Custom - Best Tours & Trips 2019
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.
Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.
Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Price Per Day
Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.
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Rivers & Seas
Cities & Attractions
Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.
Flights & Transport
Continents & Regions
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Top Custom Experiences
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
The fun of helping to plan your trip without having to sweat the details
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
Custom Trip Reviews
213 Custom Tour Reviews - Summary 100% Recommend
Custom Tours and Travel Guide
Custom Attractions & Landmarks Guide
Custom Tour Packages allow you to speak with an expert to plan your 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 "tailor made " or “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
All Custom tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 5.0 for all Custom trips.