The main question a person asks themselves when they are getting ready to travel anywhere, is whether to travel alone or on a tour. I wish somebody told me back then, what I know now today as my personal experience has left me in no doubt as to which one is best. Recently I took a tour with a travel company in Vietnam and it completely changed my perspective on how I travel at all!
I travelled alone for much of the past seven years but it is only in more recent years and since working as an International Tour Guide that I have realised the importance and much larger amount of enjoyment which can be found from taking a group tour.
In truth, it took all of these years of travel experience and the recent experiences travelling in Vietnam to understand that the reasons I had for going alone instead of on a tour, were mostly lies I told myself or at the very least, the result of wishful thinking. Here are the top 5 lies that I told myself:
I will immerse myself in the local culture
This was usually the first lie I told myself and the first reason I had for travelling alone; that I would be able to get more involved with the local people or community by travelling without a group. The reality is, that a language barrier can mostly stop this from happening and in fact, the easiest way to get to know a community or get involved with the locals, is by taking a group tour.
I will enjoy being alone and travelling without a tour group.
I kept telling myself this for years, that I would take to the life of a nomad and enjoy exploring places by myself.
The best moments of my travels, as with my entire life, have always been with other people and other travellers. Without people to share these sights or experiences, there is no meaningful way to create life lasting memories. I realised this very fact when I decided to take my first tour in Vietnam. Granted, I got lucky because I ended up visiting Halong Bag with the best Vietnam Tour Company and the like minded travellers on the trip are still great friends to this very day.
I will use the time to learn about myself
I tried to maintain this lie for the longest time. I told myself I would read and write, enjoy the solitude and use it as a chance to get to know myself. However, quite opposite seems to happen when you travel alone. I am very comfortable by myself but to be honest, I found that most of my time spent travelling, was done so wishing that I had someone there to talk with along the way.
Again, this was something my tour in Vietnam would teach me; you learn more about yourself by travelling with a group of interesting people than most books out there.
I will put myself out there and meet new people.
Wishful thinking. In reality, walking up to a group of strange people and introducing yourself is a terrifying even which, if we are honest – rarely happens!
The best thing I did in Vietnam was go online and ask friends if they knew of any Vietnam Tour Packages they could recommend. Once I booked the tour and walked into the meeting place the following morning, I was forced to put my fears aside, shake hands and finally, meet new people!
Group Tours are expensive.
What a lie, if anything – Group travel has always been more cost effective than travelling alone. No more paying the full price of rooms alone and group prices for pretty much everything else including activities and meals.
I now know that my time to Vietnam would not have been anywhere near as good, had it not been for the trip I took with the best Vietnam Tour Company. In fact, it will be a long time until I travel alone again as whats the point in going it alone, when you can meet more people and have an even better experience on a tour.