The pros and cons of taking an organized group trip

Rape. Roofies. Rude guys. These were the first things my friend remembered about her trip to Morocco ten years ago. I still planned to go. So did my mom and we were researching options on how to approach our vacation to the North-African country. A travel agent recommended a guided tour that would cover countless cities and activities within 11 days. We had found no better option and booked right away even though neither of us had ever participated in a guided tour.
Our 25 travel mates however were mostly returning, happy customers. Little did I know that I would become one too because now I would not hesitate to join an organized vacation again. But let me tell you the pros and cons, so you can decide for yourself:

Pros
1. Cost
For 11 days, we paid about $1.800 each, which included accommodation, breakfast and dinner, cover charge for all the attractions, transportation and the flight! On some days, we paid about 20-30 Euros per day per person extra for a lunch and for drinks at the hotel restaurants, which were never included in Morocco. Now that’s about 250 Euros extra.
Let’s say you’d organize your own trip and bring it down to roughly the same price (which I HIGHLY doubt because we were getting group discounts everywhere), how much time did you spend researching and booking? Not only would you lose time, but you’d also miss out on knowledge from a travel guide, which brings me to my next pro:

2. Knowledgeable travel guide
ALL participants assured me that a guide makes or breaks a tour, but by trying the travellers have found their favorite tour companies where they’re always fortunate to have a well-educated, passionate, kind, patient, and highly organized guide. You just can’t put a price on them and their knowledge. I’ve learned more things in 11 days of travel than I would have learned in several months traveling through Morocco on my own. They show you all the best places, so you don’t have to discover the worst for yourself.

3. Organization
With a guided tour, EVERYTHING is organized. You don’t have to worry about anything. The tour companies are doing ALL the work, booking, and research for you: hotels, food, attractions, transportation. You don’t even have to carry your own suitcases to and from your hotel room!

4. Paid Food
As mentioned, throughout the whole trip, your breakfast and dinner will be most likely included. That means: No extra cost, no looking up restaurants, knowing what food is safe to eat because your guide knows, no dishes, and no grocery shopping. Need I say more?

5. Safety
Your guide knows what’s safe regarding food, areas, and culture. You will not eat anything you shouldn’t, never brush your teeth with tap water where you’re not supposed to, and never go to an area where it might be dangerous. There was never a moment where I didn’t feel safe when I was with the group and the guide.

Con

Not enough time in one place
If you really like a place, you might want to stay there longer and explore more; however, you can’t because the other 25 guests would not like to be held up because of you. For example, I would have loved to explore the Medina of Fes more and would have loved to just sit in a corner and observe, but we rushed through it to see as much as we possibly could during the limited hours we had there.

 

Two more things you should know

You definitely won’t have lots of time for yourself, just be aware of that and prepare for it. Hopefully, you’ll meet some nice people in your group that you want to hang out with if you decide to go! And also – make sure to check the average age with the tour company. I spent 11 days with a group of solely seniors (all 50+) as a 27-year-old. While it was interesting, I couldn’t really keep up with them talking about all their injuries and the “good ol’ times.”

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