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Top Trip Memories

  • Spending your honeymoon on an African safari with just the two of you, your guide, and a parade of elephants and giraffes
  • Watching your children with pride as they tackle a hiking trail in New Zealand that your tour agency suggested was family-friendly
  • Sipping a cappuccino in a small Italian village that you would never have known about without your tour agency’s regional expertise
  • Relaxing in Thailand in the knowledge that if you need assistance, your tour agency has representatives in Bangkok
  • Having the fun of helping to plan your trip without having to sweat the details
  • Choosing a river cruise through Danube and Rhine to explore Germany
  • Touring the Sapa region in Northeast Vietnam that offers a traditional view into many of Vietnam’s ethnic tribes, such as the Hmong, as well as touring the meticulously maintained rice terraces
  • Riding horseback alongside local gauchos through ancient Lenga forests
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Tour Tips

  • Expect to pay somewhat more for a customized tour than a regularly scheduled guided tour
  • While you make the ultimate decisions on where and when to travel, part of what you’re paying for is your tour agency’s expertise, so take advantage of their advice   
  • Customized tours can be guided or unguided – you make the call on how much assistance you want
  • Many tour agencies that primarily offer guided group tours will now customize a tour for you as well 
  • Custom tours can be ideal for families, honeymooners, or small groups of friends who want to travel together 
  • Work out a maximum budget in advance before planning your custom tour, because, like Homer Simpson at a buffet, it can be hard to resist over-reaching when presented with all your options
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Custom Tours Travel Reviews & Ratings

5.0 out of 5

100%

recommend

49 Reviews

  • Excellent 47
  • Great 2
  • Average 0
  • Disappointing 0
  • Terrible 0

Rating Details

  • Value
    5.0
  • Guide
    5.0
  • Activities
    5.0
  • Lodging
    5.0
  • Transportation
    5.0
  • Meals
    5.0

Tour Reviews

Myths staff members Toni and Jen answered ALL of our questions and we felt well prepared for our adventure.

Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodia: Borobudur, Bagan and Angkor Wat

5.0
February 2017
Myths and Mountains
Recommend: Yes
Myths staff members Toni and Jen answered ALL of our questions and we felt well prepared for our adventure. The trip design could not have been better. We absolutely loved the trip! We are even considering becoming Myanmar ""repeaters"", as our guide called those who chose to visit Myanmar more than once.
Out guides understood our interests and often expanded our itinerary to include additional places and experiences. We made an impromptu visit to a wedding just outside of Mandalay. We were warmly welcomed and take to a table where we were offered ice cream and cake. Then the new couple insisted that we were part of the professional wedding photos that were being taken. In fact, all over Myanmar the Burmese people wanted photos taken with us. We also encountered a house building party in Kengtung where we were offered coffee and food. The house owner shared the plans for his new house with us.
Staying at the Inle Princess was perfect! We felt like VIPs. The setting was absolutely beautiful and mystical. The Park Royal was a perfect city hotel with a wonderful breakfast and very cozy bar. All the staff was very friendly. We enjoyed happy hour at the Bagan lodge. Our pool side suite was fantastic! The laundry service was fast and good. The Sala Lodge was a perfect retreat after a hot day of ""temple exploring"" and we loved the staff. We enjoyed our stay at the amazing Kyaing Tong Resort. The Conqueror resort was also a fun stay due to a firework and balloon launch arranged by our guide with the hotel staff partying with us.
Hsu Mon Aung, our Myanmar guide was amazing! She was totally professional in taking care of us but she felt like a friend from our first meeting. She was the best ambassador for her country and through her warmth and compassion was able to connect us with many Burmese people. We entered their homes as welcomed guests. During the full moon festival we were unable to go to Taunggyito to see the balloons, so Hsu organized our own balloon launch at the Conqueror resort, including music and fireworks. She knew that I had really wanted to see the balloon festival. We felt so fortunate to have had her traveling with us, Hsu checked us in at every hotel and airport. Our bags were taken care of before we knew it. At the restaurants she helped us select foods that were Burmese and would keep us healthy. We did a lot of laughing and sharing stories in the car.
In Kyaing Tong we met our regional guide who we called ""Sy"". Sy had a fantastic personality and knew the tribes well. The people were always happy to see him. He and Hsu worked well as a team. At the local school, we donated tablets, pencils, etc., and I was able to teach the children the ""Hokey Pokey"" translated by Hsu and Sy. Su and Hsu brought medicines to the hill tribes. Keo was our guide in Siem Reap. One of his best skills was skirting the crowds at the temples. We often entered through a seemingly remote jungle path vs. the highway. At our request, he also showed us less touristy temples that were not on our itinerary. Our guide Hsu was also very resourceful! At the Pho Win Daung caves the monkeys were very aggressive, so Hsu paid two young ladies with monkey food to keep the monkeys away from us.
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Hotel Altiplanico & Hotel ilaia were both great!

Chile: Patagonia Islands, Ferries and Fjords

5.0
February 2017
Myths and Mountains
Recommend: Yes
Hotel Altiplanico & Hotel ilaia were both great! Altiplanico has great food and restaurant, very nice rooms, very helpful staff, etc. The ilaia has very friendly staff, great atmosphere, good location, etc.

Bottom line is that we had a wonderful time, guides and accommodations were excellent and we were impressed that your local tour operator, had our backs.

A Taste of Myanmar

5.0
January 2017
Myths and Mountains
Recommend: Yes
All of our interactions with Toni and Jen were totally professional. Your rapid responses were appreciated, since we were working on a relatively abbreviated time line. We realize that we're pretty nit-picky and demanding in a way that differs from your usual cliental since we're much more comfortable handling things on our own. We were very satisfied with your flexibility and knowledge -- you pushed hard for things you felt important (i.e. the city tour and marionette show in Yangon -- both of which you were totally right) and let other things slide (i.e. Mt. Popa). The final product was a compromise that accommodated our style and your expertise -- it looked great on paper and translated into a fascinating trip.

Above all else -- our choice to go with local guides rather than a national guide was perhaps the most crucial decision in making our trip so spectacular. Each of our four guides was wonderful and their expertise in their local region shined through. We are so, so happy that we chose this option.

You planned a great trip for us -- accommodations, guide, and local travel agency back-up were all top-notch.
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5.0
January 2017
Myths and Mountains
Recommend: Yes
My family and I had a great time in the Galapagos in May 2015 and the ship you recommended to us after listening to our preferences worked out really well. The ratio on board the ECLIPSE of 12 passengers per naturalist was a big win, and so was having a professional photographer like Jonathan Green on board. We were able to take phenomenal photos after just 12 hours of lessons with him – the fact that this was a photography expedition was a nice touch. The work you did on our behalf, your fast responses to so many of my questions, all of it was just outstanding and couldn’t be more perfect. All in all, it was a memorable Galapagos trip. Thank you, Allie.
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Thank you for making this memorable trip happen!

Classic Galapagos: Cruising Darwin’s Enchanted Islands

5.0
January 2017
Myths and Mountains
Recommend: Yes
Our first visit to the enchanting Galapagos Islands in December 2014 was simply spectacular! We’re still talking about it—the wildlife captivated our senses (omg!), the grayish-blackish mysterious landscapes, the impossibly white sand beaches dotted with playful sea lion pups & iguanas, diving the gorgeous aquamarine water, the tiny penquins, the giant tortoises and so many endemic wild ones only found in the Galapagos.

Allie—thank you for making this memorable trip happen! Because of your clout and exceptional relationship with Ecoventura, we got the best cabin and best seats on domestic flights. My Galapagos detailed itinerary was a surprise hit with my cruise buddies! This trip could not have been stress-free without your guiding star and expertise of the Galapagos. You are a consummate professional Allie!!
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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


Custom Tours Trips & Tour Advice

Custom Tour Packages allow you to design your own trip rather than following a set itinerary already established by the tour operator. Where you go, how many days you spend there, and what kind of travel and accommodations you choose are entirely up to you. Your trip could include a private guide or guides, or you may want to guide yourself. Working under the guidance of a tour agency – some of which specialize only in custom tours -- you choose where you want to go and when, and the agency takes care of much or all of the logistics.

Customized tours have recently entered the mainstream of the tour business. Once mainly the province of the wealthy few who could afford to hire a tour agency to put together a trip just for them, custom tours are now widely offered by a whole range of tour companies, including those whose main business is offering guided group tours.

The effect is that custom tours – while generally more expensive than standard guided group tours for a variety of reasons – are no longer limited to just luxury tours that would bust the budget of many a traveler. With added competition, including that from more budget-oriented tour agencies, lower-cost custom tours are now much more readily available.

This isn’t to say that luxury custom tours are no longer predominant. They are, partially because budget travelers still tend to look to guided group tours first, where the economies of scale – and typically less work for the tour agencies – add up to lower prices. But the field is widening.

Who Are Good Candidates for Custom Tours?

Honeymooners. If you’re on your honeymoon, you may not wish to travel in the company of people you don’t know. A custom tour can easily be fashioned into a romantic tour of, say, Italy, or – for adventurous couples – a land-river tour of Southeast Asia or an African safari complete with private guide and luxury safari tents. 

Families. Custom tours are ideal for families who fear that their children will miss the company of other kids on group tours where adults predominate. Parents may also feel that other travelers will resent having children along on their group tour. With a custom tour, parents can emphasize quality family time together and make sure their kids’ interests are taken fully into account. Custom tours can also work well by adding grandparents to the generational mix, or perhaps by joining up with friends who have children the same age. 

Other small groups of friends or associates who want to travel together and follow the same itinerary, specific to them. 

Individuals or couples who like traveling by themselves but  don’t want to spend much time on logistics or who want expert advice in setting up their trip. Every custom tour should offer those two advantages.

Travelers who can’t find exactly what they want in a standard group guided tour. They’ve combed the brochures but none of the tours offered to their destination meet their needs in terms of timing or itinerary. With a custom tour, they can go where they want when they want. 

Travelers who want to go at their own pace and maintain more flexibility and spontaneity than guided group tours may offer. While many group tours offer some time to go off on your own, you may want more free time than that – and you still need to keep up (or slow down) to stay with the group. With a custom tour, you can choose your level of flexibility – for instance, you might opt for a rental car and arranged lodgings on a driving tour of Wales, keeping the rest of your day free to roam as you wish. (Custom tour agencies will provide suggested routes, sights, eating places, and other ideas, but you can make the final decisions on the spur of the moment when you’re there.)

Is a Custom Tour Right For You?

You know best what kind of traveler you are. If you enjoy making new friends or having lots of company on a trip, or feel more secure traveling with a group, you may be best suited for guided group tours. If you have very specific ideas about what you want to see or do on a trip, and can’t find guided group tours that fill the bill, a custom tour may be right for you.  

Many tour agencies listed on Stride specialize only in individualized custom (sometimes called “bespoke”) tours. Many other tour companies will custom design a tour for you if you prefer that to a standard tour.

What to Look For if You're Considering a Custom Tour

- Expertise in the region of your destination

- Personalized service that ensures you get what you pay for

- A robust policy of assistance during your trip if needed

- Highly trained local guides if you want them

- Competitive prices if you’re on a budget

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