11 problems that could destroy your group tour

Like every form of travel, group touring has its pleasures and its pitfalls. Here are 11 of the most common concerns to plan for and check on with your agency before booking.

Text by Pauline Frommer | Photo editing by Connie Ricca

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Apr 2, 2013 11:17AM

I suggest booking through a trusted travel agent using a reputable tour company.  Realize that there will be glitches - traveling is meant to be an a fun experience. Treat it as such. Fellow travelers can be annoying, self centered and the tour may miss the mark, but when you get home evaluate and reflect.  I bet you enjoyed it over all. 


Tours are tailor made for single travelers, first time travelers to foreign lands or senior citizens.  While I have been on many cruises, I find that they are not the best way to tour, in my estimation.  The land tours are expensive. It's "in by 9 out by 5" menality.  It does offer a safe, comfortable smorgasbord of the ports. 


In short, be flexibe in all situations and you will enjoy your trip much more. Complain and you will end up being miserable.  I have done foreign lands by myself and via formal tours and enjoyed both. 

Apr 2, 2013 10:46AM
Two of us were planning our first group tour this spring to a place we have always dreamed of visiting here in the US. The price was good and it hit all the spots we were looking for plus others we weren't. We put our deposit down and were looking forward to the bus trip. After a few days we were chatting and found that we both had the same idea......We could drive ourselves and see only what we wanted to see and could spend more time there instead of places not on our "wish list".... And we could do it for the same cost or even less. So we got our deposit back and have had much more fun planning our trip with maps and books on the area. We can't wait to go....plus we can pack what we want and bring back items that may be too large for a bus to handle. Sorry, but I haven't used travel agents in years because I can plan just as well and I have been all over the world on cruises and on land.
Apr 2, 2013 10:44AM
We have been on several tours and each one has been wonderful. No problems, nice people, great guides, great everything. Somebody is getting on the wrong bus.
Apr 2, 2013 10:04AM

This article forgot one, MAJOR, problem, with tourist groups. and that is Students Tours.


These kids are on spring visits, to other cities, yet too often, they act like ANIMALS.


Language, foul gestures, littering, shoving, and the list just goes on.


Personally, I wish these tours could be abolished, PERMANENTLY.

Apr 2, 2013 9:36AM

Actually, I don't mind guides getting kickbacks under certain conditions:


1) sells indigenous and/or local items rarely or not found elsewhere on tour

2) inspected shops that sell authentic goods that are often counterfeit in other places

3) sells customized goods delivered to you before leaving area/country

4) includes tour, craft demonstration, etc.

5) prices not well above market

Apr 2, 2013 9:36AM
group tours are interchangeable with a cruise in my book, and like I always say:

you could not drag my rotting corpse onto a cruise ship.  thus, nor a group tour.

Apr 2, 2013 9:21AM
When I travel, especially overseas I always travel either by train or rent a car, that way I have no set agenda and take my time.  I do plan ahead for major stops in large cities and usually take local walking tours.  That way if you get bored or lose interest I can walk away after tipping the guide of course.  Here in the states when I go on a vacation, I always take the back roads and invest in good maps as I hate to rely on GPS and only use that as a backup should I get lost. 
Apr 2, 2013 9:18AM
I have experienced all the things you mention in the six tours I've been on as a host and two as a participant  BUT I would still recommend going on a packaged tour. Why?  Because I've also been on a semi-self-guided tour as a college student and when you're on your own you don't push yourself to experience things.  It is ideal to have a mixture of both - some free time to explore/get lost and a mixture of listening to your guide and local tour guides.  Yes, some of those will be less interesting and others fascinating - that's life.  I'd make sure there is always a GREAT breakfast for the group and lunch on your own and 1/2 of the dinners on your own.
Having 40 years of experience with tours my problem now is that they don't take you to museums but to gift shops. In Munich we went to the free gardens and gift shop at Mad Ludwig's birthplace but not to the museum and then they took us to the free BMW factory...pffffffffffffffffffffft.
Apr 2, 2013 9:14AM

Tour groups & activities only can give you a overview of the area you're interested in; not the cool & indigenous fun to be had.

Rule # 1 when traveling:





Apr 2, 2013 8:57AM
I don't see the point of a group tour. When I go somewhere new, I like to explore on my own. You can also find short group tours for much more affordable prices (there are also free walking tours in major European cities, you pay the tour guide in tips). It's also extremely easy to book hotels and read reviews from overseas; I've visited about a dozen countries in the last five years alone this way. Group tours provide a buffer between the traveler and the place. If that's what you're going for, then do the packaged tour. Otherwise, it's easier, cheaper, and more authentic to strike out on your own.
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