Why take a group tour?

TNN group tour worth it on a narrow river in the jungle
Installed: 16.5.23 |: May 16, 2023

My first trip abroad was with an organized group tour. I didn’t know the first thing about traveling back then. I had never been anywhere on my own and my family were not big travelers. My travel experiences revolved around a cruise and spring break in Montreal during college. I was as green as they come. So, at the age of 23, touring seemed like the best way to go.

When I left for my first real adult trip to Costa Rica, I was glad I signed up for the tour. I didn’t speak Spanish, I didn’t know how to navigate a foreign country, and I had no idea how to figure out what to do or how to organize my time.

I was scared, unsure, and needed a lot of catching up.

Our guide really helped me learn to “swim”. That tour gave me the confidence to travel on my own. By the end I felt I had “got it” enough to find my own way and meet people.

After returning home, I began planning my next trip, a non-touristy trip to Thailand, and after that experience, I traveled around the world. The rest is history, as they say.

More than 15 years later, I still love (and use) group tours. They are right for certain people, certain destinations, and certain activities for different reasons.

I think tours are looked down upon by too many travelers because they think of those giant, big busloads of seniors gathering for photo ops before getting on the bus to the next tourist destination.

And while those tours still exist, not all tours are like that. Many companies offer truly unique and exciting experiences in small group settings. Tour companies now come in all specialties and sizes. You just need to know how to choose the right tour for you.

I think tours are good for a number of reasons.

First, they are great for people who are new to traveling or just don’t feel comfortable traveling alone. I’ve written before that the hardest thing about traveling isn’t the action, it’s finding the courage to go. Walking out the door on your own isn’t easy. No matter where you’re from, we all fear the ‘unknown’. When you don’t speak the language, or don’t have a lot of experience, or just worry about safety in a new place, you’re not always ready to just grab your backpack and go.

Tours allow you to get your feet wet and overcome that fear.

Additionally, some travelers prefer tours when exploring a new region for the first time. Sure, you might be traveling through Europe or Australia, but the thought of doing the same in Central America or the Middle East might be a little out of your comfort zone.

Second, tours are good if you are a solo traveler looking for company. People always ask me if I get lonely as a solo traveler or what I do if I don’t meet anyone. Fortunately, I’ve learned to meet people along the way.

But as a natural introvert, it took me a long time to learn how to start conversations with strangers. It takes effort and a fair amount of courage to put yourself out there and make friends.

However, when you’re on tour, you have automatic travel buddies. The tours are designed so that you have a group of people to talk, explore, eat and hang out with. You won’t be alone, which will take the pressure off a lot.

More often than not, you’ll form stronger bonds than you ever expected with your tour partners because of your shared travel experience.

A TNN group tour walking along a sunny, wide open beach

Third, tours are good if you don’t have a lot of time. Could I see Jordan, Morocco or Madagascar? Yes, of course, but I didn’t have much time and I wanted to see very quickly. That is why I visited those destinations on a tour.

When you’re limited on your travel time, tours are the perfect way to easily see the highlights. They have unique experiences baked right in, so no matter how quick the tour, you’ll feel like you’ve seen something other than the must-see sights (at least the good ones).

Fourth, tours are great for busy people. It seems like so many people have a million things to do these days that planning all the logistics of traveling to a foreign country may not be high on the list of priorities. And if this is your life, I guess you need a vacation. After all, everyone needs a vacation once in a while.

Joining a group tour is a great way to have a satisfying experience without having to lift a finger to plan. It is very convenient. Just show up and participate. Let someone else do the research, planning… and improvising when things go wrong.

Fifth, some destinations are logistically difficult and are best visited on a tour. Just try going on your own to the Galapagos, on safari, around India, or in several African countries. Sure, you can do it, but it’s not always easy, and most people don’t have the time or energy to put together that kind of trip. Multi-day hikes on Mount Kilimanjaro or around Patagonia are easier and safer in a group. The same goes for traveling through deserts, rainforests, jungles, and other areas that aren’t easy to navigate on your own.

After all, tours can give you access to experiences you can’t access on your own. This is especially true for smaller, boutique travel companies (like us). By using their inside knowledge and connections, you can gain access to people, places and activities that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

For example, on our Oaxaca tour, we go to my friend’s mezcalería and he gives us a private tasting and talks about his family’s history of creating the spirit.

In Romania, we get special permission to rest in a gypsy village, thanks to our guide’s many years of friendship with the people there.

In Jordan, we sleep in our Bedouin friend’s village, just outside of Petra.

These are experiences that are difficult to replicate on your own and can contribute to greater understanding and depth and a more satisfying travel experience.


Are tours for everyone? No. But they don’t have to be the big bus groups of yesteryear, and I think they can offer today’s travelers some really unique experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. Even if you are an independent traveler, definitely consider them.

And if you are looking for a tour, consider our company, Network of nomads. We offer incredible small group tours to destinations including Tanzania, Cuba, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Romania, Costa Rica, Yucatan Peninsula, Jordan and more. We use our personal travel experience to create unique itineraries that you won’t see anywhere else. We connect with locals, get off the beaten path, connect with expert guides, participate in unique activities, and take you to tourist-free restaurants, bars, sightseeing tours, swimming holes, backyard barbecues, and more.

Click here to check out our Fall 2023 offerings and join us on the road.

Book your trip. logistics tips and tricks

Book your flight
Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines worldwide, so you always know that no stone is left unturned.

Book your accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest prices for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellation. It’s comprehensive protection should something go wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I have had to use it many times before. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Want to travel for free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation at no additional cost. Check out my guide to choosing the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.

Ready to book your trip?
Check out my resources page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

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