Are Intrepid Travel Premium Tours Worth It? My Honest Opinion

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The older I get, the more I'm willing to pay a bit more for things like comfort, convenience, and really unique experiences when I travel. Gone are my days of trying to save pennies by staying in hostel dorm rooms and skipping guided tours in favor of only what I could do for free.

I'm guessing some of you can relate! Travel styles change as we age, and I've definitely evolved from a budget traveler to a comfort traveler, with maybe some light luxury thrown in when I can afford it.

These days, I find myself considering destinations, tours, and experiences that I honestly probably wouldn't have even glanced twice at in my 20s. Flights in Premium Economy? An expedition trip to the Arctic? A luxury London hotel stay that cost more than my monthly mortgage payment? Those are all things I've actually booked in the last couple years!

Amanda at Peter Pan tea at Aqua Shard in London
I will also always, ALWAYS splurge on fancy afternoon tea

And as I've made this transition to my “new” travel style, I've also started branching out in the types of guided trips I'm taking. For example, I've traveled on small group tours with Intrepid Travel for more than a decade (my first one with them was in 2012!). When I first was booking with them, I was booking their budget-friendly trips. But in recent years, I've booked more of their “Comfort” and now even “Premium” tours.

Intrepid launched its range of Premium Tours within the last few years. And as soon as they did, I found myself wondering if they were really worth it. So I decided to take one to find out!

Amanda at the golden doors at Fes royal palace
Hello! I've come to talk to you about Intrepid Premium tours!

Intrepid Travel tour styles

Intrepid Travel now offers four different “travel styles” for their tours. Those styles are:

  1. Basix – The simplest, most cost-effective tours. They use more basic (but still perfectly fine) accommodation, utilize public transport, and include fewer extras to allow travelers more free time. Some of these Basix tours are geared specifically for the 18-29 age bracket.
  2. Original – The classic Intrepid tour. These tours use local accommodation (usually 2-3 star) and some public transport, but include a few more things like activities and a couple meals. The balance of included activities and free time is usually pretty good.
  3. Comfort – This used to be Intrepid's highest level of tour. It utilizes more comfortable accommodation (usually 3-4 star) and usually a private van or mini bus for transport. The pace of the tour is usually a little more relaxed, but there are more inclusions of activities and meals.
  4. Premium – The newest Intrepid tour type, which features the best accommodation options, private transport, and the most amount of inclusions.

ALL of Intrepid's tour styles focus on cultural immersion and local experiences, and all come with a tour leader from the country you're traveling in. I've been on every style of Intrepid trip, and they're all solid options!

But what exactly makes their Premium tours different?

Amanda and a camel in Morocco
Me with a camel friend in Morocco in 2019 (Comfort tour)
Two women
Camel poses from my 2023 Premium tour in Morocco

What is a Premium tour with Intrepid Travel?

Like I mentioned above, Premium tours are the newest offering from Intrepid Travel. They are offered in some of the most popular destinations that Intrepid travels to, and provide the best and most unique accommodation options that Intrepid offers, along with the most inclusions (basically everything is included, even most meals).

Intrepid also assigns their very best guides to these Premium tours, meaning you will be in incredibly capable and knowledgeable hands. (Though, after 10+ tours with Intrepid over the years, I've only had ONE tour leader that I would give a poor rating to. The rest have been excellent.)

Premium tours in some countries also offer itineraries you can't do with any other tour style, along with unique activities and accommodations. Each Premium tour with Intrepid includes one “Feature Stay,” which is always special and memorable.*

Golden Camp in the Sahara Desert in Morocco
Feature Stay at “Golden Camp” in the Sahara Desert on my Morocco Premium tour

*It's worth noting, though, that Premium accommodation does NOT necessarily mean 5-star hotels. Intrepid still tries to use locally-owned accommodation options when possible, and sometimes these lean more towards unique and memorable than your typical “luxury” hotel.

Intrepid's Premium tours are also the most expensive tours they offer; sometimes the prices can be double the price of the most expensive Comfort tour in the same country.

So I guess the question then becomes… what are you *actually* getting for that Premium price, and is it really worth it?

Morocco tour Comfort vs Premium

Luckily for you, I've actually taken almost identical Intrepid tours to compare! The tours were in Morocco, one Comfort and one Premium. So I'm uniquely positioned to give you an honest look at how these tours differ, and whether I think it's worth it to book the Premium one.

The exact tours I took were the 13-day Morocco Uncovered Comfort trip (read my full tour review here), and the 15-day Premium Morocco In Depth trip. I took one of these tours in 2019, and the other in 2023.

Morocco Comfort vs Premium tours
The two Morocco tours I did and am now comparing!

My Comfort Morocco trip cost me a little over $2000 (the list price at the time was usually around $1700, but I paid extra to have my own room), and the Premium Morocco trip cost about $4000 when I booked it. (Note that the prices have since gone up a little bit, but you get the idea!)

Let's look at the major similarities and differences between these two tours!

The itinerary

The reason this is a great way to compare these tours is that the itineraries are almost identical! Both tours start in Casablanca and end in Marrakech, and include stops in Meknes, Fes, Chefchaouen, the Sahara Desert, the High Atlas Mountains, and Ait Benhaddou.

A couple of the in-between stops differ, but the major differences in the Premium tour itinerary was that it was 2 days longer. We spent one of those extra nights in Ouirgane, and the other in Chefchaouen (meaning we spent 2 nights in Chefchaouen instead of 1, which was great).

Blue stairs and doorway sin Chefchaouen, Morocco
Having 2 nights in Chefchaouen was so nice

Worth it? Other than the extra night in Chefchaouen (which was much better than having just 1 night there), nothing about the Premium tour really stands out itinerary-wise.

The guide

Intrepid says it assigns its very best guides to its Premium tours. Intrepid employes excellent local guides on all its tours, though, and both my Morocco guides were great! (Though the guide on my Premium tour, Mohammed, was definitely one of the best tour guides I've ever had!)

Worth it? You're guaranteed an excellent guide who will go above and beyond to make your trip special. So that may indeed be worth it for some people.

Guide in Morocco pouring tea
Moha was definitely a top-notch tour leader!

Group size

Intrepid specializes in small group tours, and usually has a maximum group size of about 16 for its trips. For both of the Morocco tours I'm comparing, though, the max group size was 12 passengers.

Worth it? If you're comparing two trips where one has a higher maximum number of passengers, then it might be worth it. Smaller is almost always better on trips like this.

The transport

Both the Comfort and Premium tours include arrival airport transfers, as well as a private mini bus just for your group to travel around Morocco. The buses are fairly comfortable for the long drives you'll have.

Morocco mini bus
Our bus on my Premium tour

Worth it? This one is pretty much the same for both tours! (Though I will say our driver on my Premium tour was amazing. Shoutout to Sayid!)

The accommodation

Here's where there's more of a noticeable difference between the Comfort and Premium tours in Morocco.

The Comfort tour stays in a wide range of properties across Morocco, from hotels to riads to gites (guesthouses). You also stay at a desert camp on the edge of the Sahara Desert for one night.

These accommodations are probably a 3-star equivalent; they are perfectly fine, but generally pretty simple and not overly memorable. The desert camp is fancier than regular camping, but not quite glamping (the one I stayed at had mattresses on the ground in each tent, as well as a block of Western toilets a short walk away).

Sahara Desert camp in Morocco
Sahara Desert camp on my Comfort Morocco tour
Morocco hotel room
Typical Morocco hotel room on the Comfort tour

The Premium tour also stays in a variety of different accommodation types, but these tend to be a little fancier/memorable, like a palatial riad in Fes and a fancy desert hotel. These are generally a 4-star equivalent, but can vary a lot (which is not uncommon in Morocco).

All of Intrepid's Premium tours include one “Feature Stay,” and in Morocco it was the desert camp. We stayed at a luxury Sahara camp on the Premium tour, which included real beds in the tents and ensuite bathrooms with toilets and even hot water showers. It definitely felt upgraded!

Fancy Sahara Desert camp in Morocco
Feature Stay Sahara camp
Fancy riad room at a hotel in Fes
Riad room in Fes on the Premium tour

Worth it? The accommodation on the Premium tour was definitely more unique and memorable. A few places didn't truly feel “Premium,” but Intrepid is constantly updating where they stay based on guest feedback.

The inclusions

Another thing that's noticeably different are the amount of things included on the Premium tour (which is impressive, as there are already a ton of inclusions on the Comfort tour).

For example, the Comfort tour currently includes 12 breakfast and 5 dinners. The Premium tour, meanwhile, includes 14 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 8 dinners – and the meals are all so good.

Picnic setup in Ait Benhaddou
Beautiful picnic setup for us in Ait Benhaddou
Hotel restaurant at one of the Premium tour hotels

Both tours include in-depth walking tours in each town/city you visit, along with a visit to the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, a tour of the ruins of Volubilis, a full day with a guide in the Fes medina, an optional camel ride in the Sahara Desert, a walk through the Todra Gorge, and a visit to the ksar of Ait Benhaddou.

Ksar of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco
A visit to Ait Benhaddou is included on both tours
Chouara Tannery in Fes
You'll visit the Chouara Tannery in Fes on both tours, too

The Premium tour also included a couple other memorable stops, like a visit to the village of Khemliya to learn about Gnawa music and culture, and a Moroccan tagine cooking class in Tahnaout.

The Premium tour also covers small tips for luggage porters, local city guides, and anyone else whom you'd usually tip a small amount for helping you out. It was nice to not have to carry around small change all the time.

Moroccan cooking class at Atelier De Cuisine Chef Tarik
The cooking class we did was great!

Worth it? The Comfort trip already includes a lot, but the Premium trip includes even more. The extra meals were mostly very memorable, as were the additional experiences like the Gnawa village visit and the cooking class.

Why would you book a Premium Intrepid tour?

So why would you want to book one of Intrepid Travel's Premium tours over one of their other (less expensive) trips? A few reasons could include:

  1. Unique accommodation / feature stays – I can confirm from personal experience that Intrepid uses the most unique and memorable accommodation on its Premium trips. These may not always be *luxury* properties (though they sometimes can be), but they will be stand-outs. And the feature stays are often bucket-list-type stays!
  2. The best guides – If you want to be guaranteed to have one of Intrepid's best and highest-rated guides (they call them tour leaders) running your trip, then book a Premium tour.
  3. More inclusions – Premium tours include the most; the most meals, the most guided walks, the most extra activities. When you book a Premium tour with Intrepid, you won't need to bring much extra cash with you, except what you might need to shop and tip your main guide/driver with.
  4. The best itineraries – And even though the itineraries of the two Morocco tours I compared aren't all that different, in some other cases Intrepid's Premium tours have the best and most varied itineraries. For example, when planning a trip to Peru, I had a wishlist of all the things I wanted to see/do there, and Intrepid's Premium Peru In Depth was the only one that included every single thing!
Pool at L'Hotel by Chateau de Sable in Morocco
L'Hotel by Chateau de Sable, one of the Premium trip hotels

Is an Intrepid Premium tour worth it?

I need to reiterate one more time that “Premium” doesn't mean 5-star. You still may be staying in quirky hotels, facing long drives on bumpy roads, and eating in locals' homes instead of Michelin starred restaurants.

But as long as we're clear on that, my answer to the “is it worth it?” question is… maybe.

This is going to be a very subjective thing, based on how you normally travel, what your definition of an “expensive” trip is, and how much value you put on the extra inclusions and upgrades that you get with a Premium tour.

Roman ruins of Volubilis in Morocco
A visit to the Roman ruins of Volubilis is included on both these tours, thank goodness!

In the case of the Morocco Intrepid tours I compared, I'm not sure you really need to book the Premium trip unless the hotels really, really matter to you. I had just as incredible a time on the Comfort version of the same trip (though the Premium Feature Stay was really special, as were some of the local meals we had).

In other parts of the world, though, the Premium itinerary might be different enough to what else Intrepid offers to truly warrant the higher price point.

My advice is to carefully compare the options you're considering and then make the decision that feels the best for you!


Have you ever tried an Intrepid Premium tour? If not, do you think you would?

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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