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Guided vs Self Guided Cycling Tours

Couple on a guided cycling tour in France

If you’re considering a cycling holiday, then good for you!  Seriously, there are many things to consider, destination, difficulty, time of year being just a few.  One of the main questions we get a lot of the time, is whether to undertake a self guided or guided group cycling tour.

So here’s our list of Pros & Cons when considering Guided vs Self Guided Cycling tours.

Guided Cycling Tours

Benefits of Guided Cycling Tours

  • You won’t get lost!  A note of caution here on group size: large groups with a single guide can still lead to navigation issues as large groups invariably spread out, leaving those out front or at back possibly taking wrong turns.  Always ask what the maximum group size is.
  • On a guided cycling tour, you won’t have to fix your bike, including punctures. This is a big plus if you are not confident of knowing how to fix any problems (most people), and can actually save a trip if something complicated does occur.
  • You will learn more about the region if the guide is any good, or a local.
  • Being part of a group cycling tour will often get you little extras (wine tastings/tutorials, extra’s in lunch servings).
  • Group guided cycling tours are great for single travellers, as they are inherently more secure, more social and potentially cost effective.
  • Finally, the obvious one is that being in a group is more social.  Make new friends, have interesting conversations over dinner, and have a great time with like minded people.

 

The Negatives of Guided Cycling Tours

  • You need to ride, stop and take off together with the rest of the group.  So there is a certain lack of flexibility in this regard.
  • It doesn’t happen often, but you might not like the people in your group.  Make sure you inquire about the other members of the group booked on your tour.  Ask about general age brackets, nationalities and the like.  For example, if you’re in your 40’s and the tour you like just so happens to have a group on a 21st birthday tour, that’s worth knowing!!
  • The guide might be lazy, and/or have poor local knowledge.  Ask questions about the guide before you book.
  • You could potentially not speak to anyone outside of the group, meaning you’re possibly missing cultural interactions which would be shame particularly if in another country.
  • Finally, guided cycling tours are often more expensive.

 

Self Guided Cycling Tours

The Benefits of Self Guided Cycling Tours

  • You can ride at your own pace, stop for however long you want, wherever you want, so it’s a lot more flexible.
  • You’re possibly more inclined to meet the locals as you’re almost forced to converse with people
  • It’s a lot more romantic (possibly!), or private at least.  Some travellers just don’t like groups, so self guided cycling tours are the obvious choice.
  • It can be cheaper, but not always, as economies of scale in groups can make up for the cost of guides.

 

The Negatives of Self Guided Cycling Tours

  • You could get lost. Although good cycle tour operators will provide easy to read maps, and some (including Tour de Vines) provide GPS tools.
  • You may well have to do repairs, or fix a puncture at least.
  • If you’re a single traveller, especially if travelling overseas, it can be a little daunting on your own
  • Although you may not realise, on a self guided cycling tour you could well miss some key highlights of the region, or even more possibly, not know where the hidden secrets are (often the best places)

 

So which one are you, a Guided or Self Guided Cycling Tour advocate?

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