Self-Guided or Guided Tours – Which Is Right for You?

  • Posted by on 4 May 2018

So, after a long wait, you’ve finally got a holiday coming up. It is time to explore and have some fun! But, where will you go, and will it be a self-guided or a guided tour?

On self-guided tours, you have a route, the information and some amenities arranged by a travel company. However, you’re responsible for planning and executing the trip.

With guided tours, the touring company takes the lead. It is an all-inclusive group travel experience (led by a guide) that follows a specific itinerary.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of both…

Why Self-Guided Tours?

Kimberley Gorge Landscape

On a self-guided tour, you can take extra time to enjoy locations such as Bell Gorge in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Pros:

  • There's more planning flexibility – you choose the travel dates, the departure times and how many people you will be taking with you.
  • Travellers aren’t limited to any particular hotel, city or town that they may not like, or an itinerary that does not include suitable attractions.
  • One has the option of being impulsive and spontaneous. You can go where you like when you want to and do whatever you feel like doing, which can be fun.

Cons:

  • Self-guided tours can offer a great personalised experience. However, planning every site, stop, meal and activity can be labourious.
  • While the attractions and activities that you decide to include may seem exciting, without the experience of professionals, you may discover that they are less suited to you than anticipated.
  • No tour guide. A tour guide with specialised knowledge of your activities and destination can provide expert advice and experience-based suggestions and ideas.
  • Working out a self-guided tour budget can be tricky. Even if you’ve researched the costs of everything, it’s still just an estimate. The trip can end up costing a lot more.

Why Guided Tours?

Kimberley Caves Tour

In some locations, it can be helpful to have a guide, such as Tunnel Creek, which is a 750m cave, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia

Pros:

  • All the planning is done for you, so you can just relax. There’s no decision making and you don’t need to stress about how to make the most of your time.
  • The best sites and activities are picked for you. Many times, tour company managers are able to arrange for their group members to jump the queues at attractions.
  • Guided tours offer a professional tour guide. Tour guides can be an invaluable resource if you’re new to the area, don’t speak the local language or just want good advice.
  • You get the peace of mind that comes with knowing how much everything is going to cost upfront. Plus, tour companies book in bulk, so they can negotiate better rates.
  • If you will be travelling alone, a guided tour can help you meet new people and make the journey more enjoyable. Solo travel is also safer when guided.

Cons:

  • On a guided tour, you may travel to a location that you would prefer not to visit or have visited before. Also, if you’re travelling with a large group, it can feel overwhelming.
  • Travelling as part of a group often enhances the experience. But, if you don’t click with other tourists, you’ll still have to spend the entire trip with them.
  • Because you have a pre-planned itinerary, there is less room for spontaneity. However, some tour operators and packages do work in your own exploration time.

Guided or Self-Guided?

Self Drive Kimberley TourKimberley Bus Tour

Whether you travel independently or travel as part of a group on a guided tour, there are benefits and drawbacks that will affect the trip experience.

That being said, professionally guided tours typically offer some advantages and may be more convenient. 

Ultimately, the travel option that is right for you depends on your goals and your personal preferences, as well as your time and your budget.

Need help deciding on the right trip for you? Visit the Best of The Kimberley Tours page here or contact us for expert help planning your dream holiday.