Topdeck vs REI Adventures - Tour Companies Compared

Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.

Rating Breakdown
Overall — 4.5
Value — 4.3
Guide — 4.3
Activities — 4.3
Lodging — 4.2
Transportation — 4.2
Meals — 4.2
Overall — 4.5
Value — 4.4
Guide — 4.4
Activities — 4.4
Lodging — 4.4
Transportation — 4.4
Meals — 4.4
Recent Reviews

FUNNEST GAP TOUR EVER!

5.0 July 2018
A
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
This Topdeck was so much fun, with it being the leaders last trip the chefs first trip and everyone else on the bus being 18 on a GAP year it was one to remember!
Unfortunately we missed out on Nice as we were in Paris heading to Nice on Bastille day, the day of the drive through attack. Topdeck took a good step forward and moved us to Switzerland earlier and we had an extra day there and in Florence instead! They had the best facts and took us to the best places. Our leader Amanda would tell us the most important facts of the trip show us where to party and where to stay safe and let us do our own thing at night!
Would highly recommend!
Check out my Topdeck here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tB_uiN6dOOc&lc=z221j1nhwkfwfjgeaacdp4302urkdwx33xmfi0u45j1w03c010c
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Amazing Europe Trip

5.0 February 2017
S
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
There are so many great things to say about my European trip of a lifetime. The people that made it was my fellow topdeckers and of course the Fab Tour guide Matt Stewart. This is a trip that I will never forget, so many lovely memories I will cherish forever. We was very lucky with Matt because he really took time to talk to us and make us all feel relaxed with each other and asked us what we wanted to do. He was so knowledgable about all the places we went to, I remember thinking to myself this guy is pretty cool the fact he knows so well about the history and culture of each place especially the amount of cities we travelled to. Matt made the trip fun, interesting, exciting and I hope that if I was to ever do a top deck again one day he would be the tour guide or I think I would be disappointed. Have recommended top deck to so many people, memories I will have for a lifetime.

Georgina staines
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TopDeck Tours was awesome

5.0 January 2017
IAS
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Topdeck Tours was awesome, at the time back in 2005 I was traveling for 12 months, and wanted to see a huge chunk of Europe on a budget, so I found this company and it was exactly what I was looking for, the guides were very friendly, our cook was making really great meals on the side of the road, and the driver was very funny, and the accommodation was all good and I and all the other people had such and awesome time, and lots of us still keep in touch and will always remember our Topdeck experience.
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Tour Topdeck Company Reviews

Horrible!

1.0 August 2018
J
Recommends
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0
We did not do this trip with REI, but did this trip by ourselves and had the group from REI camp next to use. We were there from 7/19-7/22/2018. My girlfriend and I are experienced backpackers. This is some of the things we noticed WRONG! Most of these have to do with the Leave No Trace policy that are strict rules, especially on the PCT. Some are just common courtesy. Some of these things aren’t bad when it is one person, but when thousands do it, it poses real environmental problems. Guides, especially, should not be teaching future backpackers the wrong mentality about leaving our wildernesses as pristine as possible.
LNT = Leave No Trace policy
They camped 15-25 (some tents were closer than others) feet from the water. LNT states it should be at least 100 feet away from water to minimize pollution of water.
They cooked and washed dishes and brushed their teeth 15 feet from water. LNT states it should be at least 100 feet away from water and camp site to minimize water pollution and critters in/near your campsite.
People were putting on sunscreen and then going swimming very shortly after. This clearly pollutes the water.
At one point around 7pm, the two guides left the entire group, with their packs on, and did not come back until around 9pm. What if someone tripped and fell and hit their head while the guides were gone?
While walking down a really narrow steep section from Mt. Eddy, the group was walking uphill and did not slow down or move over for us at all, forcing us to move to the side. The rule of thumb is that people going downhill have the right away because of momentum. People going up should always yield to those coming down.
The entire group hung and and swam right in front of our campsite, even-though they could have very easily gotten into the water and hung out around the water close to their campsite. People obviously go into the back-country to get away from people. Why would these ‘experienced’ guides let 10 people block the view and disturb other people when there was no need. This seemed very rude and selfish.
At one point we heard one guide talking about our bear hanging method (The Piutte or PCT method using a locking stick method), saying it was “Unnecessary”. We don’t know what they did for bear safety but we also heard the same guide telling the clients that bears and other animals were not a concern because she had “guided this for 4 years now and have never had any issues”. This is the wrong mentality. Maybe she simply got lucky for 4 years.
We heard one of the guides, while talking about glass in the area that “if you feel comfortable, you can just throw it in the fire pit. It’s better than it being on the ground or in the water”. This is the wrong mentality. They should inform the guide, and the guide should make a conscious effort to pack it out, versus simply throwing it into a fire pit where a ranger is simply going to spread the ashes away from the pit, later spreading the glass around.

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Trip of a lifetime

5.0 March 2016
R
Recommends
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
I loved this trip. The equipment was in very good condition. The fjords are awe strikingly beautiful. The water is clear and the Norwegian people were incredibly nice and hospitable.

Our guides were top notch. They worked very hard to make our trip the best it could be for us. Lots of personal service from REI Adventures. I have to look back at my pictures to make sure I actually took the trip. It was a life altering experience for me.
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Great way to see a country with a group

4.0 November 2015
MSDE
Recommends
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
REI's tour groups are a blast. You're able to see much more of the country than you would if you were on your own. The trips are very organized and you never feel bored or too rushed. There's a wide variety of tours to pick from based on region and activity.
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Tour Rei Adventures Company Reviews

Tours 351 Trips 84 Trips
Average Trip Price Per Day $ 149 $ 413
Operator Type Group Tour Operator Mixed Land & Cruise
Size Global Operator Global Operator
Trip Types
  • Group Tours
  • Group Tours
Service Level Standard Standard
Regions
  • North America
  • Australia & Pacific
  • Africa
  • Middle East & North Africa
  • Europe
  • North America
  • South America
  • Rivers & Seas
  • Australia & Pacific
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Europe
  • Antarctica & the Arctic
Known For
  • 18 - 35
  • Safari
  • Trekking & Camping
  • Adventure
  • 18 - 35
  • Safari
  • Trekking & Camping
  • Cycling
  • Adventure
Headquarters Chiswick, London, UK Sumner, Washington, United States
Year Established 1973 1938
Solo Friendly Good for singles, No single supplement N/A
Tour Languages English English
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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 REI Adventures

When you think of REI, you probably think first of stores that sell quality outdoor equipment and gear. But REI also has a travel division called REI Adventures, which has been leading active outdoor adventures around the world for the past 25 years.

What Makes REI Adventures Stand Out?

Known for their top quality outdoor gear, REI’s trips are specifically designed for the active adventure traveler. As a company they are dedicated to helping people see the world through the lens of nature and outdoor adventure. Even though this is their focus, they do also enrich their itineraries with cultural encounters, great meals with local touches, and exploring the destination off the hiking trail.   

Aside from their many trip options, from women-only departures to family friendly outings, they also offer volunteering trips, for those travelers interested in making a difference through their travel. These are also outdoor focused and involve things like wildlife habitat restoration and trail maintenance. It’s clear that REI takes their role as an outfitter as well as travel provider seriously and strive to help protect the areas they explore to keep them as pristine and undisturbed as possible.

Most trips are small groups, and are intended for those who are physically fit. Satisfy all your active adventure cravings on a trip with REI where you’ll meet like minded travelers and come home with stories to tell.

Who Will Enjoy Traveling With REI Adventures?

Young Women on adventure travel trip with REI Adventures

REI trips are very active adventure focused, with the emphasis is on getting outdoors and enjoying nature. If you are the kind of traveler for whom putting on a pair of hiking boots and hitting the trail for a several hour excursion in the wilderness is an ideal and really, crucial, aspect of your travel experience, these trips are for you. The space in your suitcase that might have been dedicated to makeup, ties, jewelry, or cufflinks is replaced with outdoor travel accessories.

Getting out in nature with REI means anything from hard core activities like extreme whitewater rafting and trekking up Mount Kilimanjaro, to family safaris and cruises to Antarctica. The focal point is being outside, learning about nature, and being active.

That said, this is travel after all, albeit adventure travel, but that doesn’t have to mean no time to slow down and get some cultural experiences in too. Simply that exploring culture and history is secondary to the outdoor travel aspect.

hiking with REI Adventures

Everyone from mild adventure travelers to hard core adventurers and adrenaline junkies will be right at home on a trip with REI. Trips are moderately priced, with several family friendly, solo traveler, and women-only options available. Because their core focus is in active travel, a certain level of physical fitness is expected.

A wide range of ages are welcome, though the core age group is between 18-40. On Family Friendly trips it is recommended that children be no younger than 8 years old. Not all activities will be open to the younger travelers in the group, but these trips are specifically designed to make sure everyone has something fun to do!

Top Destinations

REI travels to destinations with an eye toward the outdoor activities to be enjoyed. Whether this means an African safari camping under the stars, a multi day hike through some of the world’s most incredible National Parks, or a trekking journey in Nepal.

Trekking trail in Nepal with REI Adventures

They offer departures on all 7 continents, with an impressive number of Antarctica tours available. they focus on National Parks, mountain regions, hikes, and popular safari and white water rafting locations.

REI Adventures Travel Style

Each of REI’s 150 trips -- which reach all seven continents -- is rated 1 through 5 for activity level. Trips rated 1(Relaxed) and 2(Easy Active) are ideal for families with younger kids, older travelers seeking some invigoration without, you know, climbing cliffs or barreling through whitewater, or completely novice active outdoor travelers.

Coffee at the fire on REI Adventure camping trip

Trips that are rated Moderate are also great for novices, but those interested in a slightly bigger challenge physically. Those trips rated 4(Vigorous) and 5(Strenuous) often require a doctor’s note to ensure you are aware of the risk, and able to keep up with the physical demands of 10+ hours a day of extreme activity, dramatically changing elevations, and steep uneven terrain.

Camping is a common accommodation style for REI Adventures trips - though you usually will not be required to do your own set up and break down, and in most cases (not all) hot running water is available. Other types of accommodation include rustic lodges, and basic hotels.

Why Choose a Tour With REI Adventures?

Arizona national park tour REI Adventures

For an exhilarating and invigorating deep dive into nature and the outdoors, choose REI Adventures. This is their core focus and they do it remarkably well. Travelers who like to explore destinations through the lens of active travel will be right at home with REI Adventures. If you’re looking to expand your horizons and perhaps challenge what you previously thought you were capable of (such as learning to scale a mountain, or graduate from class 3 to class 4 whitewater rafting) these trips are for you.

This is a also a great travel opportunity to make new friends with like interests! You are sure to meet many fellow outdoorsy, active travelers -- whether you’re hiking through Tuscany, trekking to Machu Picchu, exploring Utah’s Zion National Park by bicycle, or kayaking the South Island of New Zealand.

Traveler in Iceland with REI Adventures

These trips are not for you if the idea of being outside constantly, among the elements, pushing your physical boundaries is less than appealing. They also focus far less on museums, history, and classic tourist attractions, so if this is important to you, we’d suggest looking into other tour companies where this is more prominent in the itinerary.

If you love the outdoors and being active when you travel, REI is the perfect tour operator for you. They specialize in active adventure travel, as evidenced by their outfitters, so if you love shopping at REI for all your outdoor needs you’re sure to enjoy touring with them.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need to be an REI member to go on their trips?

No, however if you are a member, you can receive substantial discounts!

2. Is airfare included?

No, only ground transportation during the trip is covered by the trip price. You are responsible for purchasing your airfare to and from the trip start and end locations.

3. Does REI Adventures provide travel insurance?

Travel insurance is required when traveling with REI. Due to the potentially dangerous and risky nature of adventure travel, REI has a partnership with TripAssure, and recommend all travelers purchase the “Adventure Protection Plan” which you can do through REI. Should you choose to purchase independently, know that certain events that can arise from active travel may not be covered, so do so at your own risk.

4. How difficult are REI Adventures trips physically?

This will vary by the trip, but in general it will be good to expect some parts of the trip to be physically challenging, relative to the trip classification. REI separates their trips into five main categories:

1. Relaxed: These trips are ideal for new adventurers with no background in active travel. They usually involve easy hikes - expect to walk no more than 3 miles a day, and to be active between 1-3 hours a day. Elevation changes are rare, so most hiking and walking is relatively flat. Great for families with young kids looking to enjoy being out in the fresh air!

2. Easy Active: Another good option for families or slightly older travelers looking to push their limits. These trips are active and exciting without being extreme. Expect to be active between 2-5 hours a day, hiking up to 6 miles; cycling between 10-30 miles.

3. Moderate: Here’s where it begins to get more challenging - though REI states that these trips are perfectly doable for novices to outdoor travel. Expect to be active between 4-6 hours most days, and covering distances of up to 10 miles for hiking; between 20-40 miles for cycling.

3a. Moderate plus: Moderate plus indicates that some experience in active outdoor travel would be beneficial. These trips are a combination of Moderate and Vigorous activities.

4. Vigorous: These trips are best suited to those travelers with a bit of active travel already under their belt, and basic outdoor travel skills are recommended. Or at least willing to undergo some training to be ready and able to keep up with the group. You’ll be active for between 5-8 hours a day, hiking 12 miles most days; cycling between 30-50 miles.

5. Strenuous: This designation is reserved for long distance trekking, dramatic changes in elevation, and it is required that travelers be fit and able bodied. A doctor’s note is required for you to be permitted on these tours. Expect consistently uneven terrain, and long days of activity - hiking 12 miles or more, or cycling 50 miles or more. Prepare to be active upwards of 10 hours a day.

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