Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.
Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.
Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travelers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.
Responsible tourism: Mexico small group tour
This tour through Mexico includes guided tours of Mayan ruins such as Palenque ruins, Teotihuacan and Monte Albán. The entry fees to these important sites helps maintain and look after the upkeep of these ancient ruins.
We recommend travelers care for the environment by not littering, reusing plastic bottles, conserving electricity, being aware of the plumbing limitations in certain areas, staying on designated paths whilst hiking and refraining from touching or feeding wild animals.
In Mexico, we encourage our travelers to behave responsibly and we give advice on ethical travel and cultural sensitivity via our website and through the expertise and experience of our tour leaders. We also recommend learning some basic Spanish to enhance your contact with locals and to appreciate that local people may have different values and customs to what you are used to in your own country. We travel in a spirit of open-mindedness and acceptance.
We visit local businesses in order to help give back to the community. In San Cristobal de las Casas our tour leaders will encourage passengers to visit Normitas Restauarant. This is a tiny, family owned restaurant with home-style cooking. We also have the option to partake in a village tour. Here part of the cost of this tour is paid directly to the churches that we visit in order to help maintain them within the community.
We are a member of LATA which supports the LATA foundation, a UK-based charity dedicated to promoting sustainable development, conservation and poverty relief in Latin America. Projects in Mexico include providing clean drinking water via water fountains in schools in Puerto Vallarta and a training school in Puerto Vallarta running practical courses in hairdressing, sewing, bakery and beauty treatments.