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Trafalgar Tours?

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Has anyone taken a Trafalgar Tour? I am single 30 year old female whos' looking for a tour that will leave me some free time but also take away the worries of planning my own trip? The tour I'm looking farward too is London-Paris-Amsterdam. In July will the weather be okay?

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    I find planning the trip entirely myself great fun! Three cities is a lot for one trip. A lot of planning or a lot of getting dragged around with a tour group.

    The tour group will likely be mostly seniors...

    And the "free time" may not be when and/or where you'd like.

    But, for a first trip, an organized tour will teach you plenty about doing it on your own thereafter.

    July may be very hot, or not.

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    I went on a Trafalgar tour w/ my partner, her mother, and her sister in Nov. of 2001. We normally don't do those kinds of tours in favor of doing the planning and navigating on our own, but this was a family trip catering to what the mom wanted. That said, I was the youngest member of the group at 40 years old. Besides the four of us, there were older couples, two older single women, and an older single man. So I second djkbooks in my limited experience.

    You can do this on your own! How about doing just London and Paris? Save Amsterdam for another time? Read Fodors, Frommers, Rick Steves, and study this site. Once you plug in the airfare (fly in to one city and out the other-chunnel or fly between the two) and the hotels, the rest is fun to plan.

    If you are going as kind of a reconn. mission or not wanting to travel alone or really don't want to be bothered with any of the details, that's one thing. But you have taken the first step in being independent by checking out this board.

    Free time is usually limited on the coach tours. You may have an hour here or there or an afternoon. The problem we found is that often the hotel is away from the city center so much time is wasted in the commute. For example, in Venice we didn't stay in Venice proper, we stayed just outside Venice. In Rome, we stayed outside of Rome-- a 20 minute taxi cab ride out. You can't linger in museums on a tour schedule; we found the dinners bland; we went to places I wouldn't have picked to spend an hour or two. I had done so much research before our time, our wonderful tour guide told me why wasn't I leading the tour?

    The neat thing about traveling, too, is that you meet other travelers. Many times my sweetheart and I strike up conversations with folk at restaurants or in the laundry mat, swapping stories and tips. My sister has traveled extensively solo and hooks up with people for the day when she wants and stays alone when it suits her.

    Sorry, I'm off track a bit. I do wish you'd consider going on your own. I think the experience will be all the more rich. I think the coach tour is confining....good for people who don't want to travel alone or want a good overview of a country in a short period of time. You'll be up bright and early most every morning to be on the road for the next site. You need to consider that, too, if that kind of structure is not your thing.

    Weather will be warm. Remember that major heat wave a few years ago? That was in June in London and France. London may be muggy warm, Paris... a little warmer. I would definitely find hotels w/ air con.

    Whatever you decide to do, have a great time. P.S. You could do Paris/Amsterdam and use the train between both. If this is your first trip abroad, though, London would be a good place to start as there is no language barrier. A good place to get your feet wet before hopping over to France!

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    I have taken Trafalgar, to Italy and Greece. On the whole, i have used many companies. My biggest comment is that we had to pay on site for nearly $1,000 a piece for the optionals. Other tour companies charge more up front, but you aren't nickel and dimed to death on site, which is how I felt with Trafalgar. That is not to say I wouldn't use them again, but it is something to consider. Figure out your budget and remember that you should figure in the cost of any additional onsite optional tours you want to take. For us that really added up because of course, we did everything. Since then I have used Goahead Vacations (highly recommend) and OAT (also highly recommend). I would use Trafalgar again if they had a specific itinerary I really liked, but just have only used them the one time because of the numerous additional expenses on site.

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    Now tour packages come in many sizes and a London-Amsterdam-Paris tour might be without looking at the brochure one of those several days in each city where the "group" is simply put together for purposes of transporting between the cities with a quick orientation tour in each and the opportunity to buy optional tours...you pay up front for your hotels and transport and give up the porterage of luggage and things like that.

    As far as some of the other stuff written on this board is concerned, they are all generalizatons and not necessarily true depending on the tour. Trafalgar doesn't cater only to Americans; on most of their European coach tours (again your tour may not be one of those but if it is) there are a variety of nationalities and a variety of ages. The largest representation on these tours are generally Aussies with a few kiwis, Canadians, Americans and from some other English speaking countries although the exact mix varies...and on many tours you may find other singles travelling alone around your age as well as some younger couples as well as some older folks. Of course this varies by tour and it could go either way...the hotels on trafalgar first class tours (they have a sister operation called cost savers) are usually very very good (not outstanding, try insight for outstanding) and in the really big cities are located a bit out of the centre of town (again depending on other factors)....there is free time (more than an hour contrary to one poster here) available, especially in the big cities if you wish, when you have 2 night stays. They usually provide an orientation tour and yes there are optional tours which you are under no obligation to take...many of them are dinner type things in the big cities...dinners in the smaller cities are generally provided and while certainly not gourmet, they are fine and you will socialize with members of your tour group and make friends for life...no worries about your next hotel...you put your suit case out in front of your room each morning and see it next when you arrive at the next hotel...that is worth something to some people....when you arrive at the next hotel, no need to hassle with clerks etc..your tour director will take care of all that, give you your key and off to your toom with instructions when dinner is or when the optional tour starts...your td will give you loads of information, some useful other useless...you might see places you wish you could stop and visit but sorry it's not on the intinerary (learn to read a tour brochure and understand when it says see xyz castle that means as you whiz past xyz castle on the motorway your td will say look on your left is xyz castle-visit xyz castle means the tour stops and you visit the castle...opportunity to visit xyz castle means that is an optional and you will pay extra for that)...there are stops on the travel days every 2 hours for exercising your body functions, meeting the dreaded dragon ladies in many of the European countries, learning about Autogrills in some at the 1.5 hour lunch stop daily (you usually pay)...on the Trafalgar first class tours generally a bountiful breakfast buffet especially in Scandanavia, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Holland and adequate breakfast buffets in other countries (some of the budget tours such as Cost Saver or Cosmos to name a couple the breakfasts are not as good).

    Like anything else there is no black & white definitive correct view...this board is somewhat biased in favour of individual travel and there are good things to say about that kind of travel too and with some planning, people brag how they paid less than they would have on a tour...I've been in the last couple of years on 4 Trafalgar tours and 3 Cosmos tours, met the greatest of people, had mostly great td's (one stunk) never was forced to do anything I didn't want to do, when I wanted free time I was able to get some, not into shopping and tried to avoid the shopping stops..never had a bad hotel, never had a bad experience...others have not been so fortunate and write off tours forever and forever...to each his or her own.

    For more information on Trafalgar tours, go to www.trafalgartours.com and follow the links to its message board...you can read of actually experience on Trafalgar tours, search to see if anybody has posted a report on the particular tour you want to do and ask questions of people who have been on tours and then be in a much better position to judge for yourself. Not to say any of the people who knock tours are necessarily wrong but there are good points about tours and bad points about tours just as there are good stories about individual travel (schleping luggage to trains, arriving late at night and trying to figure out where your hotel is, getting a flat tire in the middle of nowhere and trying to get assistance, having luggage stolen from a parked vehicle which is usually followed by this was terrible but looking back on it it was great to be able to handle it....and yes similar things could happen on a tour but that is a rarity.

    JMHO

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    I'd be much happier staying where I wanted....since you're going to big cities, it would be easy. You can pick where you will be staying and take day tours if you still want to take tours. This way you can pick and choose what tours to take, but not have to stay where the tour stays. I am also thinking that you'll be much younger than the rest of the folks on the tour.

    How long are you staying? With 3 cities, you'll need at least 2 weeks, not counting travel days.

    July can be very warm in Paris and Amsterdam, so you may want to pick a hotel with a/c.

    Have a great trip!

    Margy

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    Hi

    We've been on three tours, one with Trafalgar - from Rome to London. Just make sure the date you are going is one guaranteed by Trafalgar i.e. will depart regardless of numbers. Ask your travel agent. Otherwise they can cancel your tour (happened to us with Cosmos and apparently a standard practice with tour companies. Was very disruptive for us).

    You'll get alot of anti comments in this forum about tours ((I wonder how many have actually been on one) - "do it on your own, tours are regimented, they are waste of money etc". However I am a fan of them. Why? You travel by first class coach. You have an informed tour director who provides you with heaps of info and tips including culture, cuisine, history, customs etc. Problems and issues are resolved by the tour director and driver who can speak the language - I'm on holidays so I don't want to know!! They will suggest you good inexpensive restaurants - no there aren't any kickbacks! Hotels are excellent - minimum of 3*, sometimes 4 or 5*. Your baggage and tipping are taken care of. You jump queues at major attractions and have a qualified guide take you through them. You are not with the tour 24/7 - you have plenty of time to do your own thing. You are with about 40 other people - we are in our late forties but most of the group are in their fifties and a few in their twenties and thirties. You don't have to mingle but we do enjoy some social contact with other travellers and have plenty of fun with them. No you are not taken from one tourist junk shop to another. The very few outlets you are taken to sell quality stuff and you are not under any pressure to buy. Your programme won't be held up or disrupted by stragglers - they are quickly and mercilessly brought into line by the tour director and fellow passengers.

    "Cons": 1. The food. Breakfasts are great, though rushed. The included dinners are generally of a poor standard. Flee to the nearest pizzeria if you need to and don't worry about missing out on your included meal - sometimes, you haven't missed much!
    2. This doesn't bother us that much but some feel too rushed on tours. The first thing you shouldn't do is try to cover too many places/countries. Otherwise you'll find you spend most of the time on the bus. Check the itinerary offered and work out the distances between destinations - ideally keep it to 2 or 3 hours travel time max.

    That's it in a nutshell. I say do it!One more issue - how much to tip your tour director and driver. There is a long thread in this forum on this issue - just use the search facility. To each his own but we paid AUS$100 to the director and AUS$50 to the driver.

    Good luck and have fun.

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    may808, my wife and I have taken 2 Trafalgar Costsaver tours (one of France and one of Italy) and enjoyed both. We took the tours because we wanted to cover a lot of both countries and, quite frankly, making all the individual arrangements is a bore. In case you're wondering, my wife lived and worked while with the Foreign Service 3 years in London, 6 months in NYC and a year in Paris. My first trip to the UK was in 1948. We are not strangers to independent travel.

    Our fellow travellers ranged in age from 5 to 75 with a median age of 45. They came from Australia, Canada, NZ and US. They included single, married, unmarried couples and on the trip to Italy a couple on their honeymoon, one of whom was a foreign correspondent for a prominent NJ newspaper. Occupations were varied.

    In our case, we bought only the land portion so we could add time before and after the tour. You might consider doing the same and adding time in London and/or Paris.

    Unlike others, I looked at the Trafalgar website for your tour before making judgment. You will have two long days on the coach, London to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Paris, but you will be in uncharted territory for you and with a decent tour guide you should be fine.

    I didn't research all the locations but the hotels seem to be in the cities, not in the boonies. In any case, public transportation is so good you can get anywhere quickly.

    Other than quick tours of each of the cities, your time is your own to do as you please. It seems that only breakfasts are provided so you have complete freedom for lunch and dinner.
    So much for being in lockstep with a group.

    Enjoy.

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    I took a Trafalgar tour of Italy and visited ten cities (I didn't go to the Sicily region) . .

    One good thing about tours is that it allows you to know what cities you want to visit again and those you don't . .

    You will have plenty of free time with a Trafalgar tour because they offer 'many mini excursions, for extra fees' that you can OPT OUT of taking . .

    Just bring very comfortable shoes; lots of them because there is alot of walking . .

    The hotels they use are basically 3 star hotels and comfortable, although they are not located in 'the city centre' but they are fine . .

    I 'opted out' and went on my own in many of the cities and there was no problem; just make sure you're back in time whenever the tour leaves for the next city . .

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    Trafalgar Tours is a fairly good travel company. There are two things about them I don't care for:
    1. You almost always stay in hotels that are far out of the city center, which means taking a bus, cab or trolley to go somewhere (or back to your hotel) when you have time off.
    2. Make sure you understand their See/View/Visit terminology before you purchase the tour. You'd think they all mean the same thing when used in this context: You're going to see (or view, or visit) the Colisseum in Rome. In Trafalgar "speak", they all mean different things. To see, means you're on the bus and drive by it. To view, means the bus stopped, you stepped off the bus and saw it from there. To visit, means you actually went inside it.

    I would suggest Globus Tours, as they don't use this idiotic verbage to confuse you. Their hotels are also in downtown (better) locations.

    FYI, the shorter the tour usually means that the age of the participants is lower. Long tours = lots of retirees who have the time.
    ((S))((*))

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    Hello may808. I've not done a Trafalgar tour, but have done several Insight Vacations tours and quite a bit of independent traveling in Europe. If you have not looked at Rick Steves tours, you might want to check them out. Our first tour to Europe was with them, www.ricksteves.com They tend to be a bit younger crowd on average since they stress the need for being physically fit for all of the walking and luggage carrying you'll do - but lots of free time, lodging in the heart of the towns. smaller groups and no optionals, no tipping, lots of fun. But I must admit on our tour the most physically fit couple was probably the oldest also. Even though a lot of people will say "do your own planning and forget the tour group" I think you can understand the pros and cons of that. You may be doing the right thing to use a tour group for initial trips and then go it alone after you have that experience. I now enjoy planning our own trips, but I don't think I would have initially. Have fun, Jim

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    An untrue generalizaton..Globus Tours is about on the same level everything considered as Trafalgar...their hotels are the same hotels located a bit out of the city centre for the most part and they use some of the same terminology.

    Globus and Trafalgar - first class

    Cosmos and Cost Saver - Budget class..not bad mind you usually smaller hotels a bit further out

    Insight - Deluxe..

    Here is my feeling....all big cities there is no such thing as the perfectly located hotel for everything...your hotel might be convenient for the Eifel Tower but a metro ride away from Champs Elysee or vice versa. The only thing I ask of the hotels is they be located along the subway or metro or u bahn lines as riding public transportation to see how others live is part of the fun of touring...Amsterdam is very expensive and many tours stay out by the airport...so there is a convenient train every 15 minutes from the airport to Centraal Station in Amsterdam...or often the tour coach will drop you downtown and pick you up at a predetermined time or give instructions how to get back to the hotel via public transport.

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    Sorry xyz, Globus does not use all the same verbage. In their information, if it says you'll see something, it means you go inside the place and actually see it, not rushing by it trying to view it from inside the bus.

    The reason I know they have hotels closer to town is because when I was on my 2 Trafalgar Tours, while we were visiting the towns connected to our "far out" hotels, we'd pass by Globus busses unloading their people who were checking into downtown hotels. I've also read their brochures and checked into where their hotels are located...for the most part, I believe they are in they are in better locations. Venice versus Mestre, for example.
    ((S))((*))

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    Look I don't want to get into an argument...in the tour industry, Globus and Trafalgar are considered to be on a par....as a matter of fact, insiders say that Globus might be ditching its first class opeation (Globus) and put more emphasis on the budget one (Cosmos)...they are not doing nearly as well as Trafalgar.

    You know when you pay for a hotel you pay for a variety of things...sometimes hotels just because of location do not offer the same services as one located a bit from the city centre..

    I have stayed on many Trafalgar tours and the globus tour was in the same hotel...again according to the industry they are comparable. Perhaps in an attempt to bolster falling sales a couple of years ago, Globus changed the wording in its brochures. Globus tours are predominantly American and Canadian, they don't go after other markets.

    None of this detracts from the value or means anything being said is incorrect...I don't think you go wrong with either.

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    I would NEVER consider Globus and Trafalgar tours to be "on a par". If you look at their tours, and their prices, and what they offer, you will see that they offer very different things. Very different. That is not to say one is better than the other. But they are definitely different types of companies. I've taken Globus and Trafalgar, both to Italy, and Globus used 4 star hotels and cost considerably more, but offered more included things than Trafalgar. That's just one traveler's opinion...

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    xyz - I don't want to argue with you either. Both TT & Globus have their fans, but frankly, TT has many problems which are well known in the travel industry (in which I work...I'm assuming you do too?). Too many complaints, too often. Many of their core staff have left the company over the last few years, and it shows. Too much bumping clients by cancelling tours because they don't have enough passengers to fill their buses. That doesn't sound like they're in great shape. BTW, I was bumped off my first tour with them, and it was difficult to change my flights (and work schedule) to accommodate the new trip. You can read it from their members on the TT forum if you like: http://trafbb.com/groupee/forums/a/tpc/f/454104/m/62510513

    As for "Globus might be ditching its first class opeation (Globus) and put more emphasis on the budget one (Cosmos)...they are not doing nearly as well as Trafalgar". I've heard that 2005 was a banner year for Globus, and that their sales for 2006 are even better than last years. Your "inside" information says different. So with all these rumors flying rampant, who knows what's going on...

    I'm just going to say that from my personal and professional experience I think that Globus has a better product than TT. If you disagree, so be it. We're both entitled to our opinions :).
    ((S))((*))

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    All the tour companies cancel tours which are not listed as guaranteed departures...Globus does too....if you look at the brochures certain departures are listed as guaranteed departures which means unless there is an act of god or something like that, they go...others are more iffy which are constantly upgraded on the web site....

    BTW nobody is knocking globus as a company...I went on several Cosmos tours with them and they were fine.

    And again, in many cases, the Globus and Trafalgar tours stayed at the same hotel (you can tell by the message board notices put up) and I have found pricing to be pretty close.....but again just an opinion.

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    took a Trafalgar Tour to Eastern Europe in'05. 62 people crammed on an oversize bus that could not manuever some city streets;40+ minutes at border stuck in a hot bus for passport control;wait for everything.
    Many hotels far from sights. Never Again with Trafalgar. We loved Insight!

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    Thanks again everyone for all your help.
    For kamahinaohoku you stated that your in the travel industry. I also hoping that your from Hawaii, that's where i'll be travelling from. Could you refer me to your company?

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