If you are going to be spending a lot of time traveling with a group of people, it would be nice to get along with them. You might be more likely to take a liking to someone who shares a similar interest or hobby. Group travel can provide this common bond.
While a variety of special interest tours are offered by commercial tour operators, many of the offerings in this category come from private groups or civic organizations. These might be a little more difficult to find but usually are worth the trouble because, for these groups, making a profit is not the main concern and the price tag is less as a result.
Religious group pilgrimages and retreats are probably the most common type of specialized tour but by no means the only choice. For instance, businesses increasingly are offering group motivational retreats for executives, and civic groups offer tours to sister cities to improve international relations and to encourage trade.
Trade associations also are heavily involved with offering group tours. Retail merchants visit cities that face similar marketing problems and agriculture groups visit farms to swap fertilizer stories and husbandry tips.
These excursions might be a little too focused for some. While an inexpensive trip to the English countryside might sound just the ticket, it would not seem so alluring after three days in cow barns discussing manure recycling techniques. As a result, many of these tours offer side attractions for family members who are not so focused on business.
Most specialty group tours are not nearly so serious. These can range as widely as the imagination allows. So-called “eco tours” can take you whale watching in Alaska or bird watching in New Zealand. The regional drama group can take you to London or New York and treat you to a new play every night. The local paranormal or ghost-hunting club can take you to see haunted mansions of New Orleans or restless souls roaming Civil War battlefields.
Many of these private group tours are available only for members, but not all. Some even advertise. Since in most cases, the more on the tour, the lower the per person rate, small groups would like to attract as many bodies as possible. But be careful, the opposite also can be true. If an organization books a tour through a commercial provider, the offer also might include a maximum number of participants.
To find these tours, check out public announcement bulletin boards at the library or book store. Pay attention to public service announcements on radio and television. Most cable television services also have public access channels for these announcements.
Theme tours have the advantage of offering only what the travel group finds interesting and excluding the rest. Usually the person next to you is just as interested in the trip as you are. For this type of group travel, whether you choose a commercial package or a privately organized tour, you can be certain you will be seeing lots of what you want to see.