Booking a group tour to lead you through a strange region isn't a bad idea for new or inexperienced travelers. Group tours essentially do all of the planning for you. They book your accommodations, set up your itinerary and take care of all of your transportation requirements. All that's left to do is sit back and enjoy your trip. For these reasons, budgeting for a group tour is much easier than going on your own because you will pay all of your money in advance for virtually every expense you come across. Tour organizers can keep the prices somewhat lower for their customers by getting groups rates on everything they do and working with the same organizations for every tour.
However, traveling within an organized tour is not for everyone. Some travelers find packaged tours to be very rigid and overly structured. You don't have the option of staying in one place for a longer time period just because you would like to explore more. When the bus pulls out, you've got to be on it. Your itinerary is pre-planned so there are no opportunities to spontaneously change directions.
The most important drawback of tour groups is the fact that they have a tendency to stay isolated from the authenticity of the local people and their culture. Traveling in a group of ten or twenty people, you have very little chance of immersing yourself in the ways of the locals. Zipping by on a minibus doesn't really help either.
Here are some interesting points about many bus tours that may help you understand how they operate:
If you do plan on joining an organized tour group, make sure you look into the age and maybe even the nationality of the rest of the group. You will probably want to travel with people of a similar age and language (or maybe not). Try to find out the size of the tour group you would travel in. A smaller tour will be better experience - the more people you have to wait for (for everything), the longer everything will take to do. Other tour features to look into include:
There are pros and cons for every method of travel. When considering booking with a tour group, think about your priorities. If increased safety, pre-planned itineraries and meeting lots of people is what you are looking for, then a guided tour may be for you. If you are on a tour that lasts for two or three weeks, you can always continue traveling on your own after it is over. Then you will have the opportunity to go back and see a little more of what you want, when you want, for as long as you want.