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Let's face it, we all love to travel but most of us prefer not to get stuck on a large tour bus with dozens of others tourists. On top of that, smaller groups are more nimble, allowing us to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time. Add in the ability to create tighter bonds with our fellow travelers and it doesn't take long to understand why small groups are the preferred option for organized tours.
If you're looking to travel as part of small group these tour operators and adventure travel companies do a great job of keeping the size of their departures small. Some of these companies cap the number of travelers at just 16, while others may go as high as 20 or more depending on specific itineraries. The styles of travel varies from bare bones to luxury, but among these tour operators you'll find adventurous and active trips to every corner of the globe. You just won't have to deal with being part of a large crowd that finds itself herded from one place to the next.
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G Adventures, offers a wide variety of imaginative trips, with several of them earning a spot on National Geographic Traveler magazine's "Tours of a Lifetime" lists on a regular basis.
The company offers different styles of trips to meet the needs of different types of travelers. The "Basic" options are for those who want their lodging set and prefer having guides for advice, but still want lots of freedom to explore each day too. The "comfort" trips offer a higher standard of lodging and transportation, and more guiding as a group, while the "standard" level of service provides an even more upgraded level of service, lodging, and transportation.
On a G trip you can expect the group size to be capped at about 16 people, with most groups averaging around 10 or so.
Intrepid Travel offers off-the-beaten path experiences to more than 120 countries around the world. Trip styles include active adventures; multisport options that include cycling, trekking and some volunteer activities; independent travel; family travel; and Basix travel, which is more of a grassroots-style journey.
Most of Intrepid's departures small-group trips where travelers use local transportation and stay in inexpensive lodging. The average size of an Intrepid group is about 10 people.
Mountain Travel Sobek
Pioneers in the adventure travel industry, Mountain Travel Sobek has been around in one form or another since 1969. The company offers more than 200 itineraries to every corner of the globe, including some of the most remote places on the planet. Many of the trips are unique and aren't found anywhere else, with options to visit the Arctic, Antarctic, and even places like Papua New Guinea.
The team at Mountain Travel Sobek knows that travelers get a lot more out of their experience if they travel in smaller groups, so the vast majority of their excursions are designed for 15 people or less. This allows the guides to be flexible with itineraries, often sneaking in some special side trips along the way.
When it comes to climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, there is no better operator on the mountain than Tusker. The company has been leading teams to the summit for more than 40 years, and has an extremely high success rate.
Not interested in knocking off the highest peak in Africa? Tusker also takes clients to places like Mongolia, Patagonia, and Everest Base Camp too. Most groups range in size from 6-12 people, although often times they are even smaller than that. The maximum group size never exceeds 16 however, making these adventurous outings a truly special experience.
Flash Pack offers some of the most unique and engrossing itineraries in the adventure travel space, taking guests to six continents. What sets this company apart from most others is the surprise elements that it weaves into each of its departures. For instance, those who visit Egypt with Flash Pack will get a chance to kayak on the Nile, while on their Cambodia trip you can explore Siem Reap on an ATV.
Small group travel is at the core of what Flash Pack offers, with groups typically including 16 people or less. Most of those travelers are of the solo variety, with many falling between he ages of 30-50. The idea is to create a bond between the members of the group that continues long after everyone has gone home.
Abercrombie & Kent
For nearly six decades Abercrombie & Kent has set the standard for luxury adventure travel. The company offers outstanding, one-of-a-kind, itineraries to all seven continents, the Middle East, Cuba, and even the Arctic.
Group size for all A&K trips are set to just 12 total guests, but for a truly magical experience have the company create a Tailor Made journey to your exact specifications. Not only will you get to choose exactly where you go and what you do, you'll be able to limit the size of group according to your own needs. Perfect for a couple celebrating a special event or a family looking to explore the world together, the options for luxury adventure travel are truly wide open.
Austin Adventures has been leading small group tours all over the world for more than 25 years, making it one of the most experienced adventure travel companies around. The tour operator offers amazing trips to U.S. National Parks, but also leads excursions to Canada, Europe, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Antarctica too.
In order to give travelers a more authentic and enriching experience, the company caps its group sizes at 18, allowing guides and support crew to provided a very personalized experience. Austin Adventures even offers a departure guarantee, meaning that when you book your trip the tour will go, even if you're the only one on it. How cool is that?
Tauck has always viewed small-group travel as the most authentic and thrilling way to explore the world, and has tailored its journeys around that philosophy. With departures to six different continents across the globe, there truly are options for just about every kind of adventurer.
But, Tauck also offers some of the best options for small ship and river cruises too, taking clients to places like Cuba, Greece, and up the Danube and the Seine. These relaxed itineraries are perfect for those who enjoy traveling by boat, but don't like the crowds that are often associated with that style of travel.
Tauck limits its group sizes to just 24 people, which is larger than some of the other companies on this list, but still small enough to keep things well organized and personal.
Classic Journeys is a boutique company that offers small-group, soft-adventure travel to more than 30 countries (including Cuba) on five different continents. There are several different types of trips, with cultural walking adventures, family journeys, multisport options, and culinary tours being amongst the most popular. The company can even create a private itinerary for clients as well, with travelers limiting the size of their own party and picking the exact things they want to do along the way.
Primarily known for the cycling tours, Backroads also offers hiking, multisport, and even adventure cruises too. The company's itineraries take travelers primarily to Europe, but there are options to visit the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and even Antarctica.
Most Backroads tours average about 16 people, although the maximum number of clients on any given trip can range from 14 to 20. The cruises are designed to accommodate more travelers however, although group sizes are still kept relatively small and manageable.
Great Beyond Adventures
Great Beyond Adventures mixes adventure, education, and culture into one-of-a-kind travel packages. The company offers customized trips that are both eco-sensitive and respective to the cultures the group is visiting. Great Beyond also partners with 1% for the Planet in order to give back to important causes as well, ensuring that your money is being put to good use while you travel.
The Wandrian Academy is a subsidiary of Great Beyond that focuses on custom itineraries for small groups with a focus on students and educators in particular.
Myths and Mountains
Myths and Mountains trips include homestays and unique festivals all over the world, treks with the nomadic people of rural Bhutan, and camping with the shaman of rain forest villages. Most departures are set for destinations across Asia and South America.
The company's trips often have a focus on helping local communities, so there may be an opportunity to volunteer at some point during the journey. Group sizes vary with Myths and Mountains, so be sure to ask before booking.
International Expeditions offers small-group, eco-tours and nature travel trips to exotic locations. Itineraries are designed to explore the soul of a region, through behind-the-scenes access to places and experiences. The group leaders are either naturalists or historians, sometimes both, offering unique insights that travelers might not get otherwise.
The company operates in more than 20 countries and has nearly 40 years of experience organizing expeditions. Many of its trips are active excursions, with hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling as part of the itinerary. In other words, prepare to be active!
Peregrine offers a wide variety of adventure travel opportunities that include trekking excursions, wildlife viewing experiences, adventurous cuisine, and much more. It even offers an opportunity to travel overland across Africa or book a private group tour if you'd like.
The company believes that small group travel should be exactly that – small. To that end, it limits the size of its tours to just 12 people, making it a more intimate and bonding experience for everyone involved. Many of the departures don't even necessarily hit that cap, making them smaller still.
Overseas Adventure Travel
Overseas Adventure Travel runs more than 75 escorted vacations, river cruises, and small group adventures by land and sea worldwide. More than 70% of the company's travelers are women looking to travel in a small group environment, which has made them particularly attractive female travelers who are going solo.
The company guarantees that its small-group adventures typically host 10-16 guests, while its small-ship departures have just 16-25 travelers.