Topdeck vs STORY Land & Sea - 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 — 5.0
Guide — 5.0
Activities — 4.9
Lodging — 5.0
Transportation — 5.0
Meals — 5.0
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 knowledge of every guide made the trip soo much more enjoyable.

5.0 December 2018
D
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We just returned from a 10 day trip to Italy on Story’s Treasured Cities tour and we had the most amazing trip. We were not part of one of the group tours as they were sold out so we were a bit nervous about getting around not speaking Italian. Story arranged everything soo perfectly for us that it took 100% of the stress out of the trip. Someone was waiting for us at every airport, train station etc to get us to our destination without a hitch. We had private one on one tours daily and the guides were incredible. Andrea in Venice, Susanna Buricchi in Florence and Sonia in Rome went above and beyond. The knowledge of every guide made the trip soo much more enjoyable. You have plenty of free time in each city to explore and the hotels are always right in the heart of the cities, all walkable. If you were even questioning story don’t, It’s worth every penny and we could not be more pleased.
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Tour STORY Land & Sea Company Reviews

We just returned from an amazing tour of Italy.

5.0 September 2018
J
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Best.Vacation.Ever. We just returned from an amazing tour of Italy. Our Tour Captain handled all of the details behind the scenes, leaving us free to enjoy our culinary and cultural immersion in the best Italy has to offer. Perfect balance of guided tours and free time. Highly recommended!
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Tour STORY Land & Sea Company Reviews

We decided to trust Story to deliver one of our bucket list trips. THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT!

5.0 June 2018
DND
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
We decided to trust Story to deliver one of our bucket list trips. THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT! The tour through Venice, Florence, Cortona, and Rome exceeded our expectations. Absolutely everything was FIRST CLASS. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. We gave it 5 stars only because there aren’t 6. The published itinerary was delivered in spades with special additions, sometimes twice a day. We never touched luggage, as it was moved for us from location to location. We never had to deal with tickets for transportation or museums. The local, private guides were super. The included dinners and wine were superb. This is a no driving, hassle free tour. We are planning to take another Story Small Group tour.

AND, as a special treat, the owner of the company was our tour captain. We tried several things that may be included in future itineraries. In the course of 9 days nothing flustered him. Everything was taken in stride, dealt with and resolved quickly. Nothing interfered with his fantastic service to his guests. We were not customers in any sense of the word. There was never a hint that Story was trying to watch the budget.

For those of you reading this and trying to decide, there are some things you need to consider. (When you have questions, call. You'll find that the Story help line is very knowledgeable and helpful.)

Small group - There were 15 people on our tour (16 is maximum). The tour caption had the time to get to know all of us. We saw lots of groups that appeared to be 40-50 people! You get to decide which is best for you. The smaller group = higher cost. We thought that it was easily worth it.

Walking - There is a lot of walking on this tour. There is always the option to use a taxi to get from place to place (extra cost). Some of the people on the tour with us had apps to count steps. Most showed more than 10,000 at noon time! MANY of those steps are on stairs and rough/cobble stone streets. Many of the stairs are inside attractions - not between them – so they can’t be avoided. By the end of our nine days, some tour group members were opting out of some planned activities. Opinion: If you can't complete a three mile walk, over uneven terrain, at a three mph pace (that's faster than most people walk), comfortably; get in shape. You’ll never do a constant three mile walk, on the tour – but it’ll feel like it.

Weather - We had fantastic weather! Temperature in the mid/low 70's and two sprinkles in nine days. Mostly sunshine. A great time to go.

Crowds - On the other hand, it wasn't such a great time to go. The crowds of tourists were overwhelming, everywhere except Cortona. I.E.: Our private, skip-the-line guided tour of the Vatican was especially BAD. We waited in line for about an hour and then once inside, we were literally shoulder to shoulder for the remaining two - three hours. It was nearly impossible to enjoy/understand what we were seeing. We spent more time trying to keep in sync with the group than looking at the art. The Sistine Chapel was NOT worth the time it took to get there. This was not something that Story could control. If the Vatican is important to you, go some other time of the year! If you are there during the busy season, opt out. There are thousands of fantastic things to see in Rome that won't be busy.

Security - We had a tour guide point out a small group of gypsy/pick-pockets as we exited the Vatican and steered us around them. That was the only "issue" in nine days - not a big deal. But, we were reminded to be "vigilant" many times - especially around crowds.

Navigation - Venice, Florence and Rome are VERY difficult to get around. There are many streets/alleys that run in apparently random directions. The maps available through hotels/tourist agents are not in adequate detail. Consider a hand-held GPS navigation system MANDITORY. Our phone did not have cell connectivity, so we down loaded the Google map. It worked once. Be very careful that you have a navigation device that works! Download a local map and test, test, test in airplane mode (?) before you go.

Driving – If you are going to Italy and renting a car, during the busy season, Venice allows no cars, problem solved. Driving in Florence and ESPECIALLY Rome is crazy. You've been forewarned.

Hotels - As it says, the hotels are in the center of the city/attractions. For example: the hotel in Rome was 200 feet from the Pantheon! This means that some of the buildings are more than 1,500 years old. You'll get used to seeing corners that you'd think should be 90 degrees, but aren't. Be prepared to spend time learning how things work and how to find your room - it'll be different from hotel to hotel and what you are used to! WiFi worked good in each hotel, except Rome. (See review of Grand Hotel de Minirva on TripAdvisor)
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Tours 347 Trips 12 Trips
Average Trip Price Per Day $ 147 $ 552
Operator Type Group Tour Operator Group Tour Operator
Size Global Operator Global Operator
Trip Types
  • Group Tours
  • Group Tours
  • Small Ship & Expedition Cruises
Service Level Standard Standard
Regions
  • North America
  • Australia & Pacific
  • Africa
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Europe
  • North America
  • South America
  • Australia & Pacific
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Europe
Known For
  • 18 - 35
  • Safari
  • Trekking & Camping
  • Adventure
  • Budget
Headquarters Chiswick, London, UK Centennial, Colorado
Year Established 1973 1988
Solo Friendly Good for singles, No single supplement N/A
Tour Languages English N/A
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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 STORY Land & Sea

    Story Land & Sea is a travel company centered around small group tours both off and on land. It was founded by Mark Story in 1988 and after much success, expanded to a full operation in 2003. It remains family-owned in Centennial, Colorado and prides itself on its family values, which they reflect in their services.

    What Makes Them Stand Out?

    Story Land & Sea distinguishes itself by its main focus on small group tours. With no more than 16 people on each tour, Story Land & Sea establishes an individualized and memorable experience. The company also utilizes the multiplicity of activities in each location, providing a wide-range of things to do in each itinerary. This also encompasses their pricing options which vary from luxury to affordable.

    Who Travels With Them?

    As mentioned above, Story Land & Sea provides a well-rounded pricing range. Prices start at about $1,200 and can reach to about $5,000 depending on the desired tour. Individuals who choose Story Land & Sea average between 35-55 years of age. Story Land & Sea also provides discounts for groups of 8 members or more.

    Where Do They Operate?

    Story Land & Sea operates in Western Europe, Africa, Mexico, Australia and the Pacific. They also have tours to the Galapagos Islands. The company does offer specifically focused tours of Italy as well.

    Why Travel With Them?

    Those who want to feel culturally immersed in their surrounding should travel with Story Land & Sea. The fact that each tour group does not extend past the count of 16 means that each individual is able to get a more personalized experience. The “tour captains” have a pristine expertise of the subject matter while also not being intrusive on the experience. Story Land & Sea prides itself on putting the guest first and exceeding their expectations.



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