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, travelling 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 holiday, 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 travellers’ 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 holiday 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?
Travellers 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 holiday.
Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travellers
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 travellers 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 travellers!”
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
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: Israel holiday, small group tour
Accommodation and Meals: On this tour we spend 5 hotels, 1 night in guest rooms in the grounds of a kibbutz and our last night is spent at a desert lodge in eco huts in the heart of the Negev region. All hotels in Israel must conform to a local employment policy, so we can ensure that income generated by staff in our accommodation stays within the region and goes directly back into the community. Where meals are provided, all ingredients are grown or made in Israel, which is of benefit to suppliers in the country. By staying in the kibbutz, we can also gain a unique insight into a communal lifestyle and largely different set of values and beliefs. Our final accommodation is built with all natural materials and has a focus on environmental harmony and local sourcing- they even have a vineyard and grow their own olives. By eating at local restaurants at free meal times, we are also able boost local economy- we recommend homemade falafel, hummus, tahini, fresh vegetable salads and regional cheeses.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Local Craft and Culture: We visit a large number of religious and cultural sites, including the Church of Annunciation at Nazareth, the Mount of Olives, the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, the UNESCO site of Masada and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, housing both the traditional sites of the Crucifixion and the Tomb of the Resurrection. Our entrance fees, donations and profit made from buying locally produced souvenirs help to sustain these incredible sites and those who live and work around them. Visiting markets is also a way to connect with local people and support small businesses at the same time. Clients are either taken to or encouraged to visit the open air Carmel market in Tel Aviv, the farmer’s market in the old port, the Levinsky market and the Machne Yehuda market in Jerusalem. There are locally crafted gold and silver jewellery and olive wood products in Jerusalem, sea salt and beauty products near the Dead Sea and handcrafted religious icons in Nazareth.
A Fair Deal: Our local leaders can educate clients on helping to preserve the way of life in their area. Many local restaurants, shops and additional excursions or services are also used which benefits the local community, e.g. the optional Bedouin village visits creates alternative employment. After the ongoing issues between Israel and Palestine, numbers of tourists visiting Israel have dwindled. By visiting Israel we are directly contributing to rebuilding this ailing industry and giving local people support during this difficult time for them.
Charity: During the Jewish holidays, our local operators prepare and deliver food and care packages to those in need. They also donate on a regular basis to ‘Yad Sarah’, which is the largest voluntary organisation in Israel. Yad Sarah’s aim is to keep the ill and elderly in their homes and out of institutions by providing transportation, day centres, drop-in centres, dental clinics and a range of medical and rehabilitative equipment. Not only does this empower the needy and help with their wellbeing, but it saves the Israeli economy around $320 million per year in medical costs.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.