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How to Find the Best Group Travel Companies




So you’re ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime with a group tour company that won't bore you to tears. Well, you’re in luck because today's group trips are light years away from the mind-numbing, follow-the-umbrella mobs of the past.  


Today, there are dozens of more sophisticated group tour companies geared specifically toward all different types of travelers. From family tours to small group adventures, modern tour operators run international trips across all seven continents in every travel style imaginable. Peeping wildlife in South Africa? Check. Temple hopping in Kyoto? Yup. How about solo group travel? You got it.


These new tour groups are largely tech-savvy, range in size, and head to more destinations around the world by the day. In fact, with so many great new tour groups popping up, the most challenging part for you is not figuring out if a group tour is right but which group tour is right.


So, how should you decide?


How to Select the Best Group Tours



Tour Operator Specialty & Company Niche


Girls on a boat ride with a group tour in the Amalfi Coast.

When it comes to group travel, there's a wide array of options to choose from. Some of the best group travel companies (like FTLO!) pride themselves on providing custom itineraries that fuse a bit of culture, nature, history, and nightlife while making sure that guests have a good mix of free time and organized activities. Other companies focus on more specific themes or aspects of the travel experience.


  1. Adventure Travel Companies: If you're an adrenaline junkie or a nature lover, adventure travel companies are the way to go. These companies are solely about activities like hiking, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, and even wildlife safaris. They're all about immersing you in the experience and pushing your boundaries to get that heart racing.

  2. Cultural Immersion Companies: These travel companies are all about giving you a thorough understanding of the local culture and history. These are often small group trips that include visits to museums, historical sites, and local homes. They might also involve cooking classes, local crafting workshops, or day trips to hidden villages.

  3. Luxury Travel Companies: If you're looking for a more relaxed and pampered approach to travel, luxury travel companies might be the right fit. These companies focus on high-end accommodations, gourmet meals, and personalized service.

How to choose? Start by determining the type of experience you're seeking. Are you looking for adventure and physical challenges, deep cultural immersion, or something else? Once you’ve figured that out, hop on Google and start narrowing down your search.


Trip Vibe



Obviously, when you’re committing to travel with strangers, you want to make sure you’re going to get along with the people in your group. The overall group dynamic plays a pivotal role in shaping your travel experience, and each tour company caters to slightly different vibes.


Solo Travelers



If you’re a solo traveler, you might be seeking a lively and dynamic vibe where you can meet new people, engage in interesting conversations, and form lasting friendships. In that case, you’d want to make sure you’re going abroad with a company that designs trips specifically with solo travel in mind. Companies like this (including us!) craft group trips to encourage bonding and create a vibrant and social atmosphere. 


Partners or Family



If you’re traveling with a partner or family, on the other hand, the group dynamic takes on a different significance. Those exploring with a partner or family are typically looking for an experience that fosters togetherness, memorable moments, and the convenience of shared adventures. Look for group tours that offer a mix of activities, from romantic getaways to exciting adventures, ensuring you have the right balance of alone time and social interactions.


Group tours designed with families in mind often offer a variety of activities suitable for all ages. It's a chance for kids and adults alike to learn, explore, and bond, all while being in a safe and structured environment. When selecting a tour for partners or families, consider the itineraries that accommodate various interests and energy levels. Also, look for accommodations that offer privacy when needed and social spaces for group interactions.


Women Only



For female travelers seeking a unique and empowering experience, women-only group trips have become an increasingly popular option. These tours offer a safe and supportive environment for women of all backgrounds and ages to explore the world together.


The beauty of women-only trips lies in the sense of camaraderie and shared experiences they provide. These journeys are not just about visiting destinations but also about connecting with other women and forming lasting bonds. Women-only trips often feature female tour leaders and guides, fostering an atmosphere where women can freely share stories, exchange travel tips, and inspire one another. These trips can be especially appealing for solo female travelers who prefer the company and support of like-minded women.


When considering a women-only tour, it's important to look for those that align with your interests and comfort level. Whether you're seeking a transformative journey, an escape into nature, or a deep dive into cultural experiences, there's likely a women-only trip designed with your interests in mind.


Pick Your Vibe



Choosing the right vibe for your trip can be even more crucial than picking the destination itself. So, when planning your next group tour, remember to consider the overall vibe, as it can significantly influence your travel experience. Whether you're a solo traveler seeking an adventurous journey or someone who prefers a more laid-back, casual pace, there's undoubtedly a tour out there with a vibe that resonates with you.


Age Range



Similar to trip vibe, age range is another factor that plays a significant role in group tours. Some tours are specifically tailored for younger travelers (usually in the 18-30 year old range). They’re often set at a lower, more budget-friendly rate, operate at a faster pace, and have a nightlife or party aspect. 


Then there are tours that appeal to a broad age range. These are usually more relaxed and focus on culture, history, and culinary experiences. The tours are geared toward travelers who prefer a less strenuous pace yet still want to immerse themselves in the local culture.

Finally, there are specific tour companies that cater to the 50+ demographic. These could be anything from luxury trips to highly curated history tours.


So, why is this all important? Well, for starters, the age range can often dictate the pace and activities of the trip, the social dynamics within the group, and even the overall atmosphere of the tour. It's about finding the right fit for you, where you'll feel comfortable, can enjoy the activities, and connect with your fellow travelers. To make sure you’ve got a good idea, always check your tour operator’s website and look at the photos of what travelers look like. 


Destination



Got a wanderlust-worthy destination in mind? You're already one step ahead.


If you already know where you want to go, you can cross out those tour operators that don't hit that special spot you've been dying to see. Keep in mind that some tour companies focus on individual countries or cities while others bring a more global perspective to their trips. Neither one is necessarily better, so it's important to think about other factors as well. 


If you're not sure about where you want to go next, then you've got a tiny bit more planning in store. A great way to narrow down your options is by looking at the specific locations and activities offered by different group travel companies. Are you looking for classic journeys, sustainable travel, or the opportunity to make friends with local families?


If you're into Spanish, Latin America may be calling your name. If you're a history buff, you might choose a tour that focuses on the ancient sites in Rome. If you'd rather spend all day lounging on the beach, find a company that runs trips to tropical paradises like Bali or Fiji.


What’s Included



Some tour companies provide action-packed itineraries; others provide luxury accommodations. Before you click ‘buy,’ make sure you do your due diligence to understand what you’re signing up for. 


Check out the activities and experiences included in the tour package itinerary with any group travel company you're checking out. If you're all about authentic Italian cooking, a group tour focused on rock climbing the Alps might not be your cup of gelato. 


Make sure the itinerary aligns with your interests and desired level of activity. Do you want a jam-packed schedule or more free time to explore on your own? Finding the right balance is key. Also, consider the pace of the trip; is it fast-paced or more laid back? Make sure you're comfortable with the tempo before booking.


Now, after the day’s activities are through, where you rest your weary head is pretty important. So it’s important to check out the quality and location of the hotels included in the tour package as well.


Are they centrally located and easily accessible to the attractions and activities on the itinerary? Are they cozy and comfortable? And most importantly, are the rooms shared or private? 


Don't be afraid to ask the tour company's customer service reps for this info. If they can't or won't provide it, it's time to move on to the next option.


Group Size



Some people want small group tours, others want a big group. There's no correct answer, so it's important to think about what YOU want on your group trip.


Small group tours generally allow for a more personalized experience and the opportunity to make more meaningful connections with like minded people. They often cater to solo travelers, they use local tour guides, and they visit local communities. On the other hand, the main benefit of larger guided tours is the price point, so if budget is your top priority, these may make more sense.


Whether you're heading to remote locations on your next trip or to more popular destinations, we can't emphasize enough how important the size of your tour group can and will be for your experience.


Trip Leaders



An often overlooked but crucial aspect of any group tour is the quality of the trip leaders or guides. Having knowledgeable and local trip leaders can significantly enhance your travel experience. Local guides, with their deep-rooted understanding and love for their culture, can provide rich, authentic insights into the local traditions, history, and way of life. They can take you off the beaten path, introducing you to hidden gems not typically found in guidebooks. They can help you navigate language barriers, negotiate at local markets, and even recommend the best local eateries for you to try authentic cuisine.


Some travel companies prioritize hiring local guides—a practice that not only benefits the traveler but also the local community by providing employment opportunities. These companies understand that there's no substitute for local knowledge and that the best way to immerse oneself in a new place is through the eyes of someone who calls it home. 


Choosing a group tour with a local guide is not just about having an informed liaison. It's about experiencing the soul of a place through its people, and it's what transforms a trip into a journey of discovery. So, when you're considering your next group tour, remember to consider who will be leading the way.


Reviews



Let's say you want to take a tour of Rome. You find a company that looks promising, but upon arrival, you're crammed into a minivan with 20 other travelers, and your guide doesn't speak English. The itinerary is rigid, with no time for exploring on your own, and the accommodations are so far from the city center that it takes an hour to get anywhere. It's not exactly the Roman holiday you had in mind.


The internet is wonderful for many things. Unfortunately, honesty is not one of them, and that includes tour companies.


But luckily for you, that terrible experience could have been avoided if you read the reviews

first. When it comes to choosing a tour company, customer reviews are your best friend. They provide valuable insights into the quality of accommodation, community of travelers, transportation, activities, and overall value of the package. 


Look for reviews from fellow travelers like you, and pay attention to the frequency of reviews. A company with glowing reviews every week is a good sign, while one with only a couple of reviews in the past year might raise some eyebrows.


Price



Let's talk about the elephant in the room—the price. We all want a good deal but don't just go for the cheapest option. Consider the value you'll receive in return for your hard-earned money. 


Accommodations are almost always the biggest determinant when it comes to price, so if you see a price tag that seems too good to be true, make sure you double-check the housing situation to see where you’ll be catching some shuteye. You don’t want to end up spending a week in hostels or bland, characterless chain hotels.


You should also keep in mind that small group travel companies have to charge more for a more intimate experience and that group size impacts the ability for you to immerse and engage in authentic activities and meals. Smaller, more authentic venues, businesses, and restaurants just can’t accommodate large group sizes. 


If you want to avoid mass tourism at all costs (as FTLO does), you may have to pay a slightly higher price tag for the experience. 


Group Travel in the Modern World



At FTLO, we believe that travel should be more than just a vacation; it should be an experience that creates lasting memories and lifelong friendships. We are firm in our belief that seeing the world can and should be beneficial to the traveler and the locals in the destinations they visit. 


And above all else, we believe in providing transparency at every step of the way. After all, our mission is to deliver the absolute best experience for those who travel with us, and we know that the best way to do that is by being honest about every aspect of our adventures. 


If you’re interested in discovering the world with us and experiencing the best in small group tours that rethink the idea of solo travel, check out our upcoming trips.




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