What is a small group vacation?

Small group travel is like having a friend in every city, village or farm you choose to visit. Someone who knows all the best cafés and restaurants – where the menus don’t have photos of the food, and all the seats are filled with locals.

It’s like having a companion who can translate for you, who can ensure you’re getting on the right train, who can take you out to meet their friends – and maybe even invite you round to meet their family. Taking a small group vacation is like having a local “fixer” – someone who can ensure a blocked-off highway, or a delayed flight, or a workers’ strike doesn’t disrupt your trip.
Small group tour guides know what time the parades will whirl past, which dishes are really vegan and which of the “must-sees” are best bypassed in favour of lesser-known treasures.
Our small group cultural vacations reveal authentic local culture – not a version of it put on for tourists. Small group activity vacations are graded by ability and interest – and your fellow travelers will form a motivational team. Small group family trips mean your children aren’t stuck with boring grown-ups – and tour leaders will know how to inspire and excite young minds.

In fact, the tour leader is key to the success of any small group vacation. They aren’t there to herd you around, but to plan, advise, assist and make sure that everything runs smoothly – meaning that you’ll be able to relax and let your experience unfold.

Read on to see why we think small group vacations mean big adventures – and why our travelers agree.

Why choose a small group vacation?

“For me the benefits of small group travel by train are very clear,” says Liz Anderson from our partner Sundowners Overland. “You’ve got the knowledge that the tour companies will design the trip with the right stops in the right places. Particularly on long journeys where there’s so much to see and do – an organised tour helps condense that down.”

“You get peace of mind – we have local partners in all those destinations. And you have a guide all the way facilitating stuff on the train with the attendants and border crossings. Things seem to change on a regular basis – having someone there can be reassuring.”

Big experiences

Small group trips offer big, life-enriching experiences that would be difficult, if not impossible, to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge – from trekking the Great Wall of China to taking an overland tour of Africa.


Make the most of your time away by letting someone else take care of the hard work and boring logistics, from booking hotel rooms to queuing for train tickets, while you get on with enjoying yourself.

Peace of mind

Small group tours mean that all the security aspects are taken care of on your behalf – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.

Cultural insights

You can’t possibly learn all the languages of Southeast Asia or read every menu in Mongolia. But your group leader and local guides are there to break down the language barrier, and ensure you travel like a local, not an outsider.

Great companions

“One thing that’s underrated is the rapport that you get from a small group,” says Andrew Appleyard from our partner Exodus Travels. “Traveling by small group can be very rewarding – it’s really wonderful meeting people with a similar mindset and just enjoying these spectacular surroundings.”
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Small group or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Who are they for?

Travelers short on time

If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small group trips let you cover more ground in less time. You’ll follow a carefully designed itinerary (with plenty of free time for solo exploration too) so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who enjoy a bit of company

Small group vacations mean travel companions from a wide variety of backgrounds, but with a shared interest, plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers

Enjoy the freedom to stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost and meet local people without having to deal with the language barrier.

What you need to know

Will I have any privacy on a small group trip?

Couples and friends have private rooms and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements are usually available, giving solo travelers their own room – and space.

Do small group vacations include free time?

Small group vacations follow pre-arranged itineraries at a relaxed pace, however they will often include the occasional free mornings or afternoon, letting you explore on your own or just relax. Your tour leader can recommend the best places to eat, drink, shop – or simply admire the view.

What will the accommodation be like?

Trips can be as high or low end as you like and the accommodation will match – we have a huge range of small group vacations to choose from. The most off-the-beaten-track destinations may not have luxury hotels, but that’s all part of the adventure.

Who will I be traveling with?

Getting to know your fellow travelers is a big part of the fun. Our partners aim to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll make new friends before dinner on the first day.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Cristina Cerda] [Intro: iStock] [Big experiences: jpll2002] [Cultural insights: S. Tsuchiya] [Who are they for?: Martchan] [Need to know: Image Source]