Best Single Travel Group Tours for the Over 50s

Are you looking for the best group travel companies for singles over 50?

Then you’ve come to the right place. I have over 20 years of first-hand experience of singles trips and can help you find the group travel company and tour that is the best fit for you.

For the most part, these group tours have been excellent experiences, allowing me to gain a deeper understanding of local culture and history and to make lasting friendships with fellow travellers.

As well as being a relatively hassle-free way of travelling, small group tours are a superb way for a novice solo traveller to get their feet wet before striking out independently.

hikers who are part of a group travel for singles standing on stone steps against a deep blue sky
Group tour of Nepal in 2006

But is group travel right for you and, if so, which are the best single travel groups? And what should you look for when choosing a group tour company, especially as a solo traveller over 50?

Group travel companies cater to a range of travel styles and budgets. As with most life choices, ultimately the deciding factors will depend on your personal preferences and priorities.

In this article, I will identify the best single travel group tours for the over 50s.


Some articles on this website contain affiliate links. This means that I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read the full disclosure here.


infographic of trends in over 50 singles travel including group travel
The Rise in Over 50s Singles Travel Infographic

Best Travel Companies for Singles Over 50

I’m going to nail my flag to the mast from the outset.

Based on my experience, the best group travel companies for singles over 50 are Explore and Exodus Travels.

These two group tour operators offer the following:

  • Small group sizes
  • Good value for money
  • Older age demographic
  • Different styles of travel to suit all solo travellers
  • Flexible booking conditions
a group tour with people posing in sri lanka
On an Exodus group tour of Sri Lanka, 2017

However, Intrepid and G Adventures are also worth considering

They offer:

  • Small group sizes
  • Adventure tour focus
  • Range of travel styles to suit all single travellers

 More about all of these companies later.

Why You Should Book a Group Tour as a Single Traveller

It’s not difficult to see why group travel is booming in popularity.

Firstly, it’s super easy. Someone else takes the pain out of organising your trip. You merely rock up at the airport for your flight.

And as your itinerary will be put together by someone in the know you can be confident that you will cover the ‘must-see’ sights.

Tour leaders are a mine of information and there’s an excellent chance that you will gain more cultural and historical insight from group travel than if you are left to your own devices.

But for me, the main benefits of organised group travel are its time efficiency and the opportunity to meet like-minded people.

If you are a working person, the efficient use of time is the greatest advantage of group travel.

As your land arrangements are taken care of, you can hit the ground running.  And as group tour itineraries are smart about how they structure their time, you can cover larger distances and see more things in a shorter space of time.

This is an enormous boon for working people trying to shoehorn as much into their previous annual leave as possible.  

Loneliness and not being able to share the moment is one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling alone. Not a problem with group travel; instant companionship is part of the package.

people sitting around dining table on group travel for singles tour
Group travel in Turkey

In my experience, bonds form quickly and often more intensively than in ‘real life’. Sometimes, parting from the group at the end of the tour can be a wrench, contributing to post-travel blues when you get home.

However, an added bonus is that some of these relationships persist once back on home soil.

There’s safety in numbers and if you are anxious about your personal safety when travelling alone, the security of a group tour may be the answer for you.

Finally, the last two years have shown us that travel can be a precarious pastime. 

The coronavirus pandemic forced me to curtail a solo trip travelling across Japan by rail. With my return flight cancelled and few alternative options available, finding a way home resulted in a few more grey hairs, whilst teaching me some valuable travel lessons!

Contrast this with a small tour group I chatted with as I was boarding my plane home.

Yes; they also had to curtail their holiday. However, Wendy Wu Tours, their group travel company, took care of all of the arrangements for them.

I confess that I was more than a little bit envious.

My Experiences of Group Travel

It all began in New Zealand on a short Contiki bus tour of the South Island.

This was party bus central. Although this was huge fun as a thirty-something, I wouldn’t want to repeat it in my 50s. My liver couldn’t take it.

My next group travel experience could not have been more different.

The place was India, the group tour operator was Bales Worldwide (subsequently acquired by Virgin Holidays), the style was luxury travel for less. Not exactly getting down and dirty with local people, comfortable air-conditioned coaches whisked us from one 5-star hotel to the next.

Subsequent group tours have been more modest, largely travelling with Explore and Exodus Travels and visiting destinations from Iran to Libya, China to Sri Lanka.

a group of travellers by a desert in peru
Group travel to Peru

How to Choose Single Travel Groups 

Group travel is a thriving market with multiple operators offering an enormous and evolving range of group tours that singles can book. Although my favourite group travel companies are Explore and Exodus, I wouldn’t automatically restrict my choice to these two companies.

Before you click on that ‘Book Now’ button there are ten important questions you need to first ask before booking a group tour.

  • What is your budget?
  • Is a single room important to you? 
  • How many other people do you want to be travelling with?
  • What are the likely demographics of your fellow travellers?
  • Will the accommodation fit your travel style?
  • Is the itinerary balanced?
  • How will you get from A to B?
  • Are local guides used?
  • Is there a robust refund and cancellation policy?
  • What is the company’s approach to sustainable travel?
small group of people travelling on a tractor

Small Group Tours for Single Travellers Over 50

For me, this is the number one choice for group travel for over 50 singles. With small group tours, you will be travelling in a group of 8  – 18 people, sometimes fewer, very occasionally more.

On a trip to Thailand and Cambodia with Explore Worldwide, there were just six of us. But on another trip to Morocco, we numbered 20.

This involves mostly private transport, with a few local options thrown in.

Many small-group tour operators will offer different tiers of trips, the cost of which is largely determined by the quality of digs. Both mid-range price tours and the more comfortable options are suitable for travellers over 50 singles.

Whilst the more expensive trips may attract older travellers, this is not always the case. The group tour to Sri Lanka was one of Exodus Travels’ Premium trips and the age of my fellow travellers ranged from those in their 30s right up to their early 70s.

Equally, it’s not a given that the mid-range price tours will be exclusively filled by younger travellers.

In my experience, the mid-range price small group tours attract a wide range of age groups from millennials up to retirees. Accommodation tends to be clean and comfortable and, if you are lucky, you will be treated to a luxury stay for a few nights.

image looking up at a group of people and interior dome of mosque
Tour group photo, Iran

My favourite small group tour companies are Explore and Exodus Travels. I have notched up a dozen trips with them, evenly split between the two companies.

That suggests that there is not a lot to differentiate between these two operators.

Both companies offer well-balanced itineraries across the globe. Broadly speaking Explore and Exodus Travels cater to the same market and some of their itineraries are strikingly similar.

The baseline price for Explore trips tends to be less but check for optional activities that will attract additional fees.

>>> FIND OUT WHAT OTHER TRAVELLERS ARE SAYING ABOUT EXPLORE HERE AND ABOUT EXODUS HERE

  • Established in 1981
  • Group size: 6 – 20 people. Average group size is 11.
  • Proportion of solo travellers: 60% of those on Explore group tours are single.
  • Tour groups usually comprise a good mix of solos, couples, and friends travelling together
  • Age demographics:  Explore’s group tours attract travellers of all ages. On those that I have joined, ages ranged from 30s to those in their 60s. 
  • Local guide on all tours
  • Commitment to sustainable travel and having a positive impact on local communities. The company’s main focus is climate change.
  • Trips are classified by pace: full-on, moderate, relaxed
  • Accommodation graded as simple, comfortable or premium
  • Frequent traveller loyalty scheme –  5% discount after two trips; 7% discount after four trips; 10% discount after nine trips. They promise to reward loyalty to previous tour group companies.
  • Flexible booking conditions

>>> CHECK EXPLORE’S CANCELLATION POLICY HERE

EXODUS TRAVELS: HEADLINE FACTS

  • Established in 1974
  • Group size:  6 – 20 people
  • Proportion of solo travellers: 50% of those on Exodus group tours are single.  Tour groups usually comprise a good mix of solos, couples, and friends travelling together
  • Age demographics: Exodus’s group tours attract travellers of all ages. On those that I have joined, ages ranged from 30s to those in their 60s. 
  • Local guide on all tours
  • Commitment to sustainable travel and having a positive impact on local communities
  • Premium holidays allow you to discover the world from a more comfortable base each evening
  • Excellent frequent traveller loyalty scheme –  5% discount after two trips; 10% after seven trips. In addition to these discounts, the higher-tier loyalty scheme includes greater booking flexibility.
  • Online departure lounge forum to get to know fellow travellers before leaving home
  • Flexible booking conditions

>>> CHECK EXODUS’S CANCELLATION POLICY HERE

man in blue berber robes pouring tea

This was one of my first group travel experiences and one of the most memorable. The itinerary was fast-paced – I needed a rest when I arrived back home! – but unbeatable in terms of sheer variety and fun. It’s also inexpensive.

>>> CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS MOROCCO TOUR

SRI LANKA WITH EXODUS

This Premium group tour allowed us to appreciate the diversity and culture of Sri Lanka in considerable comfort. We weren’t lucky enough to spot leopards in Yala but you can’t have it all!

water buffalo in sri lanka

 

>>> CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS SRI LANKA TOUR

GUATEMALA & HONDURAS WITH EXPLORE

brightly coloured bus in a street in guatemala

Visiting Guatemala with a few days in Honduras, this trip combined visits to indigenous communities in the highlands around beautiful Lake Atitlan with those to the early Maya cities of Tikal, Quirigua and Copan (Honduras). The best of Central America in a nutshell.

>>> CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS GUATEMALA & HONDURAS TOUR

CHINA WITH EXPLORE

This 15-day tour of China was fast-paced but ticked off many of the country’s highlights, including the Great Wall and Xian’s Terracotta Army. To break the pace, it included a relaxing cruise along the Yangtze.

panda chewing on bamboo

>>> CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS CHINA TOUR

In the interests of transparency, I confess that I have not yet travelled with G Adventures or Intrepid. However, I know people who have used both companies and would travel with them again.

The main reason that I have given them a wide berth is that their portfolio has been geared towards the 18-30 crowd.

However, in the last few years, both companies have expanded the breadth of their offerings to attract older customers, with a higher comfort level and premium accommodation. Because of this shift in focus, Intrepid and G Adventures are now credible group travel options for singles over 50.

Cost-wise they are very comparable

>>> FIND OUT WHAT OTHER TRAVELLERS ARE SAYING ABOUT INTREPID HERE AND ABOUT G ADVENTURES HERE

INTREPID: HEADLINE FACTS

  • Established in 1989
  • Group size: An average of 10 people on a group tour
  • Age demographics: The average age of Intrepid’s travellers is 44
  • Local guide on all tours
  • Adventure travel focus
  • 4 grades of trips: Basix, Original, Comfort and Premium
  • Flexible booking conditions

>>> TAKE A LOOK AT CURRENT DEALS FROM INTREPID HERE

G ADVENTURES: HEADLINE FACTS

  • Established in 1990
  • Group size: Up to 15 people per tour but the average is 10 people
  • Age demographics: The average age of travellers across all of G Adventure products is 44. On its National Geographic style trips, this rises to 59.
  • “Locally-based” guide on all tours (it’s not clear if this is the same as a local guide)
  • Adventure travel focus
  • Offer tours in a range of travel styles
  • Flexible booking conditions

>>> TAKE A LOOK AT CURRENT DEALS FROM G ADVENTURES HERE


Finally, let’s take a brief look at two other types of group travel for singles: overlanding and bus tours.

Overlanding Group Travel

Don’t expect 5-star hotels on overlanding group tours. By day, you are likely to be travelling in a converted truck. By night, you’ll be sleeping under canvas or in budget hotels

Group participation is the norm. You will be expected to roll up your sleeves, from cooking to pitching your own tent.

However, if you don’t mind more basic conditions and getting stuck in, overlanding is an effective way of covering a lot of ground on a modest budget, especially across vast swathes of Africa, Asia and South America.

And as all meals are usually included, budgeting is easier.

Overlanding is not for me – I’m not keen on their larger group sizes – but may be an option for those seeking more adventurous travel.

33% of travellers with Dragoman, the most well-known overlanding group travel company, were 25 – 44 and 42.5% were between 45 to 64 years old. (AITO data 2018).

Bus Tour Group Travel

At the budget end of the market, bus tour group travel has much in common with overlanding trips.

Group sizes tend to be large and lively. Accommodation is basic which is reflected in their price. The guides are not always locals.

Two of the big players in the budget bus tour market – Topdeck and Contiki – cater to 18 -30 / 35-year-old travellers only.

Higher-end operators such as Titan Travel, Saga Travel and Trafalgar Tours, offer bus tours that are geared towards older travellers.

Again, group sizes can be large, but the group tours offered by these companies have more of a focus on cultural immersion than partying and include more upscale accommodation.

Group Travel for Single Travellers: Final Thoughts

Sadly, group travel has become synonymous with coachloads of camera-wielding tourists on a mission ‘to do’ a country in a few weeks. This is not necessarily the case.

Yes; there will be some large coach tours that stick to this traditional model of group travel. Equally, there will always be travellers who want to tick off tourist destinations en masse and be taken to restaurants serving familiar food.

I’m not passing judgment on this. What I am saying is that small group travel offers an alternative to travelling in a coach with 40 other travellers. They aim to offer more authentic travel experiences, use local guides and have better eco-credentials.

If you are contemplating travelling alone for the first time, joining a small group tour is an excellent way of doing this in a safe and supported way. Just make sure that you do your homework before handing over any of your hard-earned cash.

Even though I am a seasoned independent mature solo traveller, I would have no hesitation in booking another small group tour. Based on my experiences, as a solo traveller in my 50s, I would look at Explore or Exodus Travels in the first instance, followed by Intrepid and G Adventures. 

If you are unsure if group travel is a good fit for you, take a look at my assessment of the pros and cons of group tours. Or if you are figuring out how to choose your perfect tour, take a look at my small group travel checklist.

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.

2 thoughts on “Best Single Travel Group Tours for the Over 50s

  1. Nancy Pulcini says:

    What trips do you have planned for august through October of this year

    • Bridget says:

      Due to the ongoing pandemic, sadly not that many. Just a trip to Scotland. But I have started to look at UK group tours because of the assurances given if the coronavirus disrupts travel plans.

Comments are closed.