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.
Activity: Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a walking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints, although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and to use markets to purchase traditional crafts. We can stop at Triglav National Park shop, where clients can buy locally produyced cheese, salami and products knitted from wool. Using small businesses like this and the mountain huts, we are supporting the local community. Our optional activities like horse-riding, rafting and visiting Bled or Ljubljana, also provide local businesses with more customers.
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.
Accommodation and Meals: You will spend 7 nights in the family-run Pension Kunstelj, located near the crystal clear River Sava in Slovenia's most protected historical town - Radovljica. The accommodation is locally owned and staffed, which is significant for providing employment opportunities in the area. Much of the provided food is locally sourced- sometimes fresh from Kunstelj's own vegetable garden. Evening meals often consist of risotto, cheese dishes, fish, spaghetti and grilled meat; whilst lunches can be taken in mountain huts or other local restaurants along the way.The mountain huts in Triglav National Park in particular are, due to their remote location, reliant on tourism for income. The owners are getting direct fees for our groups and are responsible for maintaining the area around the huts and trails- so a portion of the money they receive from us also goes into these projects.
A Fair Deal: We have an excellent long-term relationship with the local operator who employ and train all leaders. We provide refresher training with a focus on responsible tourism, so our local leaders can educate our clients locally on helping to preserve the way of life in their area. Our leaders in Slovenia are also enrolled at local clubs which are organised to help maintain the environment of the region. Their policies for the protection of local wildlife and landscape are strong and this is backed by Slovenian authorities, who enforce these regulations.
Charity: We financially support the Youth Association Ljubljana Moste- Polje, which runs a number of community support programmes in Slovenia. Their family centre alone provides psychosocial support for families, financial advice, mediation sessions and free legal aid. Our contributions enable young people enrolled on the programme to discover their talents, receive an education, and have access to school supplies and general support from professionals.
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.
Reviews of Slovenia holidays, Lakes & Mountains
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 06 Aug 2006 by Jean Hatton
This was a most enjoyable holiday, Slovenia is a lovely country, quite small and friendly and I hope it stays this way.
The Pension Kunstelj- was in a lovely situation on the edge of Radovljica a lovely old town. The Pension had great views, with a lovely outdoor seating area for meals and drinks. One evening before dinner the hotel owner took us all down to the wine cellar for cheese and wine tasting. I think everyone in the group enjoyed this "welcoming touch" and will remember it.
We had several meals out during the week, everywhere we went we found good food, reasonable prices, very clean and good friendly service. English hotel and restaurant owners could learn a lot from visiting Slovenia.
The local guides and drivers were all friendly and helpful, they did all they could to make sure everyone enjoyed their holiday.
I enjoyed my holiday and would not hesitate to recommend Slovenia to others. I found the walking quite difficult and personally would have preferred a slower pace but others in the group seemed quite happy with the pace. This is always one of the problems with walking in groups and I would advise everyone to check the level and pace of walking carefully before booking.