Pros and Cons of Booking Package Vacations
Booking a vacation can be stressful. Or it can be an opportunity to do and see exactly what you want, when you want. Vacation types and options are as unique as the people who take them. To make sure you take the right kind of vacation for you, check out the list of pros and cons of booking a package vacation.
Package vacations, also called group tours, are holidays that bundle services together to create a whole trip. They typically include a combination of services, like:
- Transportation between airports, harbors, stations, hotels, and attractions
- Hotel accommodations
- Rental cars
- Entrance fees to attractions and events
- Tour guides
- Experts book and arrange your trip. You can trust travel professionals to arrange everything for you, saving you time and avoiding stress before your big trip. You’ll also have experts on hand to answer any questions before and during your holiday.
- They can be cheaper. Travel agents and groups often get discounts you can’t because they capitalize on economies of scale: they book event tickets, airline seats, and boat cabins in bulk at a lower price. Sometimes those savings are passed on to you.
- Designed for families, themed, or luxury experiences. Group vacations are often designed around specific interests, experiences, or types of travelers. So if you fit the bill, it can be a great vacation fit!
- Ease of mind when you don’t speak the language. Especially when traveling in a country where you don’t speak the native language, a pre-arranged itinerary can lift the burden and stress of trying to communicate through a language barrier at every step. Bilingual tour guides often ensure you get a richer experience at attractions than just reading a translated pamphlet.
- Access to unusual or overcrowded destinations. There are some places you can only go with a tour group—like Antarctica. Tour operators can arrange trips to places most individuals can’t reach on their own. Or, they receive priority bookings at popular sights, like the Vatican Museum, which gives you a better chance of getting in. This can also reduce time spent standing in line.
- Passionate and professional tour guides. A fun and knowledgeable guide can make all the difference between a good and a great trip. Because guides who are part of a tour group aren’t tied to an attraction or location, they can add value and insights when strolling through the streets of new cities.
- Social opportunities. If you travel with a group, you’re bound to make new connections and friends, which can enhance any trip. They might encourage you try new things, or your friendship may extend beyond your vacation and last a lifetime.
- There might be itinerary items and costs you’re not that into. Is the vacation worth it for you if you know you’ll have to see or do things you’re not that interested in? Package vacations don’t usually come à la carte, so you’d better be on board with the whole shebang.
- They can be more expensive. Most package vacations don’t cater to the budget crowd. If you purchase an all-inclusive cruise or beach vacation, you’ll be paying for alcohol and group activities you might not partake in. Even though travel agents and companies usually get discounts on bookings, like flights and hotels, because they need to make a profit on the endeavor, those savings might not be passed down to you.
- Not much flexibility or room for spontaneity. Even if you’re excited for the entire itinerary, once you’re on vacation, you might not have enough or any free time to pursue things that spark your interest. No changing your plans for lunch to eat at the cute café you just discovered. No canceling your plans to tour a museum so you can spend the afternoon people watching in the park and eating gelato.
- Predetermined accommodations and dining options. Depending on the size of your tour group, you may be restricted in the types (and levels of authenticity) of restaurants you can eat at. With the rise of home-sharing websites, many travelers are enjoying staying with locals to enrich their travel experience. But if you’re on a package vacation, you’ll most likely be in chain hotels.
- You’ll be conspicuous and stick out as a tourist. If being immediately identifiable as a tourist rubs you the wrong way, you’ll want to avoid group tours. Even traveling with a small group will create a more sheltered traveling experience than traveling independently.
- Personality conflicts within the group. If you don’t jive with someone in your group, there’s little chance to escape. Their grating voice, loud chewing, or obnoxious jokes are going to follow you from breakfast to the bus to standing in line to see the priceless artifact you’ve looked forward to all year.
- Prices are usually non-refundable. While expenses aren’t always refundable when booking a trip on your own, you’d still have a better chance of getting a refund or at least a voucher than if you have to cancel a package vacation. Purchasing trip insurance is a wise move if you do book a group tour.