Considering a small-group travel experience? You may have a few preconceptions floating around in your head. You may be envisioning that moment when you settle into your seat on the airplane, ready to cue up a movie, or just take a nap, and your seatmate wants to strike up a five-hour conversation. Or, that you’ll be herded around like just another number on a tour bus? We promise, it’s not that. Here are a few of the most common myths about small-group travel and why you needn’t worry.
Myth #1: I’ll Be Just Another Number in a Big Group
Small-group travel generally means 10-30 like-minded travelers (and realistically 18 or fewer with an average of 12). This is a more manageable size for sightseeing, allowing for visits to off-the-beaten-path destinations instead of the same-old, same-old itineraries of the past. Groups of this size can be broken down into even smaller numbers, allowing for exploration of tiny villages, dining at traditional family-run restaurants and hand-on cooking classes. You can simply sit back and enjoy the more personalized experiences, which have been vetted and curated by expert tour guides with great local connections.
Myth #2: I Won’t Be Able to Do What I Want
You will. In fact, small-group tour operators jump at the chance to cater to their guests’ interests. You’ll typically spend more than one night in a destination, allowing time for sightseeing on your own. And your guide will be happy to make recommendations, whether it’s a favorite restaurant, a great art gallery or a super hike. To experience a destination in more depth and at your speed, look for small-group trips that spend two or three nights in one place, with lots of built-in free time.
Myth #3: It Won’t Be Authentic
Today’s small-group travel experiences aim to be as immersive as possible, really allowing you to soak up the culture, history and cuisine of your destination. Smaller groups will have more opportunities to talk with local residents and dine in smaller, authentic restaurants. Plus, many of the tour guides you’ll have are locals themselves and are excited to share their custom and the nuances of the town and region you’re visiting.
Myth #4: Guided Tours Are Only for My Great-Aunt Patty
Not so. To be fair, the vast majority of people on small-group guided tours are over the age of 50. But, think for a minute - these are folks that are likely seasoned travelers and/or empty nesters who finally have the time and budget to travel. There is a lot to be said about experiencing a destination with like-minded travelers, say, wildlife enthusiasts in Antarctica or culture-seekers in Croatia. The small-group, guided aspect of the tour brings many benefits - not least of which is the coordination of driving, handling baggage, arranging accommodations, etc., leaving you to enjoy your vacation. And the time … they are a’-changin’. Today’s small-group travel experiences are attracting millennials and multi-generational families who are seeking authentic, in-the-know travel within Europe, the US, Antarctica, Costa Rica and more.
Myth #5. It’s Cheaper to Just Plan It All Myself
Think about all the moving pieces for one spring-break vacation for your family: the airfare, the transfers, the rental house or hotel, the theme park tickets, the entrance fees to popular attractions, where to eat, what to do if the weather turns. Have a headache already? When you allow a small-group travel operator to do the planning and handle all the details, you’ll not only save precious time, but usually save quite a bit of money. Plus, you get the insider knowledge you may not have gleaned on your own - and those special tidbits are exactly what levels up the vacation from ordinary to extraordinary.
Ready to join a small-group travel experience? Let’s find the right one for you.