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 companies 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 a small group tour or do you like making 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 2021 for every type of traveler.
Best Overall Group Travel: Exodus Travels
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 recently partnered 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.
Best Small Ship Group Travel: Zegrahm Expeditions
Some destinations (like the Maldives or Antarctica) are best explored via boat, especially if you’re a snorkeling or diving enthusiast. However, there’s a world of difference between visiting a destination on a small ship vs. a mega-cruise boat. Zegrahm Expeditions specializes in intimate, small ship cruises, where you might be sharing your journey with as few as 25 other guests.
Zegrahm Expeditions’ itineraries are so unique that they rarely run the same trip twice—so this is where you should look for once-in-a-lifetime bucket list group tours like witnessing a total solar eclipse in Antarctica.
In addition to small ship group travel, Zegrahm Expeditions runs small group tour adventures on land as well, taking groups of 10-14 guests to a diverse range of destinations.
Best Budget Group Travel: G Adventures
For travelers on a budget, G Adventures offers cheap group tours that make dream destinations accessible to nearly anyone. (Think: sailing the Galapagos for under $1,000, criss-crossing India’s Golden Triangle for $637, or spending 9 days in Bali for less than $700.)
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, which range from “basic” to a more luxe tours run in partnership with National Geographic, to find the best tour for you. Family tours, local living tours (featuring homestays), and wellness-focused tours are also available.
Best Group Tours for Young Adults: For the Love of Travel
Want to be on a tour with travelers in your own age group? If you’re in your 20s or 30s, For the Love of Travel (FTLO) is the group tour company for you. Founder Tara Cappel launched FTLO as a way to help younger travelers get out and see the world while making new friends. “Our trips are hassle-free (like a vacation) but have the adventure and cultural enrichment of solo travel,” says Cappel. “Each itinerary is designed to include unique activities and authentic cultural experiences while still giving travelers plenty of time to explore on their own. Plus, we run each trip as if we were traveling with our own friends—because by the end of it, we are.”
Best Educational Group Tours: EF Go Ahead Tours
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.
Best Responsible Group Travel: Intrepid Travel
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.)
Best Adventure Group Travel: MT Sobek Travel
Summit Kilimanjaro, swim among thousands of stingless jellyfish in Indonesia, or kayak the fjords in Norway—MT Sobek has hundreds of incredible adventures that will satisfy all adrenaline-addicts. Search by activity type (adventure cruising, cultural discovery, family adventure, hiking/trekking, rafting/kayaking, or wildlife/safari) or by destination to find your perfect trip.
MT Sobek’s small group tours are accessible to travelers of any fitness level—trips are clearly grouped by activity level. Level one is relaxed and includes game drives or short walks on flat surfaces, whereas level five could involve hikes of up to 12 hours a day.
Best Private Group Travel: 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.
Best Polar Group Travel: Chimu Adventures
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.
Best Biking Tours Group Travel: DuVine Cycling
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.
Best Luxury Group Travel: Abercrombie & Kent
Abercrombie & Kent has been delighting discerning travelers since 1962. Today, they take travelers on unforgettable adventures across 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.
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