DIY disappointment? Try a group tour

We’ve all been there: you spend hours and hours planning a special vacation for yourself and your family, and yet when you get to your destination it’s less than perfect.

Maybe you get stuck behind a large crowd at that famous attraction you really wanted to see, or you get lost on your way to your hotel. Before you know it, hours are wasted that could have been spent enjoying this new place with your family and friends.

Perhaps you didn’t have time to research restaurants before you left, and you end up eating disappointing meal after disappointing meal. Or maybe you want to take your family on a special excursion, like a rafting trip, but you’re not sure which company is the safest?

Of course, we know that any trip you take with your family or friends will be unforgettable, but why not make it extra special? When you choose a group tour arranged by a travel agent through a seasoned tour operator, an extra special experience is exactly what you’ll get.

What is a Group Tour?

There are different ways you can experience a group tour. Your group’s preferences and needs will help determine the type of group tour you choose.

Some tour operators offer set itineraries with specific departure dates, co-mingling independent travelers into small groups to maximize economies. Depending on the operator, groups can be as few as six people, or up to 40 or more if a tour bus, cruise ship or charter vessel is used. Some operators offer more exclusive trips, capping participation at 12 to 16, branding them as “luxury small groups”, employing smaller transport vehicles, boutique-style hotels and more upscale experiences. 

If you prefer to travel exclusively with loved ones or select friends, custom groups are the way to go. These often follow the framework of a tour operator’s set tours, but can incorporate additional cities, sites and experiences according to the group’s desires. Groups can design and follow their own path and interests, like bird watching; religious heritage; food and wine; education; architecture or even scuba diving, mountain biking, yoga or other sporting activities.

4 Reasons to Take a Group Tour

Tour operators have the local contacts and buying power from repeated group departures, so it makes sense to take advantage of pricing and room allotments that tour operators negotiate in advance. Especially in popular tourist destinations where quality hotels are scarce (e.g., Venice), or where capacity is limited due to local tourism restrictions (e.g., Peru’s Machu Picchu), it makes sense to book with a tour operator. Here are some other reasons to consider a group tour.

1.You don’t need to worry about the planning

Planning is the first step to a memorable vacation, but it can also be the most time-consuming and stressful. There are so many details to work out: transportation between cities and sights, accommodations that fit your needs, and activities that will delight every member of your group. Many people don’t have time to plan a trip with the same attention to detail as someone who has been in the business for decades. That’s where a travel agent comes in. We’ll vet the tour operators for you, and select only reputable companies that know the countries, cities, and villages you want to visit, because they’ve been there time and time again! All the details of your group travel will be worked out in advance, so you can relax and enjoy!

2.  You get to connect with like-minded travelers

If you’re traveling solo or with a partner, yet crave engagement with other travelers, there’s no better choice than a group tour. What better way to connect with like-minded travelers, knowing that you have at least one thing in common with the others – a love of travel? Chances are, though, that you’ve got much more in common than that. With group travel, you can create shared experiences with family, friends, and of course, your new, soon-to-be friends. You never know who you’ll meet on a group trip, but you can rest assured that the connection will be fast and enduring.

3.  You will get unforgettable, unique experiences

With vetted tour operators that specialize in group adventures, you are sure to get a unique experience and a special touch around every corner: knowledgeable guides that know exactly where to go for that brag-worthy dinner made with local produce or that unknown hiking path with a spectacular view at the end. You no longer have to rely on the likes of Google and Yelp – they’ve got you covered. Our favorite tour companies travel as authentically as possible, meaning you’ll get an experience that many tourists and travelers couldn’t dream of, and you’ll meet some friendly locals along the way.

4.  You can rely on knowledgeable guides

The most reputable companies have experienced guides who have been with them for decades, offering extensive knowledge of the regions they share with you. Not only are they trained to provide the highest quality service, they are experts at what they do and where they live. Some companies offer guest-to-guide ratios as low as 6:1, which means they’re never too busy to make your experience one-of-a-kind.

Let’s Go!

When you’re on vacation you deserve to relax and have a good time. At Zensational Journeys, we make sure that happens for you, your family, and your friends. The next time you’re researching a vacation destination, let us uncover some of the hidden gems our established tour operators have to offer. Fill out this form and let’s start planning an unparalleled adventure without the ‘DIY’ pressure. Keep in mind, there is no additional cost for us to manage your group travel adventure.

For inspiration, here are some of our favorite tour operators that specialize in small group travel. Check out their websites and let us know if any trips appeal to you, we’ll do the rest!

African Travel For over 40 years, African Travel, Inc. has created extraordinary, handcrafted, luxury safari experiences ensuring immersive and authentic cultural encounters across the continent. They specialize in crafting custom, personalized trips with unique and meaningful experiences that will create lasting memories. Safari choices are available for all travelers at prices from moderate to premium, both tailor-made itineraries and pre-planned set departures. Special touches include Concierge Care, 24/7 emergency assistance, provided by on-site offices in Africa and from USA headquarters. Plus, a travel insurance plan is included for every traveler providing coverage for accident and sickness medical expenses and emergency evacuation. (Applies to U.S. residents only). $$-$$$$

Austin Adventures This family-owned company operates truly authentic experiences and epitomizes a down-to-earth “life is good” philosophy with guest-to-guide ratios as low as 6:1. It’s easy to find the right experience, with trips designed specifically for families, solo travelers, couples, friends, and adults-only. Tours are tailored for your special interest: biking; hiking; multi-sports; culture and history; safari and wildlife; and small ship cruises (think Galapagos). Destinations: North America, US National Parks, Latin America, Europe, Asia & Pacific, Africa and Antartica. $$$

Butterfield & Robinson designs and runs the world’s most immersive, inspiring and unforgettable journeys. Crafted from the finest ingredients (exceptional lodgings, incomparable insider access, stellar food and wine, and more than 50 years of experience), B&R trips combine adventure with unparalleled cultural immersion in the world’s greatest destinations. Scheduled Trips are active, from walking, biking and multi-active trips to food and wine focus, yet flexible, so participants are free to set their own pace and enjoy time on their own. Safaris, boat trips, family adventures as well as private and self-guided tours are also available. $$$$

G Adventures Founded in 1990 by social entrepreneur Bruce Poon Tip, G Adventures is a small group adventure travel operator offering more than 700 tours in 100 countries, on all seven continents. G Adventures’ award-winning trips support local communities, giving travelers meaningful experiences with people, cultures, landscapes and wildlife, while offering them the freedom and flexibility to explore on their own. G Adventures’ responsible approach to travel is demonstrated through its ‘G for Good’ social impact initiatives, which include travel guidelines for children, wildlife and Indigenous people, community-based social enterprise projects travelers can experience on trip, and its industry-leading ‘Ripple Score’ assessment which measures how many traveler dollars stay in the local economy. G Adventures offers life-changing tours for people of all ages, interests and budgets. Travel “styles” include Classic Tours, National Geographic Journeys, 18-to-Thirtysomethings, Wellness Tours, and Marine Tours $$-$$$

Intrepid Travel  Intrepid has been a carbon-neutral business since 2010, and now have 42 carbon-neutral offices and offer over 2000 carbon-offset trips. They’ve led the industry on animal welfare by being the first global tour operator to end elephant rides and by bringing awareness to the cruelty of lion walks. They’ve also taken a leadership position on child protection by removing orphanage visits from their itineraries. Intrepid has identified eight of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that they can contribute to most to as a tourism business. By focusing on these goals, they ensure a strong commitment to areas where their business can make the most difference and be a company with a purpose beyond profit. They’re also committed to promoting gender equality, both within their business and without, which is why they’re striving to double their number of female leaders by 2020.Intrepid offers a worldwide trips for a variety of lifestyles and budgets: Basix trips generally attract the younger crowd, Comfort the older and Original, well, all and everything between. $$-$$$$

Monograms If it’s the freedom, personalization, and adventure of an independent vacation you want without the headaches, hassles and hang-ups of piece-meal trips, Monograms packages provide the perfect combination of half-day VIP sightseeing and just enough guidance from a Local Host for travelers to conveniently use the rest of their time experiencing the local flavor. Part of the Globus family of tour brands, Monograms offers Independent Packages including City Stays, Road Trips, and Rail Vacations. $$

Tauck World Discovery From riverboat cruising to family travel, and from regional escorted tours to multi-country journeys, Tauck World Discovery (formerly Tauck Tours) offers more than 100 itineraries on all seven continents. Tauck continually receives top ratings from industry magazines for its travel excellence. Is it any wonder that Tauck has been named the ‘#1 Tour Operator and Safari Outfitter’ three times by the readers of Travel and Leisure magazine? $$$$

Trafalgar offers 8 different travel styles, including At Leisure Vacations, Family Vacations, Hidden Journeys, Cruise/Rail/Combination trips, Discovery Vacations in Europe, Regional Explorers, Country Explorers and Special Interest itineraries. Costsaver by Trafalgar features value tours in USA, Canada, Central America, and Europe. With more a la carte sightseeing options, Costsaver by Trafalgar gives your guests all the benefits of a guided trip with more flexibility and free time, at a great price. With more than 230 trips to worldwide destinations including Europe, North & South America, Asia and Australia & New Zealand, we continue to innovate the travel experience.  $$$$