4 Great Tour Companies with Independent Tours

These companies offer the benefits of a tour and the flexibility of independent travel.
sightseeing couple holding bike and phone stop to look at a sight in an Italian city
Independent tours offer structure and flexibility (Photo: Shutterstock)

Say for a moment that you want the convenience of a tour but not necessarily the full tour experience. So you’re hoping to book a structured trip that includes transportation, hotels, and some of the activities, but prefer to not travel with a group. 

You are not alone. In fact, a number of tour companies offer independent tours for people who want to benefit from the worldwide network of providers tour companies have, but who want to travel on their own and choose their activities based on what they feel like doing that day, not what’s on the schedule. There’s a spectrum of options that range from pretty much fully independent to more structured tours that build in a ton of free time for independent exploration.

Independent Tour Options from Tour Companies

Here’s a rundown of the tour companies and travel package companies that offer independent vacations. 

Globus: Independence by Globus

Travelers on an independent tour with Independence by Globus, looking out on a landscape
Independence by Globus tours off guests structure and plenty of time to explore on their own (Photo: Globus)

Globus touts its newish Independence by Globus offering as offering the “many benefits of touring, untethered and unscheduled.” Two formats–independent city stays and independent tours–cover a wealth of itineraries in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and the South Pacific. 

Independent City Stays 

Globus’ Independent City Stays focus on cities like Buenos Aires, Paris, and Tokyo. Included in the stay are hotel accommodations, daily breakfast, sightseeing orientations, and transportation between cities. You’ll have the support of Globus Local Hosts in the city as well as the GlobusGO app with its many traveler resources. 

Independent Tours

Globus’ Independent Tours include hotel accommodations, daily breakfasts and some other meals, some guided sightseeing, and transportation between cities. You’ll also benefit from the expertise of Globus Local Hosts and have access to the GlobusGo mobile app. These independent tours include plenty of free time so you can choose what you want to do and when. 

Sample Independence by Globus Tours

Exodus Travels: Self-Guided Tours

Exodus Travels does the heavy lifting on the planning of European cycling, walking, and cultural adventures, freeing up more room for you to just enjoy your travels. The golden ticket on Exodus’ self-guided tours are its in-depth trip notes that give you detailed guidance right down to the best spots for lunch and where to stop along the way. These tours also include accommodations, luggage transport between hotels, plus plenty of local support along the way (and 24-hour emergency support). These self-guided tours make bucket-list experiences like hiking in the Swiss Alps, walking the Camino de Santiago, or cycling through Portugal a lot easier to plan. 

Sample Exodus Travels Self-Guided Tours

Intrepid Basix Trips

Intrepid focuses on adventure and off-the-beaten-path destinations, and with its Basix trips, it offers independent travelers a sort of tour-light experience that’s big on independent vibes. The budget-minded option packages accommodations–simple, clean, centrally located hotels, hostels, and even sometimes camping accommodations. Most Basix trips also include a night or two of homestays to give you a feel for local life. You get a local tour guide who gets you between stops, and offers recommendations for food, attractions, and so on. There are optional activities that you can choose to join a group for or opt out of and explore on your own. 

Sample Intrepid Basix Tours

Road Scholar Independent City Tours

Guests on a Road Scholar Independent City tour in Venice on a gondola
Road Scholar’s Independent City Tours mix structure and independence (Photo: Road Scholar)

Like Intrepid’s Basix tours, Road Scholar‘s Independent City Tours offer the basic structure of a tour but with miles more flexibility and free time than the typical tour. It’s like a tour in that you have a Group Leader and Road Scholar’s signature educational programming, but you also have lots of free time plus resources that help you make the most of your independent hours—think self-guided excursion programs and transit and museum passes.

Sample Road Scholar Independent City Tours

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Christine Sarkis is the co-founder of Vacationist Media and editor-in-chief of TourScoop and FamilyVacationist.com. She is the former executive editor of SmarterTravel.com, a travel publication owned by Tripadvisor. Her work has been published in dozens of publications including Conde Nast Traveler and USAToday, and she has been quoted in print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also offered tips for travelers on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now.