Is a guided self-drive tour right for you?
A guided self-drive tour – or self-drive for short – is a great way to see and experience a new destination. There are many reasons why some people choose to explore countries and even continents this way. But is a self-drive right for you? If you haven’t already read last week’s article, and you want to know more about guided self-drive tours and who they are best suited for, you might want to read that first.
When deciding if a self-drive tour is right for you, you want to ask yourself a few questions.
- What type of experience do you want at your destination?
- Do you want a planned route but not travel as part of a group?
- Do you want flexibility for unplanned stops and activities?
- Do you want the security of knowing that your accommodation is arranged for each night?
- How far will you be travelling each day and do you like to drive?
- What are road conditions like and is it safe to drive alone or in a small group?
You want authentic, immersive experiences at your destination
You’re travelling to a new region, country, or even continent, and you want to see, do and experience as much of the area as possible. If your ideal vacation is one that includes a variety of authentic, immersive experiences, a guided self-drive tour may be for you.
A road-trip enables you to fully immerse yourself in the country’s culture and heritage as well as see diverse landscapes and sights that you wouldn’t see on a resort vacation. Having an itinerary created for you in advance provides you with insights and tips on what to visit, how to get there and driving times, and often provides other optional sights to see or activities to experience along the route.
You want a planned route but don’t want to travel as part of a group
You want to visit several sites, towns and areas in the region you’re visiting, but you don’t have the knowledge or time to plan your route, your itinerary and accommodation. However, if you don’t want to be part of a group tour, for whatever reason, then a self-drive could be for you.
Planning an itinerary and arranging accommodation when you have little to no knowledge of an area can take days, sometimes weeks (depending on how much spare time you have). And just because some locations look nearby, travel routes may take longer than you think due to topography and traffic, or road conditions may not be what you’re used to.
Like an escorted tour, a self-drive tour is created by a tour expert who has local knowledge and therefore knows all the best places to visit, how to get to them and the best accommodation to stay in, which saves you a ton of time. So, if you don’t like group tours, then a guided self-drive is probably the best option for you.
You want flexibility for unplanned stops and activities along the route
You want a planned route and you don’t particularly mind visiting sites with a group, but you want the flexibility for unplanned stops and activities along the route, so a self-drive tour is probably for you too.
Although your route is mapped out for you so you can see popular sites in the area you’re visiting and even join guided group tours at some locations, you have the flexibility to stop when and where you want. This flexibility allows you to explore hidden gems and other less-crowded sites, to stop for a rest or a bite to eat, or stay at a particular spot for as long as you want, or even not stop at a particular site at all. This would not be possible on an escorted group tour, so a self-drive is probably ideal for you.
You don’t mind driving long distances or have travelling companions to share the driving
If you don’t mind driving for several hours a day on a pre-designed route, with several optional stops along the way to see sites, take photos, go hiking and experience other activities along the route, and do everything at your own pace, then a guided self-drive is definitely for you.
This really comes down to trusting in the knowledge of a tour expert who knows the region you’re travelling to and saving you a ton of planning time. Even if you’re not a fan of long-distance driving, if you’re travelling with one or more travelling companions, you can each take a turn driving.
Most accommodation stops tend to be around 75-150 km from each other giving you plenty of time to sight-see and rest along the route. Even if your route includes greater distances between stops, daily driving times on self-drives is generally less than 4 hours (depending on traffic speed). If you can handle up to four hours of driving a day, or you have companions to share the journey, then a self-drive may be for you.
However, if you’re travelling in a vast country such as Australia where distances between two major cities can be as much as 1500 km, you’ll be travelling for many days. In this case, if you don’t like driving too much each day, you don’t have travelling companions to share the driving, or you’re limited on time, a transfer by air or rail would be better options.
On the other hand, if you’re not in a hurry, have plenty of time and want to see several sights along the route, a self-drive is a good option, but you’ll want to ask your travel advisor to arrange for more accommodation stops along the route to break up the driving.
You want accommodation booked in advance so you have somewhere comfortable to stay each night
If you like the comfort and security of knowing your accommodation for each night of your journey has been arranged at convenient points along the route, then a guided self-drive tour is also for you.
Many people, especially the younger generation, may prefer to wing it on a road-trip in a new region or country. They do not worry about trying to find last minute accommodation, and don’t mind bedding down for the night in their car if they can’t find any, and that’s fine for them.
But if you would prefer the comfort of a bed each night and the security in the knowledge that your accommodation is pre-booked, then a guided self-drive tour is probably a good idea. All your accommodation is booked in advance, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to get a room.
Even if you’re travelling in a motor-home, knowing that a spot to park your motorhome is pre-booked each night is added security and means you don’t have to worry about finding a spot at the end of each day, and can simply enjoy your journey.
You’re travelling to a country where self-drives are safe
If your ideal destination is Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, Iceland, or North America, and any of the above applies to you, a guided self-drive tour is probably the best option for you.
An escorted group tour may be a better option in other countries where it’s not safe to drive as a female or small group of women (or even as a foreigner in general), but the above countries are generally safe to drive.
These are just a few of the countries that are great for guided self-drive tours. If you want to experience them at your own pace, secure in the knowledge your accommodations are booked along your route, but don’t have knowledge of the countries and the best places to visit and stay, nor time to research and plan, then a guided self-drive tour is probably the best option for you.