Freelance Overlander and Group Travel Expert.
Andy has lived out of a bag for 14 years. The last 8 have been spent working as an overland expedition leader and tour driver.
Long haul group travel in expedition trucks has taken him throughout the Middle East including Iran, the 'Stans in Central Asia, India, Nepal, Tibet, China and around South East Asia. He overlanded extensively for 4 years in South and Central America and survived 4 consecutive years at Rio Carnival
He has also overlanded twice with a Japanese film crew and driven a 1 litre Ford Fiesta from London to Mongolia and back. He has been shot at, arrested and had his leg sewn up in a hotel room without anaesthetic (not by choice!) Life for his passengers is never dull...
He champions the overlanding concept and writes/photographs about the more random and obscure side of travel on the Frog Blog:
Travelling on an organised tour isn’t always as simple as looking at some cool photos, booking something and just rocking up at the start point.
As I mentioned in the previous post, ‘The Evolution of Group Travel’ there are numerous ways to visit the same destination. The style and type of travel you choose will depend on the level of comfort you prefer, your budget and personal interests.
Hard core backpackers will shudder at the very thought of group travel, because organised tours aren’t that cool are they…?!
Actually nothing could be further from the truth…
During my years overlanding I have driven passed countless backpackers struggling to make their way through places such as Patagonia, across Central Asia and through the Amazon.
Chuckle inwardly? Not at all…
Overlanding in your own, or someone else’s, vehicle with a knowledgeable guide makes life so much easier. We’re not talking shooting past the landscape on a night bus with limited opportunity to see and learn about the environment you are passing.
We are talking the freedom to camp out in the wilderness, wherever we want, whenever we want, shopping for supplies in remote and random villages and having impromptu interaction with the locals in places locals rarely meet Westerners.
No matter what kind of tour you are interested in; a four day camping tour in the Aussie outback, a two week budget hotel tour around South East Asia, or a six month overland expedition around South America; you will need to do some homework so you know what you are signing up for.
All too often people book themselves onto a tour without really knowing exactly what they are getting themselves into. It is highly unlikely you would spend several hundred or thousands of pounds buying a second hand car without taking it for a test run first, so why do some people spend the same kind of money on a tour without first checking it out thoroughly?
If only we knew…
So to find out if an organised tour, especially a camping or overland tour really is your thing or not, consider the questions below;
Do you want adventure?
Do you like the great outdoors?
Do you like a challenge?
Can you cope when things don’t always go to plan?
Can you take instructions from someone younger than you?
Can you mix with people with differing opinions to yours?
Do you enjoy travelling with like-minded people?
Are you confident exploring somewhere independently?
Do you enjoy participating in group activities?
Do you want to interact with local people?
Can you deal with a cold shower?
Can you cope with being voted out in a group decision?
Are you prepared to pull your weight and do your share?
Morning person or not can you handle less than 7 hours sleep?
Can you survive without daily access to the internet?
Can you raise a smile when it really has all gone tits up?
If the answer to most of these questions is yes then you are definitely cut out for group travel, so pack your bags and get going!
If not, it might be worth considering something a little less exciting, like an all-inclusive resort.
But how boring would that be…?!
(Abridged from the forthcoming book 'It's NOT a Holiday; The A-Z Guide to Group Travel' by Andy N Robinson & Kirsty McGregor)