7 Best Group Travel Companies for Young Adults and College Students in 2024

These guided tour companies offer the very best group tours for young people.

EF Ultimate Break tours are vacations for 18- to 35-year-olds (Photo: EF Education First)
EF Education First is a leader in group travel for young adults (Photo: EF Education First)

With stress-free itineraries, travel dates built around school schedules, and even flexible payment plans, the best group tours for young people give travelers of a similar age the opportunity to vacation together all over the world. Most travel companies for young adults offer summer vacation, winter break, spring break, and even semester-long or gap year immersions geared toward college-aged young adults. Some of the most popular excursions include ski tours in North America and Europe and island hopping in the Caribbean or Greece.

2024’s Best Group Travel Companies for Young Adults

If you’re a college-aged young adult looking for a guided trip with similarly aged people, consider one of these travel tour companies for young adults whose group tours rank among the very best in the world for people between the ages of 18 and 35.

WORLD’S BEST: 15 Best Group Travel Companies for Guided Tours around the World in 2024

1. Contiki

Contiki specialiazes in group tours for young people (Photo: Contiki)
Contiki is one of the best travel companies specializing in group tours for young adults (Photo: Contiki)

Tour operator Contiki has specialized in group travel for people ages 18 to 35 since 1962. Today this popular group travel company for young adults offers more than 300 trips to more than 50 countries, encompassing many different trip styles. A favorite tour among college-aged adults is Contiki’s 11-day Greek Island Hopping adventure around Greece’s most popular islands. Other popular tours include its Cape Safari and Falls tour in South Africa and Balkans Discovery tour in Central Europe. Contiki is currently booking trips for both 2024 and 2025.

WHERE TO GO: 10 Best Contiki Tours to Take in 2024

Contiki throws in all of the essentials in its group travel tours, including lodging in hotels, hostels, lodges, or boats. Trip managers, drivers, local guides, on-site team members, and on-road cooks are all trained, knowledgeable, and have a strong passion for travel to make each experience hassle-free. The company’s tours for young adults also include air-conditioned coaches (all with free Wi-Fi) in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and comfortable mini-coaches in Asia and Latin America. Some tours include an internal flight, a boat, or even a bullet train.

Contiki is dedicated to sustainable travel with “Make Travel Matter” experiences on many trips and ongoing initiatives to reduce food waste, source electricity from renewable sources, eliminate single-use plastics, and ultimately achieve carbon neutrality.

Quick Facts about Group Tours for Young Adults with Contiki

  • Average guided tour group size: 12 to 50 people depending on location; no more than 16 on Detour trips led by a local host.
  • Price range: Most of Contiki’s trips are in the $1,000 to $3,000 range, but some are as low as $187 (for a four-day ski trip) and some as high as $7,600 (for a 45-day European adventure).
  • What’s included: Accommodations, transportation within the trip, admission prices, most breakfasts, and many dinners.
  • What’s not included: Pre-and post-trip transportation, activities during free times, some meals, and tips.
  • Primary audience: Contiki is a specialized group travel company for young adults that exclusively offers group tours for people ages 18 to 35.
  • Destinations: United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

2. G Adventures

Mad Monkey Hostel Pool in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Photo: G Adventures)
Roamies trips from G Adventures are small group tours for young people with the social atmosphere of a hostel (Photo: G Adventures)

One of the world’s largest independent adventure travel companies, G Adventures provides 750 small group tours across all seven continents. With such a large portfolio, G Adventures attracts a wide range of travelers, but two of its travel group styles in particular are perfect for young adults: 18-to-Thirtysomethings and Roamies.

FAR AND WIDE: 10 Best G Adventures Tours to Take in 2024

Partnering with Hostelworld, G Adventures created Roamies specifically for 18- to 35-year-olds, offering small group tours with the social atmosphere found in hostels around the world. G Adventures currently offers about 40 Roamies itineraries in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas. For example, the Yucatan Adventure in Mexico lets young adults explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum while staying in hostels along the way to keep the trip budget-friendly.

The tour company’s 18-to-Thirtysomethings trips specialize in fast-paced and affordable itineraries that appeal to young people. Some popular tours include Paris to Rome: Picnics and PizzaPeru: Ancient Cities and the AndesNew Zealand: Mountain Biking and Black Sand BeachesSouthern Africa: Bush Camps and Wildlife Spotting, as well as multiple U.S.A. road trips such as California’s Highway 1.

Quick Facts about Group Tours for Young Adults with G Adventures

  • Average guided tour group size: 10 to 12 people.
  • Price range: Depending on the destination and length of trip, tours range from $169 to $8,949.
  • What’s included: Accommodations, activities listed on the itinerary, and some meals.
  • What’s not included: Airfare, some meals, and tips.
  • Primary audience: Roamies and 18-to-Thirtysomething are specifically geared towards the traditional college-age and young adult market.
  • Destinations: More than 100 countries across all seven continents.

3. EF Education First

EF Gap Year trips are designed for students taking time off between high school and college (Photo: EF Education First)
EF Gap Year trips are designed for students taking time off between high school and college (Photo: EF Education First)

Founded in 1965 in Sweden and widely recognized as a leader in group tours for young people, EF Education First is a global education company specializing in language, academic, cultural exchange, and educational travel programs. EF Education First has grown to become one of the world’s largest international education companies, offering every imaginable way to see the world, experience a new culture, learn a language, or earn an academic degree. 

FIND A DEAL: 17 Best Flight Booking Sites for Cheap Airfares

Programs specifically designed for young adults include EF Gap Year, EF Ultimate Break, and EF College Study Tours:

  • EF Gap Year offers experiences tailor-made for young adults taking time off between high school and college; programs range from short-term to semester-long to full academic year. A 10-week gap year program called The Voyager (running in spring and fall 2024) visits Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Japan, and it includes language learning, internships, and service. 
  • EF Ultimate Break trips are vacations for 18- to 35-year-olds ranging from a week to a month or longer. These popular group tours for young people include Ultimate Europe (14 cities in 35 days), Japan: Tokyo and Beyond (nine days, four cities), and Scandinavia (11 days, three cities). 
  • Specifically for college students, EF College Study Tours are faculty-led study abroad programs that include Anime and Manga in JapanIntercultural Studies in South Africa, and many more.

Quick Facts about Group Tours for Young Adults with EF Education First

  • Average guided tour group size: 10 to 40 people, depending on the specific program.
  • Price range: $2,800 to $19,450 (for 10 weeks).
  • What’s included: All flights and local transfers to each stop of your itinerary, all accommodations and some meals, one-on-one mentorship and 24/7 travel support before and during your program, program leadership and direction by full-time EF Field Directors and Student Life Coordinators, guided excursions, and hands-on workshops with local experts.
  • What’s not included: Some meals, optional activities during free time, and some tips.
  • Primary audience: U.S. college students and young adults ages 18 to 35 years old.
  • Destinations: EF Education First has tours in more than 60 countries around the world.

4. Intrepid Travel

Young adults on Intrepid Travel's Morocco Sahara Sunset tour (Photo: Intrepid)
Intrepid’s group tours for 18- to 29-year-olds are designed to help travel budgets stretch further (Photo: Intrepid)

For more 30 years, Intrepid Travel has helped travelers experience local cultures around the world while creating positive change in the communities its group tours visit. Intrepid’s nonprofit foundation, The Intrepid Foundation, has raised more than $11 million for 130-plus charities worldwide.

All of Intrepid Travel’s group tours utilize experienced, local leaders to handle the trip logistics, and those leaders offer unique insights and take groups to places where the locals frequent.  Getting from one place to another each day is included in the trip experience, and utilizing local transportation is part of the cultural immersion, which can mean anything from a Japanese bullet train to a Thai tuk tuk.

GO WITHOUT THE GROUP: 4 Great Tour Companies with Independent Tours

The company’s trip itineraries for young adults are called 18 to 29s Adventures. These tours build in plenty of free-time to explore your own way. Understanding the limited budgets of college students, Intrepid’s group trips for 18- to 29-year-olds offer simple, well-located accommodations, tasty local food, and local transportation in order to help your travel budget stretch further.

Popular destinations for college-age students and young people include traveling from Casablanca to Marrakech in Essential Morocco, visiting the Taj Mahal and Himalayan Mountains in Real Delhi to Kathmandu, and discovering the heart of Bohemia passing through seven countries in Real Central Europe. Because Intrepid believes in giving back to the community, it plants 50 trees in Kenya for every 18-to-29s trip booked.

Quick Facts about Group Tours for Young People with Intrepid Travel

  • Average guided tour group size: 10 people.
  • Price range: $1,000 to $5,000.
  • What’s included: Local leaders, admissions to big-ticket attractions, simple accommodations ranging from hotels to guest houses to hostels, local transportation, and some meals.
  • What’s not included: Airfare, some meals, optional activities, and tips.
  • Primary audience: Traditional college-age students and young adults 18 to 29 years old.
  • Destinations: More than 40 itineraries in Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, Middle East, North America, and South America

5. REI Adventures

Grand Canyon Women's Backpacking with REI (Photo: REI Adventures)
Some of REI’s itineraries are designed specifically for 18- to 35-year-olds (Photo: REI Adventures)

You’re familiar with their outdoor gear, but did you know REI also offers guided outdoor trips for young adults throughout North America? REI Adventures‘s tours are a great way for young travelers to get first-hand experience and guidance as they’re getting more into backpacking and adventure travel.

DECIDING FACTORS: 9 Tips for Choosing the Best European Tour for You 

The company has many curated itineraries specifically for 18- to 35-year-olds that are designed to be more affordable and flexible. These shorter under-35 tours last three to six days and visit popular national parks around the United States, such as the Great Smoky Mountains, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and Zion. Camping, backpacking, hiking, and rafting are among the featured activities on these under-35 trips for young people.

Quick Facts about Group Tours for Young Adults with REI

  • Average guided tour group size: 10 people.
  • Price range: $1,149 to $2,999 for members; non-member rates are slightly higher.
  • What’s included: Camping gear, meals, and national park fees.
  • What’s not included: Transportation to the trip’s starting point.
  • Primary audience: REI’s Under-35 tours are intended for 18- to 35-year-olds.
  • Destinations: National parks in the United States.

6. AdventureWomen

Snowshoe trek with AdventureWomen (Photo: AdventureWomen)
Snowshoe trek with AdventureWomen (Photo: AdventureWomen)

Offering more than 50 trips to 65 different countries, AdventureWomen is a women-owned, women-run company that exclusively offers travel tours for women. While not specifically designed for college students, the itineraries are perfect for female college friends or young adults looking to travel the world together in a safe and empowering environment.

GIRLS TRIPS: 9 Travel Companies That Specialize in Women-Only Tours

On the company’s trips, young women can expect small, multigenerational groups that allow bonding with each other as well as connecting with local women along the way. Trips are specifically designed to engage women in the regions visited, such as female artisans in Thailand, an apprentice geisha in Japan, or rose farmers in Turkey.

Popular destinations include week-long trips to Iceland to chase the Northern Lights, a multisport adventure in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, and even a trek to the Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Adventure trips range from moderate levels that engage your brain more than body to challenging trips for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts. The women-only adventures include lodging, ground transportation, most meals and activities, guides, and some gratuities.

Quick Facts about Group Tours for Young People with AdventureWomen

  • Average guided tour group size: 12 to 15 people.
  • Price range: Upscale.
  • What’s included: Accommodations, most meals and activities, ground transportation, tour guides (called Managers), some gratuities.
  • What’s not included: Pre- and post-trip transportation, alcohol, some gratuities, certain meals.
  • Primary audience: Women seeking to travel with other women.
  • Destinations: Europe, Africa, North America, Central America, South America, and the Middle East.

7. IES Abroad

While not a tour company, per se, IES Abroad is notable among the best group travel companies for young adults because it’s one of the leading providers of cultural education opportunities for college students. With more than 130 programs throughout Europe, South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and Africa, its offerings run the gamut from short-term summer programs (one to two weeks) to full academic year immersion. 

WHAT TO PACK: 10 Essentials for Your Carry-on Bag

College students can find places to study abroad based on subject, interests, lifestyle, or hobbies. Interested in food? Then perhaps a study abroad program in France or Tradition and Cuisine in Tuscany summer program is the way to go. Consider yourself an environmentalist? Browse the company’s list of environmentally focused study abroad destinations.

If you’re currently a college student, consider this your reminder to also check out the study abroad options at your school. Even if you don’t use IES Abroad, oftentimes colleges and universities will offer their own study abroad programs that cost the same (or less) than a semester at your home institution. And if your college or university doesn’t have a study abroad office, it will still have access to IES Abroad’s programs.

Quick Facts about Cultural Education Opportunities for College Students with IES Abroad

  • Average guided tour group size: Varies depending on course size.
  • Price range: Cost of a semester at a U.S. institution.
  • What’s included: Personal advising before you go, access to academic opportunities, guaranteed housing, and health and safety support.
  • What’s not included: Pre- and post-trip transportation, meals, optional tours and weekend activities.
  • Primary audience: Traditional college-age students.
  • Destinations: IES Abroad partners with 500 colleges and universities around the world, including in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and South America.

More from TourScoop:

Dave Parfitt is a freelance travel writer interested in illuminating transformative family travel, multi-generational travel, inclusive and accessible travel, under-the-radar destinations, and immersive, authentic experiences. Dave's work has appeared in Lonely Planet, AAA, Fox News Travel, US News & World Report, TravelAge West, USA Today, and Family Circle, to name a few. An academic with a PhD in neuroscience, Dave also works as an educational developer at a four-year college in Western New York when not in a theme park, national park, or on a cruise or road trip with his family.