Topdeck vs Road Scholar - 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 — 5
Value — 4.6
Guide — 4.7
Activities — 4.6
Lodging — 4.5
Transportation — 4.5
Meals — 4.5
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

The amazing places we saw

5.0 July 2019
G
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
I liked everything about my RS tour of the Oregon Coast - the amazing places we saw; our well-informed and caring tour director Kathleen Fitzgerald; the capable and quietly efficient bus driver Tim; the vastly knowledgeable Earth Science specialist John Ford; the excellent local guides Audrey and Mike; the variety of group meals and eating locations; the convenient accommodations; and the wonderful tour co-participants. Also, before the tour, helpful Road Scholar staff and volunteers checked on all my health and nutrition needs. In all - an exquisite experience, which made me rush and book another Road Scholar tour for September. :-) Georgiana
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Tour Road Scholar Company Reviews

It was fun to be able to spend time alone with our grandson

5.0 May 2019
S
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We did a grandparent/grandchild trip with Road Scholar and it was a wonderful experience!
It was fun to be able to spend time alone with our grandson, and it was fun for him and us to meet new people.
We plan to do another trip next year with our other grandson!
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Tour Road Scholar Company Reviews

Its a stop on your life's adventure

5.0 May 2019
B
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Its not a trip, its a stop on your life's adventure and learning. My trip to the gardens of England and the Chelsea flower show with Jenny Smale as our tour guide and Kevin Tooher as our botanical guide was beyond my expectations for a tour of the gardens of England. We stayed in top hotels, rode in a comfortable bus, ate great meals and visited private sites that would have been impossible except for their assistance. Our group bonded and will continue to stay in touch.
I took hundreds of photos and packaged them into a Powerpoint presentation that I gave to my local garden club. Hope to encourage others to try this tour.
Can't wait for my next Road Scholar visit.
I am checking off my bucket list with the family that I never knew I had.

I have added another Road Scholar trip for 2019. I will be sharing 9 days with a fried in Churchill Ca while we travel on tundra buggies to see Polar Bears. I had been researching this trip for years and then looked over the Road Scholar description. Not only was it thousands cheaper, but also more side adventures and time watching bears than similar trips. I look forward to adding great photos to my review.
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Tour Road Scholar Company Reviews

Tours 347 Trips 856 Trips
Average Trip Price Per Day $ 147 $ 244
Operator Type Group Tour Operator Group Tour Operator
Size Global Operator Global Operator
Trip Types
  • Group Tours
  • Group Tours
  • Small Ship & Expedition Cruises
  • River Cruises
Service Level Standard Standard
Regions
  • North America
  • Australia & Pacific
  • Africa
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Europe
  • North America
  • Central America & Caribbean
  • South America
  • Rivers & Seas
  • Australia & Pacific
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Europe
  • Antarctica & the Arctic
Known For
  • 18 - 35
  • Safari
  • Trekking & Camping
  • Adventure
  • 50+
  • Photography
  • Adventure
Headquarters Chiswick, London, UK Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Year Established 1973 1975
Solo Friendly Good for singles, No single supplement N/A
Tour Languages English English
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 Road Scholar

Founded in 1975 as Elderhostel, Road Scholar took its new name in 2010. The name change was meant to better reflect the non-profit educational travel organization’s mission, which is to offer lifelong learning opportunities to adults.

Besides it’s a clever play on words (the takeoff on Rhodes Scholar), “Road” stands for the journeys the group offers, while “Scholar” indicates the deep devotion to learning that participants possess.

What Makes Road Scholar Stand Out?

Tours specifically designed for older travelers and with a heavy focus on gaining deeper knowledge through educational activities, led by guides who are experts in a variety of fields.

Instructors accompanying Road Scholar trips are experts in their fields, delivering lectures and leading field trips. Trip themes may range from history and culture, language study, and music appreciation to birding, bicycling, and baseball (proving that learning can be light-hearted, too).

Traveling with Road Scholar is like a study abroad experience, with classes and instructors, with a group of people the same age who have a similarly extensive hindsight on life - and love to learn.

Who Will Enjoy Traveling with Road Scholar?

The first thing to note is that Road Scholar trips are specifically intended for travelers 50 and above (often 65+).

Open minded, active, and worldly life-long learners who have a sense of adventure and willingness to try new things, will love the cadence of a Road Scholar trip. Road Scholar is often the first guided trip experience for older travelers.

Perhaps in your younger days you loved going it alone, planning out your itinerary, and loved the spontaneity of traveling off the beaten path. Now you’re ready to have that same spirit, but with a few more ducks in a row and maybe hit some of the classic sites you missed or didn’t truly appreciate before.

Road Scholar has recently added special grandparent-grandchild trips and programs for three generations traveling together. Keep in mind that the focus remains on education, distinguishing Road Scholar trips from most commercial tours.

Group sizes with Road Scholar vary, but many small group study tours are limited to 10-24 participants. They are also very friendly to solo travelers - offering many tours for solos and singles where you can meet new friends, and romantic interests!

Road Scholar allows for particular good compatibility between you and your tour mates as each journey is designed around specific themes from an educational perspective.

Top Destinations

With a special Road Scholar operates tours in 150 countries, as well as every state in the U.S. Aside from the educational days, many trips include activities in nature, with hiking, kayaking, and other outdoors experiences.

Road Scholar Travel Style

Road Scholar creates their itineraries to encourage learning - both in a scholarly way, from knowledgeable guides, and experts in various fields, and also in a holistic way - from the accommodations, meals, and transportation. Your entire journey with Road Scholar is designed as an educational experience.

Tours are referred to as “programs”, guides, tour directors, and leaders are “faculty” and they even have an online “campus store”. Programs are designed to be immersive and very different from a canned experience.

Walking trips, train treks, small ship cruises, and riverboat voyages are among the options for trip style. Prices typically stay in the budget/value range consistent with the company’s roots.

Road Scholar offers may ways to save on their trips. These include scholarships, friend referrals, and various specials and deals throughout the year.

Why Choose a Tour With Road Scholar?

On a Road Scholar tour you can expect a lot of unique cultural, artistic, historic, and local insights. Meet artisans, learn local crafts, and feel the camaraderie of being around other travelers who enjoy the educational aspect of travel.

The original Elderhostel grew out of the vision of the late Marty Knowlton, who spent four years backpacking around Europe while staying in youth hostels -- and wanted American adults to have access to similar cultural experiences.

If you consider yourself a lifelong learner and want to spend your vacation amongst others who share your passion for travel and education, Road Scholar is the place for you.

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