My Experience Doing An Extended Group Tour As An Independent Traveller

Filed Under: Travel

I’ve just finished a 10 day group tour of Morocco, and wrote about some general impressions of the country here.

I’m a very independent traveller, usually travelling alone, with my partner or with friends, setting our own schedules and itineraries, so it was a new experience for me joining an extended tour with people I didn’t know. I’ve done plenty of one day tours as part of a group, but this was the first time I have travelled for such a long time with so many other people.

This isn’t a review of the particular tour I did, or the destinations, so I won’t be discussing the tour company, or specific details of the itinerary. This is more to help those who may be independent travellers themselves, who are considering a group tour.

So why did I decide to do this tour, when I always travel independently?

  • I knew there was a lot of the country I wanted to see
  • It would be reasonably difficult to get from place to place in a fairly limited time by myself
  • I didn’t want to have to spend every day thinking about where to eat, what to see, and how to get there, as I’ve been doing that every day for a month on this trip already; I’m a bit of a control freak but for once was happy to let someone else make the decisions for me.

By the way, this tour was marketed as an active, relatively inexpensive tour (we stayed in three star hotels each night) to a 21-39 age group. My parents have done those luxury riverboat cruises through Europe sipping champagne with other well heeled, middle aged travellers — this was nothing like that.

So in no particular order, here was my experience.

It’s an efficient way to see a big place

We covered a huge amount of the country in the 10 days, hitting up at least six major cities/locations. Although I would have liked more time in some places, we saw everything I wanted to see in Morocco, so I was very satisfied with that.

With someone else doing the driving, making the decisions and choosing each stop, I could sit back and relax. The days were very long (more on that later), but much of the time getting from place to place was spent looking out the window, watching Netflix, or napping.

I would have struggled to see the same amount of the country if I was driving myself.

But groups are slow and inefficient

Perhaps my biggest frustration with the tour was how much time was wasted every single day because I had to move at the speed of the slowest members of the group. Everyone wanted to do things at different times, so we would stop every single hour to ninety minutes for bathroom breaks during the day, even though not everyone needed to use the bathroom each stop.

And a ‘five minute bathroom stop’ would take the group at least 20 minutes. And this is every 60 to 90 minutes.

I realised you can’t get groups of people to do anything quickly.

I pride myself on being organised, efficient and punctual (both when travelling and at home), but there were members of the group that were none of these, and I hadn’t anticipated that most people don’t travel like I do. For a weekend trip to a European city, I can see a lot of it in 48 hours — I only really stop to sleep. But I realise most people don’t travel like this.

If I’m lying on a beach in a Pacific Island I’m happy to spend hours doing nothing, debating what to have for lunch, wandering aimlessly, etc. But when I only have half a day in a busy Moroccan city, I want to be as efficient and see as much as possible. I don’t want to spend 90 minutes lingering over lunch — I want to get moving, and make the most of the very limited time we had. I would rather race around for six hours than wander slowly for twelve.

Regardless of what time our tour guide advised us we would leave the hotels each morning, whether it was 6am, or 9am, certain members of the group would always be late. And no matter how long or short the breaks during the day (i.e. for lunch or to use the bathroom), the same people would hold us up. Over the 10 days I would estimate I wasted probably 30 hours waiting on other people when I was ready to go. I would have happily spent that time blogging, however instead this time was spent either waiting to leave a restaurant, or standing outside the bus waiting for it to be opened, etc. It wasn’t productive or enjoyable time, it was literally standing around waiting for other people.

I’m not sure if these members of the group had poor time management, or a lack of respect for the rest of the group — I suspect it was a combination of both, but it was very frustrating to waste so much time each day when the schedule was already so rushed — it made the long days even longer.

I met some wonderful people

The group was diverse with people from around 10 different countries. We did take a few days to get to know each other but there were several people I really clicked with, and hope to stay in contact with. There was an older woman from Mexico especially who was an absolute hoot, and we had a good laugh together while doing things like riding camels through the desert.

So how do you get to know anyone within a larger group really well in just 10 days? That leads me to my next point.

The older I get, the less interested I am in meeting new people

I’m interested to know if you guys feel the same.

There were 33 people in our tour group, which I realise is too many (and I would definitely aim for a group size of less than 20 people in future). Noting above that I did meet some wonderful people — I wasn’t that interested in getting to know most of the group personally in a relatively short time frame.

There were a few in the group I didn’t even speak to once.

I’m fine making small talk as an icebreaker, but I also think I’m a pretty good judge of character, and while some people I instantly connected with, many I didn’t. I’m old enough/cynical enough to realise I won’t see most of them again. I have a great group of very close friends in both London and Australia that I’ve known for years and don’t really feel the need to expand my friendship groups.

So I didn’t feel the need to devote energy to people I didn’t feel I clicked with, and there’s only so many people I could ask about where they went to school, before I lost interest. I may seem selfish and socially awkward saying all this, but next time you are in a large group of people you don’t know, note how many people in the group you feel like getting to know in a short space of time.

I was perfectly happy getting to know a few of them really well and by the end of the 10 days we had formed our little group of 8 (within the group of 33) that spent time together getting to know each other better.

10 days wasn’t actually 10 days

As part of the ‘I’m happy to hand control over to someone else,’ I hadn’t studied the itinerary closely since booking the tour many months ago. It was marketed as a ten day tour but the reality was it was only eight days.

Day 1 was just a quick initial meeting of the group with an optional dinner, and Day 10 was simply an included breakfast with an airport transfer — we didn’t even see the guide on Day 10.

And seeing that much of Morocco in just eight days meant…

It was exhausting

You would think sitting on a bus all day either staring out the window or napping would be easy but it was much more tiring than I expected. The tour went at a very fast pace which I guess made sense given most of the group were in their 20s or early 30s, but I found it exhausting at the age of 34.

12 hour bus rides and 5am wake up calls were not uncommon. I feel like I’m getting too old to stay up to 5am on a night out these days, but I’m equally too old to be getting up at 5am!

I realised I should have spent at least 14 days covering what we covered in 10 to relax and enjoy it more at a slower pace. I’m not sure if all tours operate at this pace, but its definitely worth understanding how long each day will be and how much free time there will be because we had very little and this was a common complaint amongst the group. Looking back at the advertised itinerary for future dates for this tour it doesn’t mention anything about what times the groups would be spending at each place.

There were several days where we would be on the move for 12 hours with only an hour of free time at the end of the day.

That’s not really a holiday for me.

Repetition, repetition, repetition

I’m interested to know if this is normal on an organised group tour, but our daily schedule was repeated to us by our guide about 10 times each day in excruciating detail.

I would have been perfectly happy simply to know what time we needed to leave the following morning and then only receive the information about the next stop, but we were continually told over and over every single thing we would be doing that day.

By 9am each day I could recite from memory exactly where, when and what we would be eating for dinner that evening.

Bottom line

I enjoyed the tour and Morocco, even if it didn’t really feel like a holiday. I’m definitely more a ‘relax on the beach with a cocktail in hand’ than a ‘get up at 5am for a 12 hour bus ride with 30 other people’ sort of person, but I realise some countries are best seen when someone else organises the logistics. I think it would have been equally exhausting doing all the driving and decision making myself, even over 14 days.

Would I recommend group tours? I would for certain countries, but I’m not sure I would actually recommend the specific tour I did, because the group size was too big and the pace was too rushed. For Morocco I would recommend a tour:

  • With less than 20 people
  • Spread over 14 days
  • With plenty of free time

Do you like group tours, or are you an independent traveller?

  1. There are many people that visit one city in a country and say they have been to that country, especially Americans who get only one week vacation and are in perpetual fear of losing their jobs, house and everything else if they even take that week off. No wonder they are always angry at “those people”.

    If you have 4 months why are you in such a hurry?

  2. Just did a group tour to North Korea. 17 of us in the group so not too big. Had great local and western guides which made things much more enjoyable and fun.

  3. As a veteran traveler, I have traveled many places, with groups, family, and by myself. They all have their positive aspects. I am going to Morocco soon, and I am traveling with a group of 12. I found by traveling with a meet up group, I am content. Some people I have traveled with before, and some I have not. It is a comfortable balance.

  4. Ha, clearly you’ve never been on a group tour with Germans. They are ALWAYS early. In Cuba we actually had to wait for our guide.
    In Canada one tour guide told us “You guys (Germans) are always 15 Minutes early, I don’t know how you do it.”.

  5. In Morocco (and most developing countries) you could have hired a guide/driver by yourself (or a group of 3-4 people created by the tour Cos) and achieve your aim of covering a lot of grounds without the added nuisance of waiting for huge no of people for very little incremental cost vs. taking a big tour like what you took.

  6. Oh James, all part of the life’s rich tapestry and a great learning about yourself and what experiences you enjoy.

    Personally I have had some great group tour experiences, and made life long friends through those trips, but they have been quite specific, like heli skiing in Canadian rockies, or climbing 6500m mountains in Nepal.

    That kontiki style experience, personally would be awful.

  7. These “young people” groups are a motley crew. A bunch of gross, unwashed, backpacker types who think getting shuttled around together is really “lonely planet” style touring of the third world. Then they fly back to their liberal universities to resume their gender studies classes, or whatever useless education they take because they can’t handle hard sciences.

  8. There’s a lot of snobbery about travel. The whole “are you a traveller or a tourist” kind of BS. Frankly I don’t care – and yes I’m old enough to say it. Do what you want, travel how you want – if you are lucky enough to be able to do it.

  9. Great post James, (this is my first time commenting). Similar to you I used to and usually still prefer travelling alone, previously looking down at those on group tours, but as I get older and have less annual leave, I can really see the benefit, especially where countries where logistics make travelling solo in in a pair prohibitive, and you just want to enjoy the trip and not worry about logistics. Key factors I always look at is the maximum group size (30+ is way too many), type of hotels, types of transportation (bus for me is a no-go showstopper, will not do a tour on a big bus) and which country they mostly market the tours in (to hopefully get a diverse group of travellers). As for itinerary, first and last day is always a wash, rookie mistake for you on this one. 12 people is about my max, and I find that the more off-the-beaten-path trips generally attract an interesting clientele, who have travelled before and . Out of my top 5 trips, 4 of them have been group tours and there is no way I could have done them independently. While I don’t exclusively use them, in the right location, and with a bit of luck, they are an extremely good option.

  10. Wow, awesome write up. As a mainly solo traveler myself, I definitely understood all of your frustrations. When I travel, I’m constantly on the move trying to see as much as I can as I rarely spend more than 3 nights in any one city. Waiting around for people on simple things like lateness, lingering over lunch and extended bathroom breaks can really take it’s toll from a patience and efficiency perspective. I’ve been opening my mind to shorter tours in the future for myself, but this article does a good job explaining what to expect if one decides to do a extended, multi day tour. Great job.

  11. I’m a mostly independent traveler in my 30s. Over the past two years i’ve done 2 group tours to places that would have been too much hassle to do alone with my time constraints. Both were with less than 12 people and i’m happy to say I lucked out with great groups both times also. All this to say to anyone considering it, I’d agree that its not for everyone but it may work out better than you think.

  12. Thanks James, really informative. I think you said you were with your partner on this tour, so that was probably helpful as well. I have traveled solo so much, and I am quite a bit older at 57. But I also seem to go.go.go when I am in a city. It just takes me longer to recover from those trips.

    I would totally identify with your frustrations on delays. And no longer having the need to meet a bunch of people. I am a HS teacher, so being on a bus with a bunch of 20 somethings would have seemed more like work. But I also don’t want to go on a tour with a bunch of well heeled folks my own age as that can carry its own tedious issues. I find that when I travel solo, I either am in the mood to meet everyone or in a mood to meet no one.

    This post gives me a lot to think about, especially as I get older and need to consider changing the way I travel to new destinations. I can see how ‘letting go’ of the details would be freeing, but I am not sure I am ready/willing to relinquish control. Thanks again.

  13. The older I get, the less interested I am in meeting new people: CAN TOTALLY RELATE! The only exceptions for me are: if I find the other person extremely attractive; and/or there may be a sexual reward, OR if there is a possibility of me doing some kind of business deal with them (I do work in sales). Otherwise, I don’t have the energy nor interest….

  14. Finding a group tour (for your needs) is hard. I think I’ve had 2 good tours, one in Australia especially mentioning that it was high speed with tight scheduling (and people actually followed it!) and one in Uyuni salt flats where I joined the group as last person after meeting the other people as I was sceptical about it. It was 5 person group and we shared interests and speed. Unfortunately the tour had schedule with build in tolerance for delays so we had to wait 10 minutes even though everyone was ready so we would not be too early in next place.

    I’ve learned that best way to see plenty of places is self-drive (I’m a bit tired with incompetent drivers demanding 1 hour break every 3 hours..) especially with a friend or two with preferable driving time max 4+4 hours a day which can move you a lot as there will be 0 stops for toilet breaks. And when there is a stop duties are splitted so one will get snacks/water, one refuels, one fixes broken taillight etc. and you are back on track in 15 minutes.

  15. @James for those of us middle age folks do you have any advice for tour groups in the 40s crowd that are good companies? Something between Contiki and the seniors? Good value, good guides etc? I’m not a huge fan but in countries like Morocco where I’d not feel safe on my own…. could be good.

  16. Namibia is the country I’ve been looking at for a potential group tour, despite being a very independent traveler like you. Risk of flat tire and driving after dark being the two biggest reasons.

    I usually make my own plans even staying in hostels; I like the efficiency. I also don’t expect to stay much in touch with most friends I make traveling as well

  17. What I have found to be the perfect compromise is a private tour group, where you and a group of people you already know (not necessarily friends) arrange to meet in the foreign country and go on a group tour from there. Travel agencies can find guides in each place and arrange all logistics ahead of time, as they would for normal group tours. You can communicate with other beforehand and hand-pick your destinations, schedules, etc. When it’s a group like this, there is more respect for each other’s time (so no crazy long bathroom breaks) and you get the added benefit of flexibility so if you find you are tired of seeing so many castles / temples / etc, you can either skip it individually or decide as a group to change the day’s itinerary.

  18. I’ve heard good things about Intrepid Tours in Morocco and am considering it (female, early 50s, usually a solo traveler for weeks at a time) as a way to get an overview of Morocco and getting a sense of the various cities. Then in a couple of years, going back with my husband and going to my favorite cities for a couple of weeks.. Anyone else gone with Intrepid? Other tour companies with small groups that do Morocco that cater to a range of ages and aren’t super backpacker or luxury oriented?

  19. Interesting and honest write-up complemented by the comments. Yes, 30 is way too many. Our only extended tour was a 15-day coach tour of South Africa that was part of a really cheap package deal. Somewhat to our surprise, we enjoyed it thoroughly (we’d made plans to bail out on the third day if we hated it).

    In fact, when we grabbed a bargain business-class fare to JNB a couple of years later we signed up for a similar tour with the same company and enjoyed it just as much. The first tour had only about 10, while the second was closer to 20, and there were NO inconsiderate people of the type described.

    Reading this, I realize that maybe we were lucky.

  20. Interesting. I have booked myself on a single tour, ever, almost 20 years back and surprised myself by HAAAAATING it. it was a short, cheap tour – five full days & nights where we stayed in hostel and rode a mini van, touring all the small towns of Ireland. I bailed on day four and took myself back to Dublin by train. I just was too used to setting my own schedule.

    Rick Steves tours deal with the chronic lateness thing. Members of those tours and told – and warned, “this is not a joke” – that if they miss the departure time, they can refer to the schedule and get themselves to the next stop, where they can then join the tour. Other rather cool thing about Rick tours is you can get is fully scheduled, with all the walk, tours and many meals and a dedicated guide thrown in, or book the exact same route but with only travel and hotel covered (the “My Way” tours) Once you’re in a new location, you take yourself around as you like. Based on my experience years ago, I’d probably never do another tour but if I did, I’d go the My Way route.

  21. When I was in my early 20s I did a group tour of Central Europe over 20 days and loved it! Back then, I barely travelled and I felt it was great to see a glimpse of a country and if I wanted to see it again, I would go back for a week on my own. If I hated it, then at least I only stayed there for 2-3 days max.
    The group tour I went to only included breakfasts. Lunch and dinner are on our own and the guide would give us a morning or afternoon to shop, explore, etc on our own but we would have to be at the meetup place at the exact times.
    Nowadays the only times I’ve gone on a group tour are to countries where I have to be in a group tour (ie North Korea, Iran, Turkmenistan) since I’m a US passport holder.

  22. Totally get you. I find doing group tours for a few hours (such as vineyards) provides a good compromise, especially where I really would prefer not to drive (such as the Great Ocean Road). Not sure about countries where English isn’t as widespread, etc though… definitely see the value of it all in that case.

  23. i did a few group tours in my 20’s before i became independent. the best was a harried 10days in italy with senior citizens. they were 65+ and I was 24- they were more fun than my friends – we were doing amaretto shots at 10am in San Marino. the days were too long but it gave me an understanding of group tours.
    as for the stranglers, a good tour guide would call them out so it wasn’t recurring.

    now I’ve thought of a few tours in morocco and other places where being a single female traveling is harder to do due to cost, distance, safety, etc. but I’m too picky with tour hotels (often too high 5* or low), single supplements and long bus drives. as for the people, i agree find your small tribe within the larger group. there are many smaller group tours that focus on experiences, less travel time and older folks (haha 40-+)

    this was fun read and reminded me of my tours in the past and why i don’t miss 5am wake up calls.

  24. I think the reason you are not quite so interested in meeting new people isn’t so much related to getting older as it is related to the fact you are already established with your local groups and you’ve realized that the people local to you are more likely to become good friends (not just social media ‘friends’).

  25. Also, it appears from your instagram that you went on this tour with someone else, though your title made it seem as if you had gone solo. I’m sure that made a difference.

  26. JDHogg – You won’t find many backpackers on these tours – mainly because they’re always way overpriced.

  27. I travel independently for all the (bad) reasons you describe in your post. One thing I’ve learned in many years of travel is to decide to visit a good sampling of what the place has to offer and not try to “do it all,” in one visit. If the place is great, decide to return and see more. Many have this need to “check off” a whole bunch of sites and countries, as if they are racing for some type of Olympic medal in travel. One thing I never do however, is to travel half way around the world to “relax” on a beach or poolside contemplating the next cocktail or meal offering. If relaxation is in order, I go local saving precious resources for unique experiences.

    Good post – enjoyed the insights!

  28. @JDHogg, you have no idea about what you’re talking about. These are too expensive for backpackers.

    I did my Morocco your with Explore when I was 28, and was thankful to avoid the hassles of Morocco. Had a great group of 10 people.

    I ‘ve done multiple tours with Intrepid, Dragoman, Tucan, ImTrav and Advantur in my 20s and 30s, in addition to visiting 100+ countries on my own.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to both travelling solo and tour groups. Choose the operator wisely, and never join 30+ people bus tours!

  29. My recommendation for Morocco is multi-centre, travelling independently between the locations, with some carefully selected, pre-booked excursions to get you to the harder to reach places – or for places like the souks in Marrakech if you don’t feel up to it alone.

    If you must do a tour, you want a maximum of about 12.

    Some countries – or rather parts of them – do benefit from tours though. The Western Desert in Egypt, for example, is much safer with an experienced guide and operator. Some of the places I have visited in Tunisia were safest done as a tour, particularly for women.

    If you get the right tour, you are more likely to enjoy the company of fellow travellers too. Often in small groups there will be people with a particular reason for taking the tour who can know more than the guide. I have travelled with bird-watchers, grass experts and archaeologists. They really can improve the tour.

  30. Thanks for reminding me why we don’t do group tours. Our idea of traveling is 4-7 days per city, wake up when we wake up, figure out what to do that day (usually one thing a day, including renting bikes as often as we can), wandering around the rest of the time seeing what catches our eye, and seeking out good pubs / craft breweries. We also keep our itinerary as flexible as possible, and if weather turns we go somewhere completely different.

    We just finished 3.5 weeks in Portugal/Spain this way. Europe is our favorite destination, but if I never see another church it will be too soon. The only 2 that were ever worth it were St. Marks in Venice and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

  31. I’m in my early 50s and started cruising recently. First river cruise I met several people and had dinner at tables of 8. Second river cruise the same but didnt stay in touch with anyone. Next ocean cruise I booked tables for 2. I did leave a couple days unscheduled in case we want to dine with a group. I guess I find it harder to meet new people as I get older.

  32. Loved this article, James. I resonate and appreciate your candor. Let’s travel together! Hahahahah.

  33. Willem: Namibia is a fantastically easy place to self-drive in a 2WD sedan. Budget your time wisely and there won’t be any night driving.

  34. I traveled independently for 30 years and started taking tours only four years ago. I thought I would hate giving up control, but that was not the case. I have taken four tours since 2014 and have signed up for three more for next year. Wake up calls are usually between 6:30am and 7am, potty stops are about every two hours partly to give the bus driver a break, no 12-hour bus rides. The hardest part for me was giving up control of my suitcase that had to be placed outside my room 30 minutes before the bus departed. I enjoyed meeting other solo people and had free time on my own when I wanted it or enjoyed going out to dinner or shopping with others. One thing that set tours apart from independent travel was entry into places that I would not have been able to visit on my own or, in some cases, not even known about such as dinner with a family in an agriturismo in Tuscany, dinner with a family on their working farm outside of Dubrovnik. Not all tours are created equal. I avoid the ones that give one or two nights at each destination. I like staying in one place for 3-5 nights each.

  35. I agree with Donna– pick a few things you want to see and have a leisurely pace. You can come back. (I’ve been to Paris about 4 times, London, 3)

    As an older single woman who always travels alone, I’ve taken a few day tours and also hired private guides a couple of times. But I’m not a morning person so if I have to be anywhere before 10 a.m. it’s not a vacation to me. I also like to unpack and “nest”, learning the neighborhood and metro schedule, favorite coffee shop, etc., so travelling to a new place every day or two sounds like my own personal hell.
    But the beauty of travel is that we can each do what we like, the way we like. Gender, age, resources, and physical ability all play a part, but most of us can make it work, if travel is important enough to us.
    I enjoyed this post and (most of) the comments! Thanks, James

  36. @ Ellen, I liked your ‘Morocco + Son’ report. Like you, I’d have gone down the private tour route, if not making my own arrangements. (I don’t suppose that, if I had been travelling with a large group, I would have been invited to one of Barbara Hutton’s parties, or met the lady herself, when I was last in Tangier!

  37. Heading to Morocco in April 2019 with a group tour. Less than 10 participants so should be good. I did a group tour in Bhutan from the same company and its just 5 of us with a tour guide, assistant guide, and driver. Its almost 1-1 ratio so having your photos taken was never a problem.

    If tardiness or being on time is a problem, always remind the tour guide to police those people that are always late.

  38. I just got back from my first trip to Morocco, and it’s a pretty manageable country as a solo traveler (and I am by no means adventurous). If you have the budget and are a little flexible on dates, there are a gazillion private or small group tours either for one or two night trips or for multi-city tours. They aren’t super pricey either. While I was there, I did a generic mini-bus tour to the Sahara, since we were only there for a short time and didn’t want to rent a car. It was fine, but at 17 people, even that felt pretty big. I got stuck trying squeeze my way past a huge tour group in the Medina and Marrakesh all listening to their guide through headsets, and that just seemed like such a miserable way to experience the city, especially when a personal guide for a walking tour is pretty affordable.

    I could understand doing a tour in a country with limited tourist infrastructure or if it were focused on a particular subject (my alma mater does international tours for alumni with professors focusing on one area or topic), but otherwise, I’d rather do the planning.

  39. I did a 24 day tour of North Korea in 2016. First 10 days with 20, next 11 days with only 4, and the last 3 days alone (of course the NK guides were always present). Best part of the trip was the end when I was alone with the guides. The other days were ok but it felt more rushed with forced conversations. Not once in the group did we eat with the guides, alone it was every meal. I can understand why some would choose a tour but I’m definitely a solo traveler.

  40. I took a 3-week small group tour of China with a friend who was chronically late. We had never taken a tour together before; traveling independently her pokiness was never really an issue. The constant unapologetic lack of consideration for the group’s schedule was embarrassing.

    However, the tour group paid her back for constantly making them wait on the last morning of touring. As she sipped endless cups of tea as it got closer and closer to the scheduled departure time for an included tour of Hong Kong, one of the men came into the breakfast room and said he wasn’t going on the tour EITHER. My friend asked what he meant by that and he said the bus had already left (of course it hadn’t, as there were still a few minutes to go). She ran to the entrance of the hotel, ranting and raving about the bus leaving too early. When she got outside, the rest of the tour group was of course waiting, laughing merrily. She never quite got it, but at least she was on time that morning. I never travelled with her again.

  41. MimiMN, My husband and I got back in May 2018 from a tour of Morocco (and Spain) with Intrepid.
    #1. We flew into Marrakech a week early. Best decision ever! We stayed inside the medina, in two different riads, very authentic, inexpensive , around $50, included breakfast, lovely owners, walking distance to everything.
    #2. After one totally enjoyable week we met up with the Intrepid group of 8 plus guide, a woman from Portugal.
    #3. The group ranged in ages from about late 20’s to us in our 60’s, from Australia, Canada , New Zealand and the U.S.
    #4 Intrepid, in order to keep costs down, puts you in hotels that were once probably 4 stars. They were still fine, slightly outdated, who cares, but they were not located near the things one wants to see. SOooooo, you take a lot of public transportation, which is a nightmare with 9 people. Everyone dragged suitcases for blocks at breakneck speed to get to and from the hotel to the train, bus, or subway. Then we ran/walked to every location we were scheduled to see for the day. We walk a lot at home, and pack extremely light, so we could do it easily but one woman in her 50’s had a terrible time keeping up, and even the younger people were complaining about the pace. We didn’t mind the pace EXCEPT that it kept us from looking at anything, or taking photographs, looking at architecture, getting the feel of the country, etc. I went there primarily for the crafts, and was so glad we were there a week before the tour because after the group got there, we flew through everything. I was always lagging behind trying to see things. That’s the point of travel, isn’t it? Every city was the same rush, rush, rush, and then they take you to shops where they get a kickback and tell you that you have plenty of time to shop. These shops were overpriced tourist traps. After 2 cities in Morocco, we told the guide we would not be joining the group for the rest of the trip except in the hotels, and for the “fun experience” of riding public transportation to the next city. Even that was too much. I wish we had just cut our losses at that point and gone off on our own. Even if I had gone by myself I would feel that way. A few $5 cab rides would have made the trip far more enjoyable, so we started doing just that, along with a few other disgruntled people.
    #5 This is a trip for someone who just wants to say they’ve been there, glanced at that, not for someone who really wants to find the culture of the countries.
    #6 There are plenty of English (or whatever) speaking guides who will take you to see what you want at your pace.
    #7 These tours may be fine for people who plan to come back to these countries at a later date and actually see them. We don’t have that kind of money. We now refer to this trip as the trip from hell. Intrepid is cheap, but there is a reason. We will not be doing ANY tours, ever again.

  42. Only advise I give to friends:

    Just travel by yourself. It’s more enjoyable, peaceful and allows time to experience the culture. Also, you can return to a destination in the future. It’s not the end of the world, yet.

    Oh – and never travel with Americans.

  43. The thing I will mention about the bathroom stops in developing countries is, it is not always the fault of people on the tour as to why they are late.
    I was on one of these tours in Morocco a few years ago and, surprising, most people were fast and efficient. However, bathroom stops were always a problem as the (male) guides would give us 10 minutes. For the guys that was enough, but for the gals…well, there be 2 to 3 stalls, fairly dirty, and a long line.
    Finely, one stop they said 10 minutes. I got off to see the line for the woman’s bathroom backed up as some other groups had stopped(probably 20 people waiting without our group of another 15 women). The women got in line and I said I would go back and tell the guide that there was no way this was going to be done in 10 minutes. He said, “if you’re not on the bus in 10 minutes, we leave.” The woman rioted.
    As most were travelling with male companions, they were sympathetic and told the guide it was ok. We weren’t dawdling, we just wanted to use the bathroom after having been on the bus for a few hours and knowing there wasn’t another in sight. The men said they would stay off the bus until we were all back and no one got on until everyone was done. This made the guide angry as he tried to get everyone on the bus and leave people behind. I’m not sure what the very large company that we were touring with would have said about leaving behind a bunch of people.
    The guide made comments about it the rest of the trip and actually tried to leave me at another stop. Tour groups lost their appeal.
    Anyway, point is, for woman at least, bathrooms can sometimes take time.

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