Here are some suggested holiday companies for people who, like us, don’t do typical package holidays.
There are many excellent travel companies that arrange great tours like the ones we describe on Self Arranged Journeys. Many of these are very flexible, so you can make adjustments as you wish. For instance you may want to add extra nights in places you particularly want to explore. Or make changes to a suggested itinerary. Or choose your preferred mode of transport or class of accommodation. Not all package holidays are alike!
So if you need help with your travel arrangements, or prefer the security of knowing your holiday has been planned by an experienced team, or if you just want some inspiration, here are some suggestions. We have taken holidays with some of these companies, and would be more than happy to book trips with any of them.
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Headwater are great. They arrange a large number of walking and cycling holidays where you walk (or cycle) from hotel to hotel, usually every two days. Your luggage is transferred for you so you only need to carry your day rucksack with you. There are also holidays based in one centre with suggested walks or cycle rides each day.
The holidays are all graded by level of difficulty, which ranges from relaxing strolls to serious hill walking, and detailed route notes and maps are provided. Both self guided and small group tours are available.
The holidays are mostly in Europe, with a few more exotic destinations like Costa Rica and the Caribbean. We have done self-guided hotel-to-hotel walking holidays in Spain and France, and really enjoyed them. The hotels were characterful and the food great. In many holidays breakfasts and evening meals are included, but do check because each holiday is different.
Details of all their holidays are on their website, where you can also order a printed brochure if you prefer. The prices are for the tour only (i.e. you arrange your own travel to the starting point – see our page of Recommended Travel Resources).
Although Headwater are a UK company the holidays are available to customers worldwide.
Explore also arrange walking and cycling holidays, but they have a much larger range of destinations and holiday types, including some which are far more adventurous.
As well as self-guided and small group tours, there are family tours and tours suitable for solo travellers.
Destinations are worldwide, including some very exotic ones. If you are interested in the places described in Self Arranged Journeys they do trips to Iceland, Madeira, The Azores and Peru as well as throughout mainland Europe. Options for something completely different include Polar voyages, wildlife trips, and even trips to see an eclipse!
Explore holidays are available to customers in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Check out their website for the huge range available. You can also order printed brochures.
Exodus have a massive range of activity holidays (for UK travellers), covering all the destinations included in Self Arranged Journeys. Activities include wildlife walks, desert treks, cycling and snowshoeing, among others, and there are both centre-based and point-to-point trips.
The holidays range from fully escorted to self-guided, and some sound very adventurous. You can browse their colourful website, or order printed brochures.
G Adventures arrange small group tours tailored towards specific types of travellers, such as classic tours, 18-to-30 somethings and families. The wide range includes active tours, rail journeys, local living, marine tours, etc. Some are quite adventurous and others, like the National Geographic range, are a little more luxurious with upgraded accommodation.
Private tours can be organized to suit your own requirements.
The extensive range covers all continents and includes the Polar Regions. G Adventures are aimed at UK customers.
Back-Roads specialize in small group luxury mini-coach tours (max 18 people) that avoid motorways and stick to, well, scenic back roads.
The tours are mainly in the UK and around Europe, including Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, and they are aimed at more mature travellers. They are particularly suitable for couples who like to meet other like-minded couples, and for solo travellers who prefer the security of travelling in a small group.
The tours are leisurely paced, and concentrate on beautiful landscapes and architecture, culinary experiences and boutique accommodation. Sounds great!
Back-Roads tours are available mainly to English-speaking travellers from the UK and Ireland, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
Tours range from adventure to luxury. The massive choice includes hiking and trekking, rail and coach tours, wildlife tours, culinary tours, indepdent tours, gay travel, polar tours, festivals, river cruises, etc., etc. There are choices suitable for independent exploring, family trips or groups.
Note that the prices are for the tour only (i.e. you arrange your own travel to the starting point – see our page of Recommended Travel Resources). TourRadar tours are available to customers worldwide.
We once booked a holiday through Inghams Lakes and Mountains range after seeing an offer that sounded like just the sort of trip we would book ourselves. The holiday was a week at a lovely hotel in Soll in the Austrian Tyrol, with flights, transfers and half-board included. It was extremely good value and we thoroughly enjoyed the week. We just went off walking and doing our own thing during the day, and then came back for a great meal in the hotel each evening.
Inghams also arrange guided walking and cycling holidays, rail holidays and holidays for solo travellers. They are aimed at UK travellers.
Occasionally it is nice to do things the easy way…..
If you love rail travel, or just enjoy taking your holiday at a leisurely place, watching the world go by in comfort, Great Rail Journeys could be for you.
A massive range of journeys is available throughout the world. Among the absolute classics are the Trans-Siberian Express, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, The Glacier Express, The Canadian Rockies, the Indian Palace on Wheels and the Arctic Circle Express.
There are also themed journeys, like steam train tours, battlefield tours, Christmas markets, carnivals and festivals, etc., etc. Click on the banner below to visit the website or order a printed brochure to peruse at leisure.
Short breaks are available as well as the longer journeys, and there options for solo travellers and groups.
Great Rail Journeys are available to customers from the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.
Titan Travel are another UK company with an enormous range of tours, aimed more toward the luxury market.
Holiday types include rail journeys, ocean and river cruises, coach tours and ‘stay and explore’ holidays. There are options for small groups and solo travellers.
Themes include things like Northern Lights, World Wonders, National Parks, and a number of fantastic sounding Great Journeys and Grand Tours. Some of these seem to pack a lot in so you may prefer a more relaxed tour, but you will certainly see a lot!
All options are described on the website, and you can order printed brochures.
Azores Getaways specialize in holidays to the Azores, and also arrange holidays in Madeira, the Algarve, Gran Canaria and Lisbon.
Riviera Travel are a UK travel company who arrange an enormous number of tours worldwide, including many river cruises. They have tours to all the destinations in Self Arranged Journeys, including the Aeolian Islands (which few travel companies cover).
The huge range includes rail journeys, wildlife holidays, city breaks and holidays for solo travellers.
You can order various printed brochures on their website.
If you are based in the UK and looking for a great value UK short break, try Great Little Breaks.
We’ve been on one of these (to Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales), and it really was fantastic value. You get little extras thrown in as well to make your break special. The name says it all!
Here’s one that is definitely on my bucket list (several times in fact). Hurtigruten are particularly known for their fantastic cruises along the Norwegian coast and fjords. But they also do cruises in many other amazing places, including (among others) Alaska, Antarctica, Russia, Iceland, Central America and South America.
They have a range of different ships, each with its own features and character, as can be seen on their colourful website. One day…….
If, like us, you like staying in comfortable hotels it is definitely worth joining Secret Escapes. Once you have joined the site (which is free), you can get some incredibly good deals. We have used them several times and been really pleased.
They send you regular emails with the latest limited time offers, or you can just search for the dates and places you want to go and see what deals are available. Highly recommended – don’t miss out!
Finally, if you fancy something completely different and you love being close to nature, how about glamping? Quality Unearthed have some absolutely unique properties in amazing places – just visit their website to see for yourself.
Properties include treehouses, yurts and eco pods, among others, and are situated at various beauty spots throughout England and Wales.
If you fancy the idea of camping, but prefer a little more comfort and luxury, this could be for you. And you will definitely be able to impress your friends and family with your holiday pics!
For any elements of your holiday that you do wish to arrange yourself please see our page of Recommended Travel Resources.
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