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BlogTravel tips12 inspiring ideas for custom travel itineraries
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Travel tips

12 inspiring ideas for custom travel itineraries

Feb 24, 2022 by Emily Houston

The beautiful thing about travel is it can take you, well, anywhere! While our more than 175 tours bring you to all seven continents, sometimes there’s a special site or destination not included on our standard tours. That’s where Customized Tours come in!

Customized Tours are your chance to create one-of-a-kind trips you can travel on with your friends, family, and community members. The best part is you get to stick to the fun part of dreaming up the trip, while we handle all the planning! See the type of travelers who’ve created Customized Tours with us and read about the unique activites they added to their trips.

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1. Travel to the island of Malta

  • How this custom tour was created: As a teacher at an adult education center, Group Coordinator Toni takes her students abroad to destinations they’ve studied about with her. One of the travel itineraries she’s traveled on multiple times is her Sicily & Malta tour.
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: Many people know about the island of Sicily, but travel just a bit further south and you’ll hit the Mediterranean dreamland of Malta. One of the most stunning sites on the main island of the Maltese archipelago are the Dingli Cliffs. These rock cliffs stretch along the island’s southern coastline and are the Maltese equivalent to Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher!

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2. Explore the lush landscapes of the Azores

  • How this custom tour was created: Group Coordinator Dick creates travel itineraries for friends and family. His latest trip to Portugal included an extension to the Azores, a cluster of Portuguese islands located smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between the U.S. and mainland Europe.
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: Imagine if Iceland and Hawaii had a baby. That’s what the views on São Miguel, the main island in the Azores, look like. It’s a mashup of lush green landscapes that feel otherworldly, all located on an island with a temperate climate. Dick made sure to include a visit to the jewel-toned Lagoa do Fogo on his tour. For him, it’s a can’t-miss sight. The placid crater lake sits inside the Água de Pau Massif volcano and its name means Lake of Fire. If that sounds incredible, just wait until you plan a Customized Tour to see it for yourself.

Get tips on the top places to go in Portugal in this travel guide →

Get inspired by these Portugal trips

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3. Hop aboard a Harry Potter-themed tour of the UK

  • How this custom tour was created: Group Coordinator Debbie invited her friends and family to discover the real-life wizarding world of Harry Potter on tour with her in Scotland and England. No magical powers needed to enjoy all the unique travel experiences she included on this trip!
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: No matter what Hogwarts house you identify with, all Harry Potter fanatics are sure to love the included visit to the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The mythical Hogwarts Express passes over this bridge in the Scottish Highlands, and you’ll soak in views of the mountains and Loch Shiel as you walk along a trail near the viaduct.

Check out the 12 breathtaking landscapes in Scotland you need to see →

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4. Go on a wellness retreat to India

  • How this custom tour was created: Ever loved a travel destination so much you decided to go back again… and again? That’s exactly how Group Coordinator Connie feels about India! So, she decided to create unique travel itineraries to show her friends and family why she loves the country so much. Her most recent trip is a wellness retreat centered around Ghandi’s influence, female art collectives, and women’s history in India.
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: While on the wellness retreat, Connie and her group visited Sheroes Hangout. Female survivors of acid attacks run this nonprofit community cafe in Agra, which provides acceptance, income, and community to those in need. Connie’s group heard about the struggles the women endured and how it led them to become empowered members of the Sheroes community. They also supported the women by enjoying snacks from the cafe and perusing arts and crafts created by the staff.

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5. Visit the Auschwitz Archives in Poland

  • How this custom tour was created: Some of the best travel itineraries are the ones that give people a chance to dive even deeper into their interests. That’s exactly why the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education decided to create a Holocaust History and Memory trip to Central Europe.
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: The trip included an optional excursion to the Auschwitz Archives. Located on the grounds of the former concentration camp, the guided visit gave travelers a chance to explore the archives’ collection of original German camp records, memoirs by former prisoners, and material from the trials of Nazi war criminals.

Here’s what to know about Poland’s top cities →

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6. Stay overnight in an Irish castle

  • How this custom tour was created: Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to sleep like royalty in an ancient Irish castle. The friends and family members of Group Coordinator Terry were all in on booking her Ireland travel itinerary, which included this unique inclusion.
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: Terry and her group will cap off the end of their time in Ireland by staying overnight at Cabra Castle, located on the outskirts of Dublin. Cabra Castle is a 19th-century castle-turned-hotel, not to mention a stunning wedding venue. Here, Terry’s travelers can relax in their stately rooms, stroll through the European gardens, or grab a pint at the Old World-style bar. (Travelers also spend a night at this castle on our A Week in Ireland: Dublin to Belfast tour!)

See the list of the 19 most beautiful castles in the world →

Get inspired by these Ireland trips


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7. Check off 7 U.S. national parks in two weeks

  • How this custom tour was created: Group Coordinator Bernie has led nearly 100 tours with EF and works with our network of experts to create travel itineraries and custom tours that align with his groups interests. His most recent adventure, called Wonders of Northern California Redwoods, Oregon & Washington, brought his group to the top national parks across the Pacific Northwest.
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: Redwood National Park. Crater Lake National Park. Mount Rainier National Park. The list of national parks that Bernie’s unique travel itinerary visits goes on and on—it visits seven to be exact. To cut down on transfer time to and from the parks, his trip also included custom overnights in cities like Eureka, California and Bend, Oregon, which are located close to the national parks his group visited on tour.

See our list of the 17 most beautiful places to visit in the U.S. →

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8. Sip whisky while staying on the remote Isle of Islay in Scotland

  • How this custom tour was created: Members of a Scotch club came together to dream up the inclusions on this unique travel itinerary. While the husbands spent their time sipping Scotch during five custom distillery visits and tastings, the wives dug into Scottish culture on a series of immersive guided tours.
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: When you create your own tour packages with us, you can opt to stay overnight in unique locations you wouldn’t find on our standard tours. The best part of that? Spending time in off-the-beaten-path places is often the most memorable part of the trip. For this group of Scotch lovers, that included staying overnight on the secluded Isle of Isaly so they could tour Ardbeg Distillery. This distillery has produced whisky for more than 200 years, and in the last decade alone has won six different awards including World Whisky of the Year, Scotch Whisky of the Year and World’s Best Single Malt.

Get tips for sipping Scotch in the ultimate guide to Scotch whisky & distilleries →

Get inspired by these Scotland trips


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9. Tour the oldest continuously settled British colony in Canada

  • How this custom tour was created: After leading tours for many years with our sister product, EF Educational Tours, Group Coordinator Jo-Anne made the leap from leading tours for students, and started creating unique travel itineraries for adults. Her first Go Ahead trip took her group of Canadian travelers all across Newfoundland.
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: Jo-Anne’s group paid a visit to Cupids Cove Plantation, home to the first English settlement in Canada. While here, they entered Cupids Legacy Centre to learn about the history and culture of the region.

See how our experts can help you build your own holiday package →

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10. Take a Christian heritage tour of Greece

  • How this custom tour was created: Creating unique travel itineraries begins with tapping into the interests of your community, which is just what Group Coordinator Selene does. Her husband Clay is the pastor of their church and together they organize tours for their congregation. Their Christian Heritage: Footsteps of the Apostles tour brought their large group of loyal travelers to religious sites across Greece.
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: The day spent in Phillipi was one of the most memorable moments for the group. “We had a wonderful tour to visit some of the places mentioned in the Bible where Paul, Peter, Luke, John, and others traveled, taught, and preached the gospel,” said traveler Sharon. “We even had an impromptu baptism at Philipi, Greece, where Paul baptized Lydia. Amazing!”

Go beyond Athens and Santorini and visit these 5 unique places in Greece →

Get inspired by these religious heritage trips


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11. Go on a food-themed trip to Turkey

  • How this custom tour was created: Travel and food are a match made in heaven. No one understands this more than Group Coordinator Barb. She owned a high-end culinary equipment and food store in Edmonton, Alberta, and worked with us to design custom travel itineraries centered around her love of food! Her most recent tour brought her community members and former customers to foodie spots across Greece and Turkey.
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: One morning in Istanbul, Barb and her group set off on a tasting tour of the city—including a visit to Vefa Bozacisi. This Istanbul institution dates back to the Ottoman Empire and makes boza, a millet-based drink flavored with cinnamon and crushed chickpeas. The cafe is so old they have a case that houses the glass boza cup Kamel Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, used. Now that’s some culinary history worth digging into!

Discover the top places to visit in Turkey in our Turkey Travel Guide →

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12. Meet Vietnamese hill tribes while staying overnight in Sa Pa

  • How this custom tour was created: The group members that Group Coordinator Cindy travels with range in age from 10 –70 years old, so having a mix of activities is important to her. That’s why she works with us to design custom tours. She wants her trips to appeal to all the friends and family members joining her on tour, and her Highlights of Southeast Asia: Hanoi to Bangkok tour is no exception!
  • Top custom travel itinerary highlight: One of the most unique travel inclusions Cindy added to her tour was an overnight in Sa Pa, Vietnam. This scenic mountain town, located in the northwest region near the Chinese border, overlooks terraced rice fields. While here, Cindy and her group met members of the Say and Black Hmong ethnic groups, took a walking tour of the town, and ascended the highest road in Vietnam to the Heaven’s Gate lookout.

See how our experts can help you design your own holiday package →

Work with us to design a Customized Tour today!


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About the author | Emily Houston
Emily loves the simple travel moments—like watching hours pass by in minutes while sharing a meal and a laugh (or many) with her friends and family. Outside the office, you'll find Emily listening to anything and everything John Mayer, attempting to cook a New York Times recipe, or dreaming up her next trip.

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