Do you want to travel internationally, but don’t have many (or ANY) friends who are willing or able to go with you? Group travel tours are a great solution! There are a bunch of reputable companies who specialize in group travel, which gives you the opportunity to see the world, meet like-minded people and possibly some new friends along the way.
The other night the husband and I were discussing where we want to travel next, and what kind of vacation we want to have. We decided that we wanted to look into group travel adventures while we’re young. Many of these experiences are designed for young adults and have very strict age ranges. Also, while many of these trips are relaxing, sightseeing-type vacations, some of them are physically challenging (think backpacking, camping and boating for days in a different country). The major perks of going on these adventures as part of a group (instead of going on your own) are safety, affordability, and you get a travel guide. I’ve been researching our options and I would like to share some websites that have great group travel deals at affordable prices.
If you really want a good deal and you have flexible dates, always check out the “Deals” section to see trips that depart soon and/or have a few open spots left. There truly is no overall best option out of these companies, the difference is in the details of every trip, and the travel styles vary pretty widely from company to company. I suggest that you explore them all and see what matches your budget and style. No matter what kind of vacation you desire, I’m sure there’s a group travel company that fits your needs!
Ultimate Break has a large selection of destinations with very structured itineraries that are sure to make your vacation memorable by the hour. One thing that I appreciate about EF is that they include flights in your total price, which many other group travel sites don’t. I think this is more convenient (and often saves you more money) than booking your own flight. They offer flexible payment plans and will refund your deposit if you change your mind within 48 hours after booking. They also have a semi-annual sale which is happening RIGHT NOW through August 2’nd.
Age Range: 18-29
Destination Options: Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia & New Zealand, and Africa.
Payment/Refunds: Minimum $150 deposit. Flexible payment plans with an option to auto-deduct once or twice a month. Full payment due 30 days before your departure date.
Group Size: Up to 44 travelers.
I heard about this company from one of my friends and I shared it with another girlfriend who is actually on a Contiki tour in Europe as I’m writing this! She was able to talk to some people who would be traveling with her by connecting in a Facebook group a few weeks in advance, which is a really nice way to get familiar with the people who you’re going to be traveling with for the next few days or weeks. Contiki claims to be the original group travel tour website for young, adventurous adults and they claim to have the best value and flexibility for your money. I cannot vouch for that specifically, but they do have excellent reviews and seem to offer a high level of safety and knowledge with their tour guides.
Age Range: 18-35
Destination Options: Europe, US & Canada, Asia, Latin America, New Zealand, Australia
Payment/Refunds: Initial deposits vary. Entire amount is due 45 days prior to departure. Payments can be made at any time online.
Group Size: 25-50 people
This is a fun site because they have some interesting options which include festival trips, small group travel, day tours and more. The festival trips include unique experiences like Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Kimchi Festival in South Korea, and Halloween in Salem and New York. They boast traveling by train, rickshaw or camel instead of huge tourist coaches, giving a more authentic experience. They also pride themselves on slow travel instead of “churning through 30 countries in 10 days”, and spending lots of time interacting with the locals in each region.
Age Range: 18-29
Destination Options: Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, Middle East, North America, and South America.
Payment/Refunds: $100 deposit and full payment is due 56 days before departure.
Group Size: An average of 9 people(!).
This is Geckos Adventures sister company! If you or your traveling companion is over the age limit for Geckos, you can have an extremely similar experience through Intrepid travels. The only real difference is that your travel companions are likely to be older. Intrepid still offers over 250 different small-group adventures that are sustainable and environmentally friendly!
Age Range: 19-100
Destination Options: They literally go everywhere, including the Arctic and Antarctica. Destinations = Endless.
Payment/Refunds: Varies based on if you’re traveling “Basix” (budget), “Original” (average), or “Comfort” (luxury).
Group Size: An average of 10 adventurers per trip.
While some group tours have very structured itineraries (like EF Ultimate Break), Topdeck offers very open itineraries so that travelers can spend as much time doing whatever they want, wherever they are. This might be a good option for those who want the security of group travel, but more of the flexibility or solidarity that goes with traveling on your own. Topdeck claims to give you the best value for your money. They are quite similar to Contiki, but not as well-known and they compensate for that by having slightly lower prices on their tours.
Age Range: “18-30 somethings”.
Destination Options: Europe, US & Canada, Asia, Africa & Middle East, New Zealand & Australia
Payment/Refunds: They offer “rolling deposits”, so if something comes up and you can’t go on your trip, your deposit will roll over for up to 2 years for any re-booking.
Group Size: Varies, but generally larger groups with up to 50 people.
6) G Adventures
G Adventures is an interesting travel company because they have trips categorized in different “Travel Styles”, which include Classic Tours, National Geographic Journeys, Active Tours, 18-30 somethings Tours, Marine Tours, Rail Tours, Family Tours, Local Living Tours, and Private Groups. That’s a LOT of options that aren’t offered on most other group travel sites, and like Intrepid Travel, they make a point to travel responsibly without harming local or larger-scale environments.
Age Range: Either over 25 OR 18-30 something (they have multiple tour options for both age groups).
Destination Options: Polar Regions, North and South America, North Africa and the Middle East, Europe, Central America and the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, and Africa.
Payment/Refunds: Varies widely.
Group Size: Up to 15, with an average of 10 per group.
Group travel like this is a fairly new experience that simply wasn’t available a few decades ago. It’s becoming increasingly popular as time goes on, for good reason. No matter which company you decide to travel with, I believe all of them will leave you with positive memories and unmatched adventure.
Have you traveled with any of these companies? If so, what was your experience? Are there any great group travel sites that I didn’t include here? Let me know in the comments!