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Conquering Europe Alone - Thinking About Doing A Tour

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Aug 25th, 2015, 07:38 PM
  #1
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Conquering Europe Alone - Thinking About Doing A Tour

I am planning on traveling to Europe next summer by myself. I was originally going to plan the trip myself, but recently I've considered doing a Bus Tour. I've looked at Contiki, TopDeck, Aesu. I know there are a lot of disadvantages to a bus tour- lack of freedom, rushed pace, lots of bus time- but I also don't think I have the confidence to travel abroad alone as a 21-year-old who has never done any traveling. I'm hoping doing a bus tour will give me the confidence to travel alone in a less restricted manner in the future, and I also hope it will be a good chance to meet people. My budget is very restricted- I'd like to be as cheap as possible.

I'm also thinking about doing a tour and spending a week or so after just traveling around to where ever I wished I would've spent more time (I'm really interested in London, France, Italy, Spain, and Greece).

My question is any recommendation on what companies/tours to take to save money but also have a good experience? Any general tips about taking tours?
cassidy3432 is offline  
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Aug 25th, 2015, 07:50 PM
  #2
 
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Our daughter did Contiki when she was about your age and really liked it. I liked it too as it gave me some piece of mind as she was by herself as well. While you do lose some freedom, it gave her good exposure to a number of places and she has been back to visit some. She also met some wonderful people her own age from around the world, some who she still keeps in contact with 5 years later.

I think if you are more comfortable with a tour your first trip, go for it! You are still very young and will hopefully have many opportunities to travel back to places that you are interested in and have more in depth visits.

Also like your plan of staying some time after the tour. With only a week after, I'd suggest picking one place that would give you opportunities to explore and maybe do a few day trips or maybe split your time between 2locations in one country.

Good luck with your choice and enjoy your first visit!
debinthepeg is offline  
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Aug 25th, 2015, 08:26 PM
  #3
kja
 
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No bad choices here -- just differences of opinion.

I love traveling alone -- no compromises, no restrictions on what I want to see or do, etc. For some inspiration, check these solo trip reports:
http://www.fodors.com/community/trav...collection.cfm

FWIW, my first international trip was solo and independent. And it was terrifying in advance, but not at all scary once on the ground. (OK, it was a bit scary for a few hours -- until I proved to myself that I could actually obtain lodging and food. In today's world, those things shouldn't be an issue.) I'm very glad that I went out on my own from the start and I've never looked back. YMMV.

That trip certainly gave me the confidence to try another ... and another .. and another! I'm not sure how rapidly I would have "spread my wings" if I had started under the wings of tour guides....

Enjoy!
kja is offline  
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Aug 25th, 2015, 11:07 PM
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Personaly I think that you should decide first where you want to go and what you want to do and on what pace and then decide if a tour or a DIY trip makes you feel comfortable. Many people have a generic romantic idea of " I want to see France" but when you ask them specifics they can not provide them. Forget countries, think of specific destinations and activities. Let yuour self decide on the itinerary, not a tour brochure. Research is the key for a succesful trip.

If you decide you are not ready to DIY, consider seriously some local tours on each area rather than multi country large tours. Why? Exactly to avoid building too many bonds with fellow travelers. You can make friends your age at home, you do not have to travel the other side of the world for this. On my opinion traveling abroad is not only about sightseen and/or having fun with people your age, but about immersing on the local culture a bit and interact with local people. How many 45 persons' groups on a trip all over a continent have you see really interact with locals? Personaly I have seen none.
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Aug 25th, 2015, 11:19 PM
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Hi cassidy3432,

Yes, I agree with mariha2912 -- you can arrange for some small, local, tours that last for 1 day or a morning or afternoon. That way, you won't be alone all the time and you'll have some organization on some days. But you'll also be free of the forced schedules and spending weeks with people you may not click with.

Another option might be something like

www.untours.com

They arrange for your stay in an apartment, they meet you at the airport and escort you to the apartment, they provide a briefing for the location with a huge binder full of information, and they also have social gatherings with the other travellers in the area.

You could spend one week in one city and the second week in another city, using excursions and daily tours to see the local area.

I think everyone has to do it for the first time -- and we're all really happy to help you make the first few steps.

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
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Aug 25th, 2015, 11:20 PM
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Oh btw, I'm single and 60 years old. I've been travelling solo in Europe since about 1995.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
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Aug 26th, 2015, 04:30 AM
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I would look into a more relaxed small group tour. There are heaps around but some are quite expensive. Try G Adventures or Intrepid Travel. They tend to be less rigid in their schedules. Or alternatively, a special interest tour like cooking, hiking, cycling, combined with some time on your own.

The idea of single day tours is good. There are heaps in most major cities (use google) but the most affordable ones are often run by the local tourist office (e.g. walking tours). They provide an opportunity to meet other people and find out about the place you are visiting.

Staying in each place for longer allows you to become confident and familiar with 'your' town. You master the practicalities of transport, where things are, finding a friendly bar, the best bakery, etc. And you are more likely to meet others than if you are rushing through after staying only a night or two. Unless you have months to spend, then I would restrict the number of countries/regions you visit. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you will experience more by travelling further - the opposite is often true.
dreamon is online now  
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Aug 26th, 2015, 06:26 AM
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I've done a bit of solo travel, I found societies/clubs in some places where I could join in, but all the contacts came from staying in hostels or B&B. Hotels are great for visiting Museums but useless for engaging with the culture of a place.

I think I'd try to mix and match, do a bit on your own, and then a bit with a tour, travelling alone can be a bit dull, but at least you can get up when you like.
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Aug 26th, 2015, 06:41 AM
  #9
kja
 
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"travelling alone can be a bit dull"

I respectfully disagree! I treasure my solo travels -- I get to do to exactly what I want, when I want, without compromising with anyone. And I don't find the company dull at all! ;-) (Maybe bilbogurgler's problem with solo travel is that it has never occurred with me -- but I must admit that it would be hard for anyone to travel solo WITH me...)

Seriously, solo travel may not work for everyone, but I love it and have no intention of giving it up! YMMV.
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Aug 26th, 2015, 07:17 AM
  #10
 
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My sister in law took the Contiki tour and enjoyed it a lot. She met people on the tour she's still friends with today (25 years later!). She felt there was definitely enough freedom to satisfy her needs and she did go off on her own a little bit in London and in Paris . . . however, this was after she'd traveled with me and my husband a few years before her trip to these places, so she had my "expertise" of showing her around under her belt.

OTOH, I did the solo travel thing around Europe at 20, backpacking & staying in hostels, but had prior experience of traveling in California and living in France, so I think that helped my confidence.

My biggest tip on taking a tour, other than finding a tour that works best with what you want to see and experience (with a group in your age group) is to be positive and open to both the experience and the people with whom you are traveling. Some people on tours have big personalities and perhaps widely different views than you, be they political or religious, or whatever. As long as you are accepting of these differences, the better the experience.
Surfergirl is offline  
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Aug 26th, 2015, 10:11 AM
  #11
 
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Contiki seems to be the go-to provider for young people. I would just read online for reviews, itineraries, and find a price that you can afford.

That said, I'm not sure that kind of travel really helps you be more confident to travel solo. I think that comes from experience being on your own. It's not difficult to plan a trip to Europe if you kept things simple. Don't try to see 5 countries. Just pick one or two places and go there!
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