I’ve been asked by a lot of my friends and family, “How can you travel all by yourself with no tour guide or group to speak of?” My answer to that is simple: I would not have it any other way. I am an introvert by nature, and I LOVE my alone time. A vacation combined with alone time is one of the best things I could ever imagine. This is one of the biggest reasons I like independent (non-tour group) travel. But truly that is only one of the reasons why I love to book my own trips a piece at a time.
*I LOVE to travel independently because it is much more likely that you’ll find the areas where the locals reside. If you rely on a tour provider, they’re going to take you places and book you into the same hotels that all the other tour providers use. This may be the experience that some folks are looking for, and that’s perfectly OK. If you’re in town to see the sights that the tourists want to see, this is probably your best bet. I love to go off the beaten path when I travel. I prefer to stay in residential neighborhoods and I want to see everything, really soak in life as a resident of the country I am visiting. For example, when we went to Rome, we rented a little flat in the Monti district. It was just a 10 minute walk away from the Colloseum, but there were no hotels or tourist-y areas in it, it was all local folks who lived there year round. I can still remember seeing their lights burn as they had dinner at 8pm every evening, seeing the little old ladies walking their dogs early in the morning, and seeing the kids sitting on the building porch steps after school. That’s exactly why I travel.
*I like to get exactly what I want. I know, it sounds like I’m being a little controlling, but I really just don’t want to waste a day touring something that I’m really not that interested in. When I book my own travel, I get to choose just the tours that interest me.
*It’s usually cheaper. That’s right, I’ve found that I can save a little money if I do it on my own. I’ll use an example from a recent email that I got from Groupon. They offered a four night tour of Iceland, airfare from NY to Reykjavik, a Northern Lights Tour, and transfers to and from the airport for $999 per person double occupancy for the dates that I was interested in. If I wanted to travel alone it would be $300 more, or $1299, plus tax. Booking those items separately came to $1103 (including tax) for one person. If I had two people, it would have been even more of a savings, as the hotel would have been spread over two people and not one. Of course, I would probably book some more independent tours for the rest of those four days, but I would have done that if I had gone with the tour anyway. So there you have it, independently booking beat a Groupon deal! Woohoo!
Ultimately, both guided tours and independent travel are fun and valuable. You just need to choose the experience you’re hoping to have, and then go with the travel option that best matches and supports that. Until next time, friends, Travel Joyful!