25 Day AAA Europe Trip

Jan 14th, 2007, 03:10 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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This tour is also here (same info as the above scan):
As noted before, keep in mind when they say "see" and "view" that you don't get to tour it. Thus, for example, you get to "view" the cathedral in Cologne, but not go inside - how frustrating that would be! For my few hours in Amsterdam, a diamond factory would be one of my last choices, etc.
WillTravel is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 04:05 PM
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Well, we don't have the time or patience to plan a trip on our own and figured a tour would be the best. We wanted to get a good look at everything while we have a big chunk of time, so that when we have a week here or there we will know where we'd like to go back to.

Also, we have heard not to miss Spain, but it's hard to find tours that include Spain so that limits our options as well. Do you agree with that?

Another one we are considering is Trafalgar's "European Encounters" with the 2 night Pre-London option. Any comments?
Jan 14th, 2007, 04:20 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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The original tour gives you three full days in Spain, which includes the long coach ride from Barcelona to Madrid. I'd find that frustrating more than anything.

European Encounters gives you basically about the same amount of time in Spain.

All I can say is that I'd find this tour endlessly frustrating, with way too much time in the bus, but only you can decide.
WillTravel is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 04:25 PM
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I don't think after this thrip you would have much if any ideas where to return to. It will be mostly loooooong coach days while the guide points at things out the windows.

From the tour description you go inside very few place, have very little time on your own, and will be having breakfast every morning w/ the same 49 of your nearest and dearest friends.
janisj is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 04:31 PM
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Thanks for all the insightful comments - we really have no experience with traveling. If these tours are such a bad idea, then what would you suggest instead? Are there other tours that would be better than these, or is everyone kind of anti-tour in general?
Jan 14th, 2007, 04:37 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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My advice re. packing would be to take as little as possible! Last summer we went on our first European trip and chose to take only 1 small carry-on sized bag each. It was the best decision we could have made. We chose travel underwear and socks from Tilley's because they could easily dry overnight. We took items that could be layered to accommodate varying temperatures. Everything could be hand-washed and could dry quickly without needing ironing. Take comfortable shoes, maybe have 2 pairs: one for walking and one for dressing up a bit.

Our trip was not an organized tour, but it was planned for us, covering 5 countries in 2 weeks. It was much too fast, but we do not regret the trip at all. We were introduced to so many things and now have no hesitation about future trips. In fact, I plan to return in April on my own with a clear idea of what I'd like to see and do.

Have a terrific time!
elnap29 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 04:40 PM
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I'm not anti-tours at all. I've done a few. But I agree with the other posters that these ones look TOO much.
I'm sure there should be some a bit more relaxed , or at least that offer you the option of doing some of the longer distances by plane.
The longest I did only in coach was 10 days (I'm from Spain and went to Italy) and it was the most exhausting thing I have ever done.
kenderina is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 04:41 PM
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I would personally suggest choosing 3 or 4 cities in the 25 days to be based from. You could do a week each in London, Paris and Rome and still have time left over.

The itinerary made me really tired looking at it! It reminds me of one of our days in Edinburgh where we went to the Highlands on a one-day tour. Most of the day was on the bus. We did get an hour or so in Loch Ness, and a half hour or more in some small town, and a total of an hour or 90 minutes at rest areas. That was it in 13 hours! It was beautiful, but I'd not want to do it every day for 25 days.

nbodyhome is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 04:45 PM
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OK - what would I do in your situation?? I would pick maybe 4 or at most 5 cities I REALLY wanted to see. Fly open jaw into the first one and back home form the last one. Take trains or low cost flights between the other cities. And take a few local guided tours from the tourist offices in each city.

For instance: Fly into London - spend 5 or 6 days there. Train to Paris - 5 or 6 days there. Train to Amsterdam - 2 or 3 days there. Then if Spain is important to you - fly to Barcelona - 4 or 5 days there. Train or fly to Madrid - 3 or 4 days there. Fly home.

Or you could do any combination of 5 cities . . . . .
janisj is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 04:57 PM
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BaerFace, I haven't read your itinerary, but from what the other posters have said, sounds like way too many countries for the time alloted.

This forum is composed of mostly people who prefer independent travel (myself included). However, for a first trip to Europe, I don't think a tour is a bad thing, and MANY people take and enjoy tours - there are of course advantages and disadvantages, which only you can weigh. I have taken a couple of tours in the past and had a good time. One was to Switzerland for 2 weeks and the other the British Isles for 3 weeks. They were both with Maupintour (which is upper-end) so we stayed in very nice hotels. And of course didn't have long distances on the coach. For instance, we flew from Ireland to Scotland. Even so, I still felt somewhat rushed! With only 3 days in London, I was quite dissatified, and went back for 10 days in London the following year. My advice would be to find a tour that only includes a few countries, and stays in places a little longer. Then go back later to do more!
Sue4 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 05:20 PM
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My questions would be "how old are you" and "do you really want to be trapped like a rat for TWENTY FIVE days....your life controlled and managed 24/7 for you???"

Picture your faces pressed against the glass window of the bus as it drives PAST all sorts of wonderful places you would love to see more of (please excuse the preposition at the end of the sentence). You will give up 1/12 th of a YEAR for this....please reconsider. It will be such a blur you won't even know WHAT you want to come back to. Plus the cost of the therapy to recover from sitting for that much time might preclude another trip...
gomiki is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 05:27 PM
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Personally, I'd recommend doing your own research. It is not hard, but it can be a little time consuming. However, it really is worth it! AND, if you want to do tours, you can book day tours. On our last trip, we did 16 nights - 5 Paris, 5 London, 3 Mont St. Michel, 3 Edinburgh. We did two bike tours in Paris (Monets Gardens and a nighttime tour of Paris). We did a Bath/inner circle Stonehenge tour in London. And the highlands in Scotland. And that was enough tours! I couldn't do that every day, but it was fun to branch out from the various areas with a tour guide.
nbodyhome is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 05:30 PM
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P.S. Welcome to Fodors....I have never posted such a strong opinion as my previous post. Whatever you decide, I wish you and your wife lovely travels and please come back and post a trip report for us.
gomiki is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 05:34 PM
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I've never taken a European tour, & it doesn't appeal to me, BUT...I can very much understand first-time travellers of a certain age wanting to take a tour. If the tour gives you a taste that makes you want more, next time you'll know more specifically where you want to go, and you may have the confidence to do it your own way.
LucieV is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 05:36 PM
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There is nothing wrong with taking a tour, especially if you are wary of making the air, hotel, transportation, sightseeing plans etc. yourself for a first time trip to Europe. If you're not locked into the 25 day AAA tour, maybe you can look at something that allows you more time in less places. To get a taste of a city (to see if maybe someday you would like to return for a longer visit) try to spend at least 3 days in each destination. And pay close attention to how much time you're on the bus - sure you'll see country as you travel but spending 8 hours on a coach only to arrive in a fantastic city late in the afternoon so you can leave the next morning is frustrating!

Of the places the AAA tour was going which 3 or 4 were you really excited about?
Margo_Chester is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 05:46 PM
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Welcome to the Fodor's travel forum! I know you've been blasted by everyone looking at your itinerary with shock & horror - myself included! As a first-timer to Europe, I can understand your hesitancy to jump in on your own with the planning. But...I agree that picking out (prioritizing) a few of your "must-see" destinations and building a trip around them would be more satisfying in the longrun.

Give us a bit more information about yourself & your wife (unless I missed the post where you've already done this)...are you active? have lots of energy? love art? love architecture? prefer sitting at outdoor cafes soaking up atmosphere? detail oriented? find history fascinating? See where I'm going? The regular posters on this forum are tremendous resources to help with the basics of European travel...happy planning!
dorkforcemom is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 05:56 PM
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My first trip to Europe, in 1984, was something similar. Think it was 13 countries in 21 days and yes, much of it was a blur. I since have made about 22 trips abroad, including some escorted tours and some do-it-yourselfers.

However, BaerFace, if you think a tour is a good idea, a quick peek at a lot of places, go for it. I still remember how awestruck I was by all the sights I saw on that very first trip, with very fond memories of that hectic, fast paced tour.
geribrum is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 05:58 PM
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Well we are 26 years old. My wife is graduating from medical school in May and won't start her residency until July 1st, so we have a nice chunk of time to move and travel. We will not likely have this much time again, so we wanted to experience as much of Europe as we can. We are very into art and theatre, and trying to get into wine tasting.

We are not yet committed to this 25-day tour we have picked out, and we are obviously reconsidering after all of the negative reactions we have received. But now we are having to kind of start over with our priorities, because "seeing everything" doesn't seem as exciting now as it did last week!
Jan 14th, 2007, 06:04 PM
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26?! Get your little tushies some lightweight bags, make yourselves some flight reservations, do as much research as you have time for -- and be off for the time of your lives!!
LucieV is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 06:10 PM
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"I know you've been blasted by everyone looking at your itinerary with shock & horror" I don't think anyone has blasted BaerFace - we've definitely blasted the tour's itinerary.

BaerFace: Now that we know you are young - DEFINITELY avoid this tour. You will probably be the youngest folks on it - maybe by a generation or two. Now, if you want to be adopted as the group's "little mascots" - OK - but this type of tour is really aimed at an older demographic.
janisj is offline  

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