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Self-Guided & Independent - Best Tours & Trips 2019

1,561 trips to Self-Guided & Independent tours from 147 tour companies. 858 reviews. 4.6/5 avg rating.
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 ... Read More
All Self-Guided & Independent tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages.
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Travel Style Travel Style Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.

Trip Type Trip Type Group 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 Tour 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 Ship 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 Guided 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.
Self Guided / Independent Tour 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 Ship 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.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level 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 From*

$ 0 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level 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.

Travel Theme

Travelers Age

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly 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.

Company

Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

Stride Gives Back Stride Gives Back This trip visits a destination impacted by climate change. When you opt in to the Stride Gives Back program, we will donate 10% of our net revenue to organizations that help mitigate climate change in these destinations and across the globe. Learn more

Impacted by Climate Change

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Grand European with Eurostar Summer 2019
Group Tour
Popular
Stride climate
This trip visits a destination that is affected by climate change

Grand European with Eurostar Summer 2019

Trafalgar
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
24 days
$ 281 / day
$ 6,745
From : $ 8,296
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : N/A
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • VIP ADMISSION to the Vatican Museums
  • City tour in London, Salzburg, Vienna, Assisi, Pompeii, Capri, Rome, Florence and Paris
  • VISIT the Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen, Vaduz - the capital of Liechtenstein, the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Saint-Paul de Vence, Beaune and St. Severin Church in Paris
  • CRUISE the Canals of Amsterdam, the Rhine River and to the Isle of Capri
  • VIEW the ancient sites of Rome, the Papal Palace, Pont d' Avignon in Avignon and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
  • SEE the Lorelei Rock in Rhine Valley, Benedictine Abbey at Monte Cassino and the Vineyards of Burgundy
Visits:
Amsterdam, Assisi, Avignon, Bruges, Florence, Innsbruck, London, Lucerne, Paris, Rome, Sorrento, Venice, Vienna, Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Netherlands, Switzerland
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Ancient Angkor Wat Independent Adventure

G Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
3 days
$ 166 / day
$ 439
From : $ 614
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Take in the archaeological splendour of the angkor temples with a local guide
  • Dine on traditional khmer food at a vocational training restaurant
  • Explore vibrant siem reap
Visits:
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
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The Full Camino Primitivo

UTracks
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
17 days
$ 129 / day
$ 2,199
From : $ 3,079
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
Highlights
  • Walking on the original Camino trail between Oviedo and Santiago de Compostela
  • Experiencing the real pilgrim feeling by getting completely off the beaten track
  • Visiting and staying in authentic villages with intimate testimonies of true devotion
  • Discovering vast and impressive landscapes, which are green and lush throughout the year
Visits:
Santiago, Spain
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7-Night from Cove to Coast

7 days
$ 85 / day
$ 998
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Visit St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • Grab a Pint at The Guinness Storehouse
  • Enjoy the Lively Street Scene Around Dublin's Temple Bar
  • Explore the Hidden Treasures of Medieval Kilkenny City
  • Take in the Surroundings of the Killarney and Wicklow Mountains National Parks.
  • Marvel at the Breathtaking Gap of Dunloe
  • Stop at the Small & Charming Avoca Village
  • Behold the Iconic Rock of Cashel
  • Wonder at the Ring of Kerry Scenery
  • Visit the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens
  • Visit Castletown House, the First and Largest Palladian-style Mansion in Ireland
  • Explore Cork City & Visit the Former Prison
Visits:
Dublin, Ireland
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Best of Japan with Osaka & Hiroshima

11 days
$ 425 / day
$ 4,679
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Minimal walking. Motor vehicles for all major parts of trip. Wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Most cruises. Very Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit bustling Nakamise Shopping Arcade and Asakusa Kannon Temple, the oldest of their kind in Tokyo
  • Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, renowned for the thousands of brightly colored Torii Gates
  • Visit Osaka Castle and take a Walking Tour in Dotonbori, the city’s most famous entertainment district
  • Visit Peace Memorial Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site, to see the Memorial Museum and Memorial Hall, which memorialize the lives lost in the Wwii atomic bombing
  • Visit Itsukushima Shrine, a Unesco World Heritage Site, known for its floating Torii Gate
Visits:
Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, Japan
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Explore Malaysia

Explore!
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
13 days
$ 128 / day
$ 1,700
From : $ 2,241
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Kuala Lumpur - Stroll through Chinatown and marvel at the Petronas Towers in Malaysia's capital
  • Malacca - Discover centuries of colonial rule in the old trading port of Malacca. Take an evening river cruise through the city
  • Belum Rainforest - Explore one of the oldest rainforest's in the world, home to indigenous tribes and the mystical Rafflesia flower
  • Georgetown - Uncover 'the Pearl of the Orient' and try some wonderful street food in Penang
  • Langkawi - Spend time relaxing on the idyllic white-sand beaches of tropical Langkawi
Visits:
Georgetown, Kuala Lumpur, Andaman Sea, Batu Caves, Malaysia
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St Petes & Moscow - 6 Days

6 days
$ 400 / day
$ 3,295
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • St Petersburg
  • City orientation tour
  • The Hermitage
  • Peter and Paul Fortress and Peter and Paul Cathedral
  • Summer Palace – Peterhof or Catherine Palace
  • Moscow
  • City orientation tour
  • Kremlin and Armoury
  • Tretyakov Gallery
  • Moscow Metro Stations (palaces of the people)
Visits:
Russia
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Headwater - Self-Guided Walking in Southern Bavaria

Exodus Travels
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 130 / day
$ 2,049
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Centre-based walking in one of Germany's most picturesque regions
  • Impressive monasteries, regal palaces, onion-domed churches and pretty frescoed houses
  • Friendly, family-run 3-star hotel with steam bath, sauna and Jacuzzis
  • Well-signed paths and trails with a choice of walking levels every day
  • Chairlifts and cable cars leading to panoramic mountain restaurants
Visits:
Bavaria
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Two Wheels Cycling Tour
Self-guided / Independent Tour
Stride climate
This trip visits a destination that is affected by climate change

Two Wheels Cycling Tour

8 days
$ 244 / day
$ 1,955
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit the St. George Church, with its famous mosaic map and the Archaeological Park.
  • Explore Petra
  • Enjoy a city tour in Amman
  • Biking to Kerak Castle
Visits:
Amman, Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum, Jordan
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8-Night Northern Exposure

8 days
$ 155 / day
$ 1,242
From : $ 1,528
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Explore 5000 year old Newgrange & The Boyne Valley 
  • Visit Medieval Towns and Ancient Castles
  • Enjoy two Nights in Belfast City
  • Visit Dunluce Castle and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
  • Explore the Giants Causeway, Antrim Coast and Donegal
  • Discover Sligo's Yeats' Country & Hidden Waterfalls 
Visits:
Belfast, Ireland
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Between the Land and the Sea

7 days
$ 144 / day
$ 1,006
From : $ 1,296
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Tapas tour of Palamos
  • Cap Roig Botanical Gardens
  • Visit to Can Solivera an artisan olive oil estate
  • Pica Pica tasting menu at Mas Pou (optional)
Visits:
Barcelona, Spain
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The France - Alsace Untour

7 days
$ 128 / day
$ 899
From : $ 1,259
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
Highlights
  • Discover Alsace
  • Visit Strasbourg and Mulhouse
  • Experience the hike in Vosges Mountain
  • Explore Petite Venise
Visits:
Strasbourg, France
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Naturally Sabah - 8 Days

8 days
$ 324 / day
$ 2,595
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park and pristine Mamutik Island - snorkelling and swimming
  • Taun Gusi Village - experience village life at a homestay, horseriding and swimling in the river
  • Kundasang WWII Memorial Park - learn about Sabah’s WWII history
  • Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary
  • Sukau Rainforest - home to an array of wildlife. River cruise in search of wildlife
  • Kinabalu National Park - tropical rainforest
  • Kinabatangan River and Kelenanap oxbow lake - river cruise to view birds and wildlife
  • Poring treetop canopy walkway - spectacular views of the rainforest below
Visits:
Malaysia
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Zanzibar Independent Adventure

G Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
5 days
$ 104 / day
$ 519
From : $ 701
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Take in the aromas on a spice plantation tour
  • Relax on a tropical beach
  • Explore the unesco world heritage site of stone town
Visits:
Zanzibar, Tanzania
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Connemara - Self Guided - 7 Days

Project Expedition
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
7 days
$ 124 / day
$ 865
From : $ 1,211
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping. Basic - 2 star
Highlights
  • Transfer from Dublin to Connemara
  • Lough Corrib
  • Maumturk Mountains
  • Killary boat cruise
  • Leenane
  • Westport
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Top Self-Guided & Independent Experiences and Attractions

Top Self-Guided & Independent Experiences

Sampling culinary delicacies in 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

Enjoying a self guided walking tour 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 

Taking a train journey through Europe with suggested stops planned out by a travel expert

Learning some of the local language when staying with a family in Nepal

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Self-Guided & Independent Trip Reviews

858 Self-Guided & Independent Tour Reviews - Summary 97% Recommend

4.6 out of 5
Excellent 661
Great 120
Average 49
Disappointing 15
Terrible 13
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.6
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.6

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Great expectations fulfilled and more!

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

This June, I led a group of 12 on a tour to Ireland. Maggie Lunde was my group specialist who did an excellent job helping me achieve the desired plans for our visit. She was thorough and very responsive to our needs. Our chauffeur for the tour was Martin McAviney, a delightful guide and great friend to us. From the start, he let me know that he was there to fulfill all our plans and wishes and to feel free to communicate them clearly to him. He not only delivered but once he had a sense of our group, he gave us excellent additions which fit perfectly for us. His warmth and great sense of humor added greatly to the enjoyment and success of tour. Members thanked me afterward for "making our dreams come true" and another described the tour as "life-changing" I whole-heartedly share these accolades with Martin and Maggie.

Read more
Operator Authentic Vacations

Thank you Ayana and Jared!

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

From panic to success!
Had some issues with getting my trip rescheduled after a family emergency . Ayana & Jared were most helpful in getting it resolved and helping straighten out the confusion. I look forward to my new travel plan with the company.

Read more
Operator Aer Lingus Vacation Store

Pleasure

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

Noura is a fantastic tour guid she knows alot and is very nice , you cant go wrong with her i highly recommend, thank you for a wonderful time, hope to see you soon again, oh and whatever you want she will do her best to organize it :), thank you for everything

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Operator Morocco private expert

A fantastic introduction to Namibia

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

My husband and I went on a 12 day tour of Namibia covering Erindi private game reserve, Etosha, Damaraland, Swakopmund and Sossusvlei. From the start, I was impressed with the professionalism and responsiveness of our contact San-Mari. The trip was a fantastic introduction to Namibia especially due to our guide, Lucky who was knowledgeable, resourceful and friendly. He made the trip a memorable one for us. We will definitely go back to Namibia with NTN again.

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Operator Nature Travel Namibia

They gave us truly memorable days i

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

Best tour operator ever! Mohammad and his team were so nice to us, considerate, flexible and always welcoming. They gave us truly memorable days in Jordan! Every day of our journey was planned to perfection and carefully adapted to our needs and wishes.
Thanks to the entire team and huge thanks to our driver Saleh!

Read more
Operator Why Jordan Tours

Wonderful!

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

Euroventure helped me with my dream of getting to know Europe. I had always been scared of traveling alone but this company made it easy, I had so much fun and everything was absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much, I completely recommend this company

Read more
Operator Euroventure

Self-Guided & Independent Tours and Travel Guide

Self-Guided & Independent Attractions & Landmarks Guide

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.

Upsides

Freedom - 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). 

Tour companies that help you plan a custom or self guided travel itinerary take into account your interests and especially your travel pace. If you don't quite know what you're looking for, they can craft a very flexible itinerary allowing you to make up your mind once on the ground. This combination of independence with a bit of guidance from travel experts is the perfect combination for travelers looking to get their feet wet in traveling independently, but don't want to go in cold.

If this is more along the lines of what you're looking for, a Custom Tour could be for you.  

Price - 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. 

Many Independent travel planners function just like a tour company, and will plan meals and accomodations as well. The only difference being you don't travel as part of a group or with a guide. Their itineraries are generally tailored to one person, a couple, or families, but often hit similar routes or attractions that a group tour might. With the additional flexibiltiy to cater more closely to you as an individual and allow time to veer away from the planned activities. 

On the flip side, some provide the bare bones of an itinerary. This is great for those seeking adventure and spontinaity. Because you won't be part of a group, keep an emergency stash handy, as 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.

Adventure - Setting off 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.

Immersion - When traveling independently, you'll become immersed in the community you visit. Without a guide to rely on all the time, 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.

Downsides

Planning - 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.

Logistics - 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).

Loneliness - If you're traveling solo, 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.

Safety - 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.

Popular Destinations for Self-Guided Travel

1. Spain

Spain is one of the top self-guided destinations in the world. Many of the independent tours in Spain revolve around the historic pilgrimage trail of Camino. This trail has been in use for hundreds of years as pilgrims made their way to Santiago de Compostela while stopping at religious sites along the way.

2. Switzerland

Switzerland is a hiker’s dream. With its towering mountains and stunning valleys, Switzerland is the ideal place for adventurous hikers to explore the outdoors with self-guided tours of the landscape and the beautiful cities.

3. Argentina

Argentina is the perfect place to take a self-guided road trip. Argentina’s diverse landscape and historic cities make for an amazing self drive with opportunities to see Patagonia and Buenas Aires at your own pace.

Finding the Best Self-Guided Experience for Your Travel Style

Like with researching for a guided tour, finding a self-guided tour company that matches up with your own travel style is extremely important.

If you are looking for self-guided hiking or cycling trips, finding a company that specializes in adventure tours would be the best fit. However, if you prefer to travel by luxury, making sure you use a luxury travel company would be wise.

Finding the right tour operator that helps you create the best itinerary for your trip can make a world of difference. Making sure the company understands what is important to you whether it be food, accomodation, sites, or ecotravel, can help design the travel itinerary that works with your style.

Self Guided Custom Tours

For those who are looking for a more detailed and preplanned self-guided tour, custom tours may be the answer.

There are many tour companies and agencies that offer custom tours. Custom tours are usually created by travel agents who work with you to create a personalized itinerary that meets all of your needs. These agents specialize in your area and can guide you to top restaurants, experiences, or hotels.

However, something to remember when it comes to custom tours. When working with travel agents, it may be more expensive than general self-guided tours or guided tours because there are additional fees for the agent’s time.

Top Self-Guided & Independent Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

How to Prepare for Self-Guided Travel

One of the most important things to remember about self-guided travel is that you will be on your own. This means that you will have to remember that many of your bookings or tours need to be coordinated by you.

Putting in some research before you leave is highly recommended even if you have an itinerary planned. Having a general understanding of where you want to go and what tours are offered can help take the stress out of your travels once you reach your destination.

If your trip includes any hiking or cycling, make sure to do some training in advance. Preparing your body for travel is as important as preparing your itinerary or booking your hotels.

With self-guided tours, you may not be using tour guides or local experts. This means you may run into language barriers and miscommunications while traveling. Making sure you learn a few words in the local language can help you go a long way.

Staying Safe

It is always important to remember safety when traveling, especially if you are traveling in self-guided tours. You will not be in large tour groups or being guided through a destination by a local tour guide. Making sure you take extra precautions to protect your personal property and self is extremely important.

Having back up plans or knowing where local authorities are can help you if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation. Additionally, if you are hiring drivers or other tours, make sure to do plenty of research and look at the reviews before booking.

For those who choose hiking or cycling self-guided tours, packing medical supplies or knowing the contact information of authorities can be very helpful as you will be on your own without tour guides.

Top Considerations

Self-guided tours almost require more research and planning than a regular guided tour because picking the right company to help you can make or break your travel.

Right Company

One of the most important considerations when planning a self-guided tour is picking the right tour company. Many of the major companies provide itineraries for solo tours or book your hotels or dinners. However, if you are looking for a particular destination or activities, picking the right tour agency can be extremely important.

Best Location

Not every country is ideal for self-guided tours or some countries do not mash up well with your travel style. Selecting the best location for your self-guided tour can not only lead to an amazing adventure, but will keep you safe as you travel.

Pre-Bookings

With selecting the right travel agency to help you plan your self-guided tour, it’s important to note how much help the agency can provide. Do they book your hotels and meals, only your transportation, or do they create a simple itinerary? If you are unsure about your travels or need a little more guidance, make sure the agency you use provides the additional services you want.

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