Between filling in and out of restaurants and taking tours of already-crowded museums as a group of forty, it was stressful to keep up. Alone, however, I could move at my own pace and spend more time on things that interested me more. This led to me getting a private tour of an underground laboratory because nobody else signed up, and also walking over an hour for a veggie burger. (It was a good veggie burger.)
Building on the stress factor, organized trips almost never stop. While we had some 'free time' every so often, nearly every minute was scheduled. Traveling alone, some of my favorite travel moments have been 'unstructured'--watching the ducks in Stuttgart, wandering the streets of Prague, taking a moment to write while eating poffertjes in Amsterdam.
Traveling alone also provides a more genuine picture of the location. My group travel experience was filtered through an endless series of tours and pre-made experiences. Alone, I can enjoy art and culture without overlaid commentary directed at US students. As a student abroad, I can experience all sides of university life. Overall, the best part of traveling alone is getting to experience life elsewhere at a slower, more realistic--and often educational--pace.
While I don’t mind planning everything by myself and being able to have everything under my control, I must say it is very tiring and sometimes it can even make me anxious – what if I miss a train? what if I get lost? what if… sure, it’s great to get out of my comfort zone, but it may make the trip far less enjoyable.
On the other hand, there are organized tours. You book it and that’s it. No need to worry about it any longer. They’ll take care of the transport, of the entrance tickets and guides, of everything. Since it’s all pre-planned, you’ll know what to expect. You’ll usually get some free time and, if there’s something you really don’t want to participate in, some agencies will let you do your own thing and re-join the tour later on. Moreover, for an international student like myself, who hasn’t spent much time in the UK, but wants to see the country as much as possible, organized tours are a great opportunity to do so without stressing out too much. (Thanks, GIAG!)