4 Great Tour Companies with Independent Tours in 2024

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 you want the convenience of a guided group tour but not necessarily the full tour experience. You’re hoping to book a structured trip that includes transportation, hotels, and some of the activities, but you prefer to not travel with a group of strangers. You’re not alone. In fact, a number of tour companies offer independent tours for people who want the benefits of a worldwide network of providers but who prefer to travel on their own.

Independent Tour Options from Tour Companies

Independent tours give you all of these benefits while still allowing you to choose your activities based on what you feel like doing on any given day. There’s also a spectrum of options that range from fully independent tours to more structured guided tours that build in a ton of free time for independent exploration. Here’s a rundown of the top tour companies and travel package companies that offer independent vacations. 

HOW TO DECIDE: 9 Tips for Choosing the Best European Tour for You

1. Independence by Globus (Offered 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)

A leader among major tour group companies, Globus touts its Independence by Globus offering as having the “many benefits of touring, untethered and unscheduled.” There are two formats—one called Independent City Stays, the other Independent Tours—and together they cover a wealth of itineraries in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and the South Pacific. 

Independent City Stays by Globus

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 by Globus

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. Some examples include:

2. Self-Guided Tours (Offered by Exodus Travels)

With its 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 these 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.

GO TOGETHER: 10 Best Travel Tours for Women in 2024

These independent tours also include accommodations, luggage transport between hotels, plus plenty of local support (and 24-hour emergency support). They make bucket-list experiences like hiking in the Swiss Alps, walking the Camino de Santiago, or cycling through Portugal a lot easier to plan, while still doing it on your own rather than in a group. Sample Exodus Travels self-guided holidays include:

3. Intrepid Basix Trips (Offered by Intrepid Travel)

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 such as 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.

ALL-DAY COMFORT: How to Choose the Best Walking Shoes for Travel

You’ll have a local tour guide who meets 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. Some examples of Intrepid Basix Tours are:

4. Independent City Tours (Offered by Road Scholar)

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 guided 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 (geared toward senior travelers), 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). Some sample Road Scholar Independent City Tours include:

It’s always important to ask yourself whether your travel style is better suited to a guided group tour or something more independent. If you’re curious about guided tours but have never tried one, here’s a helpful checklist of important things to consider before booking a guided tour.

More from TourScoop:

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.