband and me. That worked fine. Then I tried the same thing in 1998 in Belize, but the person arranging the tour had a problem and the arrangements were not finalized properly. We went and had a good time and saw a lot of awsome stuff, but there were occasions when we were supposed to have a place on the plane coming home and no one knew anything about it.

in 1997, we twice chartered a boat with a captain and cook in the Virgin Islands. (My husband said it was to find out if I could live on a boat, and before I had really decided - we had bought a boat. :) ) I got certified in SCUBA on the first trip.

[ Edit: Edited on 9 Sep 2022, 16:24 GMT by greatgrandmaR ]

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