Traveling in a group with a tour company is more popular now than ever. Benefits are many and negatives can be managed. Group tours are available worldwide, year round, and no matter what your tastes, it is unlikely that you couldn't find one perfect for you.
There are many tour companies to choose from, and most are reputable, but it would serve you well to do your research on your chosen tour company before laying your money down. Everyone has heard horror stories of travelers becoming stranded or out of luck when a tour company has suddenly gone out of business.
I'll briefly look at four of the top group tour companies, but don't think that these are the only good ones. Many small, specialized companies exist that provide wonderful experiences, so don't judge just on size. The four presented today are: Tauck, Adventures by Disney, Kensington and G Adventures. How are they the same? How are they different?
Price: For comparison sake, I researched a tour to Ireland with all four companies.
Tauck: 14 days, starts at $5,990 per person. 4 days all meals are provided, the rest provide either breakfast and lunch, or breakfast and dinner. Tour highlights: Castles, Ring of Kerry & Killarney National Park, walking tour of Dublin, Titanic history in Belfast, Belleck Pottery visit, lunch at a working farm. Accommodations are upscale, including 2 nights at Ashford Castle. Average tour group size is 35-44.
Adventures by Disney: 8 days, starts at $4,499. All breakfasts are provided, 3 lunches and 5 dinners. Highlights include: Dublin tour by land and water, Rock of Cashel, activities in Killarney National Park including biking and hiking and a Ghost Walk. Guests will see Irish folk dancing and there are special activities for children such as a Shamrock Hunt. You'll also visit Blarney Castle, see a Birds of Prey demonstration and the Cliffs of Moher as well as enjoy a Medieval Banquet. Accommodations are upscale, including 3 nights at Dromoland Castle. Average tour group size tops out at around 40, and Disney is provides 2 full time guides as well as local experts.
Kensington: 9 days from $3,699 per person. Meals included are breakfast each day and 3 evening meals. This company focuses on custom built tours with some small group options and less structure than other companies. Highlights include County Kerry, Burren, Cliffs of Moher by land and sea, Ring of Kerry, walking tour of Kinsdale and guided Dublin tour and a traditional Irish evening with singing and dancing performances. Group size is a maximum of 15 and accommodations are mid to upscale.
G Adventures: 9 days, starting at $1,799, 1 lunch included. Of the tour styles offered with G Adventures, this one is ranked as Classic, which means you will have a mix of public and private transportation, and diverse accommodations which can include hotels, guesthouses and what is also described as ‘character rich’ lodgings. G Adventures is more economical and much less structured than others. Highlights include Newgrange, a Galway storytelling walk, Burren with a farmhouse visit, Aran Islands to see Viking Fortress and a seal colony, where you will also spend the night, and a visit to Cork and the Blarney castle. Average group tour size is under 15.
Culture: Some companies have different divisions for different experiences and depending on what type of experience you're looking for, it’s important to understand this.
Tauck has diverse offerings and has many categories such as Small Ship or River Cruising, Bridges, which is family focused, Culturious for small group immersion and Events, which are billed as Once in a Lifetime. Adventures by Disney generally offers family or adult only trips while Kensington has a wide variety of customizable offerings including cruising and interest centric trips such as Food & Wine and those focused around an event such as Formula 1 racing. G Adventures classes it trips into categories dependent of activity and comfort level as well as age demographics, and include Active, Classic, Comfort, Family Adventure and YOLO (You’re Only Young Once).
You can see that a couple who is looking for elegance might be disappointed in a camping and hiking trek through G adventures and a young thrill seeking group might be bored touring a pottery factor , so knowing what each tour offers, the style of trip and what type of fellow travelers a tour might attract contributes much to which group tour is for you. It isn't a question of would you enjoy it, but which one would be the best fit for you.
It’s a big world and tour groups can help acclimate you and introduce you to experiences you would be hard pressed to discover on your own. For more information, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy Julian is a travel writing, trip planning expert. She has had a life-long love affair with travel, starting with childhood road trips and extending through service in the Air Force, a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, professional work in that field, and finally to the creation of her own company, Magic Feather Memories. You can read more at Nancy's blog, http://magicfeathermemories.blogspot.com, and also drop by Mouse Tales travel at http://.mousetalestravel.com/.