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Find the Tour That Suits Your Style

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    En español | No matter how you like to travel — hopscotching from city to city or biking along country roads — there’s a way you can do it without having to sweat the details. Companies that offer escorted tours, where every detail is taken care of for you, are gaining in popularity. Just pack your bags and let tour operators handle the rest. There are options for every style and every interest.

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    Want to Walk?

    Guided walking tours are popular with over-50 travelers. They run the gamut from strolls on flat terrain to up-and-down challenges in the Alps. Big Wild Adventures leads backpack camping trips with tents, equipment and meals included for less than $2,000. Or you can walk about in picturesque settings around the globe — Tuscany, Costa Rica, Australia, even Bhutan. If hiking with a backpack and camping don’t appeal, options include lodging-to-lodging walks , where luggage is carried for you. With some of these options offered by Breakaway Adventures, VBT, Country Walkers, Backroads and Butterfield & Robinson, you wine and dine in upscale hotels after a day on the trail. Expect to pay $2,000 or more per person a week, $5,000 and up for exotic adventures that include super-luxe lodging and extras such as wine tastings or city tours led by an expert.

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    Pedal Power

    Bike tours around the world range from easy outings on flat roads to Tour de France-style pedaling over tough terrain. Basic “self-contained” tours, such as some of Adventure Cycling Association’s under-$1,000 options, mean using your bike, carrying all gear and camping with a guide but no support vehicle. You’ll pay more for “sag wagons” that ferry  luggage between lodgings and offer rides when you need a break. On this type of tour, bikes and meals are included. Lodging varies from basic to deluxe. Backroads and VBT are among more upscale options (typically $2,000-plus a person). Top-of-the line escorted tours include those from Butterfield & Robinson, beginning at about $4,000 per person. You’ll stay in top-drawer hotels. B&R also offers outings on electric bikes.

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    Ride the Rails

    If you love a train trip plus some extra attention and commentary as you roll along, climb aboard one of these options. Vacations By Rail offers outings such as the popular Fall Foliage Express, which uses trains and buses to take participants to six states annually to see trees adorned in flaming oranges, golds and scarlets (about $2,300 a person). Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) offers more than two dozen educational train treks, including one where you take the controls. Britain’s legendary Royal Scotsman train treats passengers like royalty. Choose routes that include a tour of a ruined castle or a Highland whisky distillery, a morning clay-pigeon shoot or a Highland safari. Dine by candlelight and sleep in elegant compartments. Be prepared to pay $1,300-plus per person.

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    Explore a Special Interest

    Pursue a passion on a tour. Road Scholar offerings include grandparent-and-grandkid getaways, including six days spotting alligators and learning about marine life in Florida (from about $3,000). Cooks can lap up culinary tours. VBT offers a weeklong walking trip in Peru, where you’ll stop off to make chocolate, prepare an Inca banquet or visit Machu Picchu (about $3,000). Civil War Tours sponsors excursions to Gettysburg, Chickamauga and Shiloh battlefields that are led by historians. Aficionados of the TV series Masterpiece might swoon over Insight Vacations’ jaunt through England, featuring a tour of Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was filmed, and a visit to Bampton, where Downton village scenes were shot. The nine-day trip, including stops in London, Stonehenge and Bath, starts at about $3,000 a person.

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    Classic Coach Tours

    If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium. Globus is a leader in guided bus tours. (Coaches now have free Wi-Fi.) Its roster includes an 11-day “Essential Europe” adventure that takes riders to London, Paris, Lucerne, Rome, Florence and Venice (where you’ll get a gondola ride) for about $2,300, including lodging and some meals. Eight-day “Holy Land Discovery” itineraries in Israel start at about $1,400. Go Ahead Tours has a two-week jaunt to the popular Christmas markets of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, starting at $2,300. Road Scholar runs many educational coach tours.

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    Spend Time With the Sports You Love

    Why limit yourself to one activity? Multitasking is trendy. Backroads has adult options, plus a new six-day family spree on the Hawaiian islands of Lanai and Maui, where you’ll walk, hike, bike, kayak and snorkel. Adults pay about $4,500 each; kids are less. The World Outdoors, a big name in multisport excursions, runs a 12-day Alaska trip for  active older travelers. It encompasses a plethora of scenic areas along with sea kayaking, glacier walking, fishing and rafting. Cost: about $5,000 a person.

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    Go on Safari

    Observing Africa’s fierce big five — lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and Cape buffalo — in their native habitats is a dream for many. Dozens of companies offer visits to game parks for viewing. This year, readers of Travel+Leisure magazine recognized three safari outfitters as the world’s best: Deeper Africa, followed by Extraordinary Journeys and Micato Safaris. Deeper Africa was cited for “highly personalized service” and social consciousness (rates start at about $9,000 per couple, including lodging and meals but not international airfare). Extraordinary Journeys creates individualized outings (rates vary). Micato is a nine-time winner of the T+Lsafari award and specializes in high-end adventures. Expect to pay $15,000 per couple or more. African Budget Safaris can lead you to more affordable wildlife encounters.

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    Step out of Bounds

    Escorted tours are flourishing for Americans wanting to experience the sun-kissed sights and sensuous sounds of Cuba. Tour operators take care of necessary permissions, and trips typically include “people-to-people” cultural interactions. InsightCuba is a pioneer, with itineraries such as nine-day “Classic Cuba.” Cost: about $6,000 a person, including airfare from Miami. Austin Adventures has nine-day choices that take you to Havana and some of the country's national parks; you’ll stay at guesthouses to experience the real Cuba. Cost: about $3,500, with flights from Miami. One of Road Scholar’s intriguing options: photographing Cuba alongside a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist (about $5,000 for nine days, with airfare from Miami included).

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    Discover the World by Private Jet

    Check off a bucket list in three weeks? It’s simple, if you have a stash of cash. Travel with National Geographic Expeditions by a private 757 jet outfitted with 75 cushy seats to see Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, Great Barrier Reef, Easter Island, the Serengeti Plain, Angkor Wat, Marrakech and more. An expert leads you. Price: about $80,000 a person, double occupancy, including all meals and luxury hotels. Smithsonian Journeys hosts similar odysseys for the same price.

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    Know a Neighborhood

    If you want to sample a destination like an insider, sign up for a guided eating, walking or drinking outing. Eating Europe offers a dozen options, from a four-hour tasting tour in the working-class Roman neighborhood of Testaccio (polish off pasta, pizza and gelato for 84 euros), to a “Brews and Views” crawl in Prague (65 euros). Check out what’s on the menu at dozens of U.S. counterparts, including Walk Eat Nashville and A Slice of Brooklyn. Every tourist mecca offers walking tours, such as London Walks’ eerie Jack the Ripper ramble. You’ll find lots of options at the Global Greeter Network.

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