Adventures of Independent Travel...Part 1 / by Krista Boivie

First, I have to admit that I failed on keep up with my three times a week blogging goal I set at the beginning of the year.  I had posts planned for Wednesday and Friday of last week--but my week was so stressful and overwhelming I had a hard time composing any coherent thoughts and I decided to just let it go.  This has been a recurring theme recently that I will need to address in a future post.

Today I am stilling in my beautiful little hotel in Peru and finally relaxing from a very stressful November.  This trip to Peru was a fairly spontaneous decision--due to some cheap airfare--and consequently, my friends and I decided to just piece meal the planning of the trip.  I made all the reservations and planned the itinerary and although I enjoy the process of putting together a trip, I find the responsibility for everything to be very stressful.

Today's post I wanted to focus on the pros and cons of independent travel versus group travel. 

Pros:

  1. Flexibility. You can do whatever you want. When you are traveling independently there is no one telling you what you have to do and when you have to do it--this freedom can create beautifully relaxed days where you see exactly what you want.
  2. Extra time. As a photographer I always want to linger to get the best possible photos of the place I am visiting. Often with group travel I feel rushed and don't get to challenge my creativity as much as I can when I can spend the extra time getting the shot.
  3. Local life. When you are traveling independently there are far more natural opportunities to meet the locals and see people how they really live in the place you are visiting. Group travel always hits the most popular tourist and must-see sites, but you don't spend anytime just wandering the streets and meeting people.
  4. No Big Groups. When visiting popular sites the large tour groups can make it very difficult to hear all the interesting facts because you have to jockey for places amongst your fellow travelers.

Cons:

  1. Language Barriers. Group travel provides translators and guides that will allow you to feel comfortable and interact with people easier. Today we haven’t experienced too many issues, but neither Jen and I speak Spanish and so we have to do lots of pointing and gesturing.
  2. Wasted Time. When traveling by yourself to a new location you have no idea where anything is.  I waste so much time looking at a map and wondering around before I finally figure out where I am located.  Today was no exception—we wasted more than an hour and a half wandering around trying to find the places we were looking for—which means that we didn’t see as much as we could have.
  3. Transportation. Group travel (although at times can be expensive) arranges all transportation throughout your vacation—this is wonderful. I love the air-conditioned buses of group travel and their ease. I am not a big fan of having to flag down taxis, make sense of bus schedules or get lost in a subway.
  4. Convenience. To go along with transportation, group travel generally maximizes your time and is very convenient.  The guides always know where the best shopping can be found, where the bathrooms are located and what something means.
  5. Other People.  Group travel is an awesome way to meet interesting, like-minded individuals who love to travel.  Some of my favorite people I have met on trips and this makes your adventure much more exciting.  Jen and I met a guy from LA who is doing our same travel arrangement in the airport yesterday, and we just keep bumping into each other. We would like to hang out with him, but what is the protocol when it is clear he wants to do his own thing. But with group travel, you are already together and it is easier to make travel friendships.

This is the first big trip I have taken where it is truly independent and I am still adjusting to this new travel style—I will keep you posted on how I like this new style of freedom.