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Top Trip Memories
  • Sampling culinary delicacies across Tuscany
  • Ascending the terraced hillsides to reach upper Ghandruk that offers a fine view of Annapurna mountain range
  • Strolling through the cobblestone streets of Trinidad and enjoying the sight of colorful houses
  • Walking at your own pace
  • Enjoying the hospitality of a local host
  • Having a local guide that shows you around town
  • Volunteering at a rehabilitation and conservation center of wild animals
  • Exploring the Amazon jungles with local guides 
  • Hitching a lift on a cargo boat to Timbuktu. 
  • Relying on strangers to help find our way around in Mongolia, and winding up meeting some of the nicest people on earth.
  • Struggling to get just about anywhere in China, but feeling accomplished when we finally managed it.
  • Road tripping through western Europe, and Inter-railing through the east.
  • Learning some of the local language when staying with a family in Nepal.
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Tour Tips
  • Do your research before go. Even if you're not a fan of advance planning, try to at least have an idea of the route you'll take.
  • Try to learn some of the local language. Without a guide, you'll need to find your own way around, as well as organize food and accommodation, and you may not be able to do so in your native language.
  • Even if your goal is to travel independently, don't forget you can book some smaller tours for some parts of your trip. In many places, it can be better (or even essential) to travel as part of a tour.
  • Traveling independently generally means you'll spend less, but it also means unforeseen expenses can arise (such as having to take a taxi when there's no bus, or having to stay at a more expensive hotel when you can't find a cheaper option). So make sure to have an emergency stash of cash handy.
  • Try to be as flexible as possible. When traveling independently, especially in certain places, anything can and will happen. Learn to roll with the punches, and to see obstacles as an adventure.
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Self-Guided & Independent Travel Reviews & Ratings
4.6 out of 5



611 Reviews

Excellent 316 Great 128 Average 3 Disappointing 1 Terrible 0

Rating Details

4.6 Guide
4.6 Activities
4.6 Lodging
4.6 Transportation
4.6 Meals
Tour Reviews

Beautiful Scenery, Great Hotels, Lovely Food

Aspects of Assisi Self-Guided Cycling

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes This was our first time travelling with Exodus/Headwater but it won't be our
last. This was a wonderful holiday taking in magnificent scenery in an area
with an interesting history and fantastic hospitality. There's a few
difficult climbs (especially the optional ride to Trevi on day 2) but the
scenery is so beatiful it's worth the effort. The fitter you are the more
you'll enjoy it. The accommodation was of a really good standard, with the
hotels in Spello and Speleto being the stand outs for us, the former for its
food and the latter for it's location. Friendly, helpful staff at all the
places we stayed
Making it to the top of Montefalco in one hit, then enjoying the fantastic
views and a wonderful lunch in the town square. There are many others - the
beautiful medieval hilltop villages are all spectacular and the local cuisine
is an inspiration in itself

John and Donna were always there to help, though fortunately we didn't need
their assistance except for the transfers and moving the luggage between
hotels. John's phone is on 24 hours a day should you need him which is a
great safety net.

There's lots to do and see in Umbria so read up on the area and prioritise
what you want to do. In hindsight we would have preferred to have flown to
Perugia which is only a 25 minute car ride to Spello and would have saved a
day travelling each way from Rome. Also Perugia is worth visiting in it's own
right so provides an option to extend your stay. This was a great holiday for
us, we would thoroughly recommend it

Some of the trip notes could do with updating. They sometimes referred to
signs which weren't there or were overly complicated where a simple "straight
on" would have done. That said if you read them carefully there's enough
detail to get your where you want to go and the back up of the maps. John had
thoughtfully marked the routes on the maps which was helpful on the occasions
we strayed off piste.

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Self Guided Gastronomic Dordogne Cycling trip

Dordogne Gastronomic Self-Guided Cycling

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes A thoroughly enjoyable cycling trip with some superb food and especially at
Les Glycines's restaurant where the service and accommodation were
Making it it the top of the hill in the mid afternoon heat after climbing up
from Sarlat by grinding out the miles! The cave paintings at Lascaux 2 were
stunning as the originals are over 17000 years old and cycling through the
virtually traffics free country roads with the dappled sunlight over the

Being self guided meant that he didn't have a leader which meant we had
planets of time to confer while interpreting the route plan from Headwater.

Both Claire & Keith ( the local reps) were both friendly and helpful.

We went in August when it was hot so do take plenty of water with you and
stay hydrated as this is an undulating route with plenty of short sharp hills
and the occasional long one! Do also remember that shops are often closed
during the afternoon until about 16.00 so buy your provisions in plenty of

The fitter you are before the trip the more you'll enjoy it. This region
attracts a lot of tourists and town centres

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More hills than we expected

Dordogne Gastronomic Self-Guided Cycling

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Our week was particularly hot, as temperatures in the high 30's swept over
France. This probably made the hills a bit more of a challenge, but they are
achievable since the bikes are very good and have plenty of gears.
We would recommend this holiday, the cycling distances are all less than 50k,
taking us through stunning scenery and pretty villages.
We were well briefed by the Headwater / Exodus staff and when we had a
problem with the bike that needed assistance, they came to us within 10
The first hotel is without doubt disappointing, cramped and poor facilities.
However the restaurant next door at La Veille Auberge is excellent.
Les Glycines and Le Moulin de Mitou were fantastic with great pools, nice
rooms and outstanding food.
On our free day at Eyzies de Tayac we hired a canoe from just outside the
hotel and paddled for 18k although other longer and shorter distances can be
Le Moulin de Mitou has a wonderful atmosphere. The owners are charming and
speak very little English. We cycled both days and spent the afternoon by the
lovely pool.

Clare and Keith were great. The briefing was spot on.

Expect the hills. On one day you start with 3k of gradual uphill. Cycle early
if it is hot.

As previously said the first hotel disappoints, but not enough to take the
shine of a great holiday. There is no air conditioning and I was able to use
the one fan available at the hotel.

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Gastronomic Cycling Loire valley

Loire Gastronomic Self-Guided Cycling - Premium

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes On the whole the trip was good but there were some disappointments. The
final night"s dinner after fabulous meals the whole trip was very poor.
there were also some issues with the route map that we were given and in one
place in particular the rout took us under a railway and we wee stopped by
two local who said that this route was too dangerous and showed us a better
The cycles were good and generally the route was fine.
Cycling along the cycling paths on the banks of the Loire.

Not applicable self guided.

Get a good route map to check directions.

It was such a shame that our lat dinner was so poor, it rather ended the
holiday on a sour note.

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A great achievement

Lake Constance Self-Guided Cycling - Premium

4.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes April is too early for this trip as it is still their winter season. Some
boats etc are not running and we did end up cycling in snow one day!
However we really enjoyed the week, we were very proud of our cycling
achievement. There are occasional short hills to get the heart going but
mostly this trip is all on flat good quality cycle paths.
The hotels are mostly very good quality and where dinners were provided these
were good. 4 courses was a bit much to be honest. We paid single
supplements and the rooms in Konstanz and Friedrichshafen were small. In
particular the Friedrichshafen hotel is inadequate- our rooms were cell- like
with single beds up against the wall, nowhere to sit and a view of a wall.
It was a bit depressing especially as the downstairs is very dark and
oppressive. Really a come down after the other hotels.
The mountain scenery is stunning.

A bit of German helps! Not all railway employees etc were all that helpful.
Be aware that the hotel in Friedrichshafen requires you to pay for drinks etc
as you go along as you cannot charge to your room. When we ate out in
Konstanz we were a bit taken aback that they didn't take cards.
Doing the trip over 10 days helps as the rest days help recovery. Even
though we went before the summer we found lots of things to do.

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Self-Guided & Independent Trips & Tour Advice

You can travel independently but still make good use of a tour operator. For instance, many tour operators will put together a pre-organized itinerary for you; just follow their thorough instructions and maps rather than a guide, and not have to worry about where you'll sleep at night or where you'll be each day. Tour operators can also put together self-guided vacation packages and holiday packages for you. All you need to do is ask, tell them where you want to go and how you like to travel, and they'll do the rest.

Independent travel comes with plenty of upsides and downsides, and it's worth factoring both in when making your decision to travel independently.



One of the main reasons people choose to travel independently is to have the freedom to put together their perfect travel plan. Independent travel puts you firmly in the drivers seat. When you wake up each morning, you get to decide where to go and what to do that day (though be warned, it also means you're in charge of making it happen).


Traveling independently generally works out cheaper than traveling as part of a tour. You don't have to factor in the cost of a guide, or tour company fees. However, be aware that certain things may actually work out more expensive, for example, in places where you need to rent a car and driver, it makes financial sense to join up with a group to split the costs. Also, keep an emergency stash handy, as, when you're traveling independently, there may be times when you can't find accommodation or transport within your budget. If you're trying to keep costs down when traveling, check out our tips for budget travel.


Setting of with nothing but a map and a backpack to travel independently can be one of life's most adventurous experiences. Even struggling to figure out a new country can feel like a victory when you finally succeed in making your way from one place to another. While independent travel does create some obstacles, try to see these obstacles as a fun challenge, and remember to look on the positive side.


When traveling independently, you'll become immersed in the community you visit. Without a guide to rely on, you'll likely have to learn some of the local language to get by in day to day interactions. Also, when trying to find your way around, you'll likely be relying on help from strangers, which can lead to all kinds of wonderful encounters.



Some people love planning, but, for those who don't, organizing a trip can be a nightmare. Even if you're planning to just hop on a plane and see where the wind takes you, there are still flights to book, travel insurance to sort out, and accommodation to arrange (for the first few nights, at least). It's also a good idea to read up about your destination in advance, particularly when it comes to places to visit, sights to see, and things to do. If this doesn't sound like your thing, have a look at a guided tour to see if that's a better option for your trip. Alternatively there are several tour companies that can help you craft an indepentent itinerary.


When traveling independently, the planning doesn't stop once you've arrived at your destination. Throughout your trip, you must deal with the logistics of finding your way around, sorting out necessities, and bargaining or hunting for the best price. And all while possibly dealing with a language barrier and an infrastructure far different from what you're used to. To some, dealing with logistics is all part of the adventure, but for others, it's a hassle that takes away from their experience of travel (and wastes a lot of their valuable holiday time).


If you're traveling alone, then joining a tour can be a great way to meet other people. If you decide to travel independently, your trip can be a great experience in many ways, but it can also be lonely. To meet other travelers when on an independent trip, try finding hostels with a lively sociable bar, meeting other travelers through travel forums, or going on a few short group trips. To meet locals, try taking part in fun lessons, or arranging some home stays.


Even if you prefer traveling independently, it can sometimes be unfeasible or even impossible to do so in certain places. Research your destination to find out whether traveling independently is possible and practical. Here's a list of some places where having a tour guide is essential.

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