When I was younger and my dad was stationed in England, my family was fortunate enough to see the highlights of Europe. There are lots of photos of three-year-old Jess clad in a track suit and fanny pack standing in front of Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower, and the Olympic site in Innsbruck. Many of those trips were taken with a group. Hotel rooms and tours are prepaid and you are shuttled from place to place in the comfort of a coach. It can be really nice. All of the details are paid up front and handled by a guide who knows what they are doing.
Fast forward almost twenty years, and some of my favorite moments from free travel were on guided day tours of Loch Ness and the Wicklow mountains in Ireland (Side note: without the Ireland tour I would have had no idea that I was so close to area filmed in P.S. I Love You.)
If you have ever considered going on an all-inclusive group tour anywhere in the world, you have probably come across Contiki. Marketed to twenty and thirty somethings looking for adventure and to see the world, they offer packaged itineraries to all the great cities of the world, as well as a few slightly off the beaten path.
The pros? If you are a female who wants to travel on your own, this is the perfect option with very little chance for a Taken incident (unless you have Liam Neeson on speed dial to save you.) You also don't have to worry about lots of unexpected costs. Your travel, hotel and tours are all included in the price you pay up front, as well as some meals, so all you have left to pay for are the fun extras if you so desire. Plus you have a guide who is knowledgeable about all of the stops along the way and can provide great historical and cultural context to all of the sites you are visiting. When traveling solo, you are probably not going to opt in for the upgraded tour of each location.
The cons? You miss out on the fun of putting together your own itinerary. While they offer hundreds of options and there is probably one that will suit your needs, being able to research where you are going is half of the fun. And if you decide you want to spend a couple of extra days in one location, well, that isn't exactly an option.
What about you? Would you consider signing up for an all-inclusive group travel?
P.S. I was in no way compensated for this post. But if anyone from Contiki stumbles upon this, I am more than willing to write in exchange for a complimentary trip :)