The Best Websites for Booking Tours

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Amateur Traveler trip to Cambodia - Angkor Wat

Amateur Traveler trip to Cambodia – Angkor Wat

My wife and I are big fans of independent travel. We like to figure out how to navigate the local subway system, how to get around, how to order food. It is challenging but sometimes the challenge is the fun. A tour is easier and sometimes easier is just what we need.

I am more likely to take a tour:

  • When it is my first time in a country
  • When I don’t understand the language
  • When there are safety issues
  • When my wife won’t come with me and I don’t feel like traveling alone

A tour can be all inclusive, everything done for you, a day tour or a tour with free time on your own. Here are some websites to help you find one for you:

Tour Search Engines

Stride Travel – I expect there are or will be more tour search engines in the future but Stride Travel provides a good one stop shopping site to look for tours including bus tours, small group tours, small ship cruises and safaris.

Bus Tours

Some of the least expensive tours are the 40 person bus tour. This is not my favorite tour as you can only stop in restaurants that can hold 40 people and you tend to spend a lot of time looking at life through a bus window.

Globus – Globus provides escorted tours to over 70 countries on six continents. Globus also has religious and family tours. They have a number of brands including Globus, Cosmos, Monogram (independent travel) and Avalon Cruises (River Cruises).

Cosmos – The Amateur Traveler trip to Egypt was a Cosmos tout. Cosmos is the budget brand for Globus.

Small Group Tours

I strongly prefer small group tours to bus tours. These usually max out at 14-16 people. You can do a tour just for your family if you don’t want to be in a group of strangers. These tours use smaller vans or sometimes local transportation and can be a great stepping stone when you aren’t quite ready for independent travel to a particular country.

Intrepid Travel – I have taken an Intrepid travel trip in China and then we also used them for the Amateur Traveler trips to Morocco and Cambodia. They are a low cost, connect with the culture option. We will be using them for the upcoming Amateur Traveler trips in 2016 to Japan and India. I am a big fan of their great guides.

G Adventures – I have not personally taken G, but we have talked to a number of guests who have and have had great experiences with them. The brand is very similar to Intrepid and sometimes the local guides will work for both.

Adventure Travel

Mountain Travel Sobek – This is not a tour company for people who want to take pictures of the inside of cathedrals and sit in cafes, but instead for people who want to hike, kayak or raft. I have not taken one of their tours but they have a great reputation

O.A.R.S. – Oars specializes in multi-day rafting trips. We have talked to their late founder about rafting the Grand Canyon and I personally took their Gates of Lahore trip in Dinosaur National Monument. I highly recommend them.

Day Tours

Context Travel – They advertise as “private guides and (very) small group tours for the intellectually curious traveler”. They and not the cheapest day trips but I love the ones of I have taken, including a couple recent walking tours in Berlin (24 Hours in Berlin, Germany).

Urban Adventures – This is the day tour brand for Intrepid Travel. If you book an extra extension for an Intrepid trip you are using Urban Adventures, but you can also add on a day trip or two to your independent trip.

Viator – I have enjoyed the various day tours that Viator offers, including a layover trip in Taiwan (Layover Tour in Taipei, Taiwan – Get Out of the Airport on Long Layovers) and a local food tour (San Francisco North Beach Food Tour – Viator My City).

Shoretips.com – A good alternative for cruise travelers to find shore trips independently of their cruise line. You can search by your particular cruise itinerary.

Make Your Own Tours

JayWay Travels – We have talked about JayWay as a sponsor on the show. While they don’t do guided tours per say, they can help setup something very much like that for your group or family. We used them to plan a trip to Bosnia and Croatia where they booked all the hotels, arranged the transportation and provided a number of guided walking tours of the cities like Sarajevo, Split and Dubrovnik. If you are wanting the ease of a tour but not looking to hangout with strangers than a company like Jay Way can be a good alternative.

Your Turn

There are a great many more tour companies than this. Which ones would you recommend? Which ones would you avoid?

The Best Websites for Booking Tours

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

2 Responses to “The Best Websites for Booking Tours”

Maaike

Says:

Thank you for sharing these links. I’m looking to find some good day tours in Gran Canaria for my holiday there in a few weeks and will definitely do a search based on your recommendations

Shweta

Says:

Well i am looking for some good day tours and am relieved to find these recommendations. Thanks for the share.

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