Travel & Adventure

Best Adventure Travel Companies (2024): Contiki vs Topdeck vs G Adventures vs Intrepid & More

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Group of six hikers men and woman walking with backpacks and trekking poles along water lake in mountain valley during Norway travel
Wish this was you? It can be. We help you pick the best and most affordable adventure travel company.

“There’s nothing sexier than a well-traveled American.”  That’s what one of my college professors told me freshman year when I chose to travel abroad. Travel gives you the opportunity to expand the mind, adapt to new environments, and learn meaningful life lessons. For those craving adventure, a trip abroad lets you interact with the natural world, explore unique landscapes, and challenge yourself physically and mentally.

Adventure travel companies provide structure and support for those seeking a journey that will create life-changing experiences and lasting memories. Explore new cultures, taste different cuisines, experience wildlife, and dive into new adventures with the help of knowledgeable guides. If you’re wondering what travel company best fits your style of adventure, read on to get our top picks for thoughtfully-designed adventure experiences. 

5 Things To Know Before Booking

Before you choose your destination, let alone one of the adventure travel companies, you’ll want to know a few things.

  1. Consult your physician before booking your travel adventures to make sure you’re fit to travel. Also, ask if there are any vaccines you’ll need ahead of time so you are completely prepared. Lastly, be sure to get any prescriptions refilled so you’ll have all the medications you need while on your trip.
  2. Heed the age restrictions. We know that the urge to travel starts and ends at no specific age. But please be aware that some of these companies have age restrictions (minimum and maximum ages). So, before you search for a trip on their website, make sure you fit their age requirements.
  3. Book your travel to and from the destination. None of these adventure travel companies cover the cost of your airfare to and from the start/end destinations or airport transfers. So, if you’re going to Thailand, and the starting city is Bangkok, but you’re ending in Chiang Mai, you’ll first have to find and pay for your travel to get to Bangkok (to start the trip). Then you can schedule your travel arrangements home from you endpoint in Chiang Mai. Some of the companies will help you find flights but know that the cost of air travel is not included in the prices listed on the adventure trip sites. Or you can compare our picks for best travel sites to find a deal.
  4. Learn the language. Not always necessary but doesn’t hurt to brush up on a little bit of the basics so you can easily communicate things like directions, ask questions about food or how much something costs. We recommend using online language learning software that make it easy to learn on the go (before you go).
  5. Pack your passport. The Expeditioner reported that only 46% of Americans have a valid passport. It can take 4-6 weeks to get yours processed (or pay a rush fee) so make sure you allow for plenty of time in advance to have yours ready to go.

Pricing Comparison For Adventure Travel

We created a guide trip to give you an idea of what trip prices are like for each company. The trips we compared had to meet these two criteria unless not available (if not, we picked something very similar):

  1. The trip had to take place in Thailand for a portion of it and
  2. It had to be 14 days long

Note: Excursion package prices are likely to vary since they are not locked in and often change from season to season.

Best Adventure Vacations

Here are our top picks for adventure travel (along with some other unranked options). Each company caters to different people so be sure to consider them all.

Winner: G Adventures Review

G Adventures logo

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G Adventures focuses on providing transformative experiences within any travel budget. It organizes its tours into 13 different travel styles, giving participants good variety. Tour destinations include trips to all seven continents, and G Adventures has solid partnerships to give you the best experiences possible while you travel.

Tours are broken down into 13 travel styles, ranging from Classic and Family to Local Living and Wellness: 

  1. Classic Tours combine the security of group travel with the flexibility of independent travel. Classic tours will take you through popular sights, landmarks, and activities while allowing you the freedom to go off script and do your own exploring when adventure calls.
  2. National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures is a collection of tours offering hands-on adventure, interaction with local experts, and updated accommodations compared to other G Adventure tours. These tours are designed to take you deeper into the culture of the places you visit.
  3. 18-to-Thirty Something Tours combine structured days with free nights to do whatever you want.
  4. Wellness Tours focus on supporting the mind and body with activities, foods, and experiences to leave you feeling recharged.
  5. Hike, bike, rock climb, and zipline during one of the G Adventures Active Tours.
  6. Rail Tours offer scenic, relaxed travel through big cities and small villages.
  7. Travel aboard small ships and yachts or take a sailing adventure through the Marine Tours.
  8. Local Living Tours offer authentic experiences and accommodations with local families.
  9. Choose a trip built for adventurers of all ages through Family Tours.
  10. National Geographic Family Journeys feature interactive activities for the whole family.
  11. The Jane Goodall Collection includes 20 wildlife-focused tours endorsed by ethologist Dr. Jane Goodall.
  12. Travel cheaply while exploring iconic destinations through Roamies, tours by Hostelworld and G Adventures.
  13. Private Travel allow you to plan precisely how you want to travel and who you will travel with during your trip.
  • Group size: 15 people or less
  • 24/7 phone support and FAQs
  • Offers trips in all continents and Oceania, even Antarctica
  • Partnerships with National Geographic and Hostelworld
  • Option to pay full price upfront or only a portion

  • While fewer age restrictions than most travel companies, there are still age limits on Yolo and Family excursions

Pricing (Per Guidelines Above)

  • Starting at $1,409
  • 14 days
  • Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia (start in Bangkok and end in Hanoi)
  • 11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner included
  • 11 nights in hotels, 1 village homestay, and 1 sleeper train
  • Transportation throughout trip but not international airfare

Runner-Up: Contiki Review

Contiki logo

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Contiki offers more than 300 trips to places worldwide, including Europe, Asia, Latin America, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Like G Adventures, Contiki organizes its tours into these 16 travel styles so participants can easily pick a trip that fits their interests:

  1. Active Trips get the adrenaline pumping with activities like white water rafting, surfing, hiking, biking, sailing, bungy jumping, and more.
  2. Adventure Trips take travelers through popular sites and regional activities.
  3. Beach Holidays focus on giving travelers plenty of vitamin D and providing a balance of adventure, serenity, and nightlife.
  4. Christmas Tours allow travelers to experience the magic of Christmas in Paris, Amsterdam, Germany, and more.
  5. Detour Mini Adventures are short getaways that focus on developing passions and hobbies. Work with master chefs, photographers, yoga instructors, and more in a scenic location.
  6. Hiking & Trekking Vacations are filled with sweaty hikes to locations that take your breath away.
  7. Sail from one paradise to another during Island Hopping.
  8. New Year’s Eve Tours offer a four-day celebration with fireworks, champagne, and your favorite friends.
  9.  During one of five Pride Trips, celebrate with parades, party passes, and fantastic sights.
  10. African Safari Trips feature wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.
  11. Short Breaks are quick excursions, including surfing in Morocco, snorkeling in Australia, and skiing in the Austrian Alps.
  12. Ski Holidays & Snowboarding Trips mi snowy slopes and stylish accommodations.
  13. Small Group Tours are built for people who want social travel but in small groups.
  14. Have the freedom to create your own journey with Solo Travel.
  15. Winter Holidays combine bucket-list destinations with skiing, Christmas markets, and holiday parties.
  16. World Tours are tailor-made packages that allow travelers to span multiple countries in one trip.

Contiki group sizes can be 20-50 people, and they only accept people 18 to 35 years old. The average traveler’s age is 26, so you’ll most likely travel with other young adults. The Contiki app even lets you get to know the people you’ll be going on your trip with, view your itinerary, stay up to date on the weather, and more.

  • Phone, FAQs and live chat support
  • Trips available in Europe, Asia, Latin America, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
  • Unique tours that cater to young travelers
  • Contiki Easy Pay allows you to pay in installments
  • Limited for travelers within 18-35 years of age
  • Potential for a larger group size (20-50 people)

Pricing (Per Guidelines Above)

  • Starting at $2,587
  • 14 days
  • Thailand (start in Bangkok, end in Krabi)
  • 11 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 2 dinners
  • 8 nights in hotels, 3 nights in special stays, 2 nights in overnight trains
  • Transportation throughout trip but not international airfare

3rd Place: Intrepid Review

Intrepid travel logo

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Intrepid offers four trip styles: Basix, Original, Comfort, and Premium. So if you’re on a smaller budget, you may like Basix, which features simple accommodations, local transportation, and lots of free time for the independent traveler. The Original trip style combines scheduled activities and free time with standard accommodations. Comfort or Premium may be a good option if you want nearly everything covered.

Intrepid also has these 17 trip themes to cater to specific travel interests:

  1. 18 to 29s for those specifically wanting to travel with people in their age range.
  2. The Active range focuses on adventure activities in beautiful, unique locations.
  3. Adventure Cruising takes travelers through an immersive cruising experience through local villages and markets.
  4. Intrepid’s Cycling vacations allow you to jump in the saddle and explore ancient ruins, wine regions, or ocean views.
  5. Expeditions are an exclusive range of unique adventures featuring less-explored, beautiful regions of the world.
  6. Family tours focus on creating memorable adventures for people of all ages.
  7. Festival tours are scheduled around local celebrations and ceremonies.
  8. Food Adventures let travelers explore street food, local specialties, and authentic experiences.
  9. Polar tours take you on an arctic expedition.
  10. Retreats focus on giving travelers insider knowledge and adventures.
  11. Take a week-long or more Sailing holiday in Asia, Europe, or the Galapagos.
  12. Short Breaks are two to five-day mini-vacations that are packed with bite-sized adventures.
  13. Solo Travel helps you stay safe while traveling independently.
  14. Build your adventure with Tailor-Made tours.
  15. Have you just arrived in a new city? Join one of Intrepid’s Urban Adventures to discover favorite local spots.
  16. Walking & Trekking are self-guided or group tours that supply expert trail guides, accommodation, and porters when needed.
  17. Wildlife tours are led by local leaders and wildlife experts.

We like that Intrepid allows most ages on their travel adventures and there are special family adventure vacations. They do ask that once you are 70 years young that you fill out a self-assessment form.

  • Trips available to all continents and Oceania
  • No maximum age limit
  • FAQs, email and phone support
  • Do not have to pay full price upfront
  • Age restrictions vary based on trip
  • Potential for large groups (as many as 24 people)

Pricing (Per Guidelines Above)

  • Starting at $1,925
  • 14 days
  • Thailand and Malaysia (Bangkok to Singapore)
  • 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 3 dinners
  • Guesthouse (3 nights), Hotel (8 nights), Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night), Rafthouse (1 night)
  • Transportation throughout trip but not international airfare

Get In The Mood To Travel

Need some help getting in the mood to travel? Follow a travel blog, watch YouTube videos, surf the web or talk with others about their travel experiences. This short clip gave me the itch to travel immediately!

What About OAT, Topdeck, And Trafalgar?

If you don’t see a good fit for you above, take a look at these other companies. Just because they didn’t make our top three doesn’t mean they don’t have a trip that may be a perfect fit for you!

Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) | Topdeck | Trafalgar Travel

Overseas Adventure Travel Review

Overseas adventure travel logo

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Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) offers trips to all continents except Australia and North America. OAT prides itself on a full cultural experience by way of small group sizes, so if you are looking for a small group to travel with, OAT may be the best choice. Plus, occasionally OAT offers discounted rates on adventure vacations for couples.

  • Phone support and FAQs
  • OAT Land Tours group size: 8-16 travelers
  • Offers solo traveling experiences for women
  • Specializes in vacations for people 50 and older
  • No email support
  • Must be 13 years or older
  • Small Ship adventures group size: up to 24 travelers
  • No North America or Australia trips

Pricing (Per Guidelines Above)

  • Starting at $4,095
  • 20 days
  • Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam (start in Bangkok and end in Ho Chi Minh City)
  • 18 breakfasts, 15 lunches, and 7 dinners (including 2 Home-Hosted meals)
  • 18 nights
  • Transportation throughout trip but not international airfare

Topdeck Review

Top deck travel logo

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Topdeck offers trips to five continents: Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia and North America. This actually is a big “con” in our book because South America is a common destination for this kind of trip.

Group sizes can be a bit bigger as well but are determined by the type of trip you’re going on. There are also age limitations, but they do offer more than 300 trips. So, if you fit within the guidelines, feel free to take a look at their offerings. Maybe you’ll find a perfect fit for you.

  • Trips available to Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia and North America
  • 300+ trips
  • FAQs, phone, live chat and email support
  • Age limitations: 18-39
  • No trips to South America or Antarctica
  • Group sizes can be large (35+ people)

Pricing (Per Guidelines Above)

  • Starting at $1,146.65
  • 10 days
  • Thailand (Bangkok to Phuket)
  • 8 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 4 dinners
  • 6 nights in hotels, 1 night in ecolodge, 1 night on floating raft house, and 1 night aboard overnight train

Trafalgar Travel Review

Trafalgar travel logo

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Trafalgar Travel offers trips to Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Group sizes can be rather large with 40 to 45 people, so if big groups aren’t your thing, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

People must be at least 5 years old to travel with Trafalgar Travel. The example trip we listed below is more expensive than competitors, but it may be an anomaly (check for your specific dates and destination). However, if these guidelines don’t deter you, be sure to check out the available trips to see if one might tempt you to book your next trip.

  • Trips available to Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia
  • FAQs, phone and email support
  • Larger groups: 20-52 people
  • Must be 5 years or older
  • No trips to Africa 

Pricing (Per Guidelines Above)

  • Starting at $4,425
  • 14 days
  • Thailand (Bangkok to Phuket)
  • 13 breakfasts, 1 welcome reception, 1 Be My Guest, 8 lunches, 2 dinners, 1 regional dinner, and 1 farewell dinner
  • 13 nights

Ready, Set, Jet!

While there are lots of benefits to group travel (making new friends, meeting new people, having all the details taken care of for you) we know that adventure travel isn’t for everyone. So if you’re more of a solo traveler, you might be better off booking your own trip. We review the best travel websites.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Let us know in the comments!

Kimberly Alt

Kimberly is our home security expert and has been writing about security and safety since 2013, covering everything from security systems and home automation to identity theft protection, home warranties, medical alert systems, and more. She has personally tested hundreds of system components and interfaced with dozens of home security companies to find out what’s happening behind the scenes. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post. In 2018, she had her first child, which opened up a whole new avenue of security experience with baby gear. She wanted to purchase the safest items for her family. Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing, and personally testing products and services.
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