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: Baja Grey whales and whale sharks, Mexico
Activity We spend most of the trip wildlife watching: grey whales, whale sharks, dolphins and turtles- the list is endless. This abundance of marine life prompts us to follow a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy, to inform our guests as much as possible on environmental responsibility on the trip and to tie in aspects of conservation wherever possible. For example, the itinerary has been designed to include a sea turtle monitoring programme (dependent on date and weather) where clients can get hands on experience in collecting data on a global level.
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.
Community: Our local tour operators are a not-for-profit organisation which works directly with the communities and people of Mexico- sometimes with suggestion from the Department of Culture and the Department of Social Services. This means there are constant initiatives working with each trip to improve the lives of local communities, such as: building or repairing schools, setting up first aid clinics, collecting and donating clothing, dental supplies and school supplies for students. In addition to this, we are dedicated to hiring local guides and using local services wherever possible in order to support the economy here.
Local Craft and Culture: During visits to some remote or rural villages, we have encouraged local women to make handicrafts which can then be sold on to our clients or be kept for personal use. We deliver supplies like sewing materials and decorative items so that these women have the chance to make an income selling textiles, accessories and jewellery, where it might be difficult otherwise to make a living. Our ship also has an on-board gift shop which carries handmade Mexican gift items made by local families. This is not only economically beneficial for the area but it celebrates traditional methods of production in Mexico. Equally important is that your guide will be able to advise you what not to purchase as well: inflated pufferfish, bone carvings, snakeskin accessories etc. can all be found in the area.
Accommodation and Meals: The MV Adventure is a newly built 110' aluminium hull ship which takes in a maximum of 16 passengers. The multiple level decks are ideal for wildlife viewing and accommodations are in private double occupancy staterooms with upper and lower single berths. Meals are included and will consist of a variety of fresh and nutritious food, including locally sourced fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. The meals will reflect traditional Mexican cuisine and when we stop on land as part of the trip or a hotel extension, local guides will be happy to recommend authentic restaurants or markets in the area.
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.