Our Groupless Touring Philosophy
"Where Less is More"
Some of the people who
traveled with us on a tour through Russia, clearly enjoying
One of the best
features of our tours are the people you'll be
You've come to rely on The
Travel Insider for sensible advice and
down to earth commentary on travel and travel technology related issues
- we've been acting as a voice of reason and common sense in
this role since 2001.
These same characteristics are
now applied to our Groupless Touring - Where Less is More.
Chances are you wouldn't be
comfortable on a traditional coaching tour. Neither would
we. So we've created a touring strategy that allows you
as much individual flexibility as possible, while still giving
you the convenience and companionship of having pre-arranged
travels organized for you and other like minded souls.
We call this Groupless Touring
- Where Less is More. Read on to understand more about
We offer interesting and quality experiences that include a combination of self
guided and fully escorted traveling and touring.
Our itineraries typically combine a
mix of well known 'must see' sights with some less well known
'insider secret' activities.
When it is financially
prudent, we will give you as much comfort and flexibility as
possible, and when having you do a bit more of the work yourself
can save you big money, we'll arrange things that way too.
We believe that the best
vacation is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive, but
rather it is the one in which you are most relaxed and enjoying
yourself. We focus on creating this relaxed enjoying
experience for you in a generally four star quality environment.
We have helped tens of
thousands of travelers with their vacation experiences.
No-one has ever come back and complained that we arranged an
itinerary that was 'too good'. With this experience, we
know that a good vacation includes some personal indulgences and
small luxuries - while still being prudently sensible with
Of course, itineraries allow
you the flexibility to extend or vary your stay at the beginning
and end of the core part of the experience, and so we try and
design our tours to start and end in interesting places.
You are usually able to join
any tour at any point, and to leave it at any other point.
We'll customize the tour for you however you wish.
You can even choose between
traveling by coach with other group members, or driving yourself
in a rental car, meeting up with other participants as you wish, each evening
at the hotel, and perhaps during the day at activity stops.
All activities are optional
and everything can be changed to suit yourself, albeit probably
with some added cost.
Small Numbers, Small Places
(but big buses!)
You don't want to be
surrounded by too many other people when you're on vacation.
You're trying to get out of the rat race, not rejoin it with a
And so we keep the numbers
of people on our tours small. This means less time spent
waiting in lines, and more individual treatment. If you're
being given a personally guided tour somewhere, it means you're
not at the back of a huge group and unable to hear the guide and
see what they are talking about.
A smaller number of people
traveling together means we can go to smaller places that can
not handle, and which do not welcome, large groups.
It means that you get to
know your fellow travelers, and you can jointly discuss and
agree to 'on the spot' variations to your shared itinerary.
If it can be done, it will be done. We often will make
tweaks to our daily itinerary, and also will add extra photo
stops on request whenever our day's schedule allows it. We
see our role as enablers to help enhance your enjoyment, not as
constrainers to limit your experience.
Small group sizes mean
we can use friendly and characterful small hotels, rather than
busy big mega-hotels overflowing with large group tours.
But one thing we keep big.
Our deluxe coaches. Mini-buses are horribly cramped,
noisy, and uncomfortable. Our coaches get you up high
above the rest of the traffic where you have a much better view
as you tour through the countryside. They usually have a
rest-room on board, and may have hot or cold drink facilities,
too. We usually limit group sizes to no more than two
thirds of the seating capacity, so if you want to spread out a
bit, chances are you can.
Your Fellow Travelers
Particularly with smaller
sized groups, the people you are traveling with can have a big
influence on how positive your total experience is.
Travel Insider group members
tend to be well educated and well traveled. They are often
retired, but still active and eager to see more of the world.
They are interesting and
intelligent, and make for great traveling companions.
We've all seen them - the
couples that rush to the coach so as to get the very best seats.
That's not fair. We have a rotating schedule for the front
seats to ensure everyone gets a turn up front.
With our oversized coaches
that we don't fill, you're never going to be
uncomfortably wedged into the very middle of the very back row
on the coach.
'Less is More'
By now, you're probably
starting to understand what we mean by 'less is more'.
Less rigid structure, less people traveling together, with less
restrictions and rules. Which means more convenience and
more flexibility. It means, most of all, a more positive
experience for you.
Sounds like a great idea,
doesn't it! Try it with Travel Insider Groupless Touring.
The 'Groupless Group' thing
A balanced mix of group
activities and free time, and a small size group, generally of
broadly compatible friendly people, means you're not in an
impersonal regimented touring experience but rather you're
traveling with new friends on a flexible schedule.
We try and mix and match
arranged/coordinated activities with free time and flexibility,
and we've even been known to completely change itineraries 'on
the fly' when requested to do so by group members.
Here's what traveler Mike
said after his first tour with us :
Thanks for hosting our Christmas market cruise.
Marilyn and I have even talked about doing this again, and
will probably do so in the future. I know Bill and
Linda had the same reaction.
This is the first hosted tour we have ever been on in our
many trips (over 100 in the last 35 years) and it was worth
waiting until this trip to make an exception. We are
so independent that we usually travel by ourselves to
accommodate this independence. You made it so easy,
that we will probably make an exception again in the near
Again, thanks. We are looking forward to traveling
with you again.
We guess he meant it.
He and his wife have returned several times on other tours, and
bringing other friends with them too!
We hope you'll feel the same
way (and also keep coming back, too!)
Travel Insider Groupless Touring is experiential. You don't just see the world
through the tinted window of a tour bus. You'll go places
and do things that give you more participation in your
travels. For example, we don't just drive through the
rainforest. We walk through it.
If you are reasonably fit and able to
comfortably walk a mile
or so, and up 75 or so steps, then you will fully enjoy our touring.
You're still welcome to come
with us if this would be an inconvenient level of activity, but
we would ask you to adjust your expectations, rather than expect
us to adjust our tour.
We have had
mobility-impaired people travel with us, and they tend to not
always get off the coach at short stops, and stay closer to the
coach at longer stops, and sometimes might do other things at
their own pace. We'll help you in such cases as best we
can, and you should discuss this with us prior to joining.
We don't limit ourselves to
generic international brand hotels - we prefer interesting
hotels with character and charm. Hotels are generally of a
'good value good quality' standard, of a sort often rated as
'first class' or 'four star'. They are seldom 'deluxe',
but better than what is sometimes called 'tourist class' or
Hotels are conveniently and
sensibly located, with preference being given to hotels that are
within walking distance of the main attractions or downtown area
in each location. They are generally the same hotels that
we stay at, ourselves, when traveling alone.
Because we don't just visit
the 'tourist trap' areas and big cities, sometimes there are no
four star hotels where we choose to stay overnight. In
these cases, we use the best available hotels - we think it is
better to have an average quality hotel in a special or
convenient area than a good quality hotel in a boring tourist
Because we prefer not to use
generic chain hotels, there is often a major variation in room
size and view and even quality within a hotel. We fill the
best available rooms in the category we book first, of course, but inevitably, any
time we have two or more rooms at one hotel in use by our
travelers, one of the rooms will be better than the other.
Our type of travelers will see their glass as half full, not
half empty, on such occasions!
Sometimes hotels have
several different types of accommodation and different prices -
standard rooms, deluxe rooms, suites, or perhaps rooms with view
and rooms with no view. We typically offer you the
opportunity to request upgraded rooms, with modest additional
costs of course applying in such cases.
Unless advised otherwise,
all hotel rooms include a private bathroom.
Some of the smaller hotels have
neither elevators nor bell boys, and you might find yourself
needing to carry your own bags up several flights of stairs.
Please keep that in mind when packing!
We usually include two
dinners in most itineraries - a welcome 'get to know you' dinner
at the start of the tour, and a wrap-up farewell dinner at the end of
Other than these two
dinners, if we can include breakfasts at a fair price, we will
do so, but if we feel the breakfast prices are ridiculous (and
not prices you'd pay if making the choice yourself) then we'll
leave them out.
Occasionally there may be
situations where a meal is a major experience in itself (eg on a
harbor cruise) and so these may be included in the
itinerary. And sometimes we might be staying somewhere
special, away from other nearby dining choices, and if this hotel has
good dinner rates that make sense to pre-purchase on your behalf, we'll again
If you have special dietary
requirements, this will be advised to all caterers, but we can
not guarantee they will consistently be able to meet your
special needs to your complete satisfaction.
Single travelers are welcome
on our itineraries. Our groups are always open and
friendly, and we usually have a significant number of single
travelers enjoying our tours (including a surprising number of
married people who are leaving their spouse at home!).
If you wish to have a room to
yourself, then we'll quote you a fair single supplement.
If you prefer, we'll
try to introduce you to any other single travelers. If two of you
choose, you can share a room with a compatible travel partner and
avoid the nasty single supplement.
As a compromise, we also
sometimes have singles who will share for some of the tour but
not all the tour, giving themselves an occasional night
somewhere where they treat themselves to a separate room each.
Whatever you want, we'll try to help you with.
We'll share mini-bios
between you. You can decide yourself what criteria
make a suitable room mate and share or not, whatever is most
comfortable for you.
When we're traveling on our
own hired coach, we request no smoking on board the coach, but
have regular stops while touring to allow smokers a chance to
get off the coach and have a cigarette.
We will request smoking or
non-smoking rooms for you at the hotels, but in some areas and
with most hotels, these choices are not offered - either all
rooms are smoking or all rooms are non-smoking.
If we're in a restaurant,
together as a group, we typically request non-smoking seating.
In much of the rest of the
world smoking is more common and subject to fewer restrictions
than in the US.
Pricing and Value
Without a doubt, you could
make similar arrangements by yourself, and travel alone, for no
more money and often for somewhat less. If getting the
very cheapest cost for your travel is important to you, then
our type of touring will not appeal.
You'll also find cheaper
traditional group tours, because we never fill coaches more than
two thirds full, and choose better hotels. Traditional tours cram people into every
possible seat, and thereby spread the cost of the coach, driver,
tour leader, and guide over more paying passengers.
But you won't find better
value tours offering a similar combination of flexibility and
convenience. Of that we're very certain, and very proud.
Come travel with us, and see