8 Best Group Tour Companies for Young People and College Students

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 offer summer vacation, winter break, spring break, and even semester-long or gap year immersions geared toward college-aged young adults, with some of the most popular excursions being ski tours in North America and Europe, island hopping in the Caribbean or Greece, and safari trips on the African continent. 

The Best Group Tours for Young People

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.

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1. 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. Programs specifically designed for college-aged students include EF Gap Year, EF Ultimate Break, and EF College Study Tours

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EF Gap Year offers experiences tailor-made for students 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 visits Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and Japan and includes language learning, internships, and service. 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.

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). 

Quick Facts about Group Tours for Young People 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 and optional activities during free time
  • Primary audience: U.S. college students ages 18 to 35 years old 
  • Destinations: More than 60 countries around the world

2. Contiki

Contiki specialiazes in group tours for young people (Photo: Contiki)
Contiki specialiazes in group tours for young people (Photo: Contiki)

Tour operator Contiki has specialized in group travel for young people ages 18 to 35 since 1962. Today the popular tour operator for young adults offers more than 300 trips to more than 50 countries in 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.

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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. its tours for young adults 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 People 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 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: Exclusively offers group tours for young people ages 18 to 35 
  • Destinations: United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand

3. G Adventures

Mad Monkey Hostel Pool in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Photo: G Adventures)
Roamies from G Adventures offer small group tours 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 travel styles in particular are perfect for young people: 18-to-Thirtysomethings and Roamies.

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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. Roamies currently offers nearly 40 itineraries in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas. For example, the Yucatan Adventure in Mexico lets young people explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum while staying in hostels along the way to the trip budget-friendly.

G Adventures’s 18-to-Thirtysomethings trips specialize in fast-paced and affordable itineraries that appeal to young people.  Some favorite tours include Paris to Rome: Picnics and PizzaPeru: Ancient Cities and the AndesNew Zealand: Backpacking and Black Sand BeachesSouthern Africa: Bush Camps and Wildlife Spotting, as well as multiple U.S.A. road trips.

Quick Facts about Group Tours for Young People 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
  • Primary audience: Roamies and 18-to-Thirtysomething are specifically geared towards the traditional college-age market
  • Destinations: More than 100 countries across all seven continents

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.

Itineraries for college-age travel tour groups build in plenty of free-time for young people to explore their own way. Understanding the limited budgets of college students, the company’s group trips for 18- to 29-year-olds offer simple, well-located accommodations, tasty local food, and local transportation in order to help travel budgets stretch further.

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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. 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.   

Popular destinations for college age students 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, and optional activities
  • Primary audience: Traditional college age students 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 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. 

The company has curated itineraries specifically for 18- to 35-year-olds designed to be more affordable and flexible. These shorter under-35 tours last three to six days and visit popular national parks such as the Great Smoky Mountains, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and Zion.

kayaking trip to Washington’s San Juan Islands offers the opportunity to spot plenty of wildlife such as seals, sea lions, otters, and bald eagles. Evenings are spent sleeping under the stars in tents listening to the water lap on the shores of the islands. The Yosemite Valley Hiking and Camping trip spends three days hiking through the national park taking in the massive granite formations of El Capitan, Half Dome, and Cathedral Rocks.

Quick Facts about Group Tours for Young People with REI

  • Average guided tour group size: 10 people
  • Price category: Moderate
  • 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. National Geographic Expeditions

National Geographic Expeditions Galapagos Voyage (Photo: David Vargas)
National Geographic Expeditions are great fit for college students and young adults (Photo: David Vargas)

Offering immersive travel experiences steeped in learning and discovery, National Geographic Expeditions are great fit for college students and young adults. NatGeo’s subject matter experts accompany every trip and cover a wide range of topics from filmmaking to conservation. Trip itineraries are designed to go deeper into a destination, with experiences to fulfill travelers’ curiosity and to provide special access and knowledge along the way.

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NatGeo has a variety of trips that highlight different subject matters that align with studies, including Costa Rica: Wildlife and ConservationHuman History: Northern Spain and Southwest FranceGreece: Wonders of the Ancient EmpireItaly: Renaissance Cities and Tuscan Life; and Danube Christmas Markets River Cruise (also a great option for winter break).

Quick Facts about Group Tours for Young People with National Geographic Expeditions

  • Average guided tour group size: 15 to 25 people for land expeditions; river voyages and expedition cruises vary by trip type and destination
  • Price range: Upscale/Premium 
  • What’s included: Services of a National Geographic expert and/or professional expedition leader, local experts, accommodations, luggage services, transportation within the trip, arrival/departure transfers, entrance fees, gratuities for all except expedition leader, most meals, and entertainment
  • What’s not included: Pre-and post-trip transportation, activities during free times, some meals and alcohol, and tips for expedition leaders
  • Primary audience: Tours are designed to reflect travelers’ interests, including photography, hiking, history, and conservation
  • Destinations: Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific, Central America and the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, North America, South America, and the polar regions

7. 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 looking to travel the world together in a safe and empowering environment.

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College-age 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 region 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

8. IES Abroad

While not a tour company, per se, IES Abroad is 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. 

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? Dive into the Galápagos Islands – Marine Ecosystems Program or learn about sustainable infrastructure in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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 do not 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

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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.