Photo: Man reading a map

A traveler in Italy consults a map.

Photograph by Aaron Huey

By Margaret Loftus

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.

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.

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