Group tours that attract a diverse group of adults?
August 21, 2022 2:30 PM   Subscribe

I've been on a few group travel tours, and I like the camaraderie. Recently I went on a group tour and discovered everyone else was 25-30 years older than me and was white (I'm not). My favorite tour attracted a wide range of travelers. How do I find more tours like that?

Months ago, I went on a weeklong bicycle tour in the US. I discovered on the first day that all the other travelers were white American retirees over age 65. I'm in my early 40s and non-white. The other travelers were friendly, but I got tired of repeatedly hearing the same conversational topics about retirement and older American pop culture. I also was treated a little like a novelty that stuck out. The bike tour guide said this demographic was typical of all their tours.

Previously I went on a Latin America weeklong group tour that had travelers in their 20s through 50s. There were travelers of various ethnicities (Black, Hispanic, Asian, white, etc). Hearing the other travelers' life experiences at mealtimes was fascinating because everyone was different. Also, no one was the "odd person out".

I've used that same group tour company for a different tour in Italy, but it wasn't as diverse.

What's your advice on what to do (and what to avoid) to find group tours that attract a diverse set of travelers? I'm interested in any of the 7 continents. I prefer tours that are more active (e.g. hiking, biking) and include nature and/or history.

Should I aim for (or avoid) certain times of year? Certain budget levels? Destinations? Thanks!
posted by cheesecake to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Recent related Ask where I suggested Earthwatch.
posted by BobTheScientist at 2:52 PM on August 21, 2022

Best answer: My trips with independent budget/adventure group tours have always had a big range of ages (early 20s to 60s) and mixed genders/ethnic/national backgrounds. Intrepid and Gap are two big names in this category but I travelled in Peru with a company called Amazonas and had a similar experience re demographics. You’ll probably find regional companies that fit the mold. All my travel with these companies has been in “less developed” countries and I wonder if avoiding Western Europe and North America may reduce your ratio of white retiree boomers a bit.
posted by dazedandconfused at 3:36 PM on August 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

I would phone the tour company and strike up a convo to see if they have any insights.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 3:56 PM on August 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: So I've not done one in several years, but I've had several experiences like yours. Being the youngest person in the tour by 20 years, possibly excepting the college age kids of some other attendees. It seemed to be getting worse over time.

For age diversity, I think the more a tour company pitches their stuff as an "adventure" and the more strenuous it is the more you'll get young-ish people. And price absolutely makes a difference: lower price=younger people. Possibly related to the price thing is that my domestic tours were more diverse than European ones. (I'm sure it's not coincidence that your Latin American tour was more diverse than European tours, too)
posted by mark k at 4:20 PM on August 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you've attended a US university, you may want to look into alumni association travel groups. My family has gone on several trips with a group of Black alumn at our alma mater and had a ball with folks of all ages. I don't know your specific background but perhaps you can also find an affinity group. One of my good friends vacations yearly with a group of Black physicians that is organized through one of her medical associations. If you are a member of any professional groups, they may also be a place to look.
posted by fies at 4:23 PM on August 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ok so maybe I’m stereotyping a bit here, but if you asked me “what kind of people would you expect to go on a weeklong bike tour in the US?”, my answer would be “old white people”. Maybe some our age (I’m in my 40s too), but 100% white. Trip to Italy? Probably similar, lot of old white people. But Latin America? Yeah, that one will definitely be more diverse, for the simple reason that a lot of old white Americans are kind of scared of Latin America. So that’s my advice: travel to places that people who watch Fox News think of as “third world”. That way, you’ll still get some older white Americans, but they’ll be more open minded, and you’ll get other kinds of people as well - young people trying to prove a point to their Fox-watching parents, Americans with ancestors from where you’re traveling, other people from the region, etc.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:47 PM on August 21, 2022 [6 favorites]

Back in 2016 I had an AskMeFi post looking for last-minute tour info for Türkiye. I had a great trip and one of the highlights, for me, was a 4-day cruise on a gulet sailing out of Fethiye (though I joined the cruise already in progress from a harbor near Dalaman.)

It was, I think, the end of their season (late October, early November) and I recall there being about 10-12 other passengers aboard the boat. It was a nice mix. We had 3 or 4 college-age backpackers, a nurse-practitioner from Florida, a pair of 30-something female friends vacationing together, a Swiss NGO worker who was taking a break from his work in South Sudan and his Ivorian wife and their teen daughter, an older man from a different part of Türkiye taking his vacation along the coast, myself, and a Costa Rican who was in some sort of apprenticeship program to train as a personal chef and who, while not a member of the crew, had negotiated some sort of arrangement to help with catering in exchange for his passage.

I usually travel solo, so this was an unusual trip for me, but I still remember the other passengers six years later - small group, small boat, shared activities, and shared meals all contributing to that.

The nice thing about that mode of travel was you could choose from a range of activity levels. We spent comparatively little time underway; most of the time was in various scenic anchorages. If you felt like spending a lazy morning sunbathing on the deck, catching up on your reading, and waiting for the man in the ice cream boat to come around, you could do that. On the other hand, if it sounded like fun to join the others to climb from the ruins of an ancient bathhouse up to a steep ridge overlooking your anchorage, and time it so that you could enjoy sunset over the Aegean from the top, you could do that.
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:45 PM on August 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

Absolutely reach out to the company and ask about typical participants. Also look for tour specific reviews and who is writing them. Finally, consider who the activities, activity levels, type of accommodation and overall price point and tour literature would appeal to.

Multi activity and camping is going to attract different people to multi activity hotels. How much ground do they cover/day. What languages do they promise in the literature etc.Who are they marketing the tour to and in what geographies are they marketing them in? I used to travel with a company that specialised in adventure travel in North America and that had heavy marketing in the UK, Australia and rest of Europe- guess where most of the participants came from?
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:10 PM on August 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

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