1. You will be forced to talk to the the locals
When you don’t have a tour guide to show you around the city you are visiting, you are forced to find your own way around, which means asking for directions and help from the locals. You might stop and ask an employee at a hotel or a restaurant for recommendations on things to do. Or you might meet someone at a local pub who has a list of things to try that wouldn’t be listed in any of the tour books.
2. You will experience the food in a different way
When traveling with a tour guide, they know what restaurants tend to have food that Americans favor. If you are just walking the streets without a guide, you will be forced to stop at restaurants that aren’t catering to tourists. And in some cases, you will just have to pick something off the menu without understanding a word.
3. You can spend as much time (or little time) at any one place
One of the advantages of traveling alone, or unguided, is that you can spend as much time as you want at the places you find the most interesting. A tour is scheduled with set amounts of time at each well-known site. But for some, the churches may be more interesting and others may be intrigued by museums, or a nice park. It’s best to be able to enjoy each site for as long (or as little) time as you want. This could be your only chance to see these places.
4. You can sleep in
A guided tour can be very rigid, with a very set schedule. This means that the guide is always trying to optimize time and the days are booked full. It isn’t uncommon to be getting up at 6 am and getting to bed at 10 pm on a guided tour. This leaves little time for relaxation, which let’s face it, is the reason we go on vacation. Taking a day or two to sleep in is a huge advantage to not having a tour guide.
5. You can use your preferred method of transportation
More often than not, a guided tour involves many hours on a bus…around the city, from city to city, from the hotel to the restaurant. When you are traveling alone, you can opt for trains, taxis, or even foot, all of which tend to be more comfortable, flexible, and quicker.