Which is the BEST Group Tour Company for You?

Which is the best group tour company?

Group tours were not all created equal – and you may even be surprised as to just how many different “styles” of tours are available to backpackers. It’s not just about the multitude of destinations on offer, it’s the way the tours are run and the level of freedom and flexibility you can get, or not…

When it’s your first trip abroad backpacking, it can be hard to decide which will be best for you. In this article I’ll run through our top choices for backpacker tours and explain the styles of each company so you can figure out which best suits your personality.

Why take a group tour?

 

Travel in an unknown country can be a daunting experience, even for experienced travelers. Some countries are harder to navigate than others. Plus, not having local knowledge can make things really tough and it’s much easier to get scammed or ripped off.

Having the security of a professional guide, or to know you’re taken care of from beginning to end is a great way to see a new part of the world, without having to worry about any of the logistics. On the other hand you could want more independence, to follow your own path. There are group tour companies that offer that as as well. A less structured group tour, so to speak.

There are things you can lose and gain from either mode of travel, be it structured tour – or more independent travel. That is why we are going to breakdown some of the different companies out there, so you can see what the options are, and what might be best for you.

From completely organised trips from beginning to end, through to a more choose your own adventure option – we’ve got them covered.

 
For those of you who are sitting on the fence, and you’re not entirely certain if a group tour is for you, here’s a few pro’s and con’s of group tours VS independent travel to consider.

Benefits of Group Tours:

  • Everything covered accommodation / transport / some meals etc
  • Knowledgeable guide who speaks the local language to give you information on the destinations and translate for you
  • Stress free travel – logistics and problems handled by the tour company
  • Safer, as you have a guide to advise you on dangerous areas, customs, scams and to translate
  • Fixed price so you can plan your budget easily in advance
  • Easy to meet new friends with similar interests
  • A pre chosen level of comfort throughout the trip
  • You could be taken to places you never knew existed and wouldn’t have found on your own
  • You don’t have to worry about bartering or getting ripped off as the guide can negotiate for you (but remember bartering can be fun too)

Downside of Group Tours:

  • Fixed itinerary: No freedom change your plans (though some tour companies offer flexibility, see below)
  • Fixed Accommodation – If you don’t like the accommodation you can’t just move elsewhere
  • No choice how you travel i.e. public transport vs coach
  • Normally more expensive than going it alone (but saves you a lot of planning time & logistical problems)
  • You could be stuck with people you don’t like
 Should you book a group tour? we look a the pros and cons
Pros and cons aside, in order for you to know exactly what you are getting with each major travel company here is a breakdown of our 4 favorites. They each have a completely different style so read on and discover what they offer so you can decide which tour company is for you and which one suits your style best:

intrepid_lgIntrepid – real life experiences

  • Small group tours – average of 10 per tour
  • Destinations: Africa, Antarctica, Arctic, Asia, Central America, Europe, Middle East, North America, Oceania, South America.
  • Choose your travel style. Basix – budget friendly option. Less inclusions, more free time, often use public transport. Original – the traditional Intrepid tour package. Mix of activities and free time, more inclusions like meals etc, tourist grade accommodation. Comfort – Top of the line package. Slower paced travel, comfort accommodation, more inclusions and meals.
  • Choose your adventure based on your interests including Polar, wildlife, sailing, food and more
  • Social conscious: promotes cultural, environmental and economic responsible travel
  • No single supplement if you are happy to share with someone else on the tour (same sex of course). If you want a room all to yourself then a single supplement will apply
  • Offer a full service package where they can help you with visas, flights, travel insurance etc
  • No age limit for tours apart from family tours where there is minimum age.

To learn more about what Intrepid has to offer – North American Residents CLICK HERE

Australian Residents Click Here

 

G-Adventures-logo-225x225G Adventures – the great adventure people (formally Gap Adventures)

  • Small Groups – average 12 per tour
  • Destinations: Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Central America & Caribbean, Europe, North Africa & Middle East, North America, South America, Polar Regions.
  • 100% guaranteed departures & lifetime deposits. If you can’t go, you can even give your deposit to a friend
  • Mixture of travel styles including classic, comfort, rail, cycling, active and more.
  • No single supplement, you’ll be partnered up with a same sex room buddy. They do have a ‘my own room’ option for an additional price.
  • G Adventure tours offer Social and environmentally sensitive travel
  • 24/7 customer service available. Ask a question any time of day and someone will be available to answer it for you
  • No age limit for most tours apart from family tours. Also the Yolo adventure is restricted for 18-39 year olds.

To learn more about what G Adventures has to offer – CLICK HERE

 

busabout_logoBusabout – freestyle travel

  • Hop-on Hop-off bus adventures across Europe & Asia. Also offer guided tours and sailing trips as well
  • Freestyle, flexible and more independent form of travel
  • Door to door service will drop you at your Busabout designated hostel in each city you visit. Hostel not included in price unless you are on a package tour.
  • Guides are on each bus to give you information about your next destination
  • Passes allow you to join and leave the bus wherever you like on the Busabout route
  • Promotes and aides sustainable tourism
  • Minimum age limit of 18. No upper age limit, but you have to have a spirit of fun if you want to enjoy yourself
  • Offer student discounts (check the T’s & C’s)

To learn more about what Busabout has to offer – CLICK HERE

 

Contiki_LogoContiki – holidays for 18-35’s

  • Group sizes of 20-50 people
  • Destinations: Europe, USA & Canada, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America
  • Everything is included in the price accommodation, meals, VIP access to attractions etc
  • Offers a variety of travel styles depending on location
  • Three types of tours to choose from camping, budget and superior
  • Option to join in on organised activities or explore on your own
  • Restricted age limit of 18-35
  • Promotes responsible travel

To learn more about what Contiki has to offer – CLICK HERE

 

As we said before, there is no right or wrong way to travel. Find a method that suits you best. If you like to travel in comfort and have everything taken care of, then Intrepid or G Adventures might be for you. If you want to let loose and party with new friends, then Contiki or Busabout might be a better option for you.

It’s your trip – your choice!

The only wrong decision would be staying home on your ass watching reruns of Game of Thrones – *Spoiler Alert* they all die alright! You know what happens – now get out into the world and TRAVEL!!!

 

Have you been on a tour with any of these companies? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments

 Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, i’ll receive a small commission payout. Support this site by using our links rather than searching google. All opinions remain our own.

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