Intrepid Travel vs Amtrak Vacations - Tour Companies Compared

Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.

Rating Breakdown
Overall — 5
Value — 4.7
Guide — 4.7
Activities — 4.7
Lodging — 4.7
Transportation — 4.7
Meals — 4.7
Overall — 3
Value — 3.0
Guide — 3.3
Activities — 3.1
Lodging — 3.6
Transportation — 2.7
Meals — 3.1
Recent Reviews

Loved camping with Intrepid

5.0 June 2018
LR
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Loved this trip. Camping in very nice places - usually had hot water and nice showers. Great itinerary - LOVED Namibia and the variety of the tour from the desert to the delta to the parks.

Intrepid did an incredible job

5.0 December 2017
ATFT
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Thailand Cambodia Trip. Nov 2017. For my 60th birthday I decided I wanted to take my family of 6 to Thailand and Cambodia. After my initial conversation with the Intrepid office, they pulled together a perfect 24 day custom itinerary for us. My Intrepid coordinator really listened. We set up a incredibly diverse trip, ranging from ocean front resorts to a primitive hillside village trek. From the minute we landed in Bangkok, to the day we flew home, all transfers went off with out a hitch. What really made our trip memorable was our local guides. Every single one of them were warm, professional, humorous but most importantly, had a deep knowledge of the geography, the plant life, dining, the history and government. We felt by the end of the trip, these guides had become a part of our family. The entire trip was amazing and we will definitely use Intrepid for our next adventure travel. Thanks so much.
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great tour

5.0 October 2017
k
Recommends
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 3.0
the guide was very knowledgeable - friendly - great sense of humour - looking out for the safety of the tour members - organised - thoroughly nice guy

Never ever book with Amtrak Vacations

3.0 November 2018
WnbwAVea
Recommends
  • Value 3.0
  • Guide 2.0
  • Activities 3.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
Didn't give me the right information from the get-go. I had to call several times with issues with my vouchers and tickets. Didn't get a break down of the cost of what I was paying for when I booked my trip, and I think they cheated me more money than the trip was worth. The last hotel they booked for me was ghetto as hell and I got BED BUGS!!!
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Tour Amtrak Vacations Company Reviews

Avoid Amtrak Vacations

3.0 September 2018
W
Does Not Recommend
  • Value 2.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 5.0
  • Activities 3.0
Avoid Amtrak VacationsAmtrak Vacations, Inc. let me tell you what a deplorable vacation we had on Amtrak. We scheduled a National Park Amtrak vacation June 2017 to travel July 2018. We were very excited to take this trip. Everyone knows that when you travel with Amtrak there will be delays because Amtrak does not own the tracks. The first part of the trip from Chicago to Salt Lake and the visit to Yellowstone were wonderful. From Salt Lake to Emeryville, CA they ran out of food and we only had a choice of hamburger or hot dog. Certainly not a deal breaker but at least poor planning on Amtrak's part. When we arrived in San Francisco and tried to check into our hotel we were told our reservation had been cancelled by Amtrak Vacations. The next day I was able to correct this after spending almost an hour on the phone with Amtrak Vacations. We waited for the bus to pick us up for our Yosemite tour and were told that the tour bus had already left even though we were where Amtrak Vacations told us where to pick up the bus and we were at this correct spot 35 minutes early. No trip to Yosemite for us. When we left Glacier National Park we had a two hour delay. The conductor made an announcement that several passingers needed to be put up in a hotel in Milwaukee because of the delay . These passengers were traveling on the same connecting train that we were. We questioned the conductor as to why were we not included with those passengers since we're were on the same connecting train. He assured us that we would make our connection. . . . ? How is that possible, of course it was not possible. We received no help from the customer service agent in Chicago. That particular day Chicago had two concerts,the Alzeheimers Conference, 50 years of Special Olympics and a Cubs vs. Card ball game. Needless to say there were no rental cars at either airport and the least expensive hotel cost $378 plus cab fare. We paid $799 for travel interruption insurance and were told today they would pay us $214 for the claim that we filed for $640. What a scam. Moral of the story AVOID Amtrak Vacations.
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worst ever

1.0 March 2018
B
Does Not Recommend
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
I'm not the kind of person who sits around and writes negative reviews. But after the multiple horrendous experiences I've had with Amtrak Vacations, I actually googled around until I could find somewhere to write about how badly run this business is. The customer service reps are all very nice. But it is the most poorly managed company I've ever encountered. (I received a $300 Amtrak Vacations gift card, so the reason I've continued booking with them for a few trips was in order to use up the amount on the card.) Prepare for a long phone call when you book--my longest was 53 minutes. They will put you on hold while they speak to people from accounting to check the amount on your card. (Why do I get the feeling that nobody there is sitting in front of a computer?) They will transfer you back and forth from "reservations" to "guest services". You may or may not get the emails they say they'll send with your ticket information. (I find I receive about 50% of the ones promised to me.) They will make errors refunding money to your card. And never ever call on a Saturday. The last straw that led to me writing this review was the 25 minutes I just spent, waiting to talk to a rep. She said that the business only has 3 employees on the phones Saturday to handle all the calls that come in. In short, don't use this company. Book online with regular Amtrak and save yourself the hassle.
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Tour Amtrak Vacations Company Reviews

Tours 1,083 Trips 2 Trips
Average Trip Price Per Day $ 196 $ 304
Operator Type Mixed Land & Cruise Group Tour Operator
Size Global Operator Local Specialist
Trip Types
  • Group Tours
  • Small Ship & Expedition Cruises
  • Group Tours
  • Independent / Self-Guided Packages
Service Level Standard Standard
Regions
  • North America
  • Central America & Caribbean
  • South America
  • Rivers & Seas
  • Australia & Pacific
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Europe
  • Antarctica & the Arctic
  • North America
Known For
  • 18 - 35
  • Solo & Singles Travel
  • Safari
  • Trekking & Camping
  • Adventure
  • Sailing
  • 50+
  • 18 - 35
  • Solo & Singles Travel
  • Adventure
  • Train & Rail
Headquarters Melbourne, Australia Beverly, Massachusetts, United States
Year Established 1989 1972
Solo Friendly No single supplement N/A
Tour Languages English English
Top Trips
Similar Companies
Countries
About Intrepid Travel

Intrepid Travel is all about ‘real life experiences.’ Founded back in 1989 following an “intrepid” African adventure trip, Intrepid lives up to its name by offering up some pretty big adventures -- such as an 11-day hike through Papua New Guinea -- but is broad-based enough to also lead group trips to Hawaii, complete with sipping sunset Mai Tais on Waikiki Beach.

Intrepid Travel - Quick Facts

Founded in 1989

No Single Supplement (rare exceptions)

Small Groups - max 16 on most trips

Typical Age Range - 18 - 45

Travel Style - Cultural immersion, adventure, overland

Accommodation Style - Camping, Hostels, 3 /4 star hotels

Average Tour Price - $2,377

Top Regions - Asia, Africa, Europe, South America

Other Brands: Peregrine, Geckos

Commonly compared with G Adventures »

Morocco homestay with Intrepid Travel

What Makes Intrepid Travel Stand Out?

Above all else, Intrepid strives to get its travelers off the beaten path and under the surface of the local culture. To accomplish this, group sizes average just 10 travelers each, with a maximum of 16 on most trips. This allows for more use of local transportation and lodging, along with fostering cultural immersion.

Intrepid also employs local English-speaking leaders who act more as a resource for local exploration than do typical ‘guides,’ shepherding groups from one place to another.

Who Will Enjoy Traveling With Intrepid Travel?

Intrepid is one of the early pioneers of the “adventure”-style guided trip. Despite its informal beginnings and emphasis on younger, highly adventurous travelers, Intrepid has expanded to a global company with a broad range of trips to fit all ages.

Intrepid divides its small-group trips into three separate styles of travel, all priced accordingly. “Basix,” for budget travelers, keep inclusions to a minimum and offer plenty of free time, “Original” journeys which offer more included activities and more hotels, while “Comfort” trips offer the highest level of included activities and standards of accommodation, as well as roomier vehicles.

The kind of traveler who gravitates to Intrepid Travel is one who has a real sense of adventure - whether this means hard adventure, or simply going deeper off the beaten path. Interacting with locals is an important factor when you travel, as is gaining a unique cultural perspective. A sense of fun is also essential, whether it means going out at night with your tour mates or daring, ahem, encouraging each other to try strange new foods.

Top Destinations

Monk mediating in Myanmar on tour with Intrepid Travel

Originally focused on small group adventure tours to Asia, Intrepid has expanded rapidly over the years, while maintaining its classic, adventurous, and immersive style. Today Intrepid Travel offers more than 1,000 different experiences in over 100 countries, on all seven continents. Regions with the most trips include Asia, South America, Africa, and Europe.

Intrepid Travel Style

Intrepid enjoys using local, unique forms of transportation. You might find yourself traveling by felucca in Egypt, on a camel in Morocco, or in a tuk-tuk on the best Thailand tour of your life. Accommodations, which could range from guesthouses to home stays, are also locally owned, allowing a more authentic taste of the region while contributing to the local economy.

There are a few broad travel styles to choose from when deciding on an Intrepid tour:

1. Basix - Budget travelers who don’t mind, and in fact prefer, simple accommodations - camping and homestays with basic amenities, and crave a lot of free time for exploring independently will love these tours. Public transportation is used exclusively so pack light! These trips often attract a younger crowd who love the idea of throwing a backpack on, keep plenty of room for the unexpected in their schedule, and allocate their travel funds towards spontaneous bus tickets and street food instead of museum tours and 5 star restaurants.

2. Original - These trips take the backpacker spirit of local immersion, incorporating all the benefits that come with going with a planned itinerary. This style is called “Original” because it’s the type of travel that put Intrepid on the map...pun intended. Accommodations are still simple and budget minded - often homestays are used to give you a true sense of place, personality, and culture. Mostly public transportation is used.

3. Comfort - Intrepid is known for the active adventure style of travel and these trips keep that mentality, with a few more creature comforts thrown into the mix. You can expect higher end, more discerning, accommodations that include a wider variety of included amenities, transportation is mostly private, though you can still expect to use some public transport, as is the Intrepid way. More meals are included in the trip price, and more group activities - which means a bit less free time to explore on your own.

Why Choose a Tour With Intrepid Travel?

Sample of many spices in Middle Eastern market

Intrepid is a good choice if you don’t mind foregoing some creature comforts for a truly authentic, local experience. If you enjoy meeting locals when traveling, sampling new and exciting foods, and traveling in mixed-aged groups of 10-16 people, Intrepid could be a good fit for you.

It’s important to note, sometimes “ample free time” can be a blessing and a curse. It sounds great on paper, but if you’re looking to maximize your dollar and your vacation time, be sure you understand the implications of having a lot of free time during your itinerary.

For some travelers this is an absolute requirement, but for others it can be tough to branch off and explore independently - you also need to make sure you allocate enough travel money for independent meals. The tour leaders are great resources of information for how to spend your free time, but if you like having a full day scheduled from breakfast to dinner, Intrepid may not be the best company for you.

Lastly, if sustainable and responsible travel is important to you, Intrepid has poured millions of dollars into local economies, and has a very strong emphasis on responsible travel. So you can feel good knowing that your money helps support some of the innkeepers, vendors, and communities that you’ll meet along the way.

About Amtrak Vacations

Since 1971, Amtrak has operated railway services throughout the contiguous United States, with more than 300 trains traveling on 21,300 miles of track each day. 

What Makes Amtrak Vacations Stand Out?

There’s something about a rail journey that connects one to the past, while feeling distinctly futuristic.

As you explore the United States and Canada with Amtrak, the expansiveness of the landscape will awe and inspire. Especially as you relax into the pace of rail, which let’s face it, is much slower when compared to grabbing a flight. But that’s part of the fun.

Amtrak Vacations aims to show people North America, and creating lasting memories through journeys that incorporate scenic landscape views, excellent service, and inclusive packages.

They offer a lot of variety when it comes to duration, price, and destination. Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or a longer more leisurely vacation, you can be sure to have an amazing journey.

Who Will Enjoy Traveling with Amtrak Vacations?

train track through national park

Rail journeys are appealing to a wide range of travelers. The ease and comfortability makes this mode of travel very popular among families, older groups, and those with limited mobility. A large part of taking a rail journey is the opportunity to sit back and relax, watching stunning scenery go by. So these trips are ideal for travelers wanting something scenic and easy, with a few options here and there to get out and explore the landscape on foot.

Amtrak specializes in easy, inclusive travel packages - including accommodations, meals, and of course your transportation. This is a great option for travelers seeking some flexibility in each destination when it comes to sightseeing and activities, but want the stability of having some key logistics taken care of.

These journeys cover North America, and more specifically United States and Canada. Those who travel with Amtrak are largely US and Canadian Citizens on cross country trips. That said, it can also be an attractive way to cover a lot of ground for international travelers. However note that some of the time off the train will be to your own devices, without a guide, so if language barrier is an issue be sure to keep this mind.

Top Destinations

Glacier national park with Amtrak

Amtrak Vacations are available in North America on Amtrak railways, and through connections to boats, ferries, and motorways.

You can travel in many different directions and there is a large variety of durations available. Some of the most popular Amtrak Vacations are through national parks. Currently they offer rail journeys through Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Glacier National Park, the Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Yosemite.

In addition, Amtrak covers all major geographical regions of the United States and Canada, including most major cities.

Travel Style

A journey with Amtrak Vacations can be done on a budget, or more luxury. With several dining options, and accommodation options on board, such as deluxe sleeper cars, there’s something to be found for everyone. They provide excellent customer service and a knowledgeable staff available for any and all questions throughout your trip.

Amtrak offers a few different types of rail vacation packages:

Rail Getaways - These quick jaunts are great for a weekend getaway, solo or with a few friends or family members. Get to know a specific region and enjoy taking some time off the train to explore.

Independent Journeys - Multi city vacations ideal for those who are looking for an adventure, and a lot of independent choice when it comes to activities and sightseeing.

Round Trip - Fairly self explanatory, these can be long or short trips. Different routes aren’t taken, so you will be seeing double. But for some travelers this is a great way to pass the same sites and maybe explore some in more depth than you did going the opposite direction.

City stop in Chicago Amtrak vacation

National Parks - As stated above, national park visits are one of the most popular Amtrak Vacation packages available. The incredible scenery envelopes you and there are many opportunities to disembark and explore. These journeys are especially memorable for the opportunity to stay at hotels within the park itself - and feel truly a part of the incredible nature.

Rail and Sail - These trips are a unique way to make your journey to the cruise ship about more than just getting from point A to point B. Every component, land, sea, and rail becomes something special.

Coast to Coast - Really get into the landscape and enjoy the rhythm of what it means to really embrace slow travel. Coast to coast trips with Amtrak typically last between 15 and 17 days, and are a great way to feel the true spirit of rail travel.  

Family Adventures - These journeys are great for family bonding, and really take into consideration activities that kids will enjoy. This definitely includes a theme park visit or two! Learning and educational excursions also take center stage, as the incredibly expansive US or Canada comes to life.

Why Choose a Trip With Amtrak Vacations?

Rail travel is like taking a ride through history. The implementation of the railroad had such an enormous effect on exploration as well as making connection between the coasts easier that ever before.

When you travel with Amtrak Vacations, the adventure begins the minute you step on board. And the train journey itself is a large part of the experience.

Amtrak offers many ways to relax, including spacious cabins and seats, spectacular views, and a unique dining experience. Amtrak aims to transform travelers’ state of mind as they pass through the natural beauty outside.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I have a local Amtrak station near me. Can I begin and/or end my tour there?

Yes! Tours with Amtrak vacations can be started or finished at any one of the 300 Amtrak stations covering the USA and Canada. And most itineraries can be taken in reverse order, for your convenience.

2. Do you include sightseeing in the itinerary?

Yes, sightseeing excursions are included in all of the itineraries with Amtrak vacations. You do have the option to add on additional sightseeing activities. These are available for an upgrade fee.

3. Do the sleeper cars have private facilities?

Amtrak has two levels of sleeper car: “Roomettes” and “Bedrooms”.

The Roomettes are ideal for one or two passengers, and are a good option for budget travelers - sinks and bathrooms are shared, though there are multiple to a car. They feature reclining seats that form a bed, on opposite sides of the large viewing windows.

Bedroom setups are great for couples or those wanting a more exclusive travel experience. They feature a private sink, toilet, and shower.

4. Are meals included?

Yes, all meals are included in the inclusive packages offered by Amtrak. There are varying levels of dining available, from luxurious private service to a more cafeteria level experience.

Amtrak is able to accommodate most dietary needs and restrictions if given proper notice. They recommend 72 hours notice at least.

5. How much luggage can I bring?

Amtrak requires that each passenger bring no more than 2 large pieces of luggage, not exceeding 50 lbs.

6. When should I arrive at the train station?

It is recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before you train departs. If you require special assistance, Amtrak requests that you allow for more than 30 minutes to ensure you reach your departure.

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