Justine Waddington is the founder and director of Encounter Travel, a company that creates holiday groups exclusively for solo travellers. As a solo traveller with 60 countries under her belt and 14 years of leading travel groups, Justine is in the unique position of being able to offer tips and advice from the perspective of an experienced solo traveller and also that of a travel agent.
7 Things Solo Travellers Need To Know Before Booking A Tour
If you're new to the world of solo travel and can't see yourself travelling alone, joining a group could be the perfect start. But how can you make sure that pick 'the right one?'. Start with comparing the tours with 7 checks - narrow your focus and making choosing your tour a whole lot easier.
1. WHAT'S THE SIZE OF THE GROUP?
Whether a large or small group, each have their pros and cons so there's no right or wrong answer. But the group size does play a role in the group dynamics.
A small group tour is a more intimate experience. Whereas with a large group, you may not get to know everyone in the group but, on the flipside, there are going to be more personalities and more new people to meet.
Also, the logistics of things like checking into hotels, getting on and off the bus and gathering as a group, are easier to manage and less time consuming when compared to a larger group where you’ll need more patience.
2. CHOOSING A TOUR TO MATCH YOUR FITNESS
Never assume the physical demands of a tour. You need to read itinerary and the background information to check that the pace is a fit with the way you like to travel.
Many tours are graded on a scale based on the physical demands of the tour. Also most itineraries will tell you about each day, including if they are full days of sightseeing, half days or a mix, so you can have an idea of how much free time is available. If all else fails and you don’t feel like you know the tour pace, contact the tour company or your travel agent to check.
3. WHAT ’S THE AGE GROUP?
Sure, age does not define a person but the reality is that if you can find a tour with people close to your age it’s more likely you can find some common ground and it’s going to help you to enjoy the company of the others in the group.
The best ways to get an idea of the age group that the tour attracts is to go to the source and ask the tour company. No company can give you an absolute until the group is finalised, and then it’s too late, but they should be able to give you a guide.
4. ARE THERE OTHER SOLO TRAVELLERS IN THE GROUP?
Like age, your marital status shouldn’t make a difference but if you find yourself landing in a group where everyone else is travelling as a couple, there’s some chance it could make you feel a bit like ‘the third wheel’.
Often smaller to medium sized operators are more likely to be able to share the make-up or likely make-up of the group compared to a big tour company that may not or can’t provide this information. Better still, book yourself on a group exclusively for solo travellers.
5. WHAT ’S THE NATIONALITY MIX?
Do you want to travel with a bunch of travellers from your own country, or would you prefer to mingle with travellers from different parts of the world?
There’s no simple way to know what the mix of nationalities will be on tour just by looking at the brochure. If it matters to you, ask your travel agent or the tour operator about it. If the tour company can’t tell you the exact mix of nationalities, you can usually get an indication based on asking in which countries they’re selling the tour.
6. WHAT’S THE LANGUAGE FOR THE TOUR?
As an English speaker, we expect to be booking onto English-speaking tours.
But not all tours are exclusively operated in English. There are some, that are run in multiple languages. Travelling alone, and landing yourself in a group tour with others that don’t speak your language is going to limit your ‘fun factor’ and chance of making some travel buddies on tour.
Plus think how your touring day is going to be when you hear your tour guide repeat what you just heard again in one or more other languages.
7. WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE TOUR?
Comparing tours can be like comparing apples to oranges with so any variables.
To help make comparisons look for these points of difference;
- The hotel standard included.
- How many meals are included and what standard are the meals; simple hotel dinners or special highlight experiences?
- Is sightseeing included in the tour price or optional at an additional cost?
- What’s the comfort level for tour; the type of vehicle used and is it public or private?
- Does the tour include a tour director and/or local guides?
- Is tipping included or not?
GETTING STARTED FOR THE FIRST TIME?
Check out my book, The Solo Traveller's Compass, How To Travel Solo But Not Alone
READY TO FIND YOUR SOLO TRAVELLER GROUP?
Visit our holiday list of groups for solo travellers. Click Here
LIKE TO CRUISE?
Find out more about Cruise Circle for Solos
Plus join the Facebook Group Cruise Circle for Solos
100% Australian; we 'get' the Australian travel style. And, better still, our arms are open to welcome our friends from other countries around the world, who'd like to travel with friendly Aussies.
We've already racked up 14 years of experience creating and delivering the best ever holidays for solo travellers. As a boutique tour operator, we delight in detail, delivering personal service and finding your next best memory.