Today’s travel isn’t about simply seeing a place. It’s about really being there—interacting with the local people, learning about their culture and experiencing the country as they would. And one of the best ways to do just that is through private, custom and small-group travel.

AAA travel partner Alexander+Roberts has been designing small-group tours since 1947. Their carefully planned itineraries—for groups of no more than 16 guests—bring travelers closer to the culture and people of destinations across the globe. And because of Alexander+Roberts’ strong partnership with AAA, members can take advantage of exclusive savings and benefits, such as complimentary pretour hotel stays.

Here, Alexander+Roberts President Robert Drumm discusses four benefits of private, custom and small-group travel:

1. Your guide can be flexible

On a small-group tour, guides often have more freedom to make tweaks to the itinerary than they do with a larger group. That makes it possible to accommodate special requests—say, if there’s something you have your heart set on seeing.

Drumm recalls a recent small-group trip to Egypt, when a woman on the tour let him know that her mother had been born in nearby Alexandria. She had an address for the house where her mother had lived until just before World War II.

“Our team in Egypt verified that the house was still standing, and we took her to see it,” says Drumm. “It feels good to know we helped her make a memory that she’ll cherish forever. That’s the kind of intimate thing you can do with a small group.”

2. You’re led by locals

On Alexander+Roberts’ small-group travel tours, each guide is native to the place you’re visiting—so they’re uniquely qualified to take you deep inside the culture of their homeland.

“On a recent trip to Morocco, our guide brought the group inside his parents’ house in an outlying district of Marrakesh,” Drumm recalls. “We went inside and sat down with his family while donkeys, bicycles and the general chaos of life passed by outside the home’s open doorways.”

Small-group tours offer a more intimate way of seeing and understanding a place that you might not experience with a larger group of travelers, Drumm says.

3. You leave a lighter footprint

With fewer people in your travel group, it’s easier to stay at small, locally owned boutique hotels—which contributes to the local economy. Plus, there’s less need for a large motor coach; often, small groups can easily get around simply by using public transportation.

“We often send luggage ahead, so we don’t have to worry about it when we’re traveling from site to site,” says Drumm. “That frees us up to take public transport, such as Japan’s high-speed bullet trains or the railways that crisscross Italy.”

4. You can keep the group private

Small-group travel tours are great for making new friends while journeying with other like-minded travelers. But maybe you’d rather keep your traveling party to just you and close family—whether you’re celebrating a milestone birthday or anniversary, or simply for the joy of being together. AAA and Alexander+Roberts make it easy to customize your trip.

“You can take any of our carefully crafted itineraries and turn it into a private journey—you can travel any day you want, with whomever you want,” says Drumm. “Or you can choose one of our tailor-made journeys, which allows you to design your own itinerary to fit your style.”

That means you can explore beyond the amazing destinations AAA and Alexander+Roberts already offer—you can also plan a custom itinerary around specific hotels, special events or more remote areas.

Travel With Member-Exclusive Perks

AAA Members save $115 per person on Alexander+Roberts vacations. Plus, select journeys come with a free pretour hotel stay and chauffeured airport transfers.

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