Package tours are defined as excursions or holidays where a number of services are bundled together into a single trip. Packages traditionally combine items such as transport, accommodation and meals and in most cases include a tour guide or tour leader.
A package can be as short as a half day or as long as a month or more. In Kenya, it is rare to see a package tour going for more than a fortnight.
When developing a package tour, travel agencies consider the following:
- Transfers between airports and hotels – generally point of departure and point of arrival.
- Suitable accommodation, if it extends beyond a day. This usually needs to be of tourist class, in most cases shared.
- Rental cars.
- Entrance fees and tickets to attractions. In Kenya, this is provided as an extra and includes conservation fees to national parks and reserves. A tourist event such as the Rhino Charge usually attracts an entry fee which should be considered when including it in such a tour.
While we generally advocate for adventure tours which are usually more high-value and eco-friendly because of their smaller footprint on nature, we do appreciate there are instances packaged group tours might make sense, especially in the scenarios below.
1. The Need to Save Cost and Travel on a Budget
Most travel agencies are able to bulk their package deals in a way they can offer competitive rates which individuals cannot. Since this is what they do for a living, they have established a level of confidence with property owners by guaranteeing some level of repeat business which random adventure travellers cannot. They are able to pass this quantity discount to the traveller who purchases such a package tour.
Package tours, by their very nature, are pre-planned and hence it is very easy for a traveller to budget for a bundled product than have to fumble around with individual elements of the tour such as food, transport and accommodation. This also drastically reduces the element of uncertainty for the traveller because things are planned in advance.
2. Risk Avoidance and the Headache of Planning
The traveller is not responsible for anything in a package tour except to present themselves for maximum enjoyment. In the event something were to go wrong, say a delay in a flight which causes the traveller to miss a connecting flight, the traveller rests easy with the sense of security that someone has their back.
3. Seeking to Socialise
This is actually one of the biggest reasons people opt to travel on a package tour. The chances of interacting and meeting with new people are higher this way than any other way. Long-term friendships, some even leading to marriages and successful business partnerships, have been given birth by package tours.
Just ensure you are clear on what your objectives for bonding are. A tour that is within your age demographics, for instance, would offer greater familiarity with similar thought processes while a more diverse group would bring the value of wisdom and experience from the much older folk and so on.
4. The desire for Quality Service for Less
A lot of meticulous planning goes into developing a tour package – assessing the airlines, hotels, sightseeing locations and their operators if any. The end result is usually quality all the way.
Some daring agencies risk including a unique, never-before-seen destination in their itineraries to increase the element of surprise but the usual tendency is to go with the flow and include what has been tested by many and found not to be wanting.
This ensures standards are kept at their highest even though that is not to say an adventure trip exploring the unknown cannot also be done with impressive levels of quality.
Given these 3 circumstances, a package tour might be the way to go but I would love to hear from you what your thoughts are and what else you consider before settling for a package tour.