Many independent travelers tend to look down on riders who go on organized tours, and the touring folk often feel like they’re getting a better deal than the free souls. So when it comes to organized tours vs independent travel, what should you do?
Time, Time, Time
Organized tours are all about saving you time. Sure, you’ll probably spend a lot more than you would if you went at it on your own, but what you’re really paying for is time. Time to plan and organize, scout out routes, accommodation and food, prepare extra attractions and experiences – designing tours is a lot of work!
Another big factor to consider is local knowledge. Charley Boorman knows the perfect spot for hot chocolate on the Sani Pass, Jeff Cremer will get you into an emerald mine, and Court Rand will introduce you to a native guitar maker in the Ecuadorian Andes. Tour leaders know the area you’ll be riding very well, so booking a tour, you’re often getting the best experience you can.
One of the major turn-off points for organized travel is cost: not everybody can spend $5,000-$10,000 on a two-week riding holiday. If your budget is tight, consider organizing your own trip: this will bring the cost down significantly.
Riding with other people can be great – if they are your trusted riding buddies or good friends. On an organized tour, you don’t know who’s going to turn up. Most of the time, fellow adventure riders are great people and there’s no need to worry, but as is often the case, it only takes one negative person to sour the experience for everybody.
So what should you do? Only you can answer this question, but the bottom line is, organized tours aren’t any more or less kosher way to travel, and independent travel doesn’t always mean sleeping in sketchy hotels and getting lost. These two ways of traveling are merely different and in no way better or worse than one another.