Updated: March 2020
Sometimes choosing between these two adventure travel companies can be a challenge since both offer almost similar tours for the same audience at a competing price range.
Even though G Adventures and Intrepid Travel have the same “off-the-beaten-path adventure niche,” the travel experience can vary drastically depending on which tour you take with each company.
While there are many G Adventures reviews and Intrepid Travel reviews out there, this comparison is based on my own experience after traveling on several tours with both companies.
In addition, I’ve had personal discussions with representatives of each company to get to know better their mission, products, and target audience.
What follows is a G Adventures vs Intrepid Travel review and comparison that could help you decide which one fits best into your travel plans.
What makes G Adventures and Intrepid Travel so good?
Both G Adventures (formerly known as Gap Adventures) and Intrepid Travel are internationally renowned travel companies that specialize in adventure travel around the world without breaking the bank. Here are a few quick points on why both are great:
- Both offer the comfort of having all the logistics taken care of, while still giving you a good balance of free time to explore on your own.
- Both companies have taken the lead in providing responsible travel, conservation, and sustainability.
- They have a high safety standard –which I consider is a top priority.
- They offer great last-minute savings. G Adventures offers 20% to 25% on travel deals as well as Intrepid, which gives a 15% to 25% on some “Early Bird” or last-minute trips.
- Both companies have a similar tour classification, which goes from budget to comfort. Also, they have a well-developed classification according to cultural shock and level of activity. Tours are family-friendly as well as active backpacker-friendly.
- They really take you “off the beaten path” on most of their trips. Local homestay and camping are common among their adventure trips.
- Their flexibility is priceless. There are days or part of a day where you have the flexibility to do whatever you want –walk through the city, visit a museum, revisit a temple, relax, you name it– or do one of their recommended additional activities.
- Both companies have over 30 years of experience.
- Even though they started as budget adventure tour companies for the 18-to-39-year-old age group, today they offer a wider variety of budget ranges and activity levels for all age ranges.
A few Common Questions Regarding G Adventures vs Intrepid Travel
Which Tour Company is the Best for Single and Solo Travelers?
Honestly, both are equally good for singles and solo travelers. The opportunity to meet other like-minded travelers is always present.
Now, if we are talking about romantic opportunities, then it depends on your age range.
Younger travelers (18 to mid-30s) tend to travel to trending, adventure-filled, party-oriented destinations. These include most of Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, Central America, and such.
To not limit your possibilities of traveling with young people to any destination around the world, both companies have created additional tours targetted to younger travelers.
When it comes to travelers in their 30 and 40+ age range, you start to see them more often in more culturally oriented and far-off destinations. These are travelers who’ve already been to many of the “typical destinations” and are now looking to explore beyond popular destinations.
Neither company charges for a single supplement if you’re traveling solo. You will be paired with someone of the same sex to share the room. Should you want a room for yourself, you have the option to pay an extra fee that varies depending on the tour.
Is G Adventures or Intrepid Travel Recommended for Seniors?
This is one common question I get often, and the answer is yes! It is true that both tour companies have targetted a younger, active audience, but don’t think of their audience age-wise, think of their audience based on the activity level and travel spirit.
I’ve done several tours with both companies, and on every tour, I’ve shared the travel experience with other travelers 60+ in age. They’ve been as active, as entertaining, and as social as everyone else.
For travelers who are concerned about the accommodation style or certain physical activities, both companies do offer “comfort” or “premium” trips.
For example, G Adventures has a partnership with National Geographic to create their now famous “National Geographic Journeys,” which provide tours with a higher comfort level and premium accommodations. These tours are great for families and older adventurous travelers.
Equally, Intrepid Travel has their Families Theme where you can have an inclusive experience with your kids, and they have their “Comfort Style,” which you can select as a filter while searching for trips.
What’s the Physical Level with Intrepid Travel and G Adventures?
G Adventures and Intrepid Travel trips are geared towards young adults, so they are designed for travelers who have at least basic physical fitness.
That said, both companies offer an inclusive variety of trips in different categories that go beyond the “adventure” theme.
To find your desired trip style and physical level, I recommend checking each company’s trip classifications. G Adventures classifies their trips by Travel Style. These include wellness, marine tours, active tours, family tours, local living, private tours, and more.
Intrepid Travel, on the other hand, breaks them out into Themes. These include family travel, food travel, festivals, cycling, trekking, polar adventures, sailing, and many more.
How are the Accommodations?
Both companies offer similar accommodation options. Basic accommodation while camping and during homestays, 2-star and 3-star hotels for most trips on average. For comfort trips, you could expect 3-star and 4-star+ hotels.
Each trip is unique, so it’s good to read the trip details before booking. There you’ll see the accommodation options per day in the itinerary.
How do G Adventures and Intrepid Travel Compare Cost-wise?
Short answer, both are neck to neck. Both companies offer several multi-day trips well under $1,000 as well over $5,000 for their polar cruises and 40+ day overland tours.
The average tour price is around $2,400 for a 12 to 14 days trip.
A few years ago, G Adventures had a slight edge over Intrepid Travel, price-wise, but now they are both practically equal for comparable tours.
But, here’s an important detail, Intrepid Travel’s price usually tends to be more inclusive than G Adventures.’ Keep an eye on the add-ons like excursions and day tours.
What is the Average Group Size?
Both companies offer “small group tours” with a maximum capacity of 16 people. Having said that, I’ve never been on a 16 person group with either company.
I believe the average group with each company is 10-14 people, but G Adventures tends to go on the higher range while Intrepid tours stick to the lower. The smallest group I’ve traveled with was a six-person group on our trip to Iran with Intrepid Travel.
Now, How do they Differentiate?
Ok, both companies look great, but there are still a few details in which either company might excel. So, here is a breakdown of some pros and cons based on my experience.
G Adventures was founded as Gap Adventures in 1990 by Bruce Poon Tip after returning from a backpacking tour of Asia. The name Gap Adventures was a double entendre, with the letters standing for “Great Adventure People” and ‘bridging the gap’ between backpacking and other forms of travel.
G Adventures offers more than 700 itineraries in more than 100 countries. It is based in Canada and counts with 28 offices worldwide.
- Cheap – This is one of the main reasons why I like G Adventures (often referred to as Gap Tours too). The ratio of quality to price is superb! Plus, they have a good selection of promotions and tours for under $1000. From my experience, often they are slightly cheaper than Intrepid Travel.
- Plenty of destinations – With over 700 itineraries, it is pretty sure that you will find a trip that suits your specific needs and wants.
- More departure dates – Tours depart every day, couple times a week, or couple times a month, depending on its popularity.
- Expanded tour style selection for every traveler – G Adventures is now focusing on more targeted experiences with their YOLO tours (for young, active travelers), Local Living Tours (for a more local experience), Active Tours (for the adrenaline), Classic Tours, Family Tours, Rail, Marine, and even Private Tours. And, there are the National Geographic tours, which are excellent for photographers and adventurers who like to travel in style!
- Lifetime deposit – If for any reason you have to cancel your trip, your deposit is safe –for life. What’s even better is that it is transferable to another person, or you can donate it to their eco-friendly foundation – Planeterra Foundation.
- They try to focus on sustainable travel – In addition to the foundation mentioned before, G Adventures makes an effort to invest in local businesses, sustain indigenous people and protect wildlife. They also help with disaster relief around the globe.
- Promotes awareness – G Adventures partnered with Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) with the goal of helping more teachers explore the world and then bring their experiences back into their classrooms. In addition, they partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute to create itineraries aimed at raising the awareness of animal welfare and wildlife-friendly tourism.
- No single supplement – Traveling solo? No problem. There is no additional charge unless you want a room on your own. For me, as a solo traveler, this can be a big plus towards G Adventures vs Intrepid Travel.
- Variable local operator quality control – This is probably what hurts them the most. Many of their itineraries are subcontracted and operated by other local companies –even when their staff and vehicles are branded with the G Adventures logo. Sometimes the quality of some of these companies is not at the level of G Adventures, therefore affecting your trip’s quality.
- Guides are somewhat hit or miss – Following the previous point… Guides can easily make or break your trip. The destination might be excellent, but if the guide is a slacker (has no knowledge, is not around, not enthusiastic, etc.), it can affect your entire trip. I just want to point that most G Adventures guides are well-trained guides that are totally fit for the job, but I’ve seen and heard about a couple inexperienced or lazy guides. This is hit or miss depending on your tour.
- Keep an eye on the “optional” – When selecting a tour, check the itinerary and look for optional activities. When you have an optional activity, the choice is yours to decide whether you want to do it or not, but doing it comes out of your pocket. If there are many optional activities, try budgeting for them and keep track of how they add to your total tour cost.
- Their groups are bigger than Intrepid’s – With an average of 15 (up to 18 people in some groups), this means that your guide might have a bigger workload making sure everyone is ok, versus being able to focus on fewer people to get to know them better for the duration of the trip.
Intrepid Travel was founded in 1989 by two Australian university mates, Darrell Wade and Geoff’ Manch’ Manchester after they quit their jobs and organized a 6-month trip around Africa.
It is the largest small-group adventure travel company in the world, offering more than 1,000 tours to over 100 countries. It is based in Australia and counts with several offices worldwide.
- Very reliable and excellent reputation – In general, they tend to have a reputation regarding customer satisfaction. They have better feedback among travelers. Complaints about Intrepid tours are minimal.
- Highly qualified local operators – Compared to G Adventures, the chances of selecting a trip that is run by a high-quality tour operator are higher – including the ones subcontracted to local companies. It also seems like Intrepid tour guides are slightly more knowledgeable about local sights and culture.
- Smaller average group – The average group on Intrepid tours has ten travelers compared to an average of 15 on G Adventures. It’s neither good nor bad having more or fewer travelers. It just depends on your preferences. But most people like smaller groups for a “better experience.”
- A varied selection of tours based on activities – Like G Adventures, Intrepid Travel has expanded their tour selection, but in their case, it’s more based on activities like Sailing, Cycling, Eating (foodie tours), Family (more relaxed), Overland, Trekking, Wildlife, Polar, and more.
- More and Better itineraries – This one is slightly subjective as the best itinerary is the one that fits best your desires, but, from my experience, it seems like Intrepid Travel itineraries offer a wider selection of local destinations. Intrepid has over 1,000 itineraries for you to choose from.
- They carbon-offset their tours – Intrepid Travel is the largest carbon-neutral travel company in the world. They offset by investing in renewable energy projects.
- Focus on responsible travel – It is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact and was the first tour operator to ban elephant rides on its tours. They also launched vegan tours in 2018.
- Most tours are guaranteed – You have a wider selection of guaranteed tours. You don’t have to worry if the tour is going to run or not depending on the number of travelers.
- Great Deals on top tours – They always have a good selection of Latest Deals on several of their top Intrepid tours.
- They have an interesting Loyalty Program – If you take nine trips with them, they will give you $1,800 for your 10th trip! This alone is a huge pro if you travel often.
- No single supplement – Traveling solo? No problem. There is no additional charge unless you want a room on your own. For me, as a solo traveler, this is a big plus.
- Might be slightly more expensive – Compared to G Adventures, most Intrepid Travel tours might look slightly more expensive. Still, you need to evaluate and compare similar trips between both companies to see what is included and what is not. At the end, both are neck to neck because Intrepid’s price is more inclusive.
- Fewer Departure Dates – Departure dates are more spread apart than G Adventures’. This might reduce the flexibility of choosing a trip. But, in recent years, they’ve added more Intrepid tours and dates to some of their most popular trips to match the number of departures G Adventures offers.
- Single Supplement is compulsory on some trip styles – Although most trips don’t require a single supplement, some of them do ask for a mandatory single supplement. In most cases, it is over $100. If traveling solo, verify if the Intrepid trip style you are choosing requires a single supplement.
In the end, Would I Recommend G Adventures or Intrepid Travel?
I do recommend both. But remember that each company has certain pros and cons that will highly depend on your trip of interest.
Picking between Intrepid Travel and G Adventures depends on a combination of factors like price, schedule, quality, and destination. But, one thing is for sure, whichever you choose, you will not go wrong as both companies offer a high-quality experience.
Just some quick-fire recommendations:Based on price: mostly Intrepid Travel as their price is more inclusive, but do your own research as G Adventures tours are roughly around the same price. Based on schedule: G Adventures tends to have more departure dates, but again, do your research as both are almost tied here. In this case, which one offers the best departure date for your trip? Based on quality: Intrepid Travel seems to be offering better quality trips at the moment. Based on destinations: (These are just my recommendations)
- North America – Go on your own. If you want a tour, choose G Adventures. For Canada do G Adventures (it’s their base).
- South America – Both are really good, but G Adventures seems to have better itineraries.
- Central/Latin America – G Adventures
- Eastern Europe – Both are good. But, G Adventures now offers the Rail Style option, which is nice for Europe.
- Western Europe – Go on your own, it’s easy to travel independently. But, G Adventures now offers the Rail Style option, which is nice for Europe.
- Middle East – Intrepid Travel
- Central Asia – Intrepid Travel
- Africa – Intrepid Travel offers more options and better itineraries.
- Asia – Intrepid Travel
- Southeast Asia – Both are good, but Intrepid Travel might have a lead here.
- Australasia – Intrepid Travel (it’s their base)
- Antarctica – Both
- Arctic – G Adventures
These were based on my experiences and references from other travelers, but feel free to differ. I hope this G Adventures vs Intrepid Travel review has helped you decide which tour operator will give you the best travel experience.
But, as I mentioned previously, both are excellent, and in my opinion, your pick should be mostly based on a combination of schedule convenience, price, and destinations offered on a particular tour.
Do you have additional recommendations or would you like to share your experience with them? Share them below and see what others have said so far… There are several G Adventures reviews and Intrepid Travel reviews left by other travelers that could help you too.
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