Last updated: 21st November 2020
We often get asked how do group tours work? and why do we like them? so we’ve put together a FAQ guide and a comprehensive list to the best small group tour companies. Some of which we’ve used others we haven’t tried yet.
Touring Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Group Tour?
A group tour is a holiday with a set itinerary over multiple days. They come in all shapes and sizes from big group tours of 40+ people to small group tours of around 10 people. There are loads of different types of group tours to choose from – Cultural, adventure, walking, solo, rail travel to walking tours to name a few. Confusingly group tours are sometimes just called ‘adventure tours’. We like group tours that aren’t too rigid with their itinerary, that feature optional activities on various days, or separate ‘free time’ or ‘free days’. That way we can choose to do something on our own or in a group. It’s good to have time for private moments. Generally speaking on a group tour you will see much more of a destination than doing it independently and experience things you wouldn’t necessarily have thought to do.
Who Goes On Group Tours?
Basically like-minded people. Your travelling companions will have a shared interest as you, after all they have chosen the same destination as you. The people we’ve met love travelling just like us, and see themselves as a traveller rather than a tourist. As well as couples you’ll find solo and LGBT travellers in group tours who choose to a visit a destination in the safety of a group. However it’s really about a shared experience and we’ve made some lifelong friends from some group tours, whilst on other tours we’ve just enjoyed their company.
How Do Group Tours Work?
Most group tours use a local tour leader or tour manager who act like a travelling concierge and will lead the group from A to B. They are invaluable with their local knowledge helping to answer your questions or assisting with any language barriers. We always enjoy chatting to our leaders as they are always proud about their country and keen to share stories, sometimes fascinating glimpses into their local lives. Tour leaders are not guides, instead official guides will meet the group at sites of historical interest to explain things in depth. One of the main reasons we enjoy escorted group tours is because the hassle of organising the logistics of getting from A to B are taken care of. So it leaves us stress free and we have more time to explore and enjoy the destination.
Does The Group Size Matter?
Yes, size really does matter when choosing a group tour. It changes your experience of a destination depending on the number of people in your group. Larger group tours of 40+ people have more camaraderie and a bigger range of age groups, so if you really enjoy socialising this could be for you. The main advantage of a larger group tour is bigger discounts for the group on hotel accommodation and attractions. This will bring down the overall cost of the trip and will be friendlier on your wallet. However we much prefer small group tours of around 10 people or less as they are more relaxed and intimate. Everyone tends to look out for each other, so there’s nice support. Another advantage of a small group tour is that you can get around sites easier and quicker like we did in India using tuk-tuks rather than a coach big groups use. You also spend less time waiting for your travel companions and will discover more places off the beaten track which sometimes takes you out of your comfort zone, which is a good thing!
Best Small Group Tour Companies
Our comprehensive list of the best small group tour companies, some of which we’ve used others we haven’t yet.
Abercrombie & Kent – Luxury small group tours worldwide (Maximum group size 14 people)
APT Touring – Luxury group tours & river cruises. (Average group size 19 people)
Audley Travel – Luxury small group tours & tailor made self-guided trips.
Collette Worldwide – Guided tours worldwide. (Maximum group size 28 people)
Contiki Tours – Budget travel coach tours for 18-35 year olds. (Maximum group size 25 people)
Cosmos Tours & Cruises – Budget group tours worldwide. (Maximum group size 50 USA / Europe maximum 40 people)
Cox & Kings – Escorted small group tours worldwide. (Maximum group size 25 people / minimum 10 people)
Distant Journeys – Touring holidays to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa & India. (Average group size 40 people)
Dragoman – Overland off the beaten path adventures worldwide. (Maximum group size 22 people)
Exodus Travels – Small group tours in Europe and worldwide. (Maximum group size 20 / Average group size 12 people)
Explore! – Adventure holidays Europe and worldwide. (Maximum group size 20 / Average group size 12 people)
G Adventures – Small group escorted tours worldwide. (Maximum group size 16 / Average group size 10-12 people)
Great Rail Journeys – Escorted rail tours worldwide. (Average group size 40 people)
HF Holidays – Small group guided walking holidays. (Group sizes 4 – 40 people)
Insight Vacations – Luxury group tours (Maximum group size 40 people / Average group size 32)
Inspiring Journeys – Luxury small group tours of Australia & New Zealand. (Maximum group size 20 people)
Intrepid – Small group adventure tours. (Maximum group size 16 people / Average group size 10 people)
Journeys of Distinction – Luxury group tours (Maximum group size 25 people)
Jules Verne – Worldwide group tours. (Maximum group size 28 people / Average group size 12 people)
KE Adventure Travel – Group tours with Physical activities. (Maximum group size 16 people)
Leger Holidays – Escorted coach holidays in the UK, Europe and Worldwide.
Lonely Planet Experiences – Group tours provided by Intrepid.
Macs Adventure – Group & Self Guided Walking holidays in UK & World.
Mercury Holidays – Worldwide escorted tours and holidays. (Minimum group size 15 people / Maximum 35 people)
Naturetrek – Group wildlife holidays. (Maximum group size 50 people / Average group size 10-12 people)
Newmarket Holidays – Escorted holidays worldwide. (Maximum group size 24 people)
On The Go Tours – Affordable escorted group tours worldwide. (Maximum group size 24 people)
Peregrine Adventures – Small group tours worldwide. (Maximum group size 12 people / Average group size 9 people)
Rainbow Tours – Group tours to Latin America & Africa. (Average group size 6 – 10 people)
Railway Touring Company – Rail holidays worldwide.
Ramblers Walking Holidays – Small group walking holidays in UK & Europe (Average group size 12-20 people)
Regent Holidays – Alternative destinations for small group tours. (Group sizes vary according to destination)
Riviera Travel – Group tours worldwide. (Group size varies according to the tour)
Saga – Over 50s tours and cruises worldwide. (Maximum group size 30 people)
Titan Travel – Escorted group tours worldwide. (Average group size 36 – 40 people)
Top Deck – Tours for 18-35 year olds. (Maximum group size 36 people / Average group size 22 people)
Trafalgar Tours – Guided group tours worldwide. (Maximum 50 people Europe / Rest of the world 20-26 people)
Trailfinders – Private and group tours (Maximum group size 16 people)
TransIndus – Small group tours to Asia. (Average group size 12-16 people)
Travelsphere – Escorted tours & guided holiday tours worldwide. (Maximum group size 30 people)
Wendy Wu Tours – Escorted tours to China, Vietnam, Japan, India, South America. (Maximum group size 28 people)
Solo Only Group Tours
Flash Pack – Group tours for people in their 30s & 40s.
Just You – Group tours for solo travellers. (Maximum group size 40 people)
Multi Day Tour Aggregators
TourHound – Aggregator of escorted touring and adventure holidays.
Tour Radar – 40,000 tours available from more than 1,500 different tour operators.
Stride Travel – Over 35,000 tours and traveller reviews.
Thrillophilia – 12,500 tours in 25+ countries.
Day Tour Aggregators
AirBnB Experiences – Tours and activities hosted by AirB&B locals.
Get Your Guide – Find day-tours worldwide.
Hi, Hi – Day tours with locals.
Lokafy – Day tours with locals.
Tours By Locals – Day tours with locals.
City Unscripted – City day tours with locals.
Veltra Tours – City tours.
Klook – Find day-tours worldwide.
Peek – Find day-tours worldwide.
Viator – Find day-tours worldwide (also called TripAdvisor Experiences)
Voyagin – Find day-tours worldwide.
Withlocals – Find day-tours worldwide.