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9.5 questions to ask your small group holiday operator

Finding the perfect adventure holiday for you can be a daunting task. If you don't know where to start, take a moment to run through our handy checklist of nine (and a half) questions to ask before booking your small group adventure holiday.

Author: Donná Louw - Digital Content Executive at Explore Worldwide
Published: 2 October 2023

The world of adventure travel is a vast and exciting one, with numerous companies offering exciting experience-packed trips all over the world. We encourage all travellers to do their own research but, to give you a little helping hand, here's a handy list of questions to ask before booking your next small group adventure holiday:

1. Is the departure guaranteed?

Before committing to a trip, check whether the departure you've chosen is guaranteed. Some travel companies may advertise trips but only confirm they're running once a certain number of bookings is reached, leading to uncertainty and potential trip cancellations.

Before booking your holiday - and certainly before booking your flights - check whether the departure is guaranteed to run. After all, once you're booked you want to start getting excited!

2. What is the itinerary like?

Examine the itinerary closely. Does it cover popular tourist sites you've been dreaming of, but also include lesser-known and off-the-beaten-path highlights for a more authentic experience? A well-thought-out itinerary should help you truly immerse yourself in the soul of the place.

An immersive holiday is about so much more than the key sights. Will you have a chance to meet the people, learn about the culture, try local foods...

3. What's the environmental impact?

Travel has the power to change and improve lives, both of the traveller and the communities that benefit from our visits. But there's no getting away from the fact that there's a negative environmental impact to be considered. The sustainability stance of travel companies has never been so important.

Check if your chosen travel company discloses the carbon footprint of their trips and see if their values align with yours. Look for certifications like BCorp or ethy for external verification of their sustainable practices.

4. Where are you staying?

Transparency is key when it comes to accommodation. A reputable adventure travel company should provide detailed information about the places you'll be staying, allowing you to research and ensure they'll fit your needs - and be nice and close to the action.

If you're travelling with children, a pool might be crucial. If there's a long cultural day planned in, accommodation should be a stone's throw from the site.

5. What's the group size?

Consider the group size of the tour. A smaller group often fosters a more intimate and meaningful experience, allowing you to explore places that larger groups might struggle to access.

Explore's average group size is 11, big enough to meet other inquisitive travellers but small enough to get right into the heart of your destination.

6. What's included in the package?

Examine the inclusions carefully. The best adventure travel companies will clearly outline what's covered in the package:

  • airport transfers

  • park fees/ permits / entrance fees

  • meals (some people prefer all meals included, while others like the freedom to choose where and what to eat when other options are available)
  • ​excursions

This will give you a clear understanding of what to expect and allow you to plan your budget accordingly.

7. Will there be a dedicated Tour Leader?

Our expert Tour Leaders are the glue that holds our small groups together - and our excellent leaders are they key to making our tours the success they are.

Check your company offers the services of a dedicated Tour Leader who'll join your trip from start to finish, providing insights on the destination and its culture that greatly enrich your understanding and enjoyment.

8. What are the Terms & Conditions?

Although it may seem dull, reading the fine print is essential. Different companies have varying levels of flexibility and booking conditions. Understanding their policies will help you handle unexpected situations that may arise.

Also check terms & conditions to see if you can save as a regular traveller through loyalty schemes. Extra loyalty savings may be combinable with other discounts so you can save even more.

In a world full of the unexpected, check for flexible booking conditions that mean you can book your small group holiday with confidence.

9. Can you see verified reviews?

Reviews from previous travellers are invaluable when gauging the reliability of an adventure travel company. Seek out companies that provide verified reviews collected by a third party provider, such as Feefo. These ensure honest and unbiased feedback from real customers.

We put verified reviews (collected through our partner Feefo) on every trip, so you can see what previous passengers thought.

9.5 We have to mention it... cost

While we don't like to talk about the 'c' word (we all know that experiences and memories made mean that it's value we're looking for from our holidays rather than cheap) we know everyone looking at holidays is going to be comparing prices.

At Explore, we constantly benchmark ourselves against competitors to ensure we offer the best value for your money. Our research has shown that our trips typically cost 13.5% less than comparable offerings from our closest competitor*.

*Note: Prices and comparisons are based on research conducted in the current year and may be subject to change.


Choosing the right adventure travel company can be the difference between an ordinary trip and a life-changing experience. By considering these 9.5 essential aspects, you'll be well-equipped to select a trip that aligns with your values and offers an unforgettable journey filled with adventure, fun, and discovery.

Of course, we believe Explore's trips are head and shoulders above the rest - and we're confident you'll feel the same way once you've looked into the detail (and we promise not to say 'we told you so!').

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