solo travel

Travel Solo, but Never Alone, with These Tour Operators

You’re gearing up for an adventure-filled tour of South America, or maybe seeing all the iconic spots of Europe, and all your plans are set. You’ve got the guts, the means, and the time, but there’s just one more thing missing – a companion. Sound familiar?

Solo travel is now on the rise, and many travelers choose to go it alone for many reasons: to pursue a special interest (like photography or hiking), to see the world without the prejudices of a partner or companion, to meet new people, or simply, because they can’t find someone who has the same travel interests.

Still, there are many concerns for solo travelers: safety, language barriers and cultural belonging, among them.

If you’d like to pursue your travel dreams but worry about the perils of travelling alone, tour operators that welcome solo travelers are the perfect medium! Think of the benefits:

✓ They take care of all the logistics like booking hotels, finding the best spots to eat, and getting you from place to place – a challenge if you’re going someplace where no one speaks English!

✓ They have local guides that know as much about the destinations you visit as the locals themselves.

It may come out cheaper since you’ll be sharing accommodation, transportation and meals instead of shouldering all the costs.

✓ You get to meet like-minded travelers and make new friends around the world.

✓ You get free time to roam, all within the structure, safety and security of a small group.

We selected tour operators that offer a mix of adventure, culture, and even luxury experiences for the single traveler, without the dreaded single supplement (or added charge for solo travelers).

Take your pick and embark on your first solo adventure!

1. UNCHARTED PHILIPPINES (Local)

Uncharted Philippines is unique in that they don’t promise their guests relaxation. Instead, they promise a happy-tired kind of trip – one that involves lesser known destinations that most Filipinos don’t even know about, and explores as much of the destination as the schedule will allow.

uncharted-philippines

They also offer tours around the country’s classic tourist destinations but give you an experience that is more authentic and in-depth. For example, your tour with them will not just include seeing the Banawe Rice Terraces from a view deck, but also walking amidst rice paddies and spending the night at a local village.

Choose this group if: You want to explore uncharted destinations in the Philippines. You have an adventurous spirit and are ready to rough it (like hike, climb or kayak) to get to jaw-droppingly spectacular destinations most people never see.

Sample tours for solo travellers: Ifugao Villages Trek (5 days) / Tubbataha Liveaboard (7 days)

Traveler Rating 5 stars via Trip Advisor (106 reviews)
Destinations Palawan / Tubbataha / Sagada / Ifugao / Batangas
Travel Type Adventure / Outdoor
Accommodation Type

 

1. Roughing It – tent or villagers house; running water may not be available

2. Standard – inn or cottage with shared room, communal bathroom.

3. Comfort – inn or cottage with shared room and private bathroom

You may request for your own room, with extra charge.

They use chartered vehicles for most of the trip, including vans, jeeps and outrigger boats. For long distances, they usually use public transport such as buses and ferries. Meals are included.

Average Tour Price $156 / day
Tour Inclusion Tour Guide, Accommodation, Transportation (not inclusive of airfare and airport transfers), Meals
Tour Duration 2 – 7 days
Tour Size Maximum of 10

2. CONTIKI (International)

Contiki is the first company to establish group travel for young people. Founded in 1962, the California-based company specifically caters to 18-35 year olds and offers coach trips that include a mix of sightseeing, adventure, culture, socializing and some time to explore on your own.

contiki

They cover all continents except for Antarctica and Africa and offer various tour activities to choose from, such as Sailing & Cruise, Freestyle Camping, In-Depth Exploration, and more. This allows you to choose based on your preferred activities, traveling pace, schedule and budget.

Contiki has 303 tours in 63 countries, and usually have assigned guides in each country, letting you experience the destination like a local. As many as 50% of those who join their tours travel solo.

Choose this tour group if: You want to party and meet people or see iconic attractions in less time.

Contiki’s main advantage over other tour groups is its inclusion in its parent company, Travel Corporation. The well-established company has numerous successful brands including Trafalgar and Insight Tours. Through its clout, you’ll get VIP treatment in various tourist attractions and skip the long lines! It’s also known in the travel industry for hosting parties, and in fact, have company-owned bars and pubs, so if you want to socialize and meet new people, Contiki is a good choice.

Sample tours for solo travellers: European Experience (20 days, 10 countries) / Canada and the Rockies (11 days, 1 country)

Traveler Rating 4.5 stars via Tour Radar (800 reviews)
Destinations All Continents except Antarctica
Area of Strength Social tours / Europe / USA & Canada
Accommodation Types

 

1. Camping – shared tents with mattresses; mostly local transportation

2. Budget – backpacker hostels; mix of public and private transportation

3. Superior – tourist hotels; private transportation

They’ll pair you up with a roommate of the same sex. You may request for your own room, with extra charge.

Average Tour Price $136 / day
Tour Inclusion

 

Tour Guide, Accommodation, Transportation (not inclusive of airfare and airport transfers), Meals (breakfast and most dinners)
Tour Duration 3 days – over 1 month
Tour Size Maximum of 50, average of 30

3. INTREPID TRAVEL (International)

Established in 1988 in Melbourne, Australia, Intrepid Travel was named after its founders’ preferred style of travel – with a group small enough to let you connect without being crowded, a little bit of comfort mixed with a little bit of roughing it.

intrepid

They have 10 different travel themes focused mainly on adventure, food and nature, and there are also standout ones like Astronomy and Polar themes. Their tours are focused on giving travellers the grassroots type of experience, so they use local accommodation (like homestays) and transportation (like tuk-tuks and boats). Most tours are also guaranteed, so you don’t have to worry about whether the tour will run or not.

Choose this tour group if: You want a wide variety of tours to choose from, and favor authentic and offbeat local experiences mixed with popular tourist attractions.

Intrepid Travel has more than 700 itineraries and operates in 100 countries, so they have tours to cater for every type of traveller. Their focus is on small group adventure travel, so their tours have an average of 10 people participating, allowing you to enjoy your group’s company and absorb more knowledge from your local guide. As many as 60% of those who join their tours travel solo.

Sample tours for solo travellers: Best of Morocco (15 days, 1 country) / Central American Journey (17 days, 5 countries)

Traveler Rating 4.5 stars via Tour Radar (5,651 reviews)
Destinations All Continents
Area of Strength Asia, Latin America and North Africa
Accommodation Type

 

1. Basix – camping or local hotels and homestays with shared facilities; meals not included

2. Comfort – local hotels with private amenities; some meals included

3. Original – well-located, tourist class hotels; more meals included

They’ll pair you up with a roommate of the same sex. You may request for your own room, with extra charge.

Average Tour Price $184 / day
Tour Inclusion

 

Local Tour Guide, Accommodation, Transportation (not inclusive of airfare and airport transfers), Meals (breakfast and most dinners)
Tour Duration 1 day – over 1 month
Tour Size Maximum 16, average of 10

 4. G ADVENTURES (International)

Just like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures focuses on small tour groups and adventure activities, such as culinary tours, expeditions, and safaris. Their similarity with Contiki is that they also cater mostly to 18 – 30 somethings, but they don’t restrict your age (meaning, you can bring your grandparents along if you choose to!). The company was established in 1990 and is headquartered in Toronto, Canada.

g-adventures

They have tours in all continents and currently have 658 different tours in 134 countries. Like the other tour groups, they have varying themes ranging from cultural and activity-focused tours, but their unique offering is their National Geographic-themed specials. The said tours have more hands-on exploration and time spent with locals.

Choose this group if: You’re after local, authentic experiences, and don’t mind giving up some comforts.

G Adventures and Intrepid have similar styles of tours, but G Adventures has more competitive pricing. The difference is that they remove some of the inclusions (like particular tourist attractions or activities), giving you the option to pass or do it yourself, and therefore passing on the savings to you.

Sample tours for solo travellers: Mayan Adventure (3 countries, 22 days) / Ultimate Cambodian Adventure (14 days, 2 countries)

Traveler Rating 4.5 stars via Tour Radar (343 reviews)
Destinations All Continents
Area of Strength Latin America, Southeast Asia
Accommodation Type

 

1. Camping – camping mixed with hostels and hotels; mix of private and public transport

2. Basic – hotels and hostels; mix of private and public transport

3. Standard – tourist-class accommodations; mix of private and public transport

4. Upgraded – quality accommodations with upgraded amenities; private transport

They’ll pair you up with a roommate of the same sex. You may request for your own room, with extra charge.

Average Tour Price $160 / day
Tour Inclusion

 

Local Tour Guide, Accommodation, Transportation (not inclusive of airfare and airport transfers), Meals (breakfast and most dinners)
Tour Duration 1 – 45 days
Tour Size Maximum 16, average of 10

5. ABERCROMBIE & KENT (International)

Abercrombie & Kent is known foremost for its luxury trips around the world. Their focus is on giving guests an insider access through their local connections, like discovering ancient ruins with a resident archaeologist or being guided by renowned Conde Nast Traveler Specialists. The experience is also first-class all the way – they pick you up from the airport, provide bellboys and valet, book your all-inclusive stay in first-class hotels and provide complimentary laundry service to keep your luggage light.

abercrombie-kent

A&K has a total of 328 tours available, and 100 of them have single-supplement waived to welcome solo travellers. For other tours, they can slash the single-supplement off by as much as 75%. They estimate that 27% of their customers travel solo.

Choose this group if: You’re looking for complete creature comforts, slower pace of travel and your passions include history, wine, gastronomy, wildlife photography, and theatre.

Sample tours for solo travellers:  Wonders of Chile and Argentina (11 days, 3 countries) / Classic Antarctica (12 days, 2 countries)

Traveler Rating 5 stars via Feefo (75 reviews)
Destinations All Continents
Area of Strength First-class travel / Cruises and Driving Expeditions / Artic countries
Accommodation Type First-class, single occupancy
Average Tour Price $600 / per day
Tour Inclusion

 

Tour Guide, Travelling Bellboy, Travelling Valet (for driving trips), First-class accommodation, Meals (three meals a day, including wine)
Tour Duration 8 days – 1 month
Tour Size Maximum of 18 guests

Have you been on a solo journey with a tour operator? Share your experience with us!

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