Having fun with like-minded travellers isn’t the only reason you should try small group travel in your own country. Exploring close to home with others can provide a unique appreciation of where you live, encourage you to try new things and create magical travel moments that will stay with you forever. Whether you’re an experienced traveller or an excited first-time adventurer, here are 8 reasons you should add a small group tour to your next domestic trip.
You’ll see your country with fresh eyes
Small group travel opens your eyes to the many incredible experiences your own country has to offer and gives you a deeper appreciation of where you live. There are so many wonderful experiences just waiting to be discovered. I’ll never forget the Aboriginal guide who shared the stories of her people as she walked around the base of Uluru with our small tour group. As the only Australian on the bus, I was humbled when I realised how far everyone else had travelled to share this incredible First Nations tour which was available in my “backyard”. Sharing these experiences with other like-minded travellers makes them even more memorable.
It could save your life
There’s safety in numbers when it comes to certain types of travel, especially if you enjoy venturing off the beaten track. For example, setting off on a multi-day hike by yourself in a remote region is never a good idea. Joining a small group tour and travelling with an in-the-know local leader means you have someone who knows the terrain and who can offer support should you get injured.
Not too big, not too small, but just right
Join a large bus tour and it’s easy to feel lost in the crowd. On the flipside, travelling with just a few other people isn’t always great either. If there’s someone you don’t get on with, it is hard to avoid them when you’re sharing a car. Small group tours with a dozen or so like-minded travellers are not too big, not too small, but just right when it comes to travelling with others.
You don’t have to do everything
It’s easy to find the perfect balance between independent exploring and group interaction when you travel in a small group. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t have to do everything with the group. Or even every activity listed on your tour itinerary. Small group tours are all about flexibility. For example, if you’re a devoted foodie, you might prefer to book a table at a “must visit” restaurant one night instead of joining your tour group for dinner at a local brewery.
Dining is as flexible as you are
One of the joys of a small group tour is socialising with other travellers and having meals with different people. Breakfast is included daily but where you go for lunch or dinner is usually up to you. This means you have the flexibility to choose where to eat at least once each day and who to dine with rather than being confined by a rigid group dining schedule. Dine solo, with your partner, or meet up with others on your tour for a meal: the choice is yours. Deciding to dine together on the spur of the moment when you’re out exploring is part of the fun of a small group tour.
Planning stops and magic happens
If you’re used to travelling independently, planning your own activities is probably second nature. However, on a small group tour you can stop planning and let the magic happen. If you’ve got a free day on your itinerary to explore a city, don’t schedule too many activities in advance. Ask your guide for their suggestions instead. Small group tour guides are renowned for their specialist local knowledge and are bursting with insider tips. They’re the perfect person to ask where to go for lunch, hang out with the locals, hire a bike or go snorkelling. They also know all the best things to do in town, many of which are off the usual tourist trail.
It pushes you out of your comfort zone
No matter how carefully you choose your itinerary, there will almost certainly be a few things on it that don’t particularly interest you. And that’s a good thing. Keep an open mind when it comes to what’s on the itinerary as you could be surprised. As someone who had never been interested in war history, the prospect of spending an afternoon touring the battlefields of Gallipoli in Turkey didn’t thrill me. However, one the most rewarding things about joining a small group tour is how it forces you to step outside your comfort zone. Seeing the silent hillsides bathed in soft afternoon light and the sparkling waters of Anzac Cove provided a moment of quiet reflection and a poignant contrast to the violent scenes which unfolded in 1915. Touring Gallipoli is a memory that stayed with me long after I returned home. I’m so glad I went.
You’re travelling solo
You might be travelling alone but you’ll never feel lonely on a small group tour. There’s always someone who’s up for a chat, a museum visit, or a wander around town. There’s no need to endure the dreaded “table for one” at dinner time either. Joining a small group tour when you’re travelling solo is the best of both worlds, with the perfect blend of time spent together and apart.