Topdeck vs Smithsonian Journeys - Tour Companies Compared
Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.
Overall — 5
Value — 4.6
Guide — 4.6
Activities — 4.6
Lodging — 4.6
Transportation — 4.6
Meals — 4.6
Overall — 3
Value — 3.0
Guide — 3.0
Activities — 5.0
Lodging — 5.0
Transportation — 3.0
Meals — 4.0
Fast-Paced Tour of Western Europe that highlighted most Bucket List Sights. Awesome Company. Great Food and Tour Leader5.0 June 2019
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).Read more
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).
Tour European Wonder
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
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.Read more
Tour European Wonder
Winter Spirit around Europe!5.0 March 2019
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 trip was awful due to flight cancellations and failure of the contractor to adequately compensate for missed activities and days.1.0 May 2018
Splendors of Australia and New Zealand
Does Not Recommend
My wife and I were on the Smithsonian Journeys Splendors of Australia and New Zealand between April 13 and May 2, 2018. Smithsonian is rated by this site as Luxury travel. However, Smithsonian "farms out" the logistics for their trip to Odysseys Unlimited. Odysseys booked within country air travel with the lowest cost air carriers. Flights were cancelled from Ayers Rock to Sydney and from Queenstown New Zealand to Rotorua. Another flight was significantly delayed so that we did not arrive at our Christchurch destination until 2:00 am, making for a really tired next day. Odysseys Unlimited compensated us $400 per person for missing a day in Sydney and paid for an excursion in Auckland for missing Rotorua. This was wholly inadequate, given that these were highlights of the trip. In addition, our tour guide was rude to several people on the trip. If Smithsonian Journeys is truly a luxury travel outfit, as we had believed, then they would not be farming out travel logistics to such a chinch company as Odysseys Unlimited. We will think twice about traveling with Smithsonian again, and so should others.Read more
Tour Smithsonian Journeys Company Reviews
Get to Cuba before it changes because it has to.5.0 January 2017
Cuba - Smithsonian does it right
Cuba has been open to limited group travel for four years and is being opened to individual travel (still with restrictions) now. With thousands of Americans descending on our nearest island neighbor, Cuba has to increase its tourist infrastructure - and lose some of its charm.Read more
Smithsonian Journeys is a great way to see Cuba before it changes. Yes, Smithsonian tours are more expensive than some other tour companies but the phrase, "you get what you pay for", certainly holds true. Everything about the tour was top notch - the American tour coordinator, the local Cuban guide, the itinerary - the best. And everything is included - everything - tipping, all activities, tours. Cuba is a fascinating destination and deserves a quality tour company.
|Tours||347 Trips||12 Trips|
|Average Trip Price Per Day||$ 147||$ 593|
|Operator Type||Group Tour Operator||Mixed Land & Cruise|
|Size||Global Operator||Global Operator|
|Headquarters||Chiswick, London, UK||Washington, DC, USA|
|Solo Friendly||Good for singles, No single supplement||N/A|
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.
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!
Established in 1970, Smithsonian Journeys offers small group tours to 150 destinations around the globe. Smithsonian Journeys’ variability in style and destinations allows individuals to choose the perfect trip for them personally. Trips focus on “bringing a destination to life” through stories, facts, and tours led by experts in a variety of fields.
What Makes Them Stand Out?
Unique to Smithsonian Journeys are the Smithsonian Journey Experts who accompany the programs. These scholars and experts range from art historians, anthropologists, geologists and more. Charismatic and knowledgable, they are a defining element of all Smithsonian trips. Their commitment and backgrounds bring insight meaningfulness to all travelers who join them on trips.
Who Travels With Them?
The typical age range on Smithsonian trips is between 55-65, with younger travelers on outdoor, active adventures and older individuals often on special interest tours. Family tours, however, cater to a wide variety of ages including children. Trips are ideally suited to those looking to meet fellow travelers and lifelong learners.
Where Do They Operate?
Smithsonian Journeys has trips to all 7 continents. Travelers can pick from a wide variety of travel styles including: exploring by land, ship, train, private jet, immersion programs, family trips, tailer-made journeys, and special-interest travel!
Why Travel With Them?
The common denominator in all of it is the “diffusion of knowledge,” as Smithsonian Journeys puts it. Trips are sure to be educational, exciting and memorable for all who participate.
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