Group travel has its advantages: someone else plans the itinerary and you get to leave the lodging, transportation, meals, and sightseeing to someone else. No responsibility for making reservations, securing tickets, researching tourist sites, or driving; someone else is in charge. Travelers who don’t like to fret the details can select from a variety of preplanned vacations.
While there are many positives, there are downsides as well. Too many activities can be planned for each day with too little time to appreciate and enjoy the experience. Tours often start early in the morning, leaving many travelers tired or exhausted by the end of the day.
Cramming too many stops into one day or prolonged time on a bus can leave travelers stressed rather than relaxed. And let’s not forget that being part of a group and being surrounded with people that you don’t really know all day, every day can easily get on your nerves.
Taking a day off
When my friends booked a trip to Ireland with a small group, they loved the hotel choices and the itinerary. At the end of the first week they were to spend the day at a very touristy spot. They chose to opt out for the day and rented bicycles.
They drove through the lush countryside, visited a park with waterfalls, and toured a charming historic home with manicured gardens. They enjoyed being together and felt refreshed. The next morning, they shared their experiences and others in the group thought they too might take a day off.
Another friend planned ahead to have some time to himself on a group tour to South America. The itinerary included three days in Buenos Aires, so he hired a private guide for the first two days. The guide picked him up at the hotel and took him all over the city, stopping at many unique sites and venues.
He reconnected with his travel mates on the third day and shared his escapades; they were surprised at how much territory my friend covered and wished they’d thought to have some time on their own as well.
Most group tours recognize that travelers can tire or feel overwhelmed and need some time to themselves. It’s not uncommon for travelers to take a day off and stay around the hotel to relax and enjoy the amenities. You might just want to sit in a café, people watch, and absorb your surroundings.
Whether you choose to use a day or two to enjoy yourself solo, be considerate. Let your tour director know you won’t be joining them so they don’t hold up the bus or tour waiting for you.
Keep in mind that this is your vacation. Stay safe and enjoy yourself.