2016: 10 Dec 2017: 7 Jan, 25 Mar, 6 May, 1 Jun, 1 Jul, 29 Jul, 3 Aug, 16 Sep, 30 Sep, 28 Oct, 18 Nov, 25 Nov, 9 Dec
Small group vacations
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: Luang Prabang to Hanoi cycling vacation, Laos and Vietnam
Asia Cycling tours - Our cycling tours in SE Asia have all been designed with sustainable travel principles firmly in mind.
Our Responsible Travel Guidebook - Our philosophy since 1975 has been to leave only footprints and take only photographs. To reiterate this, every customer who travels with us receives a copy of our award-winning Responsible Travel guidebook. This detailed book outlines our environmentally sustainable principles, and outlines how each customer can minimize their impact while traveling.
Global Warming and Carbon Balancing - The root cause of Global Warming is society's dependence on emission creating fossil fuel. Planting trees is not going to reverse this trend or cancel our carbon emissions very quickly or effectively. We believe the way to reduce these dependencies is to create clean energy production. Therefore, we support renewable energy projects like wind and solar power, and we are aligned with Climate Friendly, the gold standard setter in effective, meaningful action addressing climate change. So, while we believe that tree planting can play a small role in greenhouse gas abatement, we have gone the extra mile in promoting a longer term solution. Is this cheap? No. Is it responsible? Absolutely.
On tour, we travel in small groups of maximum 16 cyclists, led by a locally employed and trained leader, to minimise our impact on the communities we visit. We also aim to maximise the financial benefits to local and remote village. We do the latter by purchasing and preparing food locally and providing home stay opportunities, where appropriate, which provide the local villagers with an extra source of revenue. We assist the home stay visits by providing the required sleeping needs for our travelers to the communities.
Getting well away from the main roads by cycling rural back roads will bring you into contact with local people who do not see masses of tourists. This provides you with an opportunity for real and authentic cultural exchange and allows you to make purchases or even supply appropriate gifts to communities that do not benefit from the mass tourist trails.
On certain nights on tour we organise local cooking demonstrations, rather than visiting a restaurant, to again employ the services of locals, utilise their fresh and delicious produce and provide you with an authentic experience.
Cycling tours allow us the opportunity to employ more local staff as bike mechanics and local drivers who are required for additional support. We employ a different local team in each country we visit on the cross-border cycling tours.
With the assistance of our local guides we distribute donated clothing, books & stationery supplies to the children living in remote hill-tribe villages. We also support our local partners clean-up program in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Halong Bay.
No local payments policy - Local cash payments are becoming increasingly popular with many operators in the adventure travel industry. This policy seems to benefit the tour operators more than the local economies or the travelers, as it avoids local taxes and transfers the costs and risks of cash handling onto the travelers. In accordance with our Responsible Travel practices, we have chosen a policy of not asking for such payments.