Country-hopping: organised group or go solo?

Hey folks

Well, this time last week, I was at home enjoying some time off work thinking that I’d probably not head off on any trips until March or so. Doing very little when on leave is perfect. We all need to stop and breathe sometimes! All I’m going to say for now is that I’m 180 miles away from home having had the most unique experience last night. Yes, something flashed up on my Facebook feed and I just knew that I had to come away for the night but more about that next weekend.

As promised, I’m going to do some thinking aloud here today because I’m trying to make a decision. I fancy exploring Eastern Europe, an area I’ve never ventured to, and it’s something I’d love to do next year. However, I’m at a fork in the road in my thinking process and perhaps you guys can tell me what you’d do. The key question is… I go as part of an organised holiday with a set itinerary or do I go entirely independently? So, here are my thoughts.

Organised trip

My lovely postman has been bringing me brochures. Yes, I know we have a wealth of digital information at our fingertips but I do like a brochure to inspire me where I can turn the corners of the pages when something grabs my attention. When I was 18, I had a great time on a week-long coach holiday and stayed in Germany, France and Belgium. And if I decided to choose another organised trip, I could take my pick from organised rail trips, river cruises and coach trips. So, let’s think this through…

The pros:

  • Sit back, relax and enjoy! Someone has done all the planning
  • The tour company may be able to negotiate good offers for large groups
  • If travelling by coach, you’ll be taken right to the various attractions, hotels, etc. rather than navigate your way through unfamiliar places
  • You get to travel with others which can be great if going away alone and have the chance to develop friendships
  • Tour guides are often fabulously knowledgeable and you’ll learn about things that would otherwise go unnoticed
  • If going by coach or cruise, there’s no need to lug your baggage around with you
  • You may feel less vulnerable than if you were travelling on your own, less likely to be targeted
  • If there is a problem, the tour guide will hopefully be able to help

The cons:

  • You don’t get to choose how long you spend in each place
  • You could meet the most fabulous group of people…but you could also be stuck with people for the entire duration!
  • You could end up going to places that you don’t fancy…although of course you could discover some unexpectedly great places
  • Departure and arrival dates are predetermined and the ideal itinerary may run just once or twice each season
  • It can be expensive as you may stay in hotels you wouldn’t choose and you’re paying for the tour guide’s time, etc.

Solo travelling

As someone who doesn’t enjoy travelling by plane, I see that I have 3 options. I could either do a road trip as I LOVE driving. I could travel by rail which seems to be much cheaper than rail travel in the UK. But I’ve just become aware of a coach company called FlixBus that has over 2,000 destinations. Have you heard of this company or perhaps used it? From London, I could travel all over Europe by coach for very little money and doing this on a tight budget could be really good fun. I only heard about Flixbus when I was watching Race Across the World and two contestants caught a coach from London to Düsseldorf for just £22.50 each! Bargain ♥️

The pros:

  • You can choose where and when you travel including how much time you spend in one place
  • If you love researching destinations and travel, you get to experience the buzz from planning the most amazing once-in-a-lifetime trip
  • If you book your travel as you go along, you can change your mind about your itinerary
  • You can choose your accommodation in terms of budget, proximity to main attractions, etc.

The cons:

  • It could be lonely if you don’t drive. Being on coaches and trains could feel more isolating than listening to the radio in the car but then again you could always listen to music on your phone. Or strike up with ever changing groups of people!
  • You need to manage transfers to hotels
  • If driving by car all over Europe, you have to do the merry dance at the motorway toll booths! With UK cars having the steering wheel on the right, there’s always a slight awkwardness as a solo driver when you come across a booth and you have to get out of the car, quickly run around the back so that you can grab or pay for the ticket, quickly get back in the driver’s seat and head off before the barrier comes down!

So, these are the pros and cons I can think of. Can you think of any others? I’d love to know what you would choose and if you have any ideas of places for me to discover in Eastern Europe.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll tell you next Saturday where I am right now! xx