Independent Travel vs. Tour Group: Day 21

The Jackpot of Tour Groups

The age-old debate: should we call our own shots or pay someone to do it for us. It all depends on how you value your own physical, mental, emotional exhaustion and how things like this affect your appreciation of a destination.

Last year, I traveled across Northern India alone, at time spending only $20 bucks in 5 days and living on the bottom of the tourist barrel, other times living the high life in the mountains. I met many Indians and Kashmiris I adored, which in turn led me to be a little closed off to the other tourists like me, and I had quite a bit of alone time with the things I came to India to see.

Traveling alone, as pleasurable as it can be, doesn’t easily put you in the position of being able to talk about your experiences and be understood. I had no one to turn to and say, “That mountain is stunning. Why do I live in Indiana where none of these things exist?” or “Is that chai wallah over there doing Michael Jackson dance moves?”

Our tour group for the Golden Triangle last week was just the kind of “cha-ching” blend of hilarious, fun-loving, and thoughtful travelers that can enhance the experience of seeing a destination. Without a thing to plan ourselves, we were able to react to the things we saw, discuss and be a part of them, and walk away from our trip pleased to have met good people in a place we loved. If we didn’t have this good group dynamic and weren’t on such a fitting tour for our travel styles, India would have remained a little bitter in our memories.

It takes careful planning and lots of luck for a tour to be the best route, and when it happens, you gotta smile because you’re in for a really good time.