Topdeck vs Friendly Planet - Tour Companies Compared

Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.

Rating Breakdown
Overall — 5
Value — 4.6
Guide — 4.6
Activities — 4.6
Lodging — 4.6
Transportation — 4.6
Meals — 4.6
Overall — 4.5
Value — 4.5
Guide — 4.5
Activities — 4.5
Lodging — 4.5
Transportation — 4.4
Meals — 4.4
Recent Reviews

Fast-Paced Tour of Western Europe that highlighted most Bucket List Sights. Awesome Company. Great Food and Tour Leader

5.0 June 2019
B
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
I jumped on this tour with very little notice and planning, and I was thoroughly impressed. Our Topdeck trip leader was very knowledgeable, fun, and adjusted the trip to the group (34 people). The meals provided were delicious, and they worked hard to cater to dietary needs. Accommodations were good, typically with 2-6 people in a hostel room. Keep in mind they are hostels, not hotels (bring your own towel).

I loved the itinerary, as it highlighted the must-see places and had variety (ex. Paris, Rome vs. Switzerland). The optionals in each city were all wonderful. However, many were not presented in the Topdeck literature online and were not introduced on the trip more than a day in advance. All are paid for in cash (Euros). Because of how the optionals were presented, it was a bit harder to budget. I would recommend inquiring more about the optionals when booking and at the beginning of your tour via your trip leader. Don't feel pressured to do all of them and remember to keep your own interests in mind.

The solo travelers easily found others with similar interests to explore with. For many on this trip, drinking and going out to bars/clubs was a major component (as alcohol is often cheaper than water). Because of the shortness of this tour along with all the destinations, prepare for lots of driving and to make the most of the time you have in each city.

This trip provided am amazing sampling of Western Europe and opened my eyes to cultures and history I was unfamiliar with. Overall, I would highly recommend this itinerary and touring company, as it provided a good balance between budget and experiences.

P.S. Stay flexible with plans, but some of the popular sights need more pre-planning than expected, like the Eiffel Tower and the Anne Frank House (Amsterdam).
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Overall amazing value. Food, particularly by Topdeck staff, excellent. Spontaneous/flexible; be prepared to pay for lots of extra excursions, on and off your itinerary, in cash.

5.0 June 2019
K
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Food was excellent. Accomodations were better than expected: hostels, but usually with in-suite bathrooms and always only with other members of your tour of the same gender. Don't try to overplan; trip is quite spontaneous and flexible and you won't know much about the schedule/optionals for each city more than a day or so in advance. Optionals will be plentiful and paid in cash. Only do those that are right for you, even if your trip leader really encourages them and most other people are going. These trips are great for solo travelers, but make sure you find people interested in the same things as you...it will probably be easy to find groups to go to bars and clubs with in the evenings, but harder to find people who prefer other evening plans. Driver was excellent and bus was very comfortable and clean, but be prepared to spend a lot of time on it as there is no driving at night. Trip leader extremely knowledgeable, experienced, and helpful. Overall, excellent value and a trip with plenty of time to see the bucket list highlights in each city.
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Winter Spirit around Europe!

5.0 March 2019
A
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
I did the 24 day Winter Spirit around Europe! I would definitely recommend booking a Topdeck tour! It was the best experience ever. Doing my second Topdeck in July around New Zealand!

Tour Topdeck Company Reviews

amazing memories!!!!

5.0 May 2019
K
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
I just returned from spending 8 phenomenal days in Greece and Turkey. Our guide Yannis couldn't have been more knowledgeable, efficient, fun, funny and FRIENDLY!! There was 12 of us traveling together and he never lost his patience although some days he may have felt like he was herding cats... The hotel, ship, tours and local guides left us wanting nothing! Thank you for providing us the framework for such amazing memories!!!! Efxaristo!!!!!!
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Tour Friendly Planet Travel Company Reviews

a wonderful experience

5.0 October 2018
C
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Just returned from a Friendly Planet trip to Egypt, was a wonderful experience. Our guide, Ahmad, was the best guide ever, very knowledgeable and really took care of us. We saw a lot in 10 days. It was great.
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Tour Friendly Planet Travel Company Reviews

outstanding

5.0 November 2017
S
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We just returned from Peru. Well done Friendly Planet. Hotels and meals were outstanding. Our main guide, Jaime, was one of the best I've ever had...and, we travel a lot! Jaime was an inspiration for some
of us who needed extra support to get to the top of Machu Picchu. Our Lake Titicaca guide could use more experience. But, still a good time!
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Tour Friendly Planet Travel Company Reviews

Tours 347 Trips 2 Trips
Average Trip Price Per Day $ 147 $ 376
Operator Type Group Tour Operator Group Tour Operator
Size Global Operator Global Operator
Trip Types
  • Group Tours
  • Group Tours
  • Private Guided Trips
  • Custom Itineraries
  • Independent / Self-Guided Packages
Service Level Standard Budget
Regions
  • North America
  • Australia & Pacific
  • Africa
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Europe
  • Central America & Caribbean
  • South America
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Europe
Known For
  • 18 - 35
  • Safari
  • Trekking & Camping
  • Adventure
  • 50+
  • 18 - 35
  • Budget
Headquarters Chiswick, London, UK Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, USA
Year Established 1973 1981
Solo Friendly Good for singles, No single supplement N/A
Tour Languages English N/A
Top Trips
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About Topdeck

Founded in 1973, Topdeck has been providing fun, adventurous trips around the world for 18-39 for over 40 years.

What Makes Topdeck Travel Stand Out?

Topdeck tour focuses on providing friendly and authentic guided group tours where like-minded 18-39 year old travelers can have amazing group experiences. There are several trip types to choose from, from camping, to immersive, to multi destination, to sailing.

Who Will Enjoy Traveling with Topdeck?

Sociable, adventurous, budget conscious 18-39 year olds are the kinds of traveler who will gravitate to Topdeck. Though they offer a few different distinct travel styles, there is definitely a sense of an ongoing party, with travel as the conduit and underlying shared interest.

If the idea of being around a group of similarly aged people - many of whom may be exploring internationally for the first or second time - being spontaneous, and meeting locals (often in the environment of bars or clubs) is unappealing, then Topdeck may not be your cup of tea.

Introverted travelers, or those for whom an extensively planned itinerary including many museums and historical sites is ideal, may want to hunt around before choosing a Topdeck tour.

That is not to dissuade the more observational traveler - who may very well find a group they gel with perfectly on a Topdeck tour. Only to caution that you will be surrounded by several extroverted personalities.

The bottom line is if you are game for anything, are traveling on a budget, and don’t mind fairly basic but comfortable accommodations and inexpensive meals - sometimes on the go - then you will enjoy the Topdeck tour experience.

Top Destinations

Topdeck has tours throughout the world, in Europe, Australia & New Zealand, North America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Topdeck Travel Style

The Topdeck travel style is tied quite specifically to their audience. These tours are great for youthful and energetic 18-39 year olds looking for a good time and to make new friends.

In the interest of keeping their tours affordable, travelers with Topdeck will need to make a few allowances. For example, hostels and hotels may be situated quite far away from the city centers. You can also expect some long travel days. The more of a good sense of humor and adventure you have, the more you’ll enjoy the experience.

Why Choose a Tour With Topdeck

Feeling the urge to connect with travelers in your age group, have fun, and make lasting friendships? Topdeck has over 40 years of experience in adventure travel, which has helped them create epic low cost trips for 18-30 somethings.

These tours are certainly not for those who prefer to take things slow. You will be running around, moving between a lot of places - which in some cases means very long bus rides - going out a lot, meeting new people, and staying active throughout your tour.

If your ideal travel experience is more methodical and planned out in nature, Topdeck may not be for you.

But if you are an adventurous and social travelers eager to absorb a new culture and make new friends, then hop on board!

About Friendly Planet

Founded over 30 years ago, Friendly Planet is a small, family owned tour operator based in the United States. While they might be a small operation, they offer a wide range of affordable journeys to six continents. Their trips span across three categories: small group tours, value vacations, and independent packages.  

What Makes Friendly Planet Stand Out?

Friendly Planet was one of the first tour operators to offer online bookings. While their trips will immerse you in local culture, they don't do so at the expense of comfort. On top of that, their tour price basically includes everything -- flight as well on most trips! It’s rare to find an operator that does so, meaning that’s one less thing for you to worry about.

They also have 24/7 customer service support, which gives peace of mind while traveling to far-flung destinations. If something isn’t up to standards while on your trip, they’ll get in contact with the guide and fix it promptly.

Who Will Enjoy Traveling with Friendly Planet?

Friendly Planet is ideal for active travelers, interested in culture, history, food, and nature. Their small group trips attract a wide age range, while their value vacations tends to draw a younger, more budget-minded crowd.

Whether you’re a couple, small friend group, or solo traveler, you’ll find these trips to create the perfect setting for meeting new people. Groups sit between 11-24 people, striking the perfect balance between too many names to remember and “I have no one to talk to”.

Trips can vary from everything between daily casual strolls to strenuous hikes up snow-capped mountains. If you’re looking for a trip where you can put your physical limits to the test, Friendly Planet does have tours for trekking, mountain biking, and/or kayaking.

Top Destinations

They offer trips in various parts of Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Middle East, Mediterranean, Central America, and South America. Any trip you choose will have a mixture of classic sights and off-the-beaten path experiences.

If you’re the type that enjoys sightseeing and scenic views as much as bread-making lessons and local village visits, they’ll you’ll surely enjoy the tours that Friendly Planet has to offer.

While they do offer trips around the world, Asia, Europe, and Nepal tend to be popular with their customers. Their service, accommodations,organization, itinerary, and guides have the most quality consistency.

Friendly Planet Travel Style

Cultural immersion is a signature feature for Friendly Planet. On top of some sightseeing, they believe it’s about activities and meeting locals that elevate your trip. This could mean a visit to a local artisan village in India, or a walking tour through Old Havana on a tour to Cuba with Friendly Planet. Or a day of leisurely walking through the countryside - where you are surrounded by mountains, lakes, and a castle on a tour to Italy.

You’re always greeted in the morning with a buffet breakfast - so no need to worry about what to order when you’re still half asleep. Accommodations are always centrally located hotels that sit in the 3 or 4-star range.

While it may not always be the fanciest or upscale hotel, they’ll do for some relaxation time and a good night’s sleep. Expect to be using transportation such as private air-conditioned motor coaches, ferries, and coach buses.

They have 4 travel programs:

Small Group Tours: This is what is popular and what they’re most well-known for. With 11-24 people, you’ll get enough time to know everyone in your group and make new friendships. Small group tours are good for young travelers that want some days to be organized, and other days to be free and do as they please.

Value Vacation: For those on an ultra low budget, value vacations offers you the same great experiences, but with a larger number of people. There’s never more than 37, and tours are operated by tour partners. Note that their tours may also be shared with other passengers that weren’t arranged with Friendly Planet.

Independent Packages: If you’re the type that would rather not have a set itinerary, or would rather pick how much you want to do depending on your mood, then independent packages would be right for you. You have full flexibility, no schedule, and no tour guides - so you can make a pit stop at that hole-in-the-wall cafe you spotted while strolling through Santorini.

Crown Collections: For those who want to indulge, have more intimate groups, or luxurious experiences, Crown Collections is for you. Groups are maxed at 6, meaning you don’t have to wait an extra 20 minutes for your fellow travelers to finish up breakfast everyday. You’ll travel using the most upscale local transportation - such as the high-end Rovos Rail Train to venture from Pretoria to Cape Town. Spend the night in boutique hotels, and dine in restaurants where regional wines pair with every dish.

Custom Travel: Those wanting to book a trip exclusively with their friends, by themselves, a couple, or a large group - this is for you. Request a proposal and tell them what you want to do and where you want to go. It’s like having your own personal trip planner, so you can focus on spending quality time.

Why Choose a Tour with Friendly Planet?

If you thought you couldn’t go on tours because it’s cheaper to do it yourself - think again! Friendly Planet is the tour operator for those that are budget-focused, without sacrificing the experiences, good service, organization, and overall quality.

Once you’re on your trip, you have a dedicated emergency line that connects you to their managers in America (no matter what time of day/night it is). Additionally, they give back to the community and actively contribute to projects that promote education, clean water, human rights, wildlife protection, and more.

It should be noted however, that not everything is always guided by Friendly Planet tour guides because they outsource some of their trips. This means there are some potential issues that are out of their control. Depending on the destination, some partners are better organized than others. Not all of them are detail-oriented - they might miss small requests or change without notice.


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