photo: G Adventures

Discover the Huge Benefits of Small Group Travel

By Sandra Sperounes

Make the most of your next vacation with a small group tour. 

Whether you want to explore the natural beauty of Costa Rica or savour culinary delights in Italy, small group tours allow you to experience unique adventures, immerse yourself in local culture and enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded travellers—without worrying about logistics or manoeuvring in a large crowd. 

As international travel once again becomes a reality, more AMA members are signing up for these tours. AMA Travel works with small group suppliers, including Exodus Travels, Goway Travel and G Adventures, to find the ideal trip for you—based on destination, activities and whether you’re travelling with friends, family or on your own. Groups can be as small as eight people to a maximum of 16, and tours can either be guided or self-guided. 

“Small group tours feel more personal and exclusive than a large tour,” says Crystal Pajunen, an AMA Travel counsellor with 30 years of experience. 

With smaller groups, it’s often easier to get into places—you don’t have to wait for a lot of people to check into a hotel or get off the coach. “Many restaurants can better accommodate smaller groups,” Pajunen notes. “And you may even get special perks. In Rome, for example, you might get a private tour of the Vatican after it closes to the public.”

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Avid globetrotter and AMA Travel trainer Shane Shudra prefers exploring the world with small groups. “I like the adventure and unforgettable memories,” he says, “from a guided tour of India with G Adventures to cycling from Porto to Lisbon in Portugal with Exodus Travels.” 

On the latter journey, Shudra’s group biked upwards of 50 to 60 kilometres daily—alongside sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. “You have such a sense of accomplishment,” he says. “And you really get to know your fellow travellers, so it’s a great way to meet people.”

Small group tours can be as active as you want. With Exodus Travels, you could opt for a challenging eight-day climb of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro—or a leisurely two-week guided tour of Costa Rica’s beaches and rainforests by bus and boat. 

“Costa Rica is a really great destination for families,” says Kent Phillips, Exodus brand development manager for the Western U.S. and Canada. “It
has everything: beaches, surfing, wildlife, ziplining, rafting and fantastic weather.”

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Small group tours also give travellers the opportunity to live like locals. Stay in a converted farmhouse, stroll through the hills of Tuscany and savour the region’s wines during an eight-day Chianti Walking & Wine Trip with Exodus Travels. Or experience the Amazon rainforest with a Quichua family during an Ecuadorian Amazon jungle trip with G Adventures. 

“Regardless of how you want to travel or what you want to do on your trip, there’s a small group tour for you,” says Terry Vander Linden, product marketing manager for AMA Travel. “That’s the benefit of talking to one of our travel counsellors—they have the knowledge and can find the right group for you.”