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-   -   eftours for students (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/eftours-for-students-427232/)

hester May 26th, 2005 02:56 PM

My daughter and I are off in 2 weeks to France and Spain on an EF Tour. When we get home I will post my review of the trip because there isn't much about Ef tours on Fodors. What I have read on the internet about EF has been mostly negative. The teacher leading the group had used Ef before and had a great time. My daughter has friends going and was excited. I didn't research Ef until after we had signed up. Dumb on my part, but I don't know if I would have made the decision not to go especially after the French teachers meeting. There is one bad sign already though they had us flying from Seattle to Boise, Boise to San Francisco, San Francisco to Chicago, Chicago to Amersterdam. Amsterdam to Paris a total of 24 hours of flying! The only way to get out of that schedule of flights was to leave 2 days before our school is out. I hope this wasn't a bad omen. I am going to leave with a positive frame of mind and a smile on my face. Who knows a trip with high school kids could due me in on itself!

mms May 26th, 2005 03:12 PM

I will be anxious to hear how your trip goes. This teacher used EF Tours over spring break and was pleased, so she is using them again. Of course her trip is free.

Did you find out which hotels and what the flight schedules would be before you committed?

We are from Portland, so like you, we are not used to really hot weather. Our trip is scheduled for next June, so I am wondering just how bad I will be wilting, lol! Heat and high schoolers would definitely do ME in.

hester May 26th, 2005 04:12 PM

MMS I still don't know what the exact flight schedule is nor what hotels. I have been out of town (in Portland!)for the past week and a half and my daughter seems to forget the info she has been given. We have a meeting next Tuesday night. Our teacher lived in Paris for 6 years and has lead Ef tours before. We are a large group of 32 so from what we hear that helps, or is suppose to give your group more bargining power.(Yeah, right)
We are from Wenatchee Washington so heat is not a problem for us, we are use to it. But I will post when we get home the temperatures. Two years ago we were in Paris at the end of July and it was in the high 80's. Thank goodness our group of high school kids are mostly high achievers and as the teacher puts it a good group of kids. There are almost just as many parents as kids going. Maybe it will be the parents who are roudy! Imagine that!

CarolA May 26th, 2005 05:17 PM

RUN! LOL!

My bigggest problem on the EF tour was the ADULTS.... They were always late and created several other problems.

The trip I am leading this summer is VERY limited in adults. Give me the girls any day....

gforaker May 27th, 2005 08:31 AM

My Wife and I (She is the teacher) have organized and led over 10 student trips through the years with a variety of companies. In 3 weeks we leave for a three week tour with 45 kids. We did take one EF tour and are not likely to again. It is not that is was terrible, the kids had a great time, but they were not as good as some other companies and were harder for us to deal with. EF seems to use slightly less experienced tour directors and their marketing, advertising and size seems to attract the less experienced teachers. They can cut costs in a few areas, but the kids will still get a fun trip. We dealt with a different EF company rep every few weeks in planning the trip with EF. Employee turnover was awful. EF seems to attract new teachers from their marketing, not their prices, which I don't really think are that much lower.

Many of the details for a "custom trip" are at the discretion of the organizing teacher. A "catalog trip" will tend to have a number of unrelated teachers and students pushed together. Since these teachers are often less experienced, you can have problems with some of them or their kids.

All companies offer the teachers a free trip. You don't expect the teacher to pay full price for the privilige of escorting your kid around Europe for you, do you? It is a great responibility, but is also great fun seeing things through their eyes.

Our last two trips have been with "The European Institute" which is a smaller company I highly reccomend which lets us help plan every detail. They even consult with us on the choice of Hotel or restaurant if we wish. They tend to spend slightly more for hotels and meals than EF or other comapnies and use more experienced tour directors without charging more. The kids even have a choice most nights from 2 dinner entrees.

Items such as bus drivers or city guides are the same with every company and come from the same services. If you have problems with too many adults or the wrong adults, that is the fault of the organizing teacher. (We take no paying adults on our trips other than chaperones we hand pick.)

In the end, the choice of tour company belongs to the teacher. I would not have my child stay at home if the only trip available were with EF, but I would advise the teacher to look around before the next trip.

mom379 Jun 22nd, 2005 10:38 AM

I have 3 children, all of which have been on at least one EF tour through their high school during spring break. We have dealt with many aspects of EF and have been very pleased with the results.

As far as the tours themselves, they seem to be designed perfectly for students. I have never traveled myself but I have always heard great things from the kids about these tours. The tours from our local school normally have about 20 students so they are grouped with other schools from around the country. My children have enjoyed making friends from around the country and continue to keep in touch with students they have traveled with. They love the fast pace of the trip and I am appreciative that they are able to see so many sights. As far as Iím concerned these tours are a real bargain and I have received great service from Educational Tours. I would not hesitate to recommend them.


TravlTeach Jul 8th, 2005 06:43 AM

I have been leading tours with EF for 5 years now and I couldnít be happier. I have tried other companies but I have always come back to EF. The most valuable thing to me are the people at EF. If I have a problem abroad I know that there is an EF office nearby and I can count on a person to be there when I need them, just as they are when Iím at home.
Another important feature of EF is their prices and variety of itineraries. Their itineraries fill our days with new experiences and help my students learn about different cultures, architecture and history, just to name a few things. The price is great as well. Knowing that 5 more students will be able to travel is far more important to me than staying in a luxury hotel.

kybourbon Jul 8th, 2005 04:32 PM

Beware of posters that register and post on one thread or one subject to praise something.

Of the 3 regular/longtime posters on this board that say they have traveled with EF, all 3 have said they are not using them again. The only other regular/longtime posters saying postive things are just saying what their children told them - they didn't actually travel themselves.

baldworth Jul 10th, 2005 06:50 AM

In response to the last post in particular, kybourbon, I traveled with my daughter last year on a three week trip through western europe with ef. This was my first time in europe so I am not an experienced traveler or a longtime poster but I do know what decent treatment and food are. We were treated very well and had a very experienced guide who grew up in
germany. The whole trip was a great time, especially for the students involved and we ate in different places each night. The food was generally good to excellent at night and the breakfasts were mostly continental plus with better in Italy and London. It was a fairly inexpensive trip so there were not too many frills especially with the hotels although they were clean and well managed. Ef is a big company run by former teachers and so targets teachers and offers them a free trip if they recruit enough students. This type of traveling may not appeal to some of you who are used to spending up to $200 a night just for a hotel or B&B, hiring personal drivers, and may be more concerned with fashion colors, shorts in Paris, and how much shoe shopping they can get done but it allows some of who can't afford most of those things to experience other cultures and the places we have dreamed of/studied our whole lives. Giving tips and opinions is one thing but some of us teachers couldn't travel without companies like ef and also couldn't share the world with our students and offspring.
My daughter and I are leaving Thursday for a "free" three day convention in Paris for new group leaders and look forward to having a great time. Next summer we will take ten students on a four week tour including Greece and have a great time. It won't be perfect but it will be the biggest expereince these kids have ever had. I will report on both trips but it will be places and things of interest, hopefully. I, for one, think ef is offering a service that is needed.

More later, Ciao John

mms Jul 10th, 2005 08:13 AM

Interesting twist on here lately.

Anyway, we have decided against taking this trip. We travel a lot as a family, so this is not our daughters only opportunity. Thankfully she realized that this trip was not a smart financial decision. Even she realized and told me that we could do the same trip for much less money!

So, our travels will continue, but just not as a group such as this. I do appreciate all the input, it did help in my decision...although I ultimately left the decision up to our daughter.

baldworth Jul 10th, 2005 11:21 AM

Sorry. Didn't mean to preach. EF is very affordable and I will use them until I have a less than satisfactory experience. They are great for those of us who would not be able to travel otherwise. What you decide is a personal decision. Most of us teachers, who are not married to someone with money, couldn't afford to travel without a company like EF. I will report on my upcoming three day convention upon return. I may be new to both travel and Europe but I plan to be here for a good while and enjoy being a fodorite.

John

baldworth Jul 10th, 2005 01:13 PM

ttt
I want to see what others think

John

mms Jul 10th, 2005 02:13 PM

baldworth--I do think these tours have their place. You are right that some people would not be able to travel without something like this, and so it is good for some people. I know for me, one thing that bothered me was that if I were to go along, the price for me was $300 more than it would have been for my daughter. That was just one of the sticking points for me. I do agree though that people need to decide for themselves, and that finding ways to travel (without having deep pockets) is great.

baldworth Jul 10th, 2005 10:02 PM

mms
The extra money pays for the difference in accomodations, fees for museums, etc... and is not really that big a deal. I hope that you make a good decision and have a good travel experience whatever company you choose.

John

Mildred Jul 10th, 2005 10:25 PM

Hawaiimom-

Returned unhappily from a trip with goahead vacations which is the tour company run by eftours (Cambridge based). I complained in writing many times asking for refunds for portions of the trip and was denied based on their contention that all my concerns were mentioned in their "terms and conditions ". I would run, do not walk away from eftours.

Their terms and conditions need to be edited to say clearly that you may be in small, unsafe, unventilated, unsecured room . Additionally, your actual location as to town may be changed without notice by the tour bus director for additional profit for .the company. Oh, and don't worry about leaving your itinerary at home with a family member because your hotel for the night may also be changed without notice. Hope this helps.

I can say that I have taken many other tours and this is the first time I have experienced this.So, there is much hopel Mildred

mms Jul 11th, 2005 06:01 AM

Baldworth--Yes, the teacher leading this trip told us what the extra cost was for, but I do not need nor want different accommodations than my daughter, etc. Anyway, we will not go with a tour company at all. We have always done independent travel and will continue that way since it costs much less and works better for us.

kybourbon Jul 11th, 2005 06:52 AM

Baldworth - You are getting a good deal! You and your child are getting free trips and/or cash! The students are not getting free trips.

FYI - The editors on this website sometimes pull negative threads and this has happened with EF. Other times they just pull the negative posts and leave the other neutral posts. Therefore, when you do a search, you may find positive comments that aren't a true reflection of a particular company. I'm not sure this post will last either.

I did take a peek yesterday on trip advisor at some hotels EF put us in and the reviews are terrible for those hotels.

As for extra costs for adults, most of the places you visit are free with this company. If you do a comparison to such companies as CHA or ACIS you will see that they include actually entering and not just driving by them.

If you want a better quality tour I highly recommend CHA. They have nicer centrally located hotels. If you want budget, then you may as well use Explorica as they are cheaper. The company was started by all the top EF executives that left EF in 2000.

I am still waiting for a promised refund for my group from 2001. A friend is also waiting for her promised refunds for her group from a different trip that same summer. All particpants from both trips refused to ever travel with EF again. I guess our checks are in the mail.

I have used all three of these companies so I do have some comparison. I have also traveled independently. My trip to Spain the end of the month had a cost of $550 per person airfare. Five nights hotel double room at a four star resort on the coast including halfboard (breakfast buffet and dinner buffet)for $35 per person per night. Hotel in Barcelona for $50 per person per night. Train/metro/bus expenses averaged $35.

With a group of 10 like you have, you will qualify for group airfares. All you have to do is contact the airlines group desk and they will give you a quote.

Please do not let your students buy their trip insurance from the company you travel with as you will not be covered for default, etc. Check out www.insuremytrip.com for other travel insurance. You should be able to get multiple policies for better rates.

I hope you don't have any problems with your EF trips.

hester Jul 30th, 2005 04:20 PM

Awhile back I said I would report on our EF tour. I have waited a month to calm down. To begin I must state I know now that I am not a tour person nor is my daughter. Our group was 32, 22 students and 10 parents, 2 teachers and a totally useless tour guide (Delina) from EF. After we left Seattle we traveled for 36 hours to Paris, yes 36 hours. I knew it would be long but not this long. Our Paris hotel was so far out of Paris that it took one hour to get to the city. The hotel was clean though just wayout of the way. Our food in Paris was not edible. The first two nights are food was burnt beyond recongition. The breakfasts were good in Paris. The tour gave us 30 minutes at Notre Dame. This was the tour guides breakdown, 10 minutes to walk to the church from the bus, 10 minutes at the church itself and 10 minutes to walk back to the bus. I have been to the church before and I felt terrible for the people who saw it for the first time for all of 10 minutes. Thank goodness are teachers were amazing and knew Paris like the back of their hand, because our tour guide sure didn't. In Provence we stayed again wayout of the city, this time in an area of abandoned warehouses, in what could only be called a dump. The only working telephone was down from the motel with it's windows broke out. We watched drug deals going on from the booth. Not a safe place at all especially to send students to phone home. The kids who had EF phone cards did not get them to work. The access codes on the cards were out of date. The dinners here were edible, but not very appealing, but you could eat them. Breakfast consisted of coffee, water and a crossant. You had to pay if you wanted any more. The boys in the group got especially hungry. Barcelona was much of the same. I could go on and on but I won't. I am glad that some people have had positive trips with EF, unfortunately we didn't and I would never recommend EF to anyone. As for the posters that say the parents on the tours are the problem. Now I know why, Students will not say anything about the bad things because they are taught to respect their teachers but as a parent and you see things that aren't right you speak up. We were a good group of parents and students and teachers they (the group) were the wonderful aspect of this trip along with the amazing sights just not EF's part.

mms Jul 30th, 2005 04:53 PM

Hester--Thank you for posting your experience with EF Tours. It just reinforces our decision. I cannot imagine only having 10 minutes inside Notre Dame! I am sorry that the trip did not turn out better, but I do thank you for sharing. You helped fellow travelers:)

kybourbon Jul 30th, 2005 07:54 PM

Hester - Your EF experience sounds like the one I had but I did have a good trip with CHA. If you want to try a student tour ever again I think ACIS or CHA are pretty good. The food will still be geared towards teenagers (french fries, hamburgers, chicken)but at least the hotels will be decent and better located.

Many times the kids don't complain because they are with a teacher that lets them party the whole trip. They get home and tell their parents everything was wonderful when it really wasn't but they got to party all night and that was all they cared about.

A friend of mine sent her son on an EF trip and she complained about all the extra costs her son had to pay while on the trip. The truth is the son was spending all his money bar hopping and just told her there were extra costs.

One of the problems with most student tour companies is the bad flight connections. The companies book these because they are cheap but you get stuck with long layovers and taking 2 days to get to Europe. Another problem is they won't ever tell you the hotels until a week before departure. I think people wouldn't use some of these companies if they knew hotels in advance and had a chance to look at reviews for them on trip advisor.

I'm sorry you had some bad experiences but hopefully you had some fun also. We still laugh at the EF tour guide we had named Lola. She never knew where she was or what she was talking about. Some of the adults started making up things about what we were seeing and then she would announce it on the PA system in the bus.

Maybe people on this board that are interested in taking student groups to Europe could get together and form their own groups. A Fodor's student tour!

Don't be surprised if your teachers use EF again next year. It must be like labor. They forget how bad it was and do it again!


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