Okay, I admit I am of two minds. On the one hand, when traveling to new places, I like the freedom of choosing where I go and how long I stay there. On the other hand, I enjoy being with a group of interesting people and letting a knowledgeable tour guide decide the itinerary and take care of housing and transportation.
When my wife and I have our own adventures in other countries, invariably we get lost and frustrated. We sweat and fret and try not to get too frustrated when dealing with the difficulties that always arise with transportation, locating places to stay, finding places to eat, and in general navigating cultural differences—including language barriers. I hesitate to estimate how many times I have been frustrated at taking the wrong road, wandering aimlessly trying to find a café, or finding a museum and paying museum fees—not to mention remembering to drive on the left in Cyprus. But we have had some wonderful, memorable, serendipitous experiences amidst the messiness of navigating other cultures—things that simply could not happen if we were part of a tour group.
We have also had very positive experiences in countries such as Israel and Turkey while being part of a tour group: relaxing in a bus while an experienced driver took us to set destinations, not having to decide where we were going to spend the night or where we would eat (and negotiating prices), and having a guide explain where we were going and then leading us around each site. No worries. Just enjoy the trip. Of course, I have to conform to a schedule set up by someone else, which limits my freedom of how long I will roam around the sites we visit. I have griped about that more than once.
I have decided that, for the first exposure to another country, being part of a tour group has a lot of advantages. Then, if I want to return and explore the country at my own pace and go to places that are not on the main tour routes, I can return and do my own thing with more confidence and less initial frustration. I wish I were independently wealthy and could afford to travel more now that I am retired. I also wish this COVID pandemic would end so that making travel plans could be more predictable again. Soon! Let it be soon!