flexible guided travel

Self-Guided & Independent Tours & Travel Packages 2023-2024

1,172 self-guided & independent trips. compare tour itineraries from 248 tour companies. 1,153 reviews. 4.6/5 avg rating., popular self-guided & independent tours.

Walk from Van Gogh's landscapes to the Luberon trip

Walk from Van Gogh's landscapes to the Luberon trip

  • An incredible variety of scenic walks, giving you a wide experience of Provence
  • Awe-inspiring vistas atop theAlpillesand the Luberon mountains
  • The perched medieval village of LesBaux de Provence
  • The vineyards and olive groves blanketing the plains
  • The lavender fields in front of Sénanque Abbey

Let's Go Europe

Let's Go Europe

  • Take a walk in Trafalgar Square and admire he fountains and the famous monuments, such as the four bronze lion statues and Nelson’s Column
  • Visit Eiffel Tower
  • Visit places with amazing architecture and take sightseeing to a completely new level in Barcelona.
  • Visit Ljubljana
  • Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site

Mexico (Cabo & Baja): See & Experience it ALL in 6 Days - 1st Class Custom Tours

Mexico (Cabo & Baja): See & Experience it ALL in 6 Days - 1st Class Custom Tours

  • Wine & Jazz Sunset Cruise with an Open Bar
  • Swimming Alongside Whale Sharks (from October to April only)
  • Interacting with Dolphins
  • Horseback Riding on the Beach
  • Rock Climbing

21 Day Grand Tour Discover Real New Zealand

21 Day Grand Tour Discover Real New Zealand

  • All inclusive tour package prepared by New Zealand based specialists so you sit back and relax
  • An exciting itinerary will be customised to suit you - let us help plan and perfect your dream vacation
  • We offer self-drive trips (rental car) we arrange all your accomodations, activities, attractions (you select) we book your car (fun, freedom, independence, flexibility) you set the pace each day or, select a private driver trip (fully guided) or, escorted coach tours (daily commentary).
  • Either way, you will have an awesome time on our wonderful 21 day Grand New Zealand Tour with Real New Zealand Tours.

Bornholm - A Danish Summer Paradise

Bornholm - A Danish Summer Paradise

Dordogne: castles, caves and villages of the Périgord Noir

Dordogne: castles, caves and villages of the Périgord Noir

  • A joyful mix of walks, relaxation & heritage
  • Discovery of gardens, castles, troglodyte villages and prehistoric caves
  • Longer walk options on days 3, 4, 5 & 7
  • A cultural break in the most beautiful villages
  • Visit of the Château de Commarque included

Taste of Egypt and Jordan

Taste of Egypt and Jordan

  • Giza Pyramids & King Tut Treasure
  • Visit Kom Ombo and Edfu Temples
  • Visit Jerash & Dead Sea Tour
  • The Ancient City of Petra

Argentina & Chilean Patagonia in 15 days

Argentina & Chilean Patagonia in 15 days

  • Be part of Patagonia crossing the Andes between Calafate and Puerto Natales
  • Discover Torres del Paine National Park and prepare for hike!
  • Being at the end of the world, contemplating the Beagle Channel
  • Discover the Lake Crossing with navigation

All Self-Guided & Independent , expedition cruises, self guided adventures and vacation packages. Find the best guided and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Read more about Self-Guided & Independent

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Small Group Self-Guided & Independent Tours

Small Group Self-Guided & Independent Tours

Annapurna Circuit Trek

  • 11-day trek following the classic Annapurna Circuit
  • Enjoy spectacular views from the Thorong La Pass
  • Great value with all meals on trek included

Cycle Portugal - Lisbon to Algarve

Cycle Portugal - Lisbon to Algarve

  • Journey from charming Lisbon to the most south-westerly point of continental Europe
  • Cycle the entire length of this wild and unspoilt corner of Europe
  • Explore the great outdoors with plenty of sun, chances to swim, fresh seafood

Western USA National Parks Explorer

Western USA National Parks Explorer

  • Journey through some of the most dramatic scenery on the planet
  • Discover vibrant San Francisco and the desert city of Las Vegas
  • Enjoy walking in Yosemite, Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon national parks

Victoria Falls Extension

Victoria Falls Extension

  • Extend your trip in Southern Africa
  • Get up close to Victoria Falls 'The Smoke that Thunders'
  • Choose from a variety of activities in The Adventure Capital of Africa

King Penguins of the Falklands and South Georgia - Expedition

King Penguins of the Falklands and South Georgia - Expedition

  • An epic Antarctic adventure - in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton
  • View large colonies of iconic king penguins - on South Georgia
  • Variety of penguins - stand amid magellanic, macaroni and rockhopper penguins in the Falkland Islands
  • Get close to the marine wildlife - see whales and cavorting seals from your Zodiac
  • Montevideo - explore the delights of this vibrant city

5 Days Serengeti Migration Safari

5 Days Serengeti Migration Safari

Experience New England

Experience New England

  • From ancient whaling ships, rolling hills covered in grapes, to the Islands and mansions; you will experience a true taste of Southern New England
  • Spend the day exploring Martha’s Vineyard, with its harbor front towns, beaches and lighthouses. The day is yours to enjoy this famous island
  • A local guide offers their knowledge on the Gilded Age, wealthy summer ‘cottages’ and English settlers as you explore Newport, RI. You will visit one of the grandest summer cottages that was built by the wealthy Vanderbilt family
  • Enjoy a historic whaling town to see what life was like and how people lived as one with the ocean. A taste of chardonnay before dinner will make your trip all that more delightful
  • ‘One If By Land’ and the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere ~ walk the Freedom Trail and trace the steps to the Old North Church, walk along the cobblestone streets to enjoy incredible Italian fare, or take a narrated cruise along the harbor front. All found right in the heart of Boston.

City of Sultans - 4 days

City of Sultans - 4 days

  • Istanbul - Visit Sultanahmet (Old Istanbul), Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and Topkapi Palace
  • Explore the Egyptian Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar
  • Cruise along the Bosphorus Strait
  • Beyerbeyi Palace and Buyuk Camilica - Marvel at the views from the city's highest vantage point

Best Self-Guided & Independent Tours by Duration

Tours, Cruises & Private Trips

Best Self-Guided & Independent Tours by Price

Top Self-Guided & Independent Attractions & Experiences

Top Self-Guided & Independent Experiences

  • Sampling culinary delicacies in Tuscany
  • Ascending the terraced hillsides to reach upper Ghandruk that offers a fine view of Annapurna mountain range
  • Strolling through the cobblestone streets of Trinidad and enjoying the sight of colorful houses
  • Enjoying a self guided walking tour at your own pace
  • Enjoying the hospitality of a local host
  • Having a local guide that shows you around town
  • Volunteering at a rehabilitation and conservation center of wild animals
  • Exploring the Amazon jungles with local guides 
  • Hitching a lift on a cargo boat to Timbuktu 
  • Taking a train journey through Europe with suggested stops planned out by a travel expert
  • Learning some of the local language when staying with a family in Nepal

Self-Guided & Independent Tours & Travel Guide

Self-Guided & Independent Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Self guided and independent travel is when an individual navigates a destination alone as opposed to being with a group or following an escorted tour. Much like escorted tours, self guided trips can be done in any type of travel style in any destination.

This type of travel doesn’t have to be for the fearless traveler. Traveling alone is great for any type of traveler with any level of experience. Many tour operators put together pre-organized itineraries. This allows independent travelers a guide to follow while traveling. This takes the pressure off being alone, because you have an organized plan of where to be and how to spend your time.

If you prefer to create your own travel experience, tour operators can help you craft the perfect trip just like they could for groups and families. You may be alone during your travel adventures, but crafting the exact itinerary with the perfect destinations doesn’t have to be done without help.

However, independent travel may not be for everyone. It comes with plenty of pros and cons, so it's worth factoring both when making your decision to go on a self guided trip.

Independent travel in Brazil.

Pros of Independent Travel

Freedom: Traveling independently allows travelers to make all the decisions both about where to go and what to do. Self guided travel also gives you the opportunity to decide every detail. More of a luxury traveler ? You can plan for a five star hotel. Prefer to be immersed in nature ? Find the perfect camping spot. Travelers have the ability to make all the decisions to match their specific interests, comfort levels and desires.

Self guided tours allows travelers the freedom to create their perfect trip.

However, this freedom doesn’t have to mean doing everything alone. Travelers who desire independence but also some guidance for their trip can look to tour operators to help craft their trip. All the traveling is still independent and on the day, you get the option to follow the planned itinerary or stray to something different.

Price: With freedom comes the ability to find the best price for your budget. Independent travel is said to be cheaper than going with a group or following a planned trip. You don't have to factor in the cost of a guide, or tour company fees. 

However, travelers get the option to decide how expensive their trip is. Want a big luxurious vacation ? Are you a budget traveler wanting to make every penny worth it? You have the option to choose.

Independent travel gives travelers the ability to decide the budget.

If traveling with low costs is what you’re after, it may be better to check out trips for the budget travel.

It’s also best to keep in mind that some things may be more expensive if you travel alone vs with a group. For example, in places where you need to rent a car and driver, it usually helps financially to join up with the group to split the costs. 

Immersion: For the traveler wanting complete immersion into culture or nature , independent travel is great for this. Going on self guided tours allows you to decide where you go. Travelers have the option to go off the beaten path, experience homestays or see all the sights on their bucket list.

Independent travel provides opportunities for cultural immersion with activities like homestays.

There’s no pre-planned itinerary that you must follow nor do you have to cater to anyone else’s desires or preferences. This type of travel allows you to melt into the destination and experience it first hand in an intimate way that may be hard with a big group.

Cons of Independent Travel

Planning: While freedom may be one traveler’s pro, needing to plan everything may be another traveler’s con. Even if you have a tour operator help create your dream trip, there are still flights to book, travel insurance to sort out, and accommodations to arrange. You still have to decide what’s right for you and make the dream trip turn into a reality.

Even deciding where you want to travel is included in traveling. In doing so, travelers should research their destination and the best places to visit and the best attractions to see. Tour operators are great for helping sort these out but ultimately the last decision is up to you. There’s no pre-planned trip you can just join and forget making the final calls.

Planning may be a con of independent travel for some individuals.

It’s also important to remember that planning isn’t a pre-travel activity. Planning carries through into the travel itself. Throughout your trip, you must deal with the logistics of finding your way around, sorting out necessities, and bargaining or hunting for the best price. And all while possibly dealing with a language barrier and an infrastructure far different from what you're used to. To some, dealing with logistics is all part of the adventure, but for others, it's a hassle that takes away from their experience of travel.

Interested in help planning? Read more about why should consider an indpendent travel agent >>

Loneliness: Traveling independently can be a great experience in many ways, but it can also be lonely. Joining a group or going with friends and family allows for you to experience the destination with other people, something you don’t get with self guided tours.

Traveling independently can get lonely for some travelers.

However, independent travel can still be a great way to meet new people. You just need to put in more effort than if you were with a group. Try finding hostels with a lively sociable bar, meeting other travelers through travel forums or joining tours at different tourist attractions. To meet locals, try taking part in fun lessons, or arranging a home stay.

Safety: The nice thing about traveling in a group is that oftentimes, you are more safe. There are certain destinations that travelers shouldn’t try to tackle alone. It’s best to research your desired destination beforehand to get a better understanding if its a good option for your independent travel experience.

Finding the Best Self-Guided Experience for Your Travel Style

When traveling independently, creating the perfect trip for your specific travel style is important. If you love the outdoors, find a destination that offers unforgettable natural sights such as waterfalls, mountains and forests.

Traveling independently gives you the freedom to create the best trip for your travel style whether that's a luxury trip or nature trips with camping accommodations.

If you’re more of a luxury traveler , it’s best to do research to make sure your destination has the right accommodations for you. This could include five star hotels, white sand beaches and impeccable restaurants. When it comes to self guided tours and independent travel, travelers don’t have to compromise. They can make every detail exactly as they want it without needing to cater to the preferred travel style of someone else.

Deciding on what your perfect travel style is can be intimidating, but finding the right tour operator that helps you create the best itinerary for your trip can make a world of difference. Making sure the company understands what is important to you whether it be food, accomodation, sites, or ecotravel, can help design the travel itinerary that works with your style.

Popular Destinations for Self-Guided Travel

Spain: Spain is one of the top self-guided destinations in the world. Many of the independent tours in Spain revolve around the historic pilgrimage trail of Camino. This trail has been in use for hundreds of years as pilgrims made their way to Santiago de Compostela while stopping at religious sites along the way.

A beautiful water view in Mallorca, Llubí, Spain.

Switzerland: This country is a hiker’s dream . With its towering mountains and stunning valleys, Switzerland is the ideal place for adventurous hikers to explore the outdoors with self-guided tours of the landscape and the beautiful cities.

Stunning mountains in Rotenboden, Zermatt, Switzerland.

Argentina: For travelers looking for a self-guided road trip, Argentina is a great destination to choose. It has diverse landscapes and historic cities which make for an amazing self drive experience. You can see Patagonia and Buenas Aires at your own pace on your own time.

A mountain backdrop with beautiful trees and water in Bahía de los Troncos, Bariloche, Argentina.

New Zealand: This country is great for the active and adventurous solo traveler . New Zealand is great for hiking, biking and other outdoor activities. Another bonus for travelers is the connection to the Lord of the Rings and the many great tours that are offered in relation to the book and movie franchise.

Hooker Valley Track in New Zealand.

Thailand: Travelers with any style and experience can rest assured when choosing to visit Thailand alone. There are many great backpacking trails as well as beautiful beaches to lounge on. For those looking for a more cultural immersion can take part in homestays or yoga lessons.

Loha Prasat, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

Pre-planned Independent Travel Tours

For travelers who don’t want to have a custom trip where they decide all the details, can instead choose from a pre-planned trip offered by tour operators. A travel company will plan your itinerary and logistics such as loding, activities and transportation.

Pre-planned itineraries for solo travelers is a great way to reduce the stress of planning.

There’s no decisions you need to make which gives you a more convenient travel experience as well as time well saved. You get the flexibility and freedom of traveling alone without needing to stress about the little details and logistics.

Self-Guided & Independent Reviews & Ratings

Beth & Frederick

We enjoyed the scenery, all hotels except in Avignon, the food, and the people we met

We enjoyed the scenery, all hotels except in Avignon, the food, and the people we met. Yes, I would travel again with your company and would recommend to friends. Th...

Hannah, Annabel & Cecily

Absolutely fantastic itinerary, the best walking trip I've ever done

Absolutely fantastic itinerary, the best walking trip I've ever done. Beautiful scenery, fabulous food and perfect distances. We spent the whole week exclaiming how ...

Gordon & laurel

Thank you again for your good work making our trip so wonderful !

The roadbook notes were generally excellent! The Fort De Buoux was fascinating. Should not be missed but needs at least 1 hour for planning purposes. The recommende...

Kathy & friends

You also pick fabulous routes for us, great walking, limited time on roads, wonderful towns, loved all the exhibits in the towns.

The highlights of our trip have been : Gordes, Les Balcons BB with the dinner prepared by Etiennnes, the BB Auberge des Seguins - unique & great spot. Discoverin...

Jayne & patricia

Everything was so beautiful yet varied. It’s hard to single out a highlight : so many !!

Everything was so beautiful yet varied. It’s hard to single out a highlight : so many !! We are planning to do our next walking tour in Portugal with Intura Travel, ...

See all Self-Guided & Independent reviews

Related Trips & Tours

Traveling to self-guided & independent, an faq.

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2. How does the Member Savings program save me money?

3. Can I trust the tour operator and trip reviews on Travelstride?

4. What does ‘Stride Preferred’ mean?

Best Tour Companies for Singles

Book your next adventure with one of these options.

Ligaya Malones is an editor, blogger, and freelance writer specializing in food and travel. Ligaya's work has appeared in publications including Lonely Planet and BRIDES.

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A recent study showed that the solo travel industry is projected to experience a significant influx in the upcoming years. Whether you want to experience a solo adventure, see the world at your own convenience, or hope to meet new people along the way, there’s always something worthwhile about traveling by yourself. 

Luckily, there are plenty of travel companies that cater to solo travelers to make planning stress-free. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best companies for every budget and travel preference to support your wanderlust—including our top picks for women-only and solo parent travel.

8 Best Tour Companies for Singles of 2023

  • Best Experience: Exodus Travels
  • Best for Ages 35-50: El Camino Travel
  • Best Sustainable: G Adventures
  • Best for True Solo Travel: Black Tomato
  • Best for Ages 25-39: For The Love of Travel
  • Best for 50+: Overseas Adventure Travel Rates
  • Best Female: Wild Women Expeditions
  • Best for Solo Parent Travel: Intrepid Travel

Best Experience : Exodus Travels

Courtesy of Exodus Travels

Traveling solo on an Exodus Travels group trip means access to self-guided and guided excursions around the world for every type of traveler. Choose a walking wine holiday in Portugal or explore Egypt via cruise boat and sleeper train, for example. Additionally, its Exodus Edits collection offers shorter itineraries of up to five days and is geared towards travelers in their 30s and 40s—though they’re ideal for anyone looking for more vigorous activity such as ziplining and surfing in Costa Rica or sampling street eats and beach hopping in Sicily. 

There is no single supplement fee when you room with a fellow traveler, and chances are you may end up with your own room anyway. Booking a travel itinerary with UK-based Exodus Travels includes a full refund should the company need to cancel your trip and a complimentary trip transfer to another tour or different person up to 21 days before the scheduled trip. Plus, travelers who book their third or more trips with Exodus receive a 5 percent discount on their next booking.

What’s more, the company works to curate trips that align with a number of United Nations sustainable development goals including goals for responsible consumption and production, empowering local communities, and climate action considerations. Exodus Travels (founded in 1974) was awarded Best Operator in National Geographic Traveller’s sixth annual Reader Awards in 2021.

Best for Ages 35-50 : El Camino Travel

Courtesy of Encounter Travel

According to El Camino Travel ’s founder, Katalina Mayorga, elder millennials are their strongest customer base. That means if you were born between 1980 and 1985 approximately, you’ll find yourself among curious, like-minded solo travelers looking to immerse themselves in destinations like Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, and the Eastern European nation of Georgia. Some trips even add a professional photographer to capture shareable shots so you can remain in the moment.

All of El Camino’s guided, small group trips max out at 12 participants. They’re also curated with an ethos of preserving and protecting local culture, the environment, and communities. For example, some of their partners include the Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville in Tobago and La Sierra Artist Residency in Santa Marta, Colombia.

Best Sustainable : G Adventures

Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

G Adventures is particularly known for its sustainable, responsible ethos. The company works with small, locally-owned hotels and operators to ensure your travel dollars benefit the community you’re visiting; outlines policies around child and animal welfare practices; aims to reduce single-use plastics, and works to ensure experiences taking place in Indigenous communities align with community goals.

Founded in 1990, G Adventures specializes in small group adventure tours to a host of destinations from Asia to South America and Africa to the Arctic. Nearly half of the travelers on every trip are flying solo, and there’s no single supplement if you choose to bunk with a same-sex roommate. Or, select your own room for a fee. 

A Chief Experience Officer leads each group tour and itineraries are searchable by travel style. For example, find wellness-centric trips like nine days of daily yoga, visits to Hindu temples, and partake in traditional healing ceremonies in Bali. Or travel with their partner, National Geographic, for an exclusive guided tour of South Africa’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and a visit to Soweto township in Johannesburg, the home of Nelson Mandela. 

G Adventures partnered with hostel booking service Hostelworld in 2021 to launch its Roamies itineraries. Its combination of backpacking and organized travel itineraries includes countries like Albania, Mexico, the Netherlands, and Vietnam. The trips are marketed to 18- to 35-year-olds, though like-minded individuals keen on budget travel and communal environments may enjoy these trips, too.

Best for True Solo Travel : Black Tomato

Courtesy of G Adventures

Black Tomato specializes in bespoke luxury travel experiences. For those interested in traversing around the world solo and willing to pay a premium for tailored itineraries, its adventurous or culturally immersive experiences may just be your ticket.

Your travels might look like hiking and biking in Patagonia, embarking on a spiritual pilgrimage through Bhutan and India, chasing glaciers and geysers in Iceland, or learning to cook Georgia and Armenia’s local dishes or Japan’s regional cuisine.

In 2017, Black Tomato launched its Get Lost adventure travel experience. With the support of a dedicated team, and without prior knowledge of where they're headed, Get Lost participants will find their way home from an undisclosed location. The location is selected based on a pre-travel questionnaire about which environment clients would like to immerse themselves in. Then, they show up at the airport and the adventure begins.

Best for Ages 25-39 : For The Love of Travel

Courtesy of Contiki

With 80 percent of individuals traveling with For The Love of Travel jet -setting solo, each trip is packed with opportunities to meet fellow Millennial and Gen Z travel enthusiasts. For example, within your small “crew” of up to 14 people, make new friends doing snow sports and unwinding in saunas in Lapland or devouring tacos and sipping mezcal in Mexico City. Trips range from four to nine days, including weekends in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain wilderness or an extended weekend in Costa Rica where you’ll hike through rainforests, relax in hammocks, and hike, bike, or surf.

According to company feedback, the average FTLOT traveler is 30 years old and interested in meeting new people while traveling . The company bills itself as a mid-range travel company, where “​​we might stay in a more basic hotel for a couple of nights so we can include a Michelin-worthy meal and a private catamaran ride.” 

In 2022, FTLOT plans to offer at least 10 new itineraries including to Belize, Turkey, and Spain’s Basque Country. And for those with the flexibility, the company launched Sojrn in 2021 featuring month-long, themed stays in destinations like Cape Town—focused on biodiversity—and a fashion-oriented stay in Paris.

FTLOT requires an initial deposit and allows installment payments if not paid in full.

Best for 50+ : Overseas Adventure Travel Rates

Courtesy Flash Pack

Overseas Adventure Travel is primarily aimed at American travelers aged 50 and over. It offers guided itineraries to worldwide destinations, including Africa, Antarctica, Asia, and the South Pacific, with trips ranked by activity level and accompanied by a list of physical requirements to help select an itinerary that is best suited for you. For example, their Japan and South Korea itinerary advise that participants be able to carry their own luggage as the selected hotels do not have porter service.

Some of Overseas Adventure Travel’s most popular trips include 17 days of wending the Adriatic from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina (think a walking tour in Dubrovnik, sampling traditional Bosnian food in Sarajevo, and exploring the countryside near Zagreb). On another popular trip, you spend 15 days traveling through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, ending in Helsinki, Finland. All trips offer pre-and post-itinerary extensions, and either waive the single supplement entirely or offer a discount on a private room.

The company offers a free Roommate Matching Program which helps you find a like-minded, same-sex roommate. If they can’t find a match, your single supplement is deducted. Small group sizes typically average 13 travelers.

Overseas Adventure Travel won the Solo Travel Award for Best Tour in 2017 and 2018, thanks in large part to its policy of offering a limited number of single spaces for each itinerary.

Best Female : Wild Women Expeditions

Courtesy of Overseas Adventure Travel

It began as an all-women, Canada-based canoe tripping company in 1991, and Wild Women Expeditions is perfect for boundary-pushing women who want to travel independently and enjoy the safety and support of an organized tour. The company also prioritizes hiring female tour leaders and on-the-ground guides. It offers outdoor adventures for women of all ages and identities and with a range of physical abilities (“whether your greatest skill is tracking a storm or talking up a storm, summiting mountains or summoning courage, keeping your kayak in line or coloring outside the lines,” as the company describes).

The company travels to 31 destinations around the world like Egypt, Tanzania, and the Azores islands. Itineraries are typically adventure-based and are filtered on their website by activity, with options ranging from sailing to cycling and horse riding. Imagine yourself sea kayaking and snorkeling in the Galapagos or scaling glaciers in Alaska. 

Most guests are solo travelers and there’s no single supplement to worry about as accommodation is typically in a shared room or cabin. Though if privacy is a priority, you can usually snag your own room for a nominal extra fee. Group sizes are kept small and social with between six and 14 women, depending on the itinerary you choose. The average group size is eight. 

Wild Women Expeditions also takes care to curate trips that avoid or minimize the disturbance of wildlife; supports environmental education and advocacy projects; and partners with social justice and women’s rights organizations.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best women-only adventure travel companies .

Best for Solo Parent Travel : Intrepid Travel

Courtesy of Wild Women Expeditions

Intrepid ’s family-themed holidays welcome adults traveling with children, including solo parents looking to travel with their kids without the stress of planning and coordinating a trip. Since each family’s travel needs and preferences are different, every itinerary includes an “essential trip information” section where Intrepid outlines whether the trip would be a good fit for you and your kids, as well as a physical rating from least to more strenuous activities. 

For example, an itinerary through part of the Amazon Jungle in Peru advises the jungle can be very hot and humid, and that the weather can be unpredictable in the Andes. On the other hand, an 11-day trip to Borneo island in Southeast Asia lists a minimum age of 5 and outlines a range of accommodations from hotels to guesthouses and jungle camps; on a few occasions, travel times between destinations range between four to five hours. Trips to Costa Rica, Tanzania, China, and Morocco are also listed.

Individuals under 17 years typically receive a 10 percent discount, and the company requires that adults have at least one child under 18 years traveling with them. As part of Intrepid’s commitment to responsible travel, itineraries support initiatives surrounding sustainability and conservation, climate education, and preservation of Indigenous culture.  

Mathieu Young / Getty Images

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The 10 Best Group Travel Tour Companies for 2023

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Caroline Morse Teel

Caroline Morse Teel is the Managing Editor for SmarterTravel Media. Follow her adventures around the world on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

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For those truly epic, once-in-a-lifetime destinations, you want to leave your itinerary to the experts. Whether your dream is to see the Big Five on an African Safari, trek tall mountains, explore European cities, or something even wilder, a group tour is the easiest way to do it.

However, picking the wrong group tour company is the quickest way to ruin your trip. Make sure you choose a tour company that aligns with your goals and travel styles. Do you want an intimate group tour or do you prefer to make lots of new friends in a big group? Does the price line up with what you like (luxury vs. budget)? Is the itinerary going to all the places you want to see? 

We’ve done the research and found the very best group travel tour companies for 2023 for every type of traveler.

Best Overall Group Travel: Exodus Travels

Images of nature around the mountains and lakes of Slovenia as seen on the Exodus Travels' Lakes and Mountains of Slovenia walking tour

With trips on every continent, Exodus Travels covers anywhere on this planet that you could possibly want to go, from popular destinations like the Amalfi Coast to well off-the-beaten path adventures like Tajikistan. This award-winning group travel company boasts thousands of repeat customers who sign up for trips year after year (97% of past participants would recommend Exodus Travels to a friend). 

These small group tours operate with only around 12-16 people, and always feature experienced local leaders who can give you a unique insight into your destination. Exodus Travels caters to any type of travel style, including trips broken down by type of activity (think walking, cycling, multi-adventure, winter, or cultural) as well as type of traveler (family, age group, etc.). There are curated collections (coastal, “away from it all”, European wilderness, and trips of a lifetime) to inspire you, as well as self-guided options for when you want all the benefits of a group tour planner without the actual group. Looking for that special safari? Exodus Travels just partners with the African Wildlife Foundation to create carefully curated luxury adventures that go above and beyond the standard safari. 

Exodus Travels tours work for almost any budget, with options that range from affordable to premium. 

Top Trip: Explore under-the-radar Europe by foot on Exodus Travels’ Lakes & Mountains of Slovenia walking tour .

A Taste of the Sweet Life in Slovenia

Best Adventure Group Travel: World Expeditions

Groups of hikers walking and camping around the mountains of Kilimanjaro with World Expeditions

World Expeditions has been taking adventurous travelers to remote locations all over the world ever since its first group trek through Nepal in 1975. Today, World Expeditions offers active itineraries on every continent. Intrepid travelers can opt for trips themed around mountaineering, rafting, cycling, hiking, and more. 

World Expeditions aims to leave communities and places where they operate tours better than they found them. Trips are created using the company’s Thoughtful Travel Charter as a guideline, which emphasizes respect for the environment, sustainability, having a positive impact on local communities, protecting wildlife, and more. 

World Expeditions’ trips are capped at just 16 people to provide a good experience for participants, and there are no single supplements for solo travelers willing to share a room with someone of the same gender. 

Top Trip: Summit Africa’s tallest mountain on a fully-supported trek up Kilimanjaro on World Expeditions’ eight day trip up the beautiful Lemosho Route . 

Best Budget Group Travel: G Adventures 

People visiting famous sites around China with the G Adventures' China Express group travel tour

For travelers on a budget, G Adventures offers cheap group tours that make dream destinations accessible to nearly anyone. (Think: sailing the Galapagos for just $1,124 , criss-crossing India’s Golden Triangle for $559 , or spending 8 days in Bali for less than $800.)

G Adventures is one of the best tour companies for solo travelers as well, as most trips don’t have a single-supplement. You can choose to share a room with another G Adventures solo traveler, or pay extra to have your own space.

G Adventures keeps costs down by opting for cheaper hotels and local meals, and making certain activities optional (for an additional cost). Pick your travel style—options range from “basic” to more luxe tours run in partnership with National Geographic. Family tours, local living tours (featuring homestays), and wellness-focused tours are also available. 

Top Trip: G Adventures’ China Express trip is a great way to see the highlights of China if you’re short on both time and budget. 

8 Trending Destinations to Visit in 2023

Best Educational Group Tours: EF Go Ahead Tours

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When you really want to learn about a destination, consider a group trip with EF Go Ahead Tours . EF is the world’s largest private education company, and the Go Ahead Tours arm capitalizes on the company’s relationships with local educators, historians, and tour guides to create group trips that take you deep into a destination. 

These small group tours generally cap at 38 travelers, and feature unique educational experiences. For a bucket list trip, EF Go Ahead Tour’s special event tours are particularly enticing, as they offer behind-the-scenes access to tough-to-plan trips like Oktoberfest in Munich or Cherry Blossom season in Japan. 

Intimidated by solo travel? EF Go Ahead Tours is a great option for solo travelers, since it offers designated trips for solo travelers , where everyone is traveling alone, making it less intimidating.  

Top Trip: Bring the tastes of Italy home with you on EF Go Ahead Tours’ Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany tour (operated in partnership with America’s Test Kitchen), where you’ll learn how to make local dishes. 

Best Responsible Group Travel: Intrepid Travel

Shots from around Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and accommodations provided by Intrepid Travel's Premium Uganda & Rwanda trip

Looking for a responsible group travel operator that focuses on bettering the communities and destinations they visit? Intrepid Travel is the world’s largest travel B Corporation, a certification for companies doing good. 

Intrepid Travel’s tours focus on sustainability, diversity, inclusion, and sustaining communities. The company has its own charity, The Intrepid Foundation , which has donated over 7 million dollars to over 130 community organizations. 

Intrepid Travel’s small group tours attract a wide range of travelers, but they are especially great for younger travelers, as they have a large number of trips designed for people aged 18-29 . (Other trips, including family-focused trips, are geared toward any age.)

Top Trip: Experience unforgettable wildlife encounters on Intrepid Travel’s Premium Uganda & Rwanda trip which includes time with the mountain gorillas of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. 

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Best Private Group Travel: Kensington Tours

Aerial shots of various islands and coastlines around the Croatia and Dalmation Islands and shot of sailboat belonging to Kensington Tours

Whether your group consists of just two people or involves taking the entire extended family, Kensington Tours will take all the hassle of planning out of the equation. This private group operator creates personalized trips and itineraries tailored to your preferences, while their experts handle all the logistics and bookings. 

Plans are entirely flexible, and can even be changed while on the trip on a whim. Need some inspiration? Browse Kensington Tours’ travel ideas , to get some ideas for your next adventure. 

Top Trip: Sail around the stunning shores of Croatia and the Dalmation Islands on a private luxury catamaran on Kensington Tours’ fully customizable tour . 

Best Polar Group Travel: Chimu Adventures

Shots of the interior and exterior of the Ocean Adventurer ship and shots of nature around Antarctica as seen on the Chimu Adventures' Antarctica Fly Cruise

Whether you’re headed north to the Artic or south to Antarctica, Chimu Adventures has the perfect polar group trip for you. Chimu Adventures has some of the most variety for polar trips, with options to fly, cruise, or a combination of both to get to your destination.

For an ultra-unique Antarctica trip, Chimu Adventures offers cruises departing from Australia or New Zealand (most Antarctica trips depart from Argentina). Can’t stay long? Book one of Chimu Adventures’ scenic flights to Antarctica , which fly as far as the south pole in one spectacular 16-hour day.

Chimu Adventures is one of the cheapest group trips to Antarctica, with rates starting under $5,000.

Top Trip: If you’re pressed for time (or simply don’t have the stomach for the Drake Passage), Chimu Adventures’ Antarctica Fly Cruise will get you to the ends of the earth quickly and smoothly.

Program These Numbers Into Your Phones Before Traveling Internationally

Best Group Tours for Solo Travelers: For the Love of Travel

Collage of images from the For the Love of Travel Lapland Tour

Group tours can be a great way to meet new people, but they can sometimes skew on the older age range. If you’re between 25-39 and a solo traveler looking to meet new people, you’ll love For the Love of Travel . All participants on the trips are between 25-39, and according to the company, 80 percent are solo travelers—so you’ll make friends fast. Hoping to meet someone who will be more than just a friend on your next trip? Trips include a balanced number of “gal and guy spots” to ensure an even balance of genders within groups (and of course, non-binary genders are always welcome). 

For the Love of Travel offers weeklong (or longer) international trips as well as shorter weekender trips to nearby destinations like Mexico or Denver—perfect for people without a lot of vacation time.

Top Trip: Sleep in a glass igloo under the Northern Lights, go sledding with huskies, and warm up in traditional saunas on For the Love of Travel’s Lapland tour , already booking dates for 2024.

Best Biking Tours Group Travel: DuVine Cycling

Collage of shots from DuVine's Holland Bike Tour

Biking through the rolling hills of Italy or across the mountain roads of Chile sounds like a dream, but the logistics seem daunting (especially if you don’t want to haul all your own stuff from point-to-point). Enter: DuVine Cycling , a luxury small group tour company that specializes in bike trips. 

With trips across Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the United States, DuVine Cycling is a cyclist’s dream. Choose from all-biking trips or mix things up with a cycle and sail bike tour or a multi-sport adventure —no matter what, everything is included, from luxury boutique accommodations to top-quality name brand bikes. 

Top Trip: DuVine’s Holland Bike Tour promises “tulips, windmills, beer, and cheese”—what more could you need?

Best Luxury Group Travel: Abercrombie & Kent

Collage of images from the different cities involved in the Abercrombie & Kent Wildlife Safari: Around the World by Private Jet trip

Abercrombie & Kent has been delighting discerning travelers since 1962. Today, they take travelers on unforgettable adventures across over 100 different countries and all seven continents. Although Abercrombie & Kent’s trips are pricey, they encompass once-in-a-lifetime experiences like private jet tours around the world or luxury chartered cruises .

There are trips designed for solo travelers and families , and the small group journeys max out at around 14-18 guests.

Top Trip: Swim with whale sharks in the Philippines, feed proboscis monkeys in Malaysia, and photograph wild tigers in India on Abercrombie & Kent’s Wildlife Safari: Around the World by Private Jet trip , already booking dates into 2024.

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Rome - Florence - Venice by Train

7 nights from $1,069*

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Bangkok - Chiang Mai - Phuket by Air

9 nights from $1,529*

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Lima - Sacred Valley - Machu Picchu - Cuzco

7 nights from $1,569*

  • Flight into Rome and out of Venice
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Rome
  • Train from Rome to Florence
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Florence
  • Train from Florence to Venice
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Venice
  • Flight into Bangkok and out of Phuket
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Bangkok
  • Flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Chiang Mai
  • Flight from Chiang Mai to Phuket
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Phuket
  • Flight into Lima and out of Cuzco
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Lima
  • Flight Lima to Cuzco
  • Private transfer Airport in Cuzco City to Hotel in Sacred Valley
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Sacred Valley
  • Full day Machu Picchu tour including round-trip train ride, all transfers, guided tour and lunch.
  • Hotel for 1 night in Machu Picchu
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Cuzco
  • Private transfer from Hotel in Cuzco to Airport

Europe, Middle East & Africa Vacations

Lisbon and porto by train.

Experience beautiful Portugal through two of its most popular destinations!. Begin your vacation in Lisbon (the dazzling capital with an ancient fortress at its heart with charming neighborhoods, local festivals, nightlife, and delectable food) and then, take a train to Porto (the former residence of the Royal Family; visit medieval cathedrals, concert halls, the national library and museums with breathtaking art treasures and porto wines!). This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Lisbon and out of Porto
  • Train from Lisbon to Porto
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Lisbon
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Porto

Madrid and Barcelona by Air

This top seller in Spain is a perfect introduction to Europe . Visit Madrid (its famous museums, nightlife and endless energy) and Barcelona (Gaudi, Gothic Quarter and always in the biting edge of fashion, architecture, food, style, music and good times). A flight connects these destinations. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Madrid and out of Barcelona
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Madrid
  • Flight from Madrid to Barcelona
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Barcelona

Oslo - Copenhagen - Stockholm by Air

The perfect Nordic Trio! Visit Oslo (Situated by a fjord and surrounded by hills and forests), Copenhagen (A cozy European capital, filled with stunning architecture, historic sites, world-class museums, and some of the best shopping and dining in Europe) and Stockholm (Built on 14 islands around one of Europe`s largest and best-preserved medieval city centers, with stunning and extremely varied scenery in every direction.) Travel between them by flight. This is a flexible package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Oslo and out of Stockholm
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Oslo
  • Flight from Oslo to Copenhagen
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Copenhagen
  • Flight Copenhagen to Stockholm
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Stockholm

Asia & South Pacific Vacations

Tokyo and kyoto with by train.

This package combines the two Japan's political and cultural capitals. Tokyo with its contrasts between the old and the new, the traditional and modern, an exciting place for travelers to visit the world over; and Kyoto , the ancient capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, and forever known for its history and culture. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Tokyo and out of Kyoto
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Tokyo
  • Train from Tokyo to Kyoto
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Kyoto

Hawaii Big Island (Kona) and Oahu by Air

Hawaii's Most Visited Islands . Enjoy the beauty of Kona-Kailua (often referred to as Kona by locals, is a sunny seaside town located in the heart of the Kona district on the western coast of the Hawaii`s Big Island . The weather on this side of the island is almost always dry and sunny and there are many white sand beaches that are perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling and swimming ). After spending amazing sunny days, catch a flight to Oahu (the third largest island and most visited of the Hawaiian chain. The Island is primarily defined by the state capital of Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and the world-famous Waikiki Beach . This vibrant island offers the best of both worlds-tropical verdure and a lively night scene). This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Hawaii Big Island (Kona) and out of Oahu
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Big Island (Kona)
  • Flight Big Island (Kona) to Oahu
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Oahu
  • Hotel Hawaii taxes

Fiji (Nadi) for Adventurers

Fiji is popular for many reasons, though adventure may be one of its most often overlooked reasons. Sure, there are picturesque beaches and secluded romantic havens; but there is also hiking near iconic waterfalls, ziplining through wild forests, therapeutic mud pools, hot springs, and more! Take advantage of the adventurous side of Nadi with our flexible vacation package with some of our favorite active and thrilling tours included , or add your own from our comprehensive available list to customize your package further!. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into and out of Nadi (Fiji)
  • Transfer from Airport to Hotel inNadi (Fiji)
  • Hotel for 6 nights in Nadi (Fiji)
  • Transfer from Hotel in Nadi (Fiji) to Airport Sample of Included Tours:
  • Day tour to a picturesque waterfall near Nadi ( may include light hiking, please wear appropriate shoes )
  • Zip-lining in or near Nadi
  • Daytime cruise to a nearby island
  • Day trip to experience Fijian culture including the therapeutic mudpools and Garden of the Sleeping Giant Your price will only include confirmed available tours; if an included tour becomes unavailable there may be alternate options available at an additional cost.

The Americas Vacations

Medellin and cartagena by air.

Colombia Essentials! . Enjoy Colombia's second most important city; Medellin (the City of the Eternal Spring ; (known by its coffee plantations, flower farms, funny Botero's oversized statues, cultural encounters, the warmth of its people and the amazing views that are accompanied by clear blue skies and beautiful sunsets. Medellin is the city's enviable nightlife ) ; and after that, catch a flight to Cartagena (colonial city on the shores of the sea, and one of the most visited cities. The historic walled city remains alongside the ultramodern skyscraper-filled Bocagrande. Cartagena is famous for its castles, culture, history and colorful buildings as well as the iconic palenqueras –Afro-Colombian women in bright dresses selling fruit in Cartagena`s plazas-). This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Medellin and out of Cartagena
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Medellin
  • Flight from Medellin to Cartagena
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Cartagena

Bogota - Medellin - Cartagena by Air

From the Andes to the sea! . This package will introduce you to three of Colombia's most important cites. Start in Bogota (Colombia's capital city, has so much to offer in terms of cuisine, culture, history, sports and art , within its many contrasting neighborhoods, making the perfect jumping-off point to start your Colombia trip); after that, visit Medellin (the City of the Eternal Spring , known by its cultural encounters, the warmth of its people and the amazing views that are accompanied by clear blue skies and beautiful sunsets); and finally, Cartagena (colonial city on the shores of the sea, and one of the most visited cities. The historic walled city remains alongside the ultramodern skyscraper-filled Bocagrande. Cartagena is famous for its castles, culture, history and colorful buildings as well as the iconic palenqueras –Afro-Colombian women in bright dresses selling fruit in Cartagena`s plazas-). Connect each destination with flights. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Bogota and out of Cartagena
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Bogota
  • Flight from Bogota to Medellin
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Medellin

Mexico City and Cancun by Air

A favorite vacation package that allows you to experience the best of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Combine: Mexico City (high-altitude capital of Mexico, known for its historic sites such as Templo Mayor and more) and Cancun (best-known for its white sand beaches, near-perfect weather, and bright blue waters, is the Acapulco of Mexico's Gulf Coast). A flight connects these destinations. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Mexico City and out of Cancun
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Mexico City
  • Flight from Mexico City to Cancun
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Cancun


Reunion island and seychelles islands.

6 nights from $3,439*

An Exotic South African Holiday in Reunion and Seychelles Islands! . First enjoy Reunion Island (lying off the east coast of Africa; its famous for have one of the most active volcanoes in the world , hiking routes, beautiful villages and for its highest-quality vanilla plantations). After that, travel to the amazing Seychelles ; where the most famous island in the country; Mahe Island (capital city with beautiful beaches, local markets, big hotels and luxury resorts) and Praslin Island (Seychelles' second-biggest island; famed for having some of the world's most beautiful beaches, like Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette ; abundant wildlife, majestic palm trees, and wild nature trails) await you for unforgettable and relaxing days under the sun!. These destinations are connected by flights. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Reunion Island and out of Praslin Island
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Reunion Island
  • Flight from Reunion Island to Mahe Island
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Mahe Island
  • Flight from Mahe Island to Praslin Island
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Praslin Island

Emilia Romagna (Bologna - Rimini - Ravenna - Ferrara) and Venice by Train

12 nights from $1,169*

Combine Bologna (a thriving university town and architectural gem), Rimini  (Adriatic coast, in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region), Ravenna (former capital of the Western Roman Empire, the Visigoth Empire, and the Byzantine Empire, but best known today for the Byzantine mosaic decoration of its churches and tombs), Ferrara (known for the buildings erected by its Renaissance rulers, the Este family) and Venice (built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals, lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces) with train between cities.  This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Bologna and out of Venice
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Bologna
  • Train from Bologna to Rimini
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Rimini
  • Train from Rimini to Ravenna
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Ravenna
  • Train from Ravenna to Ferrara
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Ferrara
  • Train from Ferrara to Venice
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Venice

Zurich and Grindelwald (Self Drive)

7 nights from $1,779*

Flawless cities in Switaerland with a Rental Car! . Combine Zurich (a global center for banking and finance, lies at the north end of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland) and after that, drive to Grindelwald (a village in Switzerland’s Bernese Alps, is a popular gateway for the Jungfrau Region , with skiing in winter and hiking in summer). Drive back to Zurich for one last night stay, before returning home. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into and out of Zurich
  • Hotel for 1 night in Zurich
  • Rental Car for 6 days
  • Hotel for 5 nights in Grindelwald

Driving Time Zurich - Grindelwald: 2 hrs. 15 mins. approx. Interlaken - Grindelwald: 2 hrs. 15 mins. approx.

Anchorage and Fairbanks

6 nights from $1,079*

With beautiful landscapes, Alaska is a marvelous escape. Visit Anchorage (Alaska’s largest city, known for its cultural sites, including the Alaska Native Heritage Center). Then, catch a flight to Fairbanks (home rule city and the borough seat of the Fairbanks North Star Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska). This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in the city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Anchorage and out of Fairbanks Airport
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Anchorage
  • Flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Fairbanks

Iguazu Falls (Argentina) - Buenos Aires - Bariloche - Cordoba - El Calafate by Air

11 nights from $2,579*

Falls, Tango and Glaciers in Argentina! . Combine  Iguazu Falls (and its breathtaking natural spectacle and waterfalls, declared a Natural World Heritage Site and after that, Buenos Aires (to stroll in the streets of the Paris of South America and experience one of their Tango Shows); and then, Bariloche (a magical city that serves as the central hub for Argentina`s breathtaking lake region with tall peaks and crystal clear waters , dazzles with its extraordinary landscapes, where majestic lakes are followed by impressive mountains). Next, travel to Cordoba second-largest city in Argentina, known as fun-loving folks with a fondness for cuarteto music , rally car racing, and the drink of Fernet and Coke; and continue in El Calafate with its glaciers, lakes and access to outstanding outdoor activities . Finish this trip with a night in Buenos Aires before heading back home. These destinations are connected by intercity flights. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight intoIguazu Falls (Argentina) and out of Buenos Aires
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Iguazu Falls (Argentina)
  • Flight from Iguazu Falls (Argentina) to Buenos Aires
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Buenos Aires
  • Flight from Buenos Aires to Bariloche
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Bariloche
  • Flight from Bariloche to Cordoba
  • Hotel for 2 nights in El Cordoba
  • Flight from Cordoba to El Calafate
  • Hotel for 2 nights in El Calafate
  • Flight from El Calafate to Buenos Aires
  • Hotel for 1 night in Buenos Aires

Lamanai - Hopkins Beach

6 nights from $2,269*

Adventure in the Nature of Belize! . From Belize City Airport travel to Lamanai Outpost Lodge (adjacent to one of Belize`s most popular Mayan Ruins of Lamanai Archaeological Reserve . It is known as the “high temple” high above the jungle canopy and provides a mesmerizing view over the river. It features pyramids or temples, open plazas, various restored stelae, and a ball court ). After that, experience Belize`s Afro-Caribbean culture-"Garifuna"- in Hopkins (a village on the coast of the Stann Creek District; boasting a rustic local beach vibe with many restaurants, small bars, gift shops. Due its proximity to the cayes, the area offer incredible diving and snorkeling opportunities ). Lastly, return to Belize City to catch your flight back home. These destinations are connected by combined transfers. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into and out of Belize City
  • Transfer from Airport in Belize followed by a boat ride to Lamanai
  • Hotel for 3 nights at Lamanai Outpost Lodge in Orange Walk Including: Full service staff, main meals, soft drinks, transfers and some activities
  • Transfer from Hotel in Lamanai followed by a Boat Ride to Airport in Belize City
  • Flight form Airport in Belize City to Hopkins
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Hopkins
  • Transfer from Hotel in Hopkins to Airport in Belize City
  • Attention Christmas / New Year Travelers: Select minimum 4 nights stay in Hopkins. Most hotels have minimum stay during holiday season.

Top-sellers vacation packages' reviews

In the spotlight, historic rome - florence - venice.

Millennial Heritage of the Italian capital and its most famous cities in the world! . Rome (the Eternal City, with its stunning architecture like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum and delicious food), Florence (an artists haven with a surprisingly political past), and Venice (the romantic city set on cancals) all contribute to the fascinating and diverse Italian history. Learn more about how each city has influenced Italian culture, politics, art, and more during your stay. We hope it is enough to spark your interest to return to each and discover them in depth!. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Hotel for 4 nights in Rome
  • Hotel for 4 nights in Florence
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Venice Sample of Included Tours:
  • Colosseum and Ancient Rome Tour in Rome
  • Roman Catacombs Tour
  • Complete Vatican Experience
  • Medici History Tour in Florence
  • Life of Da Vinci Art Tour in Florence
  • Visit to Palazzo Vecchio in Florence
  • Byzantine History Tour in Venice
  • Jewish Neighborhood Tour in Venice Your price will only include confirmed available tours; if an included tour becomes unavailable there may be alternate options available at an additional cost.

The Best of Literary London - Edinburgh - Dublin

The best of the best when it comes to Literature, you can find it in England, Scotland and Ireland! . Explore London`s (the English world center of theatre, art, music, literature and more) where you will take a Guided Walking Tour about Shakespeare, after that, fly to Edinburgh (a cozy capital city with a fairytale setting, castles and gorgeous countryside) and Dublin (brimming with tradition; friendly people, castles and trendy coffee shops) full with Literary Tours and wisdom in both cities!. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into London and out of Dublin
  • Hotel for 3 nights in London
  • Flight from London to Edinburgh
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Edinburgh
  • Flight from Edinburgh to Dublin
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Dublin Sample of Included Tours:
  • London Literary Tour
  • Shakespeare in London Walking Tour
  • Guided Literary Walking Tour around Edinburgh
  • Literary Experience in Dublin Your price will only include confirmed available tours; if an included tour becomes unavailable there may be alternate options available at an additional cost.

Historic Cairo and Istanbul

Egypt and Turkey Relics! . Discover Cairo (famous for its own history , preserved in the fabulous medieval Islamic city with Coptic sites in Old Cairo and the Cairo Museum) on a Guided Tour ; visit the popular Giza Complex, the Egyptian Museum and the Sacred Burial Sites of Dahshur and Sakkara , plus an Al Tannoura Show (traditional music, singing and dancing). In Istanbul (world-famous for its rich history and culture, stunning scenery, magnificent structures across the sprawling Bosphorus Strait) with Guided Tours , learning about its Byzantine and Ottoman Period and visiting major sites and most beautiful mosques , which includes some world-renowned sacred sites. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Cairo and out of Istanbul
  • Hotel for 4 nights in Cairo
  • Flight from Cairo to Istanbul
  • Hotel for 4 nights in Istanbul Sample of Included Tours:
  • Visit to Giza and Egyptian Museum
  • Day Trip to Memphis, Dahshur and Sakkara from Cairo
  • Visit to El Alamein from Cairo
  • Istanbul city Highlights with Blue Mosque and Topapki Palace
  • Byzantine and Ottoman History In Istanbul
  • Hagia Sophia Tour in Istanbul Your price will only include confirmed available tours; if an included tour becomes unavailable there may be alternate options available at an additional cost.
  • Ramadan is a month of spirituality and purification during which participants abstain from eating, drinking, and smoking. Ramadan is typically celebrated in late winter or early spring. Please verify dates before booking travel because food and entertainment services in hotels and other public places may be affected.

Nairobi and Zanzibar Island for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Discover the immeasurable natural beauty of Kenya and Tanzania! . The captivating Nairobi (famous for extra ordinary wild life parks and natural beauty that will take your breath away) and and dreamy Zanzibar Island (retaining its exotic mystique and is full of activity. The Spice Island is home to spices plantations like: nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper and idyllic beaches) both compliment each other wonderfully!. With exciting outdoor activities such as game drives, snorkeling, hiking, and cruises , we are sure you will enjoy each of these unique African destinations with this flexible vacation package. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Nairobi and out of Zanzibar Island
  • Transfer from Nairobi Airport to Hotel
  • Hotel for 4 nights in Nairobi
  • Transfer from Hotel in Nairobi to Airport
  • Flight from Nairobi to Zanzibar Island
  • Hotel for 4 nights in Zanzibar Island Sample of Included Tours:
  • Visit Ntnl Park Game Drive - Safari in Nairobi
  • Hiking Tour to Mount Longonot from Nairobi
  • Hell's Gate and Lake Naivasha Tours in Nairobi
  • Snorkeling Adventure in Zanzibar
  • Day Trip to Jozani Forest Park from Zanzibar
  • Private Cruise in Zanzibar Your price will only include confirmed available tours; if an included tour becomes unavailable there may be alternate options available at an additional cost.

The Best of Oslo - Copenhagen - Stockholm

Scandinavian Capitals Tours in Norway, Denmark and Sweden! . Enjoy visits to Oslo (a city situated by a fjord, famous for its Viking and nautical history, museums, and impeccable seafood), Copenhagen (the city of fairy tales and characterized by its canals, cycling culture,fabulous food scene and laid-back atmosphere) and Stockholm (with its exciting architecture, medieval urban core and museums). Discover their most representative spots like The Christiansborg Palace (in Copenhagen); learn about the history of these scandinavian cities and their Viking Past ; in addition to delicious Food Tasting Tours for a complete experience! . This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Hotel for 3 nights in Oslo
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Copenhagen
  • Train from Copenhagen to Stockholm
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Stockholm Sample of Included Tours:
  • Guided City Tour in Oslo
  • Food Tour around Oslo
  • Copenhagen City Tour plus Christiansborg Palace Ticket
  • Food Tasting Tour around Copenhagen
  • Old Town Tour in Stockholm
  • Viking History Tour in Stockholm Your price will only include confirmed available tours; if an included tour becomes unavailable there may be alternate options available at an additional cost.

Our #1 Bestseller and Thailand first timer's favorite! . Visit Bangkok , The Venice of the east, national treasure trove, with its Buddhist temples, palaces, floating markets, legendary nightlife and shopping. Then, fly to Chiang Mai , The Rose of the North, famous for its history, culture and ancient temples; and complete your journey with some days in Phuket , Pearl of the South, with its endless beaches and crystal-clear blue ocean. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

Tokyo - Kyoto - Osaka by Train

Japan at its best!. Start your trip in Tokyo , the world`s most populous metropolis and recently awarded as the city with best Helpfulness of locals`, `Nightlife`, `Shopping` and Best Local Transportation. Then take the train to Kyoto , known as the City of the Ten Thousand Shrines for a reason! Since it holds about a quarter of Japan`s National Treasures and popular festivals. Last but not least go to Osaka , famous for its delicious traditional food along with its Castle and renowned Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, definitely a trip not to be missed!. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Tokyo and out of Osaka
  • Train from Kyoto to Osaka
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Osaka

Relax in Fiji (Nadi and the Coral Coast)

We get it, travel is rough!. Unwind in Fiji without giving up the chance to experience the best the islands have to offer in both ... Nadi (the third-largest conurbation in Fiji. It is located on the western side of the main island of Viti Levu.it is known for its amazing beaches, clear waters, palm trees, very friendly locals, and relaxed atmosphere in Fiji Island!) and the popular Coral Coast . Whether that means embarking on a scenic day cruise to lounge on exotic beaches or visiting the famous mud pools, we have you covered!. Don't forget to look at other available activities to further your experience (if you want!), but leave ample time for swinging in hammocks or dipping in the pool. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Transfer from Airport to Hotel in Nadi (Fiji)
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Nadi (Fiji)
  • Transfer from your hotel in Nadi (Fiji) to your hotel in the Coral Coast
  • Hotel for 3 nights in the Coral Coast
  • Transfer from Hotel in The Coral Coast to Nadi (Fiji) Airport Sample of Included Tours:
  • Daytime cruise

The Best of Auckland and Queenstown plus Rotorua

New Zealand's North and South Islands combine wonderfully in this flexible vacation package, where you can discover all the facets that make the islands desirable. From history to wine to incomparable outdoor experiences , you can do it all while you visit cities like: Auckland (New Zealand`s most populous city and is a multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture) and Queenstown (a resort town and a hotspot for adventure and snow sport tourism). This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Auckland and out of Queenstown
  • Hotel for 4 nights in Auckland
  • Flight from Auckland to Queenstown
  • Hotel for 4 nights in Queenstown Sample of Included Tours:
  • Guided City Tour around Auckland
  • Day Trip to Rotorua from Auckalnd
  • Food Tour around Auckland
  • Guided Milford Sound Cruise from Queenstown
  • Day Trip to Wine Valley from Queenstown
  • Day Trip to Mt. Cook from Queenstown Your price will only include confirmed available tours; if an included tour becomes unavailable there may be alternate options available at an additional cost.

Maui and Kauai by Air

Hawaiian Paradise! . Visit the energetic and exotic island of Maui (renowned worldwide for many things: its beauty, its atmosphere, its history, and its never-ending supply of pristine beaches, waterfalls, and gardens. The island beloved for its world-famous beaches, the sacred Iao Valley, views of migrating humpback whales (during winter months, farm-to-table cuisine and the magnificent sunrise and sunset from Haleakala). After that, catch a fly to your last destination, The Garden Island; Kauai (an island known for its natural beauty and its dramatic, beautiful sites; such as: The Waimea Canyon and The Coconut Coast . Gorgeous mountains, waterfalls, white sand beaches, sugarcane fields, and beachside cliffs you will find along the island). This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Maui and out to Kauai
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Maui
  • Flight from Maui to Kauai
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Kauai

Miami and Puerto Rico by Air

Florida State and Puerto Rico are great options for an unforgettable holiday!. With this package, visit; Miami (Miami and South Beach, food, music and nightlife await you there) and in San Juan (a Caribbean island and U.S. territory with a landscape of mountains, waterfalls, tropical rainforest and beautiful beaches) you will spend fabulous days in the Caribbean. A flight connects these destinations. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Miami and out of San Juan
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Miami
  • Flight from Miami and San Juan
  • Hotel for 3 nights in San Juan

Riviera Maya and Merida with Chichen Itza

An amazing combination of rich traditions, history and beaches you will enjoy along your stay in the Mexican Riviera Maya . A transfer from Cancun Airport will take you to your first stop in Tulum (in the state of Quintanna Roo, the area boasts spectacular Mayan ruins overlooking the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea), After that, visit Merida (a colorful city in the Yucatan Peninsula with a rich Mayan and colonial heritage, encircled by ancient temples, crumbling ruins, sacred cenotes, and colorful mansions). En route from Tulum to Merida, you will get to explore Chichen Itza (an archaeological site in the Yucatan Peninsula and one of the most visited locations in Mexico, centre of pilgrimage for the ancient Maya civilization). This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Cancun Airport and out of Merida
  • Transfer from Cancun Airport to Hotel in Tulum
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Tulum
  • Transfer from Hotel in Tulum to Hotel in Merida via Chichen Itza
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Merida

Our Peru #1 Best-Seller! Visit Lima for a chance to taste its colonial and cosmopolitan sites and its unique and world renowned peruvian cuisine. Next, fly to Cuzco airport and immediately continue to the Sacred Valley , a magical land where Indian Markets and Incan Constructions mix with Corn Fields, the Andes Mountains, Picturesque Towns, Salt Mines and a Legendary river. Proceed to MachuPicchu , the new Wonder of the World. Next, visit Cuzco City to discover more Incan and Colonial sites and enjoy lots of shopping and endless nightlife. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

Rio de Janeiro - Iguassu Falls (Brazil) - Buenos Aires

Samba and Tango in Brazil and Argentina! . This classic itinerary will take you from famous Rio de Janeiro (is famed for its natural settings, its Carnival, samba, bossa nova, Christ the Redeemer and beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema) , next to Iguassu Falls (the most dramatic and among the most monumental waterfalls in the world, tumbling over the cliffs on the border with the Argentine province of Misiones and Brazilian state of Parana) and finally, to Buenos Aires (to stroll in the streets of the Paris of South America and experience one of their Tango Shows). Flightss and transfers connect these destinations. This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Rio de Janeiro and out of Buenos Aires
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Rio de Janeiro
  • Flight from Rio de Janeiro to Iguassu Falls (Brazil)
  • Hotel for 2 nights in Foz do Iguassu
  • Transfer for Hotel in Iguassu Falls (Brazil) to Iguazu Falls (Argentina) Airport
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Buenos Aires

Panama and Aruba by Air

The Hub of the Americas; Panama and The Happy Island; Aruba awaits you with this customizable package offering an unforgettable experience!. Visit Panama City (most attractive Capital City and a curious blend of old Spain, modern America and the bazaar atmosphere of the East) and then, spend glorious days under the sun in paradise; Aruba Island (famous for its stunning blonde beaches, wind-sculpted desert landscapes, and some of the best wreck diving in the area). This is a flexible vacation package. Select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities.

  • Flight into Panama City and out of Aruba Island
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Panama City
  • Flight from Panama City to Aruba Island
  • Hotel for 3 nights in Aruba Island

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Group Travel Leader

Flexible group tours: You’re on your own

flexible guided travel

It’s the million-dollar question in the group tourism industry right now: How do we get baby boomers and other young travelers to join our tours? There may not be a single magic-bullet answer, but tour companies are increasingly finding that a key component to attracting new, younger customers is flexibility.

The traditional group tour is largely a mid-20th century concept: Dozens of travelers load up together on a motorcoach, then head out on an itinerary that includes prescheduled meals, sightseeing and hotel stays. These highly structured tours have long been praised for their organization, convenience and value; many boomers, though, perceive them as restrictive and off-putting.

flexible guided travel

The solution may be a new brand of tours that combines the convenience and value of packaged travel with the flexibility of independent vacations. Although they are not yet the norm in the group travel industry, these flexible itineraries are growing in popularity and could offer some real opportunities for tour operators and group leaders alike. Case study: A day of choices Cathy Greteman, owner of Star Destinations and current NTA chair, began experimenting with flexibility in her itineraries a couple of years ago as a way to address economic challenges.

“Star Destinations always presented programs that were very inclusive,” she said. “It frustrates me when I travel and come across unexpected expenses. Our solution was to have a more inclusive price, but it made the trip look more expensive. The economy has changed a lot of things, and it led to us starting to look at things a little bit differently.”

Although the company still sells many fully inclusive tours, it began offering another tier of products that cuts out some inclusions and offers participants more free time in return. Sometimes, this means an evening with no group dinner, giving individuals or couples an opportunity to discover a city’s restaurant scene on their own.

In other instances, guides will give a group an afternoon at their leisure, recommending shopping spots or museums in the area in addition to a number of free activities.

The free time proved popular enough that Greteman decided to add some flexibility in included activities on the tour as well.

“There are some people who can’t stand going through one more older home or some groups that aren’t museum people,” she said. “So we’ll give them a choice of what they might want to do for a day. In the cost of the tour in Italy, for example, they can choose from one of three things: a day at the spa, a cooking school or a shopping trip.

“When they get home from the cooking school, those people get together and tell everyone at dinner about it, and the shopping people have to do a show-and-tell. They’re all doing something that they really want to do that day.”

Greteman said that usually, given three choices, the group will break down evenly into three different sections. A little bit of logistical prowess keeps the process running smoothly: The company presets spa appointments and arranges transportation schedules so that the motorcoach is available to take each group of participants to their chosen activities.

The choose-your-own-adventure idea has caught on enough that this year Star Destinations is publicizing its flexible itineraries under a new product category, called New Travel Solutions. These tours are attracting travelers in their 50s and 60s, which Greteman describes as “young.”

“The new tours have been really well received by group leaders that we’ve worked with for a very long time, and it’s given us an opportunity to meet with new group leaders,” she said. “The younger the group, the more flexibility they’re looking for. Those folks have usually traveled quite a bit on their own. They love the camaraderie of the group, but the flexibility lets them end their day at a little bar having drinks while others are at a museum.” Thirty percent free time Like many other tour operators, International Expeditions has numerous traditional tours and cruises in Peru and the Galapagos that include such must-see destinations as Cuzco and Machu Picchu. When customers began to ask for opportunities to see more of the area, the company created the Peruvian Amazon Adventure, a six-day tour that includes 30 percent free time.

“We have our published itineraries, and we’ve seen a trend over the years where the custom independent trips were in more and more demand,” said Kim Guth, the company’s Peru custom travel planner. “We started hearing about people having additional interests and additional time, so we’ve been doing a lot of pre- and post-tour components that are independent, and that’s where this came from.”

The diverse range of activities available in the Amazon made it easy for the company to put together a travel plan full of options for its customers. Travelers fly from Lima to Iquitos and then take a boat ride down the Amazon to a jungle lodge. Some activities, such as a walk through the rain forest canopy, are prescheduled, due to their high popularity and required logistical arrangements. But on at least two afternoons, guests choose their own itinerary items from a wealth of offerings.

“There are some opportunities to do the rain forest trails in the villages,” Guth said. “There’s a private reserve called Monkey Island, where they rehabilitate many species. We have a botanical garden visit, a talk by a shaman about medicinal plants and a boating excursion going out at night to see the birds and wildlife. You basically make it what you want.”

To make operations as easy as possible, International Expeditions has arranged for all of the activities to be available from any of the accommodations that they use in the area. And perhaps the best news for travelers is that all of the optional activities are already included in the price of the tour.

The Amazon package has proven popular enough that the company has expanded its flexible offerings into other itineraries as well.

“We’re trying to implement this across the broadest range of tours possible,” said media relations director Emily Harley. “Our Costa Rica itinerary has two free afternoons built in when we offer a canopy zipline, horseback riding and rafting, or people can feel free to go to the pool or the hot springs.

“We do the same things in Laos and Vietnam. There are things in the larger cities that people want to do beyond what the group is doing, so we build in flexibility and free time.”

Built for modification Every year, many thousands of people flock to Alaska during the summer months on a variety of travel packages, including cruises, bus tours and train expeditions. Although many of these itineraries are necessarily rigid, Gray Line of Alaska offers group travel experiences that are built for modification.

“I’ve been involved in the Alaska market for 30 years, and it used to be that you had an exact package, and you didn’t modify it,” said Mark Mumm, the company’s director of sales and marketing. “But over the years, that’s certainly changed with the Internet. It’s opened up the information flow, and people are more willing to do the research and figure out what they want to do”

Gray Line of Alaska, which is owned by Holland America Line, still offers a number of fully escorted trips with tour directors and preset meals and activities. But Mumm said that today, about 70 percent of its customers make modifications to the standard tour offerings, ranging from adding pre- or post-tour packages to building a custom vacation from scratch.

“Any of our tours can be customized,” he said. “If you want to add extra nights somewhere or stay two nights in the Arctic, that’s doable. When you get to Denali, if you want to add an extra night at a backcountry lodge, you can do that. Our reservation system allows us to break a tour that’s preset and add nights, delete nights, add services and everything in between.”

In the area around Mount McKinley and Denali National Park, visitors have a host of activity choices, which they can arrange in advance or with a Gray Line representative on site. The range of options includes dog sled tours, dinner shows, all-terrain vehicle excursions, flight-seeing tours, rafting adventures and a number of guided experiences offered by the National Park Service free of charge.

Most of the preset packages include some of these activities at a fixed cost. If a group chooses to customize its own itinerary instead, the individual components are offered at the same prices used to set tour costs, so customization doesn’t add to the expense of a flexible tour.

“We work with a lot of groups, and some groups will buy a set package from us,” Mumm said. “Others want to buy a set package and customize it for their group, so they can offer something unique. If you want to have two days in Denali when nothing is booked and give your group a choice of options, that’s very doable.” “Naturally independent” One of the biggest companies in packaged travel, Globus has been operating traditional escorted tours around the world for more than 85 years. Five years ago, company executives launched Monograms, an independent travel service to meet the needs of a new generation of travelers.

“We know that the landscape of the traveling public is changing,” said Jen Halboth, director of marketing for Globus Family of Brands. “People are traveling earlier in their lives and more often. They’re traveling more internationally. You’ve got 20- and 30-year-olds going on international trips for work, so they’re naturally independent.”

Monograms packages typically take individuals or groups to two or three cities in a single itinerary. Once travelers arrive in a city, they are met at their hotel by a local host, who guides them on a half-day sightseeing tour and then is available for the duration of their stay to give advice on restaurants, attractions and other travel questions. Several days later, a Monograms representative transfers them from the hotel to a train station or airport, where they proceed to the next destination and start the process over again.

“They have all this leisure time,” Halboth said. “They can spend their time in museums, in cafes or getting out of the city and into the countryside. It’s for people that like the logistical elements being taken care of but who aren’t looking for a tour.”

The trips are most popular in Europe, packaging cities like Paris and London or Rome, Florence and Venice. The company also offers several Monograms itineraries in North America. Because the package includes only breakfast every day, along with fewer scheduled activities, the trips are substantially less expensive, giving travelers the flexibility to choose restaurants and attractions that fit their budgets.

Halboth said that Monograms is one of the fastest-growing brands in the Globus family, attracting a younger clientele. Although many younger people are accustomed to shopping for travel online, building their own itineraries piece by piece on sites like Travelocity and Expedia, Monograms offers a similar flexibility without the work of managing all of the travel details.

“I think it’s tapping into people who aren’t currently in the market for packaged travel,” she said. “The average age of the Monograms traveler is in the upper 40s, and that’s coming down every year. Group leaders and agents alike can really use this brand to prospect for a new type of traveler.

“What is totally true about people in their 30s and 40s is the time. They don’t have a lot of time, and Monograms is an ideal solution for that.”

More Buyer’s Guide articles:

The new norm is constant change  Flexible group tours: You’re on your own Gender-based tours: It’s understood Green travel: Sustainable momentum Group exclusives: Preferred customers Researching travel: Do your homework

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Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.

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Here's what people want from guided touring in the future


Guided touring looks quite different in 2021 and beyond thanks to a shift in people’s travel priorities. While the demand and desire to travel is still there, the expectations and needs are more indicative of the times we are living in.

In the past, guided tours and guided travel’s main draw cards were the chance to meet like minded travellers and the ability to relax while everything is taken care of for you. While these two factors are still hugely important, in 2021 people choosing guided vacations want to know they will be looked after in terms of their wellbeing and finances, too. 

Us travellers want reassurance that our guided travel experiences will not be compromised by new policies and procedures. And fair enough! We all want that long overdue holiday!

Here at Trafalgar , we hear you loud and clear and we want you to know that guided touring with us puts all of these questions and concerns to bed. After all, dream holidays without the stress of the ‘what ifs’ is what we do.​

Over the past year we’ve been working hard to ensure the future traveller’s greatest concerns are all taken care of to create worry-free travel in true guided travel fashion. Here is what travellers are asking and what they expect from guided tours in 2021 and beyond.

Will I have a good time?

Mount Fuji cherry blossom season in Japan

Is the Pope Catholic? Do the seasons still change? Yes, you will have a blast. Our Travel Directors are well rested and ready to fire on all cylinders. They have had plenty of time to think of more funny stories, facts and anecdotes to share along the way and can’t wait to reunite with our guests.

In fact, it’s our promise that every Trafalgar tour will be remarkable. With us, you’ll get exclusive access to iconic sights and experiences, we will connect you with locals in meaningful ways so you can break bread and swap stories, and your guided touring will make a difference locally. When you choose guided travel with Trafalgar, you choose to leave a direct positive impact on the local people and communities that we visit. It’s important to us that we make travel matter , because it does.

Travel is meant to be fun and joyful and that won’t change in 2021 and beyond. Our worry-free policies will give you peace of mind now, so that you can relax and enjoy travelling again soon. 

GET INSPIRED: Hawaii Four Island Adventure

Is my money safe?

Absolutely. If you’re not super familiar with our brand, then hello there, we’re Trafalgar. We’re part of a 101-year-old family owned, family run business (in fact, we’re the travel industry’s most awarded brand). Due to the financial stability of our parent company, The Travel Corporation , we can confidently offer you absolute peace of mind when booking your guided tours and guided travel with us, knowing that your money is safe and won’t be lost.

Better yet, we offer risk -free and flexible booking conditions to make sure your upcoming guided vacation plans are completely worry-free. Should your plans change for any reason, our updated policies offer more flexibility to change your guided vacation plans than ever before, like being able to change the date or destination of your tour up to 30 days prior to departure.

How will you take care of me and ensure I stay well?

flexible guided travel

We completely understand that heading back on the road after Covid-19 will bring up plenty of questions about your personal wellbeing. Worry-free travel is one of our big promises, so beyond peace of mind around your money, we offer peace of mind around your wellbeing. All guided touring in 2021 and beyond will follow our new 3-step Wellbeing Protocols, and all our perfectly planned tours include 24/7 support.

Every tour will be led by an expert Travel Director and Driver duo, plus new for 2021 each of our tours of 20 guests or more will also be accompanied by a Wellbeing Director. The Wellbeing Director is there to ensure that our rigorous hygiene and wellbeing procedures and standards are being maintained and followed, leaving your Travel Director and Driver to focus on the personalised Trafalgar travel service and attention to detail you know and love.

WATCH: Meet your Trafalgar on-road team for 2021 and beyond

When you choose guided travel with us you get more than a century of guided travel expertise and the promise of personalised service on every trip. Our guided tours are designed so you experience the world differently. You’ll get the care, attention to detail and ease you’re looking for so you can relax and enjoy those unmissable travel experiences you’ve had on your bucket list for a lifetime.

RELATED CONTENT : Everything you need to know about Trafalgar’s new Wellbeing Directors

​ Do you have questions about how guided touring will be different in 2021? Leave us comments below…


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10 benefits of a guided tour vs. independent travel

Of all the ways to get out and see the world, the best way to travel is on a group tour because you can sit back, relax, and soak in the beauty of your destination—while learning more than just a thing or two about the local culture along the way. No figuring out transportation, researching hotels, or booking flights required.

Here at EF Go Ahead Tours (the EF stands for Education First!), we know a thing or two about creating immersive, local-led tours. If you’re wondering what all the hype is around group tours, check out these benefits of guided travel, which you’ll find on all of our more than 175 trips .

1. You get the ease of an all-in-one tour package

Imagine a world where you don’t need to scour the internet for the perfect hotel, diligently monitor flight prices, or scroll through Google to figure out how to spend time in your destination. Good news: That’s one of the main benefits of traveling in groups. You can have the trip of a lifetime without having to research or book any of these travel essentials. Say hello to these advantages of guided tours, and goodbye to travel planning nightmares.

“You have the fear of going someplace and everything falling apart and I felt like from the get-go you guys gave me piece of mind,” said traveler Lydia. “I’m going out of the country and everything is taken care of. I don’t have to worry about the language. I don’t have to worry how I’m going to get from here to there. You get to go on vacation and be stress-free. Sometimes you can’t do that… but I truly, truly got to enjoy the vacation.”


8. You’re supported by EF’s Global Safety Network

We help people like you travel here, there, and everywhere, and it’s been our mission for more than half a century. With a history like that, we’ve made more than just a few friends around the world. Think: 50,000 personnel spread across 50 countries . Knowing this team of experts is in your corner is just one of the many advantages of traveling with us!

Another one of the top benefits of traveling in a group is that our team members are on the ground across the globe, so you can always travel with confidence. This includes the members of our On-Tour Support and EF crisis responses teams. They’re on call 24/7 should you need assistance on the road. Hear firsthand from traveler Anna about the perks of having a global team that’s got your back—especially when having to navigate the unexpected on tour .

“The day we got to Venice was the day the first cases of coronavirus were officially announced in the city,” said traveler Anna. “Our Tour Director Leonor assured us that EF Go Ahead Tours was monitoring the situation and keeping in contact with her about our safety, which was very reassuring. Go Ahead made a stressful situation in a foreign country tolerable and got us home safely. Our trip was still fun and we still got to do most things we’d planned!”


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It pays to be flexible

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Self-Guided Tours: What are they? Why book one?

flexible guided travel

Alice Peace

  • Experiences

Travel is an exciting experience, but the research and planning that goes into organizing a trip can be daunting for many. Browsing for eco-friendly accommodations, delicious local places to eat, and activities that align with your values can quickly become exhausting. Organized tours are a great option to alleviate some of the stress associated with booking your vacation. But with so many different choices of organized travel – from  private tours , to small-group tours , to self-guided tours – how do you decide what is right for you?

What is a Self-Guided Tour?

To start off, let’s clarify what we mean by a self-guided tour. Self-guided tours are trips in which an expert handles all of the pre-departure organization and booking. Once travelers arrive, they enjoy their trip independently, without a third-party guide physically present. Whilst travelers are responsible for making their way to their accommodation each night they have complete autonomy regarding their pace throughout each day.

Self-guided tours are well-suited for walking, cycling, and driving holidays where the daily route is thoughtfully planned out for you, and your luggage is transported between pre-booked accommodations. This tour type is an ideal choice for travelers who would like assistance with organizing and booking their trip, but don’t need an escort on the actual journey. That said, self-guided trips include a GPS and 24/7 on-call support to ensure guests’ safety.

What is Included in a Self-Guided Tour?

The level of support provided before and during the trip is very similar to what travelers would experience on a privately guided tour, minus the guide themself. Self-guided tours typically include the following:

  • Airport transfers at the beginning and end of the trip
  • A day-to-day route indicating the miles or kilometers to be traveled each day
  • Luggage transfers between points A and B each day (for walking and cycling tours) – this means that travelers only need to carry a small day pack with them as they walk or bike
  • Pre-arranged and booked activities along the way
  • Eco-friendly accommodations are booked for each night
  • Some or most meals
  • A GPS and a roadbook/map
  • 24/7 on-call support
  • 24/7 roadside assistance (for driving tours)

Why Book a Self-Guided Tour?

Saving time on research, flexibility, and affordability without compromising on experiences are some of the reasons people opt for a self-guided tour. Many travelers also report a higher degree of self-satisfaction at the end of their trip; they truly feel a sense of accomplishment after navigating their own way across a new destination.

So what makes self-guided tours so much fun? Here are our top six reasons travelers love self-guided tours.

  • Timesaving and Stress-Free
  • Flexible Departure Dates
  • Customizable Itinerary
  • Affordability
  • Independence and Freedom
  • Covid-friendly

Keep reading to discover why so many travelers prefer this type of travel.

1. Self-guided tours save you the time and stress of researching and planning a vacation

Most of us lead busy lives. Deciding on a destination can be exciting, but the research and planning needed to organize a vacation are time-consuming. It’s hard to truly capture how long the average person spends planning a trip. Different reports estimate travelers spend anywhere from  10 hours  to  30 hours  or more planning a single holiday. Time spent researching and coordinating can either be fun, and an enjoyable part of the adventure overall, or stressful, and considered a necessary evil to have the trip of your dreams. Having a suggested itinerary with a pre-arranged route, pre-booked eco-friendly accommodations and activities, and comfort touches like airport transfers can remove a lot of this stress.

By booking a self-guided tour, you can minimize your time spent researching and planning whilst maximizing your time on vacation. Expert trip planners and our in-country partners are ready to take all of this stress off your hands and hand over an organized, well-planned itinerary. They’ll ensure that you’re making the most of every day, booking eco-friendly accommodations, and suggesting activities to participate in that support local people and businesses.

2. Self-guided tours have flexible departure dates

Another benefit of self-guided tours is that you are not tied down to specific departure dates. Unlike small-group tours with fixed departure dates, self-guided tours leave you completely free to accommodate your start date with your group’s schedule.

Pro tip: When considering your departure date, be sure to check for two things:

  • Availability: Many self-guided tours that are nature-focused – like walking and cycling tours – are only available to book during particular seasons, such as from Spring through Fall. This is for safety and to help maximize the enjoyment of the trip overall in terms of weather and other conditions. 
  • Seasonality: Traveling  outside  of the high season, when a peak number of travelers might be crowding a trail, is more sustainable. As long as conditions are comfortable enough, traveling during the shoulder season or low season helps with tourism dispersal. Tourism dispersal is about spreading out where tourists go, and how tourist money is spent throughout the year.

Once at your destination, self-guided tours give you complete autonomy to explore at a pace that suits you. You can pick your sightseeing stops along the way, decide to linger a little longer over a delicious local lunch, or set off an hour earlier to catch that gorgeous sunrise as you hike or cycle from point A to B. You can stop wherever you like, whenever you like, and how often you like. The freedom is yours!

3. Self-guided tours can be customized and tweaked until they’re just right

When you discover a self-guided walking, cycling, or driving trip, you will typically be presented with a suggested itinerary as a starting point. You can think of this as a base itinerary – a recommendation that will be fantastic as-is, but customizable if needed.

Some of the main ways people adjust self-guided itineraries:

  • Tweaking the length by either adding or removing a day or two on either end. Adding a day requires less distance to be covered each day, which can result in more downtime for exploring or resting.
  • Opting for more luxurious accommodations for a more upscale experience.
  • Scheduling experiences or activities along the way – such as an artisan visit or a wine tasting. These can be incorporated into days of light walking, cycling, or driving; or be planned for days of rest at certain stopping points mid-way in your trip.

For your leisure time, you’ll also be provided with suggestions and important information to ensure you’re not missing out on anything. But exactly what you choose to do in your downtime is completely up to you!

4. Self-guided tours are more affordable

Self-guided tours are almost always the most economical option compared to privately guided tours or small-group tours. This type of tour is usually much cheaper as you are not paying to be accompanied by a guide for the duration of your trip, as you would be on a private or small-group tour. The affordability of self-guided trips makes them ideal for travelers aiming to stick to a smaller budget. 

5. Self-guided tours offer independence and freedom

With a self-guided tour, you retain the feeling of independence along with the safety of knowing everything is organized and arranged for you. This provides a great amount of freedom – much higher than what you’d experience on a private or small-group tour. Namely, this independence means you can go at your own pace each day. With walking and cycling tours, you can spend a leisurely day on the trail or move briskly to have more downtime at your destination for the evening. With driving tours, you can more easily take detours to particular points of interest along the way – such as a specific cultural heritage sight or a particularly good vantage point to watch a sunset.

Unlike travel where you plan and book everything yourself, you will never be left entirely without support. Even though you’ll be walking, cycling, or driving unattended, there will be a local support team tracking your route via GPS, ensuring a unique and safe experience. Your GPS will also include the locations of your pre-booked accommodations, as well as pre-saved suggested sites, attractions, and important places you may wish to consider visiting along the way.

Self-guided tours include 24/7 backup telephone support in English to assist you if and when required. You won’t even have to worry about your luggage, as active self-guided walking and cycling tours include organized luggage transfer throughout! This allows you to savor every moment of your trip, secure in the knowledge that all the details have been handled and that help, if needed, is just a phone call away.

6. Self-guided tours are a Covid-friendly way to travel

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic caused travel plans to grind to a halt across the world. Although many of us are ready to throw ourselves back into new experiences, cultures, and delicacies, we understand that travelers may still have concerns about Covid-friendly travel.

Self-guided tours are ideal as they offer an exclusive experience for you and your choice of travel companions. You won’t have to worry about vacationing with strangers or sharing public transport once at the destination. Inherently, self-guided walking, cycling, and driving tours outside and away from large urban areas make it easy to stay socially distanced from people outside of your group should you choose. You can simply focus on exploring areas of natural beauty, passing through small towns and villages, and breathing in fresh country air!

How Much Do Self-Guided Tours Cost?

Self-guided tours are one of the most economical options for travelers, although, like all tours, the price depends on the destination, activities, trip length, and group size. Self-guided tours cater well to walking tours and cycling holidays, so here are a couple of examples:

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How do these prices compare to private tours and small-group tours?

  • Private tours  are the most expensive option as you will be accompanied by a guide for the duration of your trip. However, this can offer unique insights and cultural experiences, the chance to really get off the beaten track, and an increased sense of comfort for travelers heading to an unfamiliar destination.
  • The prices of small-group tours fall somewhere in-between self-guided and private tours. You won’t have much flexibility with the itinerary – though you will have pockets of free time for individual exploration – and you may be traveling with more people. Small-group tours are great for leveraging the expertise of a local guide without the higher cost that comes with private tours.
  • Self-guided tours are different from both private tours and small-group tours. As you are not accompanied by a local expert for the majority of your vacation, this drastically reduces the cost of the trip, although some of our self-guided tours do include a guided component to maximize your cultural experience. This tour type is ideal for those that want increased autonomy, but you will need to be responsible for getting to and from your accommodations each night and ensure you’re on time for any pre-booked activities along your route. Additionally, self-guided tours are especially suited to nature-focused activities such as walking and cycling tours. These are more budget-friendly activities and, as a bonus, will keep the carbon footprint of your travel low as well.

Our Favorite Self-Guided Tours

Now that we’ve covered what self-guided tours are, what they include, and what the benefits are, we’ll give you some examples of our favorite self-guided trips.

Are you an active traveler looking for a self-guided adventure? Explore the  Portuguese Coastal Way from Porto to Santiago  on this cycling tour that takes you along the rugged coastline and through the quaint villages of northern Portugal. Prefer hiking to biking? Enjoy a similar self-guided walking holiday along the coastal route of  Portugal’s Costa Verde , a diverse region famous for its refreshing ‘green wine’.

Here are a couple more self-guided tours we recommend. Whether you’re looking for an active adventure, cultural immersion, or epic road trip, we can help you find your perfect itinerary.

1. Portugal:  Heart and Soul of Douro Valley

Immerse yourself in Portuguese cuisine with this one-week self-guided walking tour and wine-tasting holiday in the scenic Douro Valley. You’ll follow unpaved roads and footpaths through picturesque countryside as you walk between traditional villages, pausing for picnic lunches and visits to local wine estates where you can sample award-winning wines and local cuisine. Museums and the chance to take part in activities, such as grape harvest celebrations, will give you an appreciation and understanding of the culture of this region. At the end of each day’s walk, you’ll receive a warm welcome at one of the carefully selected country houses and hotels, where you can relax, put your feet up, and enjoy a delicious meal. 

We had a great hike in Douro valley, all the accommodations were perfect, and the people we met were so nice. In every place we stopped we had great hotel rooms and a pool to rest after a day hiking (mostly up). Especially Quinta do Portal was really excellent and had the best chef and meals we have ever had in Portugal. Thank you! Joanna R. 

2. Romania: Discovering Transylvania's Heritage by Bike

Leisurely cycle through the hills of Transylvania, a mysterious and spectacular land with a rich heritage. This trip will take you into the Carpathian Mountains and Transylvania’s hills. Transylvania is famous thanks to Bram Stoker’s legend of Dracula, and is well-known for its forests which provide shelter for many species of wild plants and animals.

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Walking Tour: Heart & Soul of Douro Valley

From 1,090 € pp

An adult Caucasian female biker wearing black shorts and a magenta top and black helmet bikes on a loose gravel road past a brown horse pulling a cart with a local Romanian man in it. There is greenery and trees on both sides and it's a sunny and partly cloudy day. The woman waves to the man as she passes him; her back is to us and the horse and cart are coming toward the frame.

Discovering Transylvania’s Heritage by Bike

From 850 € pp

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I’m Alice, UK travel blogger and advocate for sustainable travel. I want to show you just how easy it is to make responsible choices and do our bit for the planet whilst we’re on the go. I head to off-the-beaten-track locations and get there as sustainably as possible. I love responsible wildlife and community tourism, supporting local businesses and eating delicious vegetarian food. See more at Discoveny .

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There’s Just One Trick to Traveling Cheaply: Flexibility

Sam Kemmis

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

So you want to travel on a budget. Who doesn’t? Yet it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the cheap travel tips, hacks and strategies out there that promise unbelievable deals on airfare and hotels.

In reality, there’s only one important tactic for traveling cheaply: being flexible with your travel dates, destination and plans. It might sound simple — or even simplistic — but you would be surprised how few travelers are willing to take this piece of advice to heart.

To be fair, this flexibility-first mindset requires a paradigm shift for many in terms of how they start planning vacations. It requires moving from this type of planning:

“I want to go to Amsterdam from Sept. 5 through 13.”

“I want to go somewhere fun in September.”

For some, this degree of flexibility is simply impossible. Navigating travel planning between work, family and other constraints requires specific dates and plans. Yet for those who can loosen their preconceptions about how to plan travel, it can lead to big savings — and maybe even more fun.

This approach is useful whether you’re paying with cash or using miles , and even for all of the price ranges, from budget to luxury.

Video preview image

Why rigidity is so expensive

The cost of travel depends on the interplay between many factors, including:


Number of options.

When you make specific plans from the get-go, you essentially constrain the last variable — you give yourself fewer options. This means that the cost of your trip will depend entirely on the first three variables, which are completely outside of your control.

This economic interplay will sometimes fall in your favor, and you’ll score a good deal on the exact destination and dates you wanted. But more often than not, you’ll end up paying more than average simply by starting with a severely limited set of options.

How to plan travels with flexibility

You might be asking yourself, “How am I supposed to start planning travel if I have to keep everything up in the air?” While a fair question, it misses an essential component: You can still set some boundaries around your search.

Example parameters might include:

I want to travel in the fall.

I want to sit on the beach.

I don’t want to spend more than $X.

From here, you can begin weighing different destinations and dates to see which could maximize your preferences. For example, you might start with flights to Hawaii , but notice that airfare is through the roof. So you switch to the Caribbean , narrow your interest to a few destinations with cheap flights and then start researching hotel prices.

Finally, you can find the dates and destinations that offer the best combination of price and features, then book your travel.

This might sound remedial, but think about how many times you (or someone you know) have gone about it the other way — by starting with dates and a destination, then accepting whatever costs come up.

The right tools for the job

As this flexible travel approach gains in popularity, travel booking sites and services have begun offering helpful tools specifically designed for the task.

Airfare deal alerts

Airfare deal newsletters, like Scott’s Cheap Flights and Dollar Flight Club, are how many travelers start thinking in terms of flexibility. These newsletters and alert services send a blast to subscribers whenever they discover a low-cost airfare deal.

flexible guided travel

But there’s usually a catch: These airfare deals are available only on certain dates, or to very specific (sometimes random-feeling) destinations. You can’t sit around waiting for a great deal from Atlanta to Sydney, because that may not come around in time.

But you can wait for an exciting fare from Atlanta to … somewhere, and jump on it when it becomes available.

Google Flights Explore

Many travel search engines, like Kayak or Orbitz, have highly flexible search tools.

But Google Flights takes it a step further than the travel sites that let you search for flexible dates. It offers a feature that is specifically targeted to even more flexible travel. It’s called “Explore” and it allows you to search in a totally wide-open way.

flexible guided travel

To use the tool, enter your departure city, the length of trip you’re looking for and your price range, and Google returns a handful of great deals to a bunch of destinations at random times within your date range.

flexible guided travel

Compared with a deal alert service, the drawback is that the available deals displayed depend on when you conduct your search. You might just miss a great deal on Tuesday if you do your search on Monday, for example, but it’s a great way to consider many exciting options at once.

Points and miles

Travel bloggers love to rave about how they scored a first-class ticket to Japan using miles, but they don’t often describe their true secret: extreme flexibility.

Redeeming points and miles for reward travel all but requires a high degree of flexibility to get the most value from them. For one thing, the availability of these flights and rooms can be very spotty. Before you can even determine if an award booking is a good deal or not, you need to actually find an available award booking option.

For another, airlines often double the price or more during high-demand dates.

In short: If you’re looking to use miles on a specific flight on a specific day, you might either pay too much — or not be able to score a ticket at all.

That’s where flexibility comes in. To make things easier, many airlines offer award calendars that let you see which dates and prices are available by month, which can be especially helpful when rooting out hard-to-find premium cabin tickets.

flexible guided travel

Stretch yourself

If you’ve always wondered why other people can find great travel deals while you invariably pay out the nose, now you know why. Being flexible with your travel plans is the best way to knock down the cost of travel, period.

What’s more: It can be a lot of fun. Rather than planning exactly where you want to go and when, you can let the deals inform your next vacation. This openness can help you travel to places and have experiences that you never would have otherwise. It doesn’t mean you have to book travel last minute or scrap planning altogether. It just means letting go of two variables — the when and the where — and seeing what comes up.

If it doesn’t work out, you can always book travel the old-fashioned way.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee:   Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards:  Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card  

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

1.5%-5% Enjoy 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Unlimited Matched Cash Back Unlimited Matched Cash Back. Chase will automatically match all the cash back you earned at the end of your first year! There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

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Expedia Rewards is now One Key™

All inclusive vacations.

I only need accommodations for part of my trip

As a  One Key member , earn up to 10x more OneKeyCash on your flight when you book a package.

Enjoy flexibility with our Book now Pay later option & fully refundable rates on most hotels

Customize your vacation with ease all in one place

Your All-inclusive Vacation

Movie night or cocktail hour? Gelato or gourmet meals? Spa days or water sports? Why choose! All-inclusive vacations have it all … it’s in the name! Get the thrills, chills, and water spills all for a single price thanks to all-inclusive vacation deals designed with you in mind. You can curate your dream all-inclusive escape right here and relax knowing you’re heading for a hassle-free vacation. With many all-inclusive deals including flights, too, you can put your wallet away from the moment you click book.

Where can I find all-inclusive vacations?

As a family you can pick up cheap all-inclusive Mexico vacation packages , leaving you spare dollars to spend on the local attractions. Or you and the kids could plan a luxury once-in-a-lifetime all-inclusive trip to Thailand for sun, temples, and delicious cuisine. As a couple, you can fan those romantic flames at an adult-only all-inclusive hotel in the Caribbean or plan a honeymoon on an all-inclusive beach vacation in Fiji . We also have last-minute all-inclusive vacations ready to go at a moment’s notice. Whatever your style or budget, you can wrap all the accommodation, meals, snacks, and entertainment into a neat one-price parcel ready to unwrap on arrival. The bow on the top is knowing you’ve landed an amazing deal on Expedia.

Top destinations for All inclusive Vacations

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Enjoy an all-inclusive Hawaiian vacation

Hawaii offers relaxing all-inclusive vacation experiences at beaches with tropical flair. You can enjoy tranquil accommodations just steps away from the shore with room for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and more. Plus, you can even go island hopping for a more inclusive experience to see what each Hawaiian island has to offer.

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Find fun in an all-inclusive vacation to Mexico

Head south of the border to find all-inclusive vacations in Mexico that offer an endless array of things to do, including a thriving nightlife, inviting beaches, and fascinating historical sites. With all-inclusive package deals, you can find relaxation and luxury whether you choose to stay in the city or the countryside.

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Relax with an all-inclusive vacation in Cancun

Live the dream with an all-inclusive vacation to Cancun, where you'll find spectacular white-sand beaches and inviting shores. You can enjoy international cuisine, shopping, and golf courses in addition to the vast array of water activities along the beach, like swimming, surfing, and even diving if you're looking for something more unique.

flexible guided travel

Discover an all-inclusive vacation to the Bahamas

Vacationing in the Bahamas is one of the most popular pastimes for travelers from all over the world. This Caribbean paradise was once a haven for pirates but now serves as a relaxing destination for people looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. All-inclusive vacations make it all easier than ever to enjoy.

flexible guided travel

Explore all-inclusive Caribbean vacations

The Caribbean is heralded worldwide for its white, sandy beaches and turquoise-blue waters. You'll find plenty of opportunities to relax or go for a swim if you want to take it easy. More adventurous types will enjoy surfing and diving. Whatever your tastes, an all-inclusive vacation makes it easy to enjoy it all.

flexible guided travel

Go on an all-inclusive vacation in Florida

Head to the Theme Park Capital of the World or the numerous sandy beaches on the coast. Wherever you go in Florida, you'll never have to look very far to find something incredible, and an all-inclusive vacation package lets you enjoy it all easier than ever before. It's not an accident that Florida is among the top vacation destinations for Americans anywhere in the country.

flexible guided travel

Experience an all-inclusive vacation in Las Vegas

Visit the Entertainment Capital of the World for an unforgettable adventure that includes far more than world-class casinos. You'll find fine dining, shows, and unique experiences like race car driving. With an all-inclusive vacation in sunny Las Vegas, you can get a taste of it all easier than ever before all day and all night.

Everything you need to know about all-inclusive vacations

What are some of the benefits of booking an all-inclusive vacation.

From the moment you book your all-inclusive vacation package you can kick back knowing everything from your room to your cocktail choice is covered in your one-off fee. Indulge in a bounty of local and international foods, try new activities, and put away your purse on the ultimate stress-free vacation.

How can I find an all-inclusive vacation for adults only?

Use the ‘all inclusive’ filter, then look for hotels listed as ‘adults only’. Many adults only resorts are also all-inclusive, like Excellence Punta Cana - Adults Only All Inclusive on a stretch of private soft sand, with a swim-up bar. Narrow your choice further by choosing amenities like ‘gym’ or ‘spa’ and discover places like the gorgeous Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya All Inclusive - Adults Only resort, which has a stunning spa on palm lined shores.

Are there all-inclusive vacation spots in the US?

Yes, enjoy a US all-inclusive vacation where no passport is needed. From ski resorts and city breaks to the beaches of Florida and islands of Hawaii —find your perfect vacation from an abundance of impressive all-inclusive packages in the USA .

What are some of the best destinations for cheap all-inclusive vacations?

For a choice of all-inclusive vacation packages that won’t break the bank, Expedia’s latest deals on all-inclusive vacations in Mexico include budget-friendly resorts packed with impressive amenities on pristine beaches. Or enjoy Caribbean charm with competitive prices when you choose one of the many Jamaica all-inclusive vacation packages .

Do all-inclusive vacations include airfare?

You can choose all-inclusive vacation packages with airfare included by clicking the ‘packages’ button, or book all-inclusive hotels without flights by clicking on the ‘stays’ button. You’ll discover big savings on Expedia when you bundle flights with your all-inclusive hotel, so take a look.

How can I find the best deals on all-inclusive vacations?

Simply enter your travel details, click, and feast your eyes on incredible, ready-to-book all-inclusive vacation deals. Different times of year can affect prices, so try alternative dates if your travel plans are flexible. It’s also important to check exactly what is and isn't included in your all-inclusive hotel deal to ensure you choose the right one.

What are some of the best destinations for an all-inclusive Caribbean vacation?

Caribbean all-inclusive vacations are hard to beat, but each place has its own unique vibe. Taste spiced delicacies and hear that reggae beat with a Jamaica all-inclusive vacation package . Dominican Republic all-inclusive vacation packages offer gorgeous beaches and great value resorts. For never-ending beaches along the Caribbean coast of Mexico, head to Cancun .

Can I book an all-inclusive package with free cancellation and/or flexible dates?

Many all-inclusive hotels and resorts offer free cancellation, so you won’t be out of pocket if your plans change. Some hotels are less flexible, and all have a cancellation deadline—so check the hotel’s policy before you book.

Why should I book an all-inclusive package with Expedia?

At Expedia it’s easy to find and book your dream all-inclusive vacation package so you can experience what makes all-inclusive vacations the ultimate stress-free escape. See an incredible selection of destinations and deals with a few clicks.

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Comparing Guided, Self-Guided, and Independent Travel

by Elizabeth Gorga - Last updated on March 1, 2023

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  • Before You Go

It’s nearly time for your next overseas trip and you’re daydreaming about the new places you’ll see, the new friends you’ll make, the new foods you’ll taste, and the stories you’ll be able to tell when you return home. Traveling can be full of adventure, curiosity, and laughter, but it can also be stressful when you’re in the planning stages.

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Finding your ideal type of travel is your ticket to seeing the world.

So, how do you decide between a guided tour vs. independent travel? From visas and flights to accommodation and sightseeing, the nitty gritty of traveling can be daunting. Luckily, there are many different options when it comes to traveling so you can create an experience that feels fun and exciting for you—whether you want to go solo or let someone else take care of the logistics for you.

With options to join guided travel tours, self-guided tours, or embark on independent travel, you can make your next overseas trip anything you desire it to be. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to planning your travels abroad. Ultimately, it depends on your personality and what kind of experience you’re after. If you’re stumped on how to get the most out of your next trip abroad, here you’ll find everything you need to know about a guided tour vs. independent travel .

What is a guided tour?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed when it comes to researching and planning your travels, guided tours can be a game-changer. So what is a guided tour? Guided travel tours are the most convenient way to travel—all you have to do is pay a fee to a tour company and they create the experience for you.

Most guided tours are all-inclusive, meaning everything is taken care of for you. They often provide a local guide who can teach you about local customs, an itinerary packed full of cultural experiences, and even pre-booked accommodation and food so all you have to do is show up. Guided tours usually target specific age groups too, so you have the opportunity to connect with other travelers and make friends easily.

3 pros of guided tours

1. it’s convenient..

There’s no arguing that guided travel tours are the most convenient way to travel. Your tour company will take care of all the logistics for you, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy yourself without having to think about your next move. If you’re a first-time traveler , don’t speak the local language, or feel overwhelmed by the planning process, guided tours can relieve some of the pressure to create an easy, more enjoyable experience.

2. You’ll make friends easily.

three people jumping on snowy sidewalk

Lifelong friendships might just be a bonus to your guided tour package.

If you join an age-appropriate tour, the odds are, you’ll make friends fast . You won’t have to stress about putting yourself out there when you spend your days with the same group of people, exploring together, eating meals together, sharing the same accommodation. While it’s possible to make friends outside of a tour group, solo travelers often thrive on a guided tour because they never have to worry about feeling lonely.

3. You’ll gain a deep understanding of the culture.

When you’re exploring a new country with a local guide, you get a sneak peek into the culture that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Local guides will take you to all the right places, teach you fun facts about your destination you might not learn anywhere else, and fill you in on the basics when it comes to speaking the local language . Guided tours often cram a lot into a short period of time, too, which means you’ll get to visit some of the best places in your destination and see parts of the country you may not be able to see on your own.

3 cons of guided tours

1. it can be expensive..

Prices of guided travel tours vary, and most times they can be more expensive than traveling on your own. Ultimately, you don’t get to pick and choose your experience with a guided tour, meaning you pay for what the tour company organizes for you. If you don’t want to do everything that’s included in the tour or if you’d prefer to stay in budget accommodation , you may end up spending more on a tour than if you were to travel solo.

2. You’ll have less freedom.

While guided tours make travel feel easy, they take away the pleasure of going with the flow. You’ll need to stick to an itinerary that is often packed full with little time to relax and explore on your own. You won’t necessarily have the ability to wake up at your leisure, get lost in new cities, and stumble upon holes in the wall when you’re off on organized activities all day every day.

3. You may never leave your comfort zone.

When it comes to travel, there are endless opportunities to learn and expand your horizons . If one of your favorite parts of traveling is putting yourself out there, getting lost, making mistakes, and laughing with locals, guided tours may not be the most exciting experience for you. Guided tours are your comfort zone, and it’s likely you won’t have the same growth experience you would if you travel on your own.

What is a self-guided tour?

two people standing on rocky mountain

Can you picture yourself trekking this mountain?

If a fully-guided tour doesn’t appeal to you, but traveling completely solo sounds intimidating, a self-guided tour will give you something in between. But what does “self-guided tour” mean? Unlike a guided tour, you won’t have a tour guide; however, you will receive information about your destination and an itinerary to follow at your own pace.

The perfect self-guided tour example is trekking. Whether you head out to the rhododendron-filled Annapurna region of Nepal or the snow-capped Patagonias , or you walk El Camino across Spain, almost all popular trekking routes provide self-guided tours.

Once you apply for your trekking permits, you’ll receive official information about the trek and its trails, as well as information on where to start, stop, rest, sleep, and amenities along the way. With a self-guided tour, you may even have the option of adding on transportation options or organized accommodation to relieve even more of the stress of planning.

3 pros of self-guided tours

1. you set the pace..

While a guided tour doesn’t leave much room for flexibility, a self-guided tour allows you to set your own pace. You’ll often receive an itinerary or route options, but ultimately, you are in control of a self-guided tour. You can follow the route or go your own way. You can go as slowly or quickly as you desire, making pit stops along the way, skipping the parts that don’t appeal to you, and creating the experience you want.

2. It’s safer than independent travel.

Because self-guided tours do the research for you, they often leave less room for error than if you embarked on a solo journey. You’ll receive all the information you need to stay safe , and you don’t have to worry about doing all the research on your own. Self-guided tours are also often available in well-populated travel destinations, which means you’ll be surrounded by other travelers consistently throughout your journey.

3. You can pick your travel buddies.

Independent travel can often get lonely, while guided tours run the risk of getting stuck with a group of people that you might clash with. Self-guided tours offer the perfect alternative. With a self-guided tour, you can choose your people. Perhaps that looks like planning to travel with a group of friends or traveling solo and meeting others along the same self-guided route as you—either way, you can spend time with the people you like, and avoid the people who aren’t your vibe.

3 cons of self-guided tours

1. you still need to take part in the planning..

person pointing at map

You’ll still have a hand in planning when you go for self-guided travel.

While there are perks of receiving a lot of information in a self-guided tour, you still need to be proactive and take responsibility. After all, not everything is organized for you. You still have to do a little research on your own, stay organized, and manage your own time. If you don’t want to have to worry about any of the logistics, self-guided travel might not be your best option.

2. There’s no group to make immediate friends.

While self-guided travel is a great opportunity to choose your travel companions, no official tour group means you don’t quite have access to meeting people as easily. If you’re traveling on your own in a self-guided tour, there will definitely be people to meet along the way, but you’ll still have to put yourself out there and strike up conversations with strangers to make connections.

3. You won’t have a local guide at your fingertips.

Sure, it might be nice to not have to follow a guide, but it’s always important to take into consideration what might happen when the unexpected arises . No local guide means you don’t have an expert with you if you get lost, struggle with language differences, or find yourself in an emergency situation. It means you’ll have to navigate the unknown on your own.

What is independent travel?

The difference between a guided tour vs. independent travel is that with independent travel, you’re flying solo. You’re in charge of all of it—the flights, the accommodation, the planning of the nitty gritty , deciding what you do on a day-to-day basis while abroad.

You have to do all your own research and navigate on your own. You call the shots. For some, this is the only way to travel, but for others, independent travel can be wildly outside of their comfort zones.

3 pros of independent travel

1. you’ll save money..

Independent travel can often be your cheapest travel option . You won’t have to pay a fee to a company to organize travel for you; you can spend what you want on food, accommodation, and excursions; and you can opt for budget options or free activities if you’re working with a small budget.

2. It’s the most flexible travel option.

person holding backpack looking at smartphone

In the mood to choose your own adventure? Independent travel is the way to go.

With independent travel, you set the pace. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want. It means you can opt for the experiences that are on your bucket list and skip the ones that don’t appeal to you without having to worry about losing money on an all-inclusive tour option. If you’re the type of traveler who loves to go with the flow and wants the flexibility of changing your plans as you please, independent travel could be the best option for you.

3. It’s where the growth happens.

Independent travel is quite possibly the most challenging way to travel, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It means you have the opportunity to truly grow , expand, and learn new skills. You have to learn how to plan, to be flexible, to adapt. You have to learn how to navigate, communicate across cultures, and put yourself out there to make friends. Yes, it can be difficult at times, but there’s no doubt you’ll return home a whole new person.

3 cons of independent travel

1. it’s less safe..

Similar to self-guided travel tours, independent travel means you don’t have a guide or anyone to protect you if things go wrong. If you find yourself sick , lost, or in an emergency situation , you’re the only one who has your back. It’s always safest to travel with a guide; however, if you are set on independent travel, you can do your research to be prepared and stay safe, even if the unknown arises.

2. It can get lonely at times.

If you’re traveling solo, independent travel is usually the most difficult way to make friends. You don’t have a group to bond with or people following the same path. It takes more effort to meet friends. Ultimately, it’s up to you—you can allow yourself to stay lonely, or you can put yourself out there, stay at hostels, talk to a stranger over dinner, and find the perfect travel mates.

3. It can feel overwhelming.

As an independent traveler, you’re responsible for all of it. It’s on you to work out the logistics , book your flights , navigate and communicate through a new country, and budget yourself throughout your travels. You have to be completely self-reliant. For some, this is the fun part, but for others, independent travel can feel extremely overwhelming.

3 guided tours to consider

Are guided tours worth it? It depends on the experience you desire. If you want to take some of the pressure off yourself and embark on a travel adventure that is packed full of new experiences and new friends, it could very well be worth it. Here are some of the best guided tour examples to dip your toes in for the adventure of a lifetime :

pure exploration

1. Pure Exploration: 12 Weeks Adventure Guide Program | Queenstown, New Zealand

  • Why? Join Pure Exploration’s guided travel tours to New Zealand for 12 epic weeks of hiking, climbing, and sightseeing. With Pure Exploration, you’ll join a tour that takes you to Mt. Cook National Park, Mt. Aspiring National Park, the Fjordlands, and more. You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in picturesque mountain landscapes, hike to snow-capped peaks, or kayak through crystal blue waters. When you aren’t getting your adrenaline pumping, you’ll also have the chance to relax in Queenstown and soak in some Kiwi culture.
  • Where? New Zealand
  • Read Pure Exploration reviews


2. IMA: Safaris Africa - Group and Student Travel Opportunities

  • Why? Travel to Africa for guided travel tours that will take you on adventure treks or educational tours to some of the continent’s most renowned destinations. IMA specializes in combining safari experience with education, taking travelers to Mount Kilimanjaro, Victoria Falls, Masai Mara Game Reserve, and Serengeti National Park where you’ll learn about the local culture and take off on ethical safaris to spot some of the most diverse wildlife on the planet.
  • Where? Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia
  • Read International Medical Aid reviews

Nepal Hiking Team

3. Nepal Hiking Team Pvt. Ltd: Everest Base Camp Trek

  • Why? Have you ever dreamed of trekking to Everest Base Camp? Nepal Hiking Team can help you check this off your bucket list, taking you from Kathmandu to Lukla, Nepal, and guiding you through a 16-day trek to base camp on the tallest mountain in the world. The tour includes not only the trek, but sightseeing through Kathmandu and a cultural immersion into Sherpa life. It’s the ultimate adventure travel tour for those who want to push themselves to new heights.
  • Where? Nepal
  • Read Nepal Hiking Team Pvt. Ltd reviews

Get matched with 5 adventure travel programs for FREE

Whether guided, self-guided, or independent, what matters most is that you go.

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No matter what type of travel feels right to you, you’re on your way to exploring the world.

The truth is, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to planning your travel. Whether you decide to jet off on a guided, self-guided, or independent travel adventure, you are sure to have the experience of a lifetime—connecting with new people, immersing yourself in new cultures and languages, and getting your adrenaline pumping in one way or another. The most important part? Say yes, pack your bags , and hit the tarmac!

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Pros and cons of travel credit cards

Ryan Wilcox

If you're new to the world of credit cards and/or travel rewards, you might be wondering if a travel credit card makes sense for you.

If you travel frequently or even semiregularly, travel credit cards are some of the most rewarding cards on the market. With plenty of perks and earning categories — to go along with their sometimes very high annual fees — travel cards can provide plenty of value if used correctly.

Here are some of the upsides and downsides of travel credit cards so you can figure out if it's the right card type for you.

Pros of travel credit cards

Travel perks and benefits.

Premium and even mid-tier travel credit cards often come with lavish perks that pretty much anyone can take advantage of when they're on the go.

Common benefits include annual credits for general travel, services like Global Entry and TSA PreCheck , elite status with a given airline or hotel , access to airport lounges , free checked bags and priority boarding .

Most of these perks are conferred automatically on cardholders, meaning it won't take much effort on your part to take advantage.

flexible guided travel

Travel-based rewards bonuses

If you spend a lot on travel, you'll also enjoy many cards' travel-focused rewards categories, which offer extra points or miles when you spend with an airline or hotel or use a card issuer's travel portal.

For example, the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 5 points per dollar on travel booked through the Chase travel portal, 5 points per dollar on Lyft purchases (through March 2025) and 2 points per dollar on all travel not booked through the Chase travel portal.

If you're loyal to a particular airline or hotel brand, consider applying for one of its cobranded cards , like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card , to enjoy all the perks and rewards bonuses of that program.

Flexible rewards

Many travel cards offer the ability to redeem your points or miles across various hotel and airline transfer partners, leading to even more valuable redemption opportunities .

To do this, most card issuers have their own dedicated travel portals so users can find the best way to utilize their rewards. Some even offer the chance to earn additional points or miles on trips booked through the portal, as mentioned above.

For example, eligible Chase cardholders can get more than 1.25 cents per point in value by transferring rewards to the issuer's 14 different airline and hotel partners . Some of the best Chase transfer partners include United Airlines MileagePlus, World of Hyatt and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.

Valuable welcome bonuses

Lastly, premium travel cards often come with hefty welcome bonuses, which, if obtained, can justify the card's annual fee multiple times over.

Most cards come with a spending threshold that you have to hit within the first three to six months of card membership, so pay attention to that number to see if it's a reasonable spending requirement for you. If a card has a special or elevated welcome offer when applying, even better.

Cons of travel credit cards

Credit score requirements.

While conferring plenty of valuable benefits, travel credit cards usually have stringent credit score requirements, making it difficult to apply for some.

Most travel cards will require a "good" to "excellent" credit score of 670 or higher, with the most premium cards having an even higher requirement. If you're not in that range, consider improving your credit score before getting denied and hurting your score further with a hard inquiry .

High annual fees

Travel credit cards can also come with a bit of sticker shock: high annual fees, with the most lavish cards having price tags upward of $500.

While these annual fees typically justify themselves if you take full advantage of the card's benefits, that can be hard to do if you aren't traveling frequently or laser-focused on maximizing value. Consider starting small with a no-annual-fee or low-annual-fee card and going from there.

flexible guided travel

Travel credit cards also typically come with high annual percentage rates , which is the amount of interest you'll pay on your debt if you don't pay promptly.

Of course, this can be avoided entirely if you pay your card off in full each month, one of TPG's 10 commandments of rewards credit cards . But it's still a consideration if you can't do so.

Difficult to maximize value

It might also be hard for some to get the maximum value from their travel credit cards if they aren't constantly on the go or looking to fund a big upcoming trip .

Unsurprisingly, the best way to take advantage of your travel rewards is to put them toward travel. If you instead redeem rewards for cash back or statement credits, you likely won't get the full value. Moreover, many hotels and airlines are constantly revamping their rewards programs, meaning the value of your points and miles themselves can fluctuate.

For help maximizing value, keep an eye on TPG resources like our evaluations of what points and miles are worth and our guides on getting the most out of your next credit card or vacation stay.

Should you get a travel credit card?

If you have the required credit score and can justify the annual fee, you'll almost definitely be able to squeeze value out of a travel rewards credit card. Remember that welcome offers on cards , to say nothing of benefits and rewards programs, always change. If you have your eye on a card that you think might fit you, apply at a good time to get the most bang for your buck and cash in on a great welcome offer.

Bottom line

Choosing the right travel credit card can help get you over a financial hump and fund your next big trip , or it can just put a little extra money in your pocket each month. How you use it — and how much value you derive from it — is highly dependent on your lifestyle and what makes the most sense for you and your wallet at the time.

For more resources and advice, check out our beginners guide to credit cards .

More From Forbes

Forbes travel guide celebrates asia-pacific winners in tokyo.

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The first Summit Salon took place at Palace Hotel Tokyo.

Forbes Travel Guide launched The Summit Salon, its series of boutique regional events that are an offshoot of its annual worldwide Summit, in Tokyo last week. The inaugural event celebrated Asia-Pacific’s 2023 Star Award recipients and honored winners and finalists of FTG’s “Best of the Year” hospitality accolades.

“Following a few challenging years operating in the Asia-Pacific region, we were delighted to be able to gather this incredible community of hoteliers, travel advisors and industry executives together to celebrate not only their resilience as operators but the exciting growth opportunities for tourism across the region,” said Amanda Frasier, FTG’s president of Ratings. “We look forward to announcing more Summit Salon events for 2024 very soon.”

Guests chatted while sipping Nespresso.

About 100 of the Asia-Pacific region’s Star Award winners hailing from Australia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand attended the salon at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Palace Hotel Tokyo. These top hoteliers mingled with luxury travel advisors, Les Clefs d’Or Japan members, luxury brands and media, including Forbes Japan founder Makoto Takano, around the Nespresso coffee station and over an elegant lunch.

Even though some countries in Asia-Pacific were among the last to drop COVID travel restrictions, the region has seen a strong rebound in tourism following the pandemic, making it fitting to kick off the salon series. The destination had added buzz this year after Macau brought international attention to the region, dethroning London as the city with the most Five-Star awards. Tokyo also is experiencing growth in the luxury hospitality sector, with Bulgari Hotel Tokyo debuting in April and The Tokyo EDITION, Ginza poised to open in early 2024.

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FTG's Jessie Law shared travel insights.

In addition, Frasier revealed at the salon that FTG would expand its ratings in Tokyo and unveil the city’s first restaurant awards Feb. 7, 2024. The announcement was part of a lunchtime session where Frasier took up global travel trends and the evolution of FTG’s Star Rating system to capture changes in the industry since the pandemic. She was joined by Chris Fradin, Forbes Travel Guide’s senior vice president of Partner Services for EMEA and APAC, and Jessie Law, vice president of Partner Services for APAC, who shared travel insights throughout the region, including Macau and Hong Kong.

In the evening, Palace Hotel Tokyo senior managing director and general manager Masaru Watanabe welcomed guests during the salon’s cocktail reception. “Palace Hotel Tokyo was delighted to host The Summit Salon Series Tokyo and to have the opportunity to reconnect with industry leaders from across Asia-Pacific,” Watanabe said. “We look forward to the continued success of our region and our partnership with the Forbes Travel Guide community.”

Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li’s Jack Yan (center) won Employee of the Year.

Attendees sipped Japanese wines and experienced a vibrant display of local cuisine from Palace Hotel Tokyo’s culinary team. FTG also presented its fourth annual Best of the Year winners and finalists from its March awards event with exclusive Baccarat gifts. The accolades recognize the best and brightest in the hospitality industry, pulled from hundreds of nominations from properties around the world. These are then narrowed down to finalists and winners by an FTG executive committee. Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li’s Jack Yan won Employee of the Year, and Londoner Court in Macau had staff member Sam Xue earn a finalist nod for the same award. Plus, City of Dreams Manila was honored for its Responsible Hospitality finalist achievement, accepted by executive leaders Akiko Takahashi and Steve Sasso.

While guests received luxury gift bags from Nespresso, Marc Friedland Couture Communications, Frette and La Bottega, they reaped other benefits.

Desserts at Palace Hotel Tokyo.

“The event provided an excellent opportunity to make new connections and rekindle old friendships,” said Olivier Bonard, senior vice president of Hotel Operations at Five-Star Wynn Palace in Macau. “I had the pleasure of meeting great people and engaging in meaningful conversations. I look forward to the next one.”

More salon series destinations will be announced soon. Meanwhile, FTG will gather its global community for its annual Summit at Resorts World Las Vegas from Feb. 27 to March 1, 2024.

Jennifer Kester

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Best Travel Phone of 2023

Traveling can be more convenient and enjoyable with the right phone at your side. Here are CNET's top picks for the best travel phones of 2023.

Updated on Nov. 16, 2023

Sareena Dayaram

  • More than a decade of journalism experience

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CNET’s expert staff reviews and rates dozens of new products and services each month, building on more than a quarter century of expertise. Read how we test products and services .

Apple's iPhone 15

Try comprehensive phone insurance, covering everyday wear and tear, drops and water damage. Pay only $5/month + tax for 3 months, then $10/month + tax after that. Find out more

Find out more

Are you looking for a new phone to accompany you on a trip or your daily adventures? 

Many retailers start "Black Friday" sales as early as Halloween, or even earlier. The quality of deals can vary early on, but as November progresses, many of the deals are as good as the deep discounts you’ll see during Thanksgiving weekend. See the best Black Friday deals we’ve found.

From the brand-new iPhone 15 lineup to the foldable Galaxy Z Fold 5 , there's no shortage of options for smartphone shoppers hunting for the perfect travel companion. But with so many options, figuring out which one is actually best for your needs can be less than straightforward. Do you want an all-round travel phone? Or is the camera the most important factor for you? Perhaps you value durability the most? Everyone has their own sets of needs and criteria.

To simplify the decision, we've rounded up our top picks for the best travel phone of 2023 across various categories. Each phone on this list has been thoroughly reviewed and tested, and you'll find iPhone and Android options that fit different needs and different budgets. 

Some key criteria for a solid travel phone include long battery life, water and dust protection, multiple SIM card support and versatile cameras for capturing those special moments. We believe these features are important for travelers who need a phone that can withstand different environments and situations while still providing them with the necessary tools to navigate, communicate and document.

What's the best travel phone for most people? 

Apple's iPhone 15 is our pick for the best travel smartphone for most people. For $799 (or less depending on your deals), you get one of the best camera systems money can buy with dust- and water-resistance, a decent battery life, a new USB-C port for convenient charging and eSIM support. The iPhone 15 supports eight eSIM cards or more making it convenient for travelers who need to use a temporary local eSIM in addition to their regular one. 

On the Android side, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy S23 , a fundamentally excellent phone. It has a long battery life, water- and dust-resistance and four cameras. One of the cameras has a telephoto lens for zooming into faraway subjects (handy if you spot a wild animal and don't want to get up close) or simply for capturing local foods you might be enjoying. The Galaxy S23 can accommodate two physical sim cards as well as eSIMs. 

With the Dynamic Island, a USB-C port for more convenient charging and an upgraded camera with a higher resolution and a crisper zoom, the iPhone 15 is a significant upgrade for those with older iPhones. It feels like a scaled back version of the iPhone 14 Pro, making Apple's entry-level iPhone 15 feel like a bigger leap forward than last year's.

The iPhone 15 is available in two sizes. If you're looking for something on the small side there's the 6.1-inch iPhone 15. But if you value a big screen there's the 6.7-inch iPhone 15 Plus. They run on the A16 Bionic chip which should bring notable performance upgrades to those who've had an iPhone that's now several years old. These phones also have Apple's second-gen ultrawideband chip, enabling a new feature that makes it easier to find friends or family members in a crowd. This will definitely help when traveling to an unfamiliar locale.

The iPhone 15 is the most exciting upgrade Apple's standard iPhone has seen in years. Read our iPhone 15 and 15 Plus review . 

  • USB-C port for more convenient charging
  • Colorful matte design
  • Improved camera that can automatically take people and pet portraits
  • Dynamic Island brings better multitasking
  • No always-on display
  • Find My Friends feature only works with other iPhone 15 phones
  • Discounted iPhone 14 Pro may be a better value

Best Travel Phone

The iPhone 15 is the most exciting upgrade Apple's standard iPhone has seen in years. Read our iPhone 15 and 15 Plus review . 


Android fans looking for a petite phone for on the go don't have much to choose from. But the $800 Galaxy S23 and its 6.1-inch display provides a compelling option for those who want a phone that feels compact but still provides enough screen space.

The Galaxy S23 comes with routine upgrades like a fresh processor (a version of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that's been optimized for Samsung's phones), a slightly refined design and a high-resolution selfie camera. But it's the Galaxy S23's larger battery that makes it worth recommending. Read our Samsung Galaxy S23 review .

  • Attractive design
  • Four generations of Android OS updates
  • Longer battery life than the Galaxy S22
  • Fast performance
  • More storage in the base S23 Plus
  • Cameras are basically the same as last year
  • No improvements to fast charging
  • Regular Galaxy S23 lacks base storage upgrade

Samsung's Galaxy S23

Best Android travel phone

Samsung galaxy s23.


After taking a big leap forward in 2023, the $499 Google Pixel 7A is our top pick for a travel phone that won't break the bank. Since it runs on the same Tensor G2 chipset as the Pixel 7, it has many of the same photo editing and language translation features which could come in handy during your travels. Apart from that, the Pixel 7A's 64-megapixel takes great photos that rival the Pixel 7's quality. The Pixel 7A is also durable with an IP67 rating for water and dust resistance and dependable battery life that lasts you a full day on just a single charge. Here's our full Google Pixel 7A review in case you want more information.

We chose Google's budget phone over Apple's cheaper iPhone SE since it has more cameras and a larger screen among other features, which should make navigation and watching your shows on the go a more pleasant experience. If you get the 7A on GoogleFi, Google's cellular service, you also get benefits such as no roaming fees when traveling internationally . 

  • Great cameras
  • Many of the same features as the Pixel 7 at a cheaper price
  • IP67 rating for water and dust resistance
  • Screen still looks dim outdoors
  • Only three generations of Android OS updates less than competitors

Best budget-friendly travel phone

Google pixel 7a.

We chose Google's budget phone over Apple's cheaper iPhone SE since it has more cameras and a larger screen among other features, which should make navigation and watching your shows on the go a more pleasant experience. If you get the 7A on GoogleFi, Google's cellular service, you also get benefits such as no roaming fees when traveling internationally . 


With its souped up AI features, we recommend the $699 Pixel 8 if you want to travel and create content for the 'gram. Apart from its slim design, durability rating, and dependable battery life, it can also capture solid night time images and has a suite of editing tools to help you take the best possible photos. Best Take, for instance, allows you to take a few consecutive photos of a person or group of people, and then swap out a person's head with a different version from another image from the series to get their best facial expression. On the video side, there's Audio Eraser, among other tools, is another useful feature for video that helps you remove unwanted noise from the background.

Here's our full  Google Pixel 8 review .

  • Fantastic cameras
  • Lighter and brighter
  • Best Take works well
  • Low light imaging capabilities 
  • No telephoto camera like Galaxy S23
  • Audio Magic Eraser doesn't have a live preview

Best travel phone for content creation

Google pixel 8.

Here's our full  Google Pixel 8 review .

  • Low light imaging capabilities 


Although flip phones aren't necessarily the ideal choice for traveling (due to subpar durability and cameras), if you're dead set on taking one along with you, then bring along Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5. Flip phones definitely win in the portability category. If that's your main consideration and if you're not fussed about taking the best possible photos for instance, the supremely portable and lightweight Galaxy Z Flip 5 could be a good option. However, at $1,000 it doesn't come cheap, so make sure to get a case before you venture off into a new locale. 

  • Easily Pocketable
  • Expensive compared to travel phone rivals, the iPhone 15 and Galaxy S23
  • Cameras and durability are subpar compared to slab phone counterparts

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5 pictured half-open. 

The weather widget being shown on the Galaxy Z Flip 5's cover screen.

Best travel flip phone

Samsung galaxy z flip 5.

Although flip phones aren't necessarily the ideal choice for traveling (due to subpar durability and cameras), if you're dead set on taking one along with you, then bring along Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 5. Flip phones definitely win in the portability category. If that's your main consideration and if you're not fussed about taking the best possible photos for instance, the supremely portable and lightweight Galaxy Z Flip 5 could be a good option. However, at $1,000 it doesn't come cheap, so make sure to get a case before you venture off into a new locale. 


Other travel phones we tested

The iPhone SE 2022 is also a worthy contender for a budget-friendly travel phone. It has a smaller 4.7-inch screen and just one rear camera, but you get Apple's A15 Bionic chip and 5G support, for $429. 

The $600  Galaxy S23 FE is an solid phone that gets you access to  Samsung's  higher-end features without the higher price.


The back of the Galaxy S23 FE.

How to buy a new travel phone

Look for local SIM and eSIM cards: Some countries might not have a roaming agreement with your carrier, in which case opt for buying a local SIM card or eSIM. Check with your carrier before you travel and look into what's offered at your destination.

Consider last year's models: When a new phone gets launched, stores and carriers discount their older phones to sell off existing stock.

Buy a case and screen protector:  Phones sold today are more durable than ones from even a few years ago. It's a good idea to protect your phone with a case when you travel because if you damage it, you might not have any option to get it repaired quickly.


CNET reviewer Lisa Eadicicco testing out the Galaxy Z Flip 5 in Seoul.

How we test phones

We test every phone in real-world scenarios, focusing on its features, design, performance, cameras, battery life and overall value. We document our findings in an initial review that is periodically updated when there are new software updates, or to compare it against new phones from competitors such as Apple, Samsung, Google and OnePlus.


Photography is a major focus for most phones these days, so we take pictures and videos of various subjects in a variety of settings and lighting scenarios. We try out any new camera modes, such as Action mode that debuted with the iPhone 14 line, or the Unblur photo tool that launched with the Google Pixel 7 series.

Battery life 

Battery testing is conducted in a variety of ways. We assess how long a phone lasts during a typical day of use and note how it performs during more focused sessions of video calls, media streaming and gaming. We also conduct a video playback test, as a simple, replicable measure of pure battery life, which isn't always included in the initial review but sometimes added later in an update.


Emergency SOS might be one of the most important features to come out on any phone this year.

Performance measuring 

We use benchmarking apps to measure each phone's performance, alongside our own anecdotal experiences using the phone for our review. Of note are how graphics and animations look. Are they smooth? Or do they lag or stutter? We also look at how quickly the phone switches between horizontal and vertical orientations, and how fast the camera app opens and is ready to take a photo.

We perform processor-heavy tasks like editing photos, exporting videos and playing games. We evaluate whether a newer version of a particular phone includes enough features to make it worth upgrading from older models.

Read more: How We Test Phones


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