Self-guided vs. tour-led

Ronald Leung / Silhouette Staff

 

Since vacationing is a luxury for cash-strapped students, every dollar counts. How do you get the most of your money when exploring a new destination? Should you book a tour bus, or decide to go lassiez-faire? At first, the latter seems to be the more attractive option. Who wouldn’t want the freedom of drifting through a romantic foreign city, tasting cultural snacks and discovering quirks and curiosities in every nook and cranny? You’d be free to stay as long as you please at your favourite attraction, and spend as long as you want sipping a exquisite coffee or shopping along the promenade. However, the cost of this self-directed journey is the large preparation needed to actually pull off a satisfying trip. Hours of research needs to be done in order to scout out potential attractions and famous gems of the destination you’d be visiting, hours that as students, many of us don’t have. In addition, the trial-and-error format of self-journey often racks up higher costs as we dip our toes continuously until we find just the right temperature.

A tour bus on the other hand, usually comes in a neat package with transportation, lodging, and most meals covered. A fluent interpreter and tour guide often accompanies every bus, where they provide commentary about attractions and banter with the locals, avoiding a lot of embarrassing miming on your part. They also have a packed itinerary, so all you have to do is follow along and enjoy the experience. However, this could also be considered a downfall for many travelers. Package tours are notorious for their early mornings and late evenings, so you may find yourself struggling to stay awake. In addition, they have strict time limits at attractions, so many vacationers often complain of feeling rushed as they are herded from destination to destination. Not everything on the itinerary may be to your liking which may also be an annoyance.

At the end of the day, it’s difficult to judge without trying out both. If you find planning too much, an organized tour bus may be perfect for you. If you’re proactive in your travels, a self-directed experience may yield much more freedom and sight-seeing. Whatever you chose, never forget that you’re on vacation. Enjoy the sights, breathe, laugh and sleep, because before you know it, it’ll all be over.

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