Humans don’t like to stay in one place for too long. According to the U.S. Travel Association, domestic and international leisure travel resulted in almost $800 billion in revenue. This was a combination of tour packages and do it yourself (DIY) travel. Is one better than the other? Here’s why DIY is the way to go.
You Set The Pace
The travel and tour industry is a huge industry. In five years before COVID-19, the industry grew half of a percent. It might seem small. However, when you consider it’s a billion-dollar industry, a half a percent is a large sum of money.
Participating on one of these tours does allow you to see the main sites and attractions. It tends to be done on the operator’s schedule. In some cases, this means only a few hours in each location.
When you take a DIY approach you don’t have this block. The schedule you follow is the one you create. Also, it can be changed depending on your destination.
For instance, a sponsored tour of the Art Institute of Chicago might only have a two-hour window. The DIY approach allows you to spend the entire day examining everything it has to offer.
You Set The Time
Tour packages usually are scheduled during peak travel times. As a result, attractions can get crowded. This has the potential of diluting the visit and creating disappointment.
A DIY traveler can schedule a trip at any time during the year. In turn, they can save money on airlines, lodging, and food. On top of this, locals are more receptive to off-peak travelers.
Take a trip to Costa Rica as an example. The peak season of this equatorial country is winter through spring. This is when tour companies book the most days. However, the summer is an equally good time to visit. Though it’s their rainy season, there are still plenty of sunny days to visit the cloud forest or the beach.
You Go Beyond The Sites
A tour package to Rocky Mountain National Park might include stops at the three most popular spots. These are Long’s Peak, Bear Lake, and Trail Ridge Road. Those who take a tour might have a few minutes of each to get out and take pictures. The rest of the trip may be through motorcoach.
While these are amazing locations, they’re only a tip of the iceberg of the park’s 415 square miles. As a DIY traveler, you have time to stop and admire the natural areas. You can also go beyond the most popular trails and trek in spaces where you see fauna, flora, and animals that aren’t part of the standard tour.
You Save Money
Tour packages are set price operations. With the investment, you get accommodations, meals, and a schedule of events. Special events, like sunset river cruises, might also be included.
Generally, these packages can range from several hundred to several thousands of dollars. It’s not that you get poor service with this payment. In fact, many tour packages offer five-star meals and hotels.
When you go DIY, then you determine the travel budget. Perhaps a bed and breakfast or hostel works for accommodations. Also, a simple meal at a local establishment can be more satisfying then eating at a celebrity chef’s restaurant. As well, a reduction in the budget can help extend your trip.
You’re Not A Tourist
A tour package makes you a tourist. Sometimes, you get name tags that show what company you’re with. You join dozens of tourists from other operators who scheduled a stop at one site at the same time.
When you handle things in a DIY manner, you’re not a tourist — you’re a traveler. The main sites are fine, but you also have the urge to travel into some of the local areas. These areas are where the color of the region comes through.
Take Chicago again as an example. The downtown area is where the attractions are. Yet, the city’s flavor comes from areas like Chinatown, Little Italy, Bucktown, and Wrigleyville. These are where you find the locals and their favorite eating and drinking destinations.
We aren’t debunking tour packages. They have their purpose for people on a budget and a timetable. However, if you have more space in your life, then DIY travel is for you. It increases your freedom, your schedule, and your knowledge of a destination.