We’ve been operating small group tours in Europe since 1994. Unlike big tour companies with hundreds of departures and tens of thousands of clients, we limit each trip to no more than eight participants. It's like a group of friends traveling together — except that one of them does all of the work and just happens to know a lot about each place. With less than a dozen departures each year, our clients are more than just a number. They become friends, and our biggest promoters.

Over the years we've run across a number of other tour companies that share our travel philosophy, and have carefully selected a few to feature on our site. They cover destinations that aren’t in our wheelhouse, and allow us to offer more departures each year than we can on our own. Although these tours are not led by Hand Crafted Travel owner Bryan Smith, they still offer many of the advantages of our small group size (charming hotels, a la carte dining, relaxed pace, and more).

We are proud to act as agents for booking these companies, and to feature their tours on our site.

  • Relaxed Pace
    Unlike big bus tours, there’s no rush to get people out the door and on the bus at the crack of dawn. We begin our day the way most independent travelers do: with a leisurely breakfast before heading out around 9:00 am (most museums and other sights don’t open before then anyway). With at least two or three days in most locations, you’ll have time to savor the unique character of each place before moving on.
  • Flexibility
    Our tours preserve the best aspects of independent travel — freedom, flexibility and contact with the local culture — while eliminating the hassles and hard work of traveling on your own. For the ultimate in flexibility, take a look at our private, custom tours.
  • Charming Hotels
    First off — yes, your room will always have a private bathroom.

    Secondly, we’ll take a half-timbered inn over a Holiday Inn™ any day. Our small group size allows us to use hotels that those big bus tourers can only dream of.

    Whether it’s a woodsy chalet high in the Alps, an old olive mill that has been converted into an elegant B&B in the hills of Tuscany, or a boutique hotel in the heart of a big city, we use accommodations that capture the spirit and character of each place.
  • Great Meals
    Food is a very important part of any tour experience. It is a basic expression of the people and culture you’re visiting.

    Breakfast in Europe is not, and should not be a hard roll and coffee (the “Continental” breakfast offered by many big tour companies). Our hotels usually offer a buffet, with local varieties of breads, cheeses, eggs, fruit, cereal, yogurt, coffee and tea.

    For included dinners, we use local-style restaurants with a casual atmosphere, where the focus is on good service and excellent food. We do not pre-arrange a set meal for the entire group, so you always have free choice from the restaurant’s normal menu.
  • Understandable Sights
    Our itineraries concentrate on culture, art and history, but we refuse to be stuffy and monotone when it comes to museums. With a passion for the people and stories behind the history, we bring the past to life, put it in context with world events at the time, and relate it to our modern world. And with a maximum of eight people gathered around you’ll have no trouble hearing your guide, who speaks fluent American.
  • Fun People
    Our trips attract a fascinating, eclectic mix of couples and singles, people who are open-minded, flexible, and interested in learning. Many are well-traveled, though we get a fair number of first-timers as well.
  • Memorable Experiences
    Travel should not be a mad dash from one sight to another. After years of leading tours and talking to travelers, it’s clear to us that what people remember most about their trips are the people they meet, and the experiences they have along the way. We emphasize real places, real people and real history, by-passing tourist pseudo-sights that are famous just because they’re close to a freeway and able to handle large tour buses. You’ll still see the important sights, but we’ll also take you places that big tours, with their mammoth buses and steam roller schedules, simply can’t go.
  • Peace of Mind
    We have been operating tours since 1994, initially as part of Bon Voyage! Travel Books and Maps, and since 2001 as a stand alone company. For more about our company background, read our About Us page. For thoughts from past clients, take a look at our Testimonials page.