Self-Guided & Independent tours and adventures

Self-Guided & Independent - Best Tours & Trips

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.

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Top Self-Guided & Independent Experiences and Attractions


Top Self-Guided & Independent Experiences

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Top Self-Guided & Independent Attractions

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Self-Guided & Independent Trip Reviews


882
Self-Guided & Independent Tour Reviews - Summary
96% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 662 Great 169 Average 31 Disappointing 12 Terrible 8
Value
4.7 Guide
4.7 Activities
4.7 Lodging
4.7 Transportation
4.7 Meals
4.7

A

Recommends

excellent but more strenious than expected October 2018

5.0

Self-Guided Walking in the Cinque Terre and Portofino

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
instructions for self guided walking tour were, on the whole, clear and
detailed. Walks were a bit more challanging than I had expected but doable.
Accomodation was excellent, close to necessary train station and very good
restaurants. Agreat base for daily walks.
Sense of achievement at the end of each day, having completed whole of day's
activities without major hitches


N/A - an anonymus deliverer of detailed instructions and maps. A brief
introductory meeting would have been appreciated just to set the scene.


If you are up for a challenge and opportunity to experience magnificent
scenery, go for it


Read more

Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

Sierra de Aitana - self guided walking October 2018

5.0

Self-Guided Walking in the Sierra de Aitana

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
This was our first self-guided Exodus trip. We opted for it as we wanted
flexibility for a moderate/ challenging trip as our first walk of the year.
The variety of trails and ability to flex their order and the free day were
helpful too. We did the five walks in the order listed but choose to take our
free day at the end; partly weather-related and to enjoy a relaxing day
before travelling.
The area is compact, so you build up views of where you've walked as the days
go by. The limestone scenery is impressive and offers great views to the
coast. Sometimes the route is not obvious but the combination of GPS
/map/waymarks means you are unlikely to go far off track.
On balance, because of the perfect weather, the Passet de Rabosa to Aitana
peak day, with its impressive limestone features.
The Puig Campana summit is also very rewarding.

The time of year also made it a joy with almond trees, and depending on
elevation, rosemary, gorse and other wildlife flowers in bloom along the
routes.


As this was a self-guided trip, we were supported by the technical leader
(also the leader for the Aitana guided walk trip) and we saw him at start and
end of the week.
Day to day, our leader was Natxo our host at the Aitana guesthouse, who drove
us to walk starts, provided lots of local knowledge as we travelled and
picked us up at the end of the day. He also made sure the 'guesthouse' - an
unusual and beautiful property high in the hills and surrounded by pine
forest - was always warm for our return with a big log fire.
Together with Cecilia, his partner, we also enjoyed some great meals (both
meat and vegetarian equally good)


We used the GPS tracker, but found the maps provided very helpful in knowing
where on the route we were and the terrain type.
Whilst you're tracked on route, if you've not done independent walking
before, you may find it worthwhile before travelling, to test out navigation
aids offered on this trip on trails you know.


It was a surprise to find such great walking only a short distance from the
coast. We would recommend this to anyone who enjoys independent walking.


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Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

An epic adventure! October 2018

5.0

Self-Guided Cycling in Portugal: Mountains to the Sea

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
An adventure around every corner, beautiful scenery, amazing food and a real
feeling of getting away from it all. Met so many people walking their
pilgrimage to Santiago which was amazing and made us feel part of something
bigger than just a cycle trip.
Some long days in the saddle and a good variation of surfaces to mix things
up. The variation in landscape was also great. One day would be zipping down
mountain roads listening to cow bells, the next mile would be in vineyards,
another day you could cover plenty of miles along smooth cycle paths
alongside the mighty Minho river looking across at Spain, the next bumping
along cobbles and tracks in fragrant eucalyptus woodland or dodging joggers
along the boardwalks next to the Atlantic. Awesome trip!
* Cycling along the boardwalks trying to concentrate where you're going an
not just stare at the Atlantic.
* Saying Bom Dia to every pilgrim we passed.
* The lovely welcome we got at our accommodation in Ponte de Lima
* Adjusting to the hustle and bustle of Porto after the quiet countryside
* Totally gorgeous food everywhere we went even if it was bread and cheese at
lunchtime normally sitting in the shade of a stunning church.
And most inspirational moment was the whole experience of staying at Solar de
Serrade. Such a beautiful place - I didn't want to leave.


Self guided trip.


Yes! The bikes were top notch but I forgot to bring my own comfy saddle so
was pretty sore for a few days.
Make sure you do some training. There's some relentless hills to climb and if
you go when it's hot you can run out of energy mid afternoon.
Buy bread, cheese and drinks in the morning incase you don't find anywhere
for lunch. Oh and make sure you eat plenty of Portuguese egg tarts, they're
delicious!


Book the wine and dine package. We had a fabulous, intimate meal at Solar de
Serrade washed down with their own Vinho Verde wine. Relaxing in the garden
sipping wine after a long day in the saddle was just perfect.
The meal in Porto at LSD restaurant was awesome also and thoroughly
recommended. Both meals we were treated as extra special guests which made
the whole experience even more special.
We stayed an extra day at the end of the holiday in Porto to explore the
city.
The route notes were accurate and helped identify places of interest and the
GPS was a bonus. We used both.


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Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

Beautiful Bike Rides and Fantastic Food October 2018

5.0

Self-Guided Cycling in Portugal: Mountains to the Sea

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
This is a leisurely trip with some lovely rides in mountains, along rivers
and by the coast. There are some nice little villages and quaint towns. The
food and local wines were all superb everywhere I went.
Staying at the Solar do Serrade in Moncao was amazing. The people were so
nice. I sat outside drinking one of their wines with the pleasure of knowing
that the grapes were grown in the next field and picked by hand. The bottling
was done in the building just behind me.

Finding lovely little places for a drink and a snack, both on the route and
at each destination.

The riverside views were amazing.


N/A, but the GPS was much easier to follow than I anticipated!


Take it easy to enjoy the views and soak up the atmosphere. For my level of
fitness the routes were short enough to give me plenty of time to stop and
look around some of the towns and villages but I could still arrive at the
next hotel early enough to explore that town too. You could get to the next
place before lunch if you wanted to, but what's the rush?

I found that most of the hotels didn't do an evening meal unless it had a
specific attached restaurant. These hotels were Design and Wine in Caminha
and Hotel Bagoeira in Barcelos both of which I found enjoyable. But in all
the towns (even tiny Castro Laboreiro) there were plenty of places to eat and
from my experience all good.


You only get a short time with the local tour rep at Porto airport, so make
sure everything is ok before you transfer to Castro Laboreiro, especially
knowing how to use the GPS! But even if you get slightly lost its easy to
find your way back to the route.

Most days were easy cycling, there's just one day that has a couple of climbs
of any note. Also, most of the route is away from traffic, on quiet roads and
some of it on a shared path with pedestrians, but there are a couple of busy
sections. I found the Portuguese drivers very considerate. Even when I was
walking in town they stopped at crossings every time.

If you've got time before or after the trip, take a train to Lisbon. I booked
a 1st class seat in advance and got a ticket for 22 euros.


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Operator Exodus Travels

A

Recommends

Varied and interesting landscapes October 2018

5.0

Puglia: Self-Guided Cycling in the Heel of Italy

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Every day delivered a new experience and interesting cycling challenge. The
bikes were excellent quality - though at first I was a bit concerned about
the weight of it and the traditional style - but they were robust! No one had
a puncture and given how rough the roads were, that was impressive. The
hotels were all a high standard and in good locations. It was good that it
was B&B as it meant the accommodation was central and left you free to do
your own thing in the evening. The guide notes were good and the yellow
arrows on posts along the route were a reassurance. The route and places we
visited were all very good and certainly on anyone's list for Puglia. Every
cycle was rewarding and we felt we had achieved something every day.
Difficult to pinpoint one moment as the trip offered so many different places
and scenery. The coastal routes were the most interesting and the views
amazing.


N/A it was self guided


Book an extra day at the start in Matera - our friends (who have done this
trip) advised us to do that and it was worth it. Maybe consider staying an
extra night in Lecce at the end - that city had to more to it than we
expected.


The first day was the longest and probably the most difficult. It would have
been better to have that on say day 3 so that people will have got used to
the bikes and gear changes - and to how to interpret the notes. It was hot
and quite a few of us were a bit dehydrated by the end.


Read more

Operator Exodus Travels

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.

Related Trips & Tours


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All Self-Guided & Independent tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.7 for all Self-Guided & Independent trips.

1,495 trips from 69 tour companies with 882 reviews

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