Determine the Canada group tour company that’s right for you
Canada is a vast country with so many amazing things to see and do.
That’s why planning a trip on your own can be a little overwhelming.
To solve this challenge, many travellers choose to discover and explore Canada by booking a group tour.
But which group tour operator in Canada is best for you?
According to research company IBISWorld, there are over 1,300 group travel companies in Canada.
We’ve narrowed down the list to four of the most popular — Trafalgar, Intrepid Travel, G Adventures and Tours4Fun — and conducted a comparison.
What you’ll learn from this article:
- The 4 tour operators in Canada we’ll be reviewing
- Which types of travellers does each Canada group tour company cater to?
- What makes each Canada group tour company unique?
- How many Canadian group tour packages do they offer?
- How big are the group sizes for each Canada tour company?
- Here’s how our 4 Canada group tour companies breakout
- Large or small group tour? Compare the pros and cons
- Which Canada tour operators offer authentic experiences?
- Which Canada tour operators offer free time for exploring on your own?
- Which Canada tour companies offer optional excursions?
- How do the accommodations compare for each Canada group tour operator?
- How much deposit does each Canada tour operator require?
- How to save money when booking with a tour operator in Canada?
The 4 tour operators in Canada we’ll be reviewing:
- Trafalgar, most established, in business since 1947
- Intrepid Travel, in business for over 30 years, since 1989
- G Adventures, in business for over 30 years, since 1990
- Tours4Fun, least established, in business since 2006.
Which types of travellers does each Canada group tour company cater to?
- Trafalgar: The Curious, Families, Seniors, Solo Travellers, Honeymooners, Responsible/Sustainable Travel Advocates.
- Intrepid Travel: Active/Adventure Seeker, The Curious, Families, Solo Traveller, Responsible/Sustainable Travel Advocates.
- G Adventures: Active/Adventure Seeker, The Curious, Families, Solo Traveller, Responsible/Sustainable Travel Advocates, Budget Conscious.
- Tours4Fun: Budget-Conscious, The Curious, Solo Travellers, Families.
What makes each Canada group tour company unique?
- Trafalgar: Their Canada group tours are a mix of planned activities and free time and cater to those travellers who are interested in going to and seeing Canada’s major attractions and landmarks.
- Intrepid Travel: aims to provide real-life experiences with their Canada group tours, so their clients can discover aspects of Canada that go beyond the typical tourist attractions. They emphasize active exploration and immersive experiences, as a result their tours often involve walking tours, hiking, cycling, and other outdoor activities.
- G Adventures: designs itineraries for their Canada group tours that emphasize active exploration and adventurous experiences. Outdoor activities such as hiking, trekking, cycling and wildlife encounters are typically included in their itineraries.
- Tours4Fun: is an online travel platform that offers a wide range of group tours provided by various tour operators in Canada. Often this is the website where budget-conscious travellers will find the best price on the type of Canada group tour they are seeking.
How many Canadian group tour packages do they offer?
Trafalgar offers 8 Canadian group tours. They offer tours of Western Canada and Eastern Canada.
They do not offer any tours of Central Canada or the Canadian Arctic.
A few examples of the tours Trafalgar offers include:
- 7-day “Canada’s Rockies” group tour
- 13-day “Iconic Rockies and Western Canada” group tour
- 9-day “Best of Eastern Canada” group tour
- 10-day “Enchanting Canadian Maritimes” group tour
Intrepid Travel has 19 Canadian group tours on their roster.
They offer tours of Western Canada, Eastern Canada and the Canadian Arctic.
They do not offer any tours of Central Canada.
A few examples of the tours Intrepid Travel offers are:
- 8-day “Hiking in the Canadian Rockies” group tour
- 11-day “Canadian Rockies & Northern Lights” group tour
- 11-day “Best of the Canadian Maritimes” group tour
G Adventures has 11 Canadian group tours to choose from.
All their tours are west coast based.
They do not offer any tours of Eastern Canada, Central Canada or the Canadian Arctic.
A few examples of the tours G Adventures offers include:
- 8-day “Active Canadian Rockies Adventure” group tour
- 11-day “Vancouver Island & Northern Rockies” group tour
- 16-day “Active West Coast & Canadian Rockies” group tour
Tours4Fun lists over 250 Canadian group tours on its website.
How is this possible?
Because Tours4Fun is an online travel booking site that sells tours being offered by group travel companies in Canada.
With such a wide variety of tours to choose from, they have tours for Western Canada, Eastern Canada and the Canadian Arctic.
They don’t offer any tours for Central Canada.
A few examples of the Canada group tours Tours4Fun have for sale on their website include:
- 4-day “Canada Tour from Calgary” group tour
- 6-day “East Canada Tour from Toronto” group tour
- 8-day “Canadian Rockies Express Tour from Calgary” group tour
How big are the group sizes for each of the tour operators in Canada?
Generally, when it comes to Canada group tours, there are two sizes:
- A large group tour will have up to 40 people.
- A small group tour usually consists of 17 travellers or less.
Here’s how our 4 Canada group tour companies breakout
- Trafalgar: Offers large Canada group tours of up to 40 people and small group active tours of no more than 17 people.
- Intrepid Travel: specializes in small group tours, typically with an average of 10 travellers.
- G Adventures: specializes in small group tours; up to 15 people, but the average is typically 10 travellers per small group.
- Tours4Fun: rather than being a Canada tour operator, Tours4Fun is an online travel platform that gives you access to a wide range of tours, including both large and small group tours.
Large or small group tour? Compare the pros and cons
The pros and cons of a large Canada group tour
- Cost savings: since the tour operator can usually negotiate a better price on accommodations and activities when they’re booking for a larger group.
- Variety of people: a larger Canada group tour also provides you with the opportunity to meet and interact with more fellow travellers from different backgrounds.
- More generic: with a larger Canada group tour, operators must cater to a broader audience, which can result in a standardized experience.
- Slower pace: a larger tour group can mean longer waits to get into attractions and activities.
The pros and cons of a small Canada group tour
- Greater flexibility: a small tour group can access off-the-beaten path destinations that may not be possible with a larger tour group.
- Deeper interactions: because there are fewer participants in a small tour group, there is more opportunity for one-on-one interaction with the tour’s guide, locals and fellow travellers.
- Higher cost: small Canada group tours are usually more expensive than large group tours.
- Less social variety: depending on the nature of your small group tour, many of the travellers may be of a similar traveller type and background, making for a less expansive social experience.
Which Canada tour companies offer authentic experiences?
When you reflect on the vacations you’ve taken in the past, often it’s the authentic moments that stand out as the best memories.
The best tour operators in Canada recognize this factor and have worked hard to include opportunities for authentic experiences when planning their Canada group tour itineraries.
For example, Trafalgar offers “Be My Guest Experiences” as part of many of their Canada group tours.
These experiences often involve dining with local families, visiting their homes, or participating in cultural activities, which provide a more authentic and immersive travel experience.
They do this by employing local guides who provide an insider perspective, share stories that only locals would know, and take you to places and experiences that go beyond typical tourist attractions.
With the wide spectrum of Canada group tours available on the Tours4Fun website, it’s very easy for travellers to zero in on a tour that contains the level of authenticity they’re craving.
Which tour operators in Canada offer free time for exploring on your own?
One of the reasons why vacations offered by Canada tour companies are popular with so many travellers is because the planning is done for you.
But, even so, most people on a Canada group tour still prefer to have some free time.
They want to be able to do some discovering on their own.
Re-visit a tour stop that they want to explore a little more.
Shop or dine at a store or restaurant that caught their eye.
Or even just so they can head back to their hotel and have a nap.
The best tour operators in Canada appreciate this desire for free time.
The four we are profiling are no exception.
Trafalgar, Intrepid Travel, G Adventures and many of the companies that are found on the Tours4Fun website provide tours that are a balance between guided activities and free time.
Which Canada tour companies offer optional excursions?
Just like many travellers appreciate the opportunity to have some free time built into their pre-designed Canada group tour,…
…many participants also want the ability to customize their travel itineraries to align with their personal interests and preferences.
Trafalgar, Intrepid Travel, G Adventures and Tours4Fun are all tour operators in Canada that provide their clients with optional excursions and activities on their tours so you can customize your group tour of Canada.
How do the accommodations compare for each Canada group tour operator?
Yes, you’re going on your Canada group tour because you want to get out there and explore and discover as much as you can about this country but…
…after a long day of excursions, exercise and socializing you’re looking forward to a good night’s sleep too.
The best tour companies in Canada never lose sight of the importance of providing welcoming, comfortable, safe accommodations.
To accomplish this, Trafalgar only includes quality accommodations in their Canada group tours that are comfortable, reflect the local culture and are centrally located near the area’s attractions.
Intrepid Travel actively seeks out accommodations that align with their responsible travel ethos, offer authentic experiences and reflect the local culture.
This can include eco-friendly lodges, locally owned guesthouses, or traditional accommodations that support the local economy and minimize environmental impact.
Like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures aims to provide accommodations that reflect the local culture too.
This means, depending on the Canada group tour you have in mind, you could be staying at a hotel, an eco-lodge, in the home of a local family, a guest house, in a tent, or on a train or boat.
As for Tours4Fun, the Canada group tour packages available on their website offer a range of accommodation options, from standard hotels to premium properties.
How much deposit does each Canada tour company require?
At the time of this article was written these were the amounts each of the four tour operators in Canada that we are reviewing require to hold a group tour booking for you:
- Trafalgar: a non-refundable deposit of around 10-20% of the total tour cost.
- Intrepid Travel: a non-refundable deposit of around 20% of the total tour cost. However, they offer a Flexi Deposit option, which allows you to change your travel plans or transfer your deposit to another trip if needed.
- G Adventures: a non-refundable deposit of around 20% of the total tour cost. But they also offer a Lifetime Deposit option, which allows you to transfer your deposit to another trip if your plans change.
- Tours4Fun: a deposit of around 10-30% of the total tour cost. Deposit requirements vary depending on the specific tour package and duration.
How to save money when booking with a tour operator in Canada
If you’re not planning and managing your tour of Canada yourself, it will be more expensive.
To help make your Canada group tour a little more affordable, here are some money-saving tips you can employ.
- Plan and book your Canada group tour in advance. Tour operators in Canada often offer early bird discounts, so, if you can, start your group tour research as soon as possible.
- Travel during the shoulder season. During off-peak season, group travel companies in Canada usually offer discounts to attract more customers. The shoulder season in Canada can vary depending on the specific region and its climate. However, as a general guideline, the shoulder seasons in Canada are typically spring (April to June) and fall (September to October).
- Be flexible with your travel dates: Sometimes tour operators in Canada offer discounts to fill up remaining spots. If your travel dates are flexible, you may be able to take advantage of last-minute deals.
- Travel in a large group. As mentioned earlier, large Canada group tours tend to be cheaper than smaller group tours.
Decision time: which Canada tour company will you choose?
As you can see there are many things to consider when trying to decide on who is the best tour operator in Canada for you.
If you’re preference leans towards a Canada group tour that ensures convenience, comfort and seeing major landmarks and attractions, then Trafalgar is probably where you should begin your investigation.
And if price is your number one priority, than Tours4Fun will be your best place to start your search.
Whatever you decide, enjoy your tour!
And for more trip planning tips and money-saving ideas check out our post titled “How to Plan a Cheap Vacation.”
Photo Credit: Yuanxi Zhou