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
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.
Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.
Responsible tourism: Central America tours
On Scenic Granada, the tour takes passengers to a number of areas of beauty such as Roatan Island. Snorkelling activities are possible here, however we encourage our passengers to treat these places with respect and make sure they are helping to protect the environment at all time. We use a lot of public transport on this tour. This reduces our carbon footprint and also gives our passengers a more authentic travel experience.
Working in partnership with international conservation charity World Land Trust in our continuing quest to establish and maintain our position as a leader in responsible travel, we are offering a new way for our travellers to make a real contribution to the health of the planet - the Carbon Offset Scheme. When you book your tour with us you will be able to offset a portion of your share of the carbon emissions created while you are on your tour. We will calculate what clients have donated, and donate an additional 10% of the total to World Land Trust. Your contributions will be made directly to World Land Trust and we will not receive any direct financial benefit or commission from these donations.
We recognise that it is not only on-location staff who have environmental responsibilities but also our administration staff in our offices around the world. All our offices endeavour to be environmentally sound through practising energy conservation, implementing recycling plans and being responsible for the surrounding physical environment. We believe in leading through example and operate in this manner to encourage other businesses and individuals to be considerate of the environment and conserve the natural beauty we currently share.
We use local operators and specialist guides on our tours throughout Mexico. This includes locally owned hotels, restaurants, agencies and guides for excursions. Our commitment to these local operators means we are constantly putting back into the community and ensuring these businesses continue to prosper. This also empowers local business operators leading to increased confidence and development of their products and services.
Reviews of Central America tours
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 04 Aug 2008 by Angie Watson
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Roatan was by far the best stopover on this trip. The people on the tour were fabulous as well.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Be wary of the long travel days. The dossier online makes each stop seem like a destination spot which is not the case. This tour would benefit from adding some flights from like Roatan to Managua to avoid 12 hour travel days, of which there are many in this tour.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?
Yes we took lots of local transportation and really integrated with the local people.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
I thought the trip was terrific and I have wonderful adventures, memories and friends that will be with me for a lifetime. Trip was fabulous, I'd rate it "good" as I said there was to many long days of bus journeys that were not evident from the dossier.