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When is it Worth it to Splurge on a Package Day Tour During Travel?

First, today is my eight-month anniversary of flying out of Boston to travel the world!

Second, I am essentially living a lie. On April sixth, 2010, I arrived in Spain and have been here ever since… yet everyone thinks I am still in Portugal because I’ve had such a backlog of blog articles and photos about that fine country!

Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal.
Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal.

Anyhoo, here is the last Portugal-based tidbit, and from now until mid-May it will be Spain, Spain, Spain! Plus a little leftover Ghana thrown in. Plus Morocco if I can get there. Ahem. And now onto the meat of this article.

Here is the Question: When is it worth it to splurge on a package day tour when visiting a foreign country?

My Answer: It is very worth it to do such a tour at least once per country — and more if it’s cheap!

My brother at Pena Palace.
My brother at Pena Palace.

Here are examples of stupendous day tour packages from around the world.

1. In Thailand, one of the most amazing days in history was accomplished by buying the $20 day tour from my hostel that included: petting giant live tigers at the Tiger Temple, running on the Bridge Over the River Kwai, riding elephants, and floating down a river in a raft.

Looking back, I can’t believe I hemmed and hawed about whether the price was worth it. It so fully was!

On a group package tour to Pena Palace in Sintra.
On a group package tour to Pena Palace in Sintra.

2. Vietnam was full of exceptional $6-$10 day tours, from Nha Trang’s island-hopping boat, to a motorcycle tour of the farms around hilly Dalat, to a journey around Mui Ne’s sand dunes, to (of course!) kayaking and boating around magical and world-famous Ha Long Bay. One hundred percent worth the price, all.

3. Our hostel in Lisbon, Portugal offered a 25 Euro ($33) tour through the most famous sites of the country: Sintra’s castles (pictured here… aren’t they gorgeous?!), Sintra’s gardens, the Western-most point of Europe, and the beach town of Cascais.

“Should we really spend all that money?” my brother and I wondered, but by the end of ten hours, we knew we had fully gotten our money’s worth.

Pena Palace, Sintra.
Pena Palace, Sintra.

Here’s why these package day tours are worth the occasional splurge:

A) Transportation!
We could have saved about ten to twelve Euros by hitting Sintra and Cascais via train on our own, BUT how luxurious it was to be driven in a spiffy van right to the most famous sites! Eliminating the hassle of waiting for connecting buses, trains, and shuttles, is sometimes worth the price of a few dollars. Plus it’s nice (and sometimes much-needed) to grab a nap on the cushy seats between attractions!

B) Navigation and Explanations.
Package tour guides have led a million day tours like the one you are on. They know how to whisk you right to the heart of what’s prettiest and most famous, and know just the way to whisper the background secrets directly into your ear. Sometimes it’s nice to unearth all these things yourself, but sometimes you want that goodness spoon-fed!

With my brother at Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal.
With my brother at Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal.

C) Community.
There is no way you can be squished on a van or boat or bus with a pack of other tourists for ten hours and NOT bond. You may say, “That’s dumb– I’m not in X or Y country to meet tourists!” but on all of these tours I always have seen a mix of locals and foreigners– and the folks are always fascinating… if not totally sane.

In short: It may seem dorky or costly to splurge on a package day tour during travel, but it’s absolutely worth it at least once in every new country!


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Jeremy Branham

Tuesday 20th of November 2012

The answer is whenever you want to. Each person who travels has different interests and travel styles. What might be a splurge for you, I may never consider. And vice versa. For me, it's OK to splurge when it's something you really love and you have the money for it :)


Tuesday 20th of November 2012

Ahh, well said. :)


Thursday 5th of April 2012

I find paid day trips almost always worth their cost (if you do your research). In some cases, I've talked the tour guide into leaving earlier than scheduled which has put us at attractions earlier than the larger tour groups. Well worth it.


Thursday 5th of April 2012

Ooooo! Good tip!


Wednesday 15th of September 2010

I've had some of the best times on organised day trips and there are just sometimes when it's nice to have the nitty gritty details like transport (and sometimes permits) sorted for you! I think organised tours can also be a great way to get an insight into history and surprisingly even culture, being guided by an expert guide can really give you a whole new perspective of a place!


Sunday 4th of July 2010

More amazing pictures!

Imported Blogger Comments

Thursday 27th of May 2010

Gillian said... Lucky beast!

April 13, 2010 11:04 AM

greendayshoes said... Thanks for the insight! I've never really done a day tour package kind of thing whenever I've been traveling, but I think I'll definitely invest in it next time I go overseas!

April 13, 2010 11:45 AM

Christine Amorose said... I definitely agree that it's sometimes worth it--if just for the transportation cost! I went on a walking tour of Dachau concentration camp while I was in Munich, and it was great to have a guide on the complicated public transport system!

April 13, 2010 10:32 PM said... YES YES YES get to Morocco. You will not regret it.

April 14, 2010 3:01 AM

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