Understanding Tour Speak

Knowing the jargon will help in planning your trip.

Here are some terms you might hear when researching and planning your guided trip.

Small-group: Like many of the trips we’ve featured here, these are designed for groups of no more than about 18 people. Many operators will put the participants in virtual contact before departure or provide a breakdown of the group’s age and gender.

Custom (or sometimes, bespoke): No set itineraries or dates here. This is a private journey that a company crafts to your specifications. For example, Butterfield & Robinson recently arranged a trip for two couples to Syria that included biking and hiking past the ruins of the St. Simeon monastery, visiting small villages along the shores of the Euphrates.

Private: Increasingly, outfitters are adapting standard itineraries (with or without a guide) for independent solos, couples, or families. Some companies, such as Country Walkers, offer clients its range of normal departures to choose from, while others, including Mountain Travel Sobek, have trips geared specifically toward private groups. Some operators, like Absolute Travel, offer private departures exclusively.

Exploratory: A sort of shake-down trip to work out the kinks before a departure is offered to the general public. Depending on the outfitter, the itinerary may or may not have been already field-tested by a guide. Often available by invitation only to previous or regular clients; a sense of adventure and flexibility are essential.

Internal airfare: Regional flights taken within the tour. Prices quoted by operators often include them.

Book your next trip with Peace of Mind
Search Trips

Trip extension: An optional pre- or post-tour that can be purchased to extend the main package.

Sustainable travel: Travel that supports environmental conservation and protects cultural heritage while bolstering cross-cultural understanding and the local economy, according to nonprofit Sustainable Travel International.

Carbon offsets: Many outfitters are offering clients the opportunity to pay to neutralize the greenhouse gases generated by their trip. Look for programs that are certified by a third party.

Read This Next

The most ancient galaxies in the universe are coming into view
‘Microclots’ could help solve the long COVID puzzle
How Spain’s lust for gold doomed the Inca Empire

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet