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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

54 Reviews

Excellent 52 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

The Galapagos cruise was incredible

Classic Galapagos: Cruising Darwin’s Enchanted Islands

5.0 May 2017 Myths and Mountains Recommend: Yes The Galapagos cruise was incredible. We loved our room with a balcony on the Legend. It was thrilling to be able to observe the wild life so closely! Our naturalist guide was terrific and we loved our experience on the ship.
It was magical to see the stars of the southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere at the same time!
Allie was incredibly helpful. Her knowledge and work ethic are top notch.
All the guides were great! Very knowledgeable - Fernando in Quito, and the lovely lady in Guayaquil.
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Response time was immediate!!

Indochine: Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

5.0 May 2017 Myths and Mountains Recommend: Yes Response time was immediate. There was an ease and smoothness of every connection during a 5 week trip through three countries in Southeast Asia.

M&M was always going above and beyond - finding us unique situations and people to meet and having a true understanding and care for the local people.

Everything was straight forward and easy. We had so many favourite trip memories, but the fact that we were in some popular and crowded places where our guides always knew the best time of day and ways to get the most enjoyment from our visit.

Our favourite hotel was the Song Saa...pure luxury within a natural setting and our favourite guide was Cuoong ...because he would go beyond expectations day in and day out.
Advice: Please do not hesitate to have someone plan a trip for you it makes such a difference
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Stunning and unforgettable experience !

Classic India

5.0 May 2017 Myths and Mountains Recommend: Yes Four of us travelled together, and everyone had different favourite moments. For me, Varanasi was a stunning and unforgettable experience -- from witnessing the celebration of a religious festival to experiencing the chaos of the street life. It was India in a microcosm: history, life & death, colours, noise, mystery, diversity. In contrast, our peaceful evening eating dinner with a family in Jaipur who opened their home to us was every bit as wonderful as any of the sites. They were welcoming, interesting and gracious. And the homemade meal was a bonus.

Guidance through the visa process was quite helpful.

Almost all of the accommodations were first-rate. Ahilya Fort, Dera Mandawa and Sarai at Toria stood out because they were small, and each had a uniquely personal touch. The Fort was in a great location -- adjacent to the town and the river -- yet quiet with amazing rooms and views of the river. We were able to go down to the river early in the morning and see the town come to life. The rooms at Dera Mandawa were beautiful, the staff amazingly attentive. Again, although we were in a city, the hotel was a peaceful refuge. Sarai was a surprising spot next to Panna, again with interesting and helpful owners and staff. If you found places like these throughout India, I would forget about staying the in big five-star hotels.

Kaush, our guide beginning in Indore, was friendly, knowledgeable and attentive to our needs and interests. He handled the logistics of meeting local guides, porters, local drivers and dozens of other details flawlessly. In a disorganized country, he was a model of organization. We knew we were in good hands, start to finish.

A guide he engaged in Khajuraho to take us through the temples stood out as a brilliant and interesting individual. Everyone loved him.
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A transforming and magical journey to Myanmar, Cambodia, Bali and Java.

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

5.0 April 2017 Myths and Mountains Recommend: Yes In all our years of travel, we’ve never experienced a more transforming and magical journey than the one Toni planned for us. Her meticulous planning ensured that there would be no surprises during our month in Myanmar, Cambodia, Bali, and Java, and what surprises we experienced were the serendipitous ones that happen when you allow yourself to seize the moment when it happens. Our guides, excellent English-speaking people and very knowledgeable, quickly got to know us and would make adjustments that would allow us to experience an unscripted moment with the wonderful people in each country. It was those unexpected moments that left us feeling like we left each country having stood in the shoes of the people for one brief moment. That perspective made us come back to our own country with new eyes and appreciation for what we have and what we don’t have.


The resorts were all remarkable, each unique, staffed by the kindest people, each attending to our needs, some of them so happy to test their English skills with us, leading to remarkable conversations about their lives. Restaurants were chosen to give us an overview of the food in the country, and the food was always delicious. Ancient temples, historic buildings in cities, beautiful rides in the country, food markets, candlelit dinner at a Burmese village home, boat rides on magical Inle Lake in early morning, watching the fisherman at work, floating gardens and villages, harvesting in the rice fields, 4 wheeling on a volcano, being surrounded by students practicing their English on Borobudur, the list goes on and the memories will never end.


But what set this trip apart was that Toni wanted to make sure we truly understood the people. Juxtaposed to the beauty was a trip to the Genocide Museum and Killing Fields in Cambodia, a heart-rending visit that we initially didnt want to make but realized afterwards that we had to make. It opened our hearts to the horror of what these people had endured and the wonder at the hope they all showed in spite of losing so many family members. Growing up in America, we’d read the stories in the newspapers, but it was only in being there that they became real to us. We’ll never forget the hour we spent on a boat with our Cambodian guide, anchored in the middle of Tonle Sap Lake, listening to his story. We felt such a connection to him and were so moved by his hopefulness and his vision of what his country would be for his children. It was this same young man who managed to make us feel like early French explorers discovering the ancient temples of Cambodia for the first time. We felt like we were truly in an Indiana Jones movie on an adventure of a lifetime. Words can’t describe those four days of discovering the temples of Cambodia. It was hard to believe the vision the Cambodian Kings had, the tenacity and ingenuity of the builders and that these temples are still standing, thanks, in part to the restoration of them by so many countries in the world.


Leaving Cambodia was difficult but Bali called to us and we were unprepared for the natural beauty ahead of us. Not only did we enjoy some beach time, but we quickly headed to the Ubud region and were stunned by the arts there, the countryside, and the people. We took a walk through the rice fields on Christmas day but before the walk we met a family in their home. There was a little 4 year old boy, shy, unable talk to us, but being a musician, I decided to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to him. I made it through 6 notes and he ran to his bedroom and returned with a little keyboard and played a perfect Twinkle on it. I was reminded that music is universal and in that moment we “spoke” to each other through music. That was our common language, as it also was in Burma when we sang nursery rhyme songs with children in a village, or took gamelan lessons in Bali. What we also took away from this trip was an understanding of world religions, since we had a Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic guide in three different countries. We listened to their devotion to their beliefs, heard their family stories of faith, witnessed their reverence of their holy temples, heard Islamic prayers 5 times a day, were blessed by Hindu priests, even had a healing ceremony on Christmas Day in Bali with a man who couldn’t speak English. We began to understand what made each nation tick, what kept them believing in a hopeful future when politics intervened in their lives. We witnessed their smiles, saw their tears when we were in the temples being blessed, and were so moved by their faith. So, if you want to experience a trip of a lifetime, go to Toni. You won’t be disappointed.
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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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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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