Escorted tour

Apr 22nd, 1999, 06:30 PM
  #1  
Debbie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Escorted tour

My hubby and I are considering taking one of those bus tours through Europe in mid-2000 (mainly because we have limited time and money). Firstly, is this a good idea? And secondly, any other advice/info from anyone who has seen Europe this way?
 
Apr 22nd, 1999, 06:45 PM
  #2  
char
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
My husband and I took a 10 day escorted coach tour of Italy several years ago. It was probably one of best trips we've taken. We met a lot of interesting people (actually stayed in touch for a few years with some) from all over the world. You didn't mention your ages, but the trip we took covered pretty much all ages from early thirties to seventies. My advice would be to read the fine print then read it again. We were the only ones on the tour that were given double beds at every hotel - because we read that you had to ask ahead - so we did. One other thing to note is that a lot of the time you will be operating on a pre-planned schedule, if this doesn't bother you, you'll be fine. Go for it.
 
Apr 27th, 1999, 11:36 PM
  #3  
Debbie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Thanks for the info, char. We're both in our mid-twenties, so we're looking at the "21-35's" type tours. Having a pre-planned schedule isn't a problem, as long as we have enough time to do a little exploring on our own. I've noticed alot of people in this forum have taken tours of no more than about 15 days. We're considering around 25-30 days. Is this too much time to spend on a bus? This is our first trip to Europe so we think this is a good way to see as much as we can, decide what we enjoyed, then come back a couple of years later for a more indepth holiday. Anyone agree/disagree?
 
Apr 28th, 1999, 02:09 AM
  #4  
Jo
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
This will be the best way to see as much of Europe in a short time space - but probably not the way to enjoy the most of it. The problem with the tours is that they take you around a day here a day there - with the younger age group tours (Contiki etc) there is heavy drinking going on most nights. That and the steady travelling takes it out of your body. I think I would choose an area which was most what you wanted to see - and spend a month in 2-3 countries. Whether it is Eastern countries, beaches, history, or just relaxation with a bit of sightseeing. But if you don't think you'll be going back to Europe for a while, and that it might be your only chance to see it all - then do the bus tour. You will enjoy it. You will see everything. But by the end, it will be getting a bit much. Transport within Europe is easy - maybe 2-3 week tour and rest of time relaxing in an area that is extra special to you.
 
Apr 28th, 1999, 05:07 AM
  #5  
Donna
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
In my opinion, 25-30 days is too long to spend on an organized group tour. I would recommend 14-21 days on a tour that visits 2-4 countries at most. You may want to consider a tour preceded and/or followed by independent "exploring".
 
Apr 28th, 1999, 05:43 AM
  #6  
elaine
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I would also recommend 14-21 days for a broad overview, if I were considering a broad overview. However wonderful the tour, after two weeks or so you will be tired of traveling, tired of packing and unpacking, tired of being "escorted".
I guess there is something to be said for such a long tour. They'll handle your luggage, and make sure you get from one place to the other, and you'll be able to say you "saw" Paris or Rome or wherever. However, you will experience frustration when you arrive at a place that you've always dreamed of, and find that you have only a few hours there to sightsee. Or you find that your hotel is not centrally located and it takes an hour and a half just to get into town. Or you arrive in Paris or wherever on the one day each week when many of the museums are closed. Or your "tourist class" hotel turns out to be all tourist and no class.

If you have limited time and money, you're in the same boat with most of us.
Please consider taking a week or ten days and concentrating on one or two places: Paris and environs, or Rome and Florence, or Rome and Venice, or wherever. You may only see one or two cities, but you will come back feeling
pretty expert, and feeling that you saw much of what you wanted to see, even if you're hungry for more. There are budget hotels, and train tickets and
budget restaurants that are affordable.

If you do take the whirlwind tour, ask a lot of questions that are not in the brochure. WHERE are the hotels located?
(then look them up on a map of the city.
Are they all in outskirts of town, or next to the docks?) How much time will you really have in each place? (I have read about tours where for example
you arrive in a particular city "mid-morning" and leave early the next morning. That will give you one afternoon and one evening there.) And remember that you're not in school or in jail. As long as you know where the bus is and when it's leaving, you can leave the group and strike out on your own for a few hours if you like.

 
Apr 28th, 1999, 06:24 AM
  #7  
Tonia from New York
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hi Debbie,
I agree that unless you know a specific part of the world you want to see, a bus tour is the best thing to do given your
limited time. Last year I went on a three week Contiki tour of eight European countries. I am 22. For a first time visitor it was great, although there isnt too much time to really soak up the places you visit. Then again, my motive was to get a taste of Europe so when I returned, I would know what I'd like to see independently. A little background on Contiki...a good tour company, very fun atmosphere, good accomodations (you have to accept less comfy digs if you do one of the budget tours, however). I agree with a previous poster that there is a lot of heavy drinking on these tours. I personally am not one of them, so I frequently felt out of the loop when everyone stayed up late nights to get smashed (or whatever else)..my only regret was that when the touring day was over, the bus would leave you at the site of the accomodation, which were away from the main city. So instead of sitting at a cafe at night in Paris (from 6pm onwards)and watching the world go by...I was trapped at one of the on-site bars, or just prepared for the next day. What I thought was a waste of time. Luckily, though, the people on the tour, since they came from all around the world, were very interesting to talk to and fun and made the trip very memorable for me. I would either do a tour such as Contiki that is geared towards your age group (it will make a huge difference in your experience) or do your own thing (if you plan well). I will probably want to do an independent thing if I was married since I'd want more private time (but then again, this isnt a honeymoon for you but a vacation). For now, I'm doing another Contiki tour in June, I can't decide on a specific region I'd want to see on my own!!! Europe is too beautiful!! Email me for further details. This forum is great. Tonia
 
Apr 28th, 1999, 08:30 AM
  #8  
Debbie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Debbie-I agree with the above about the escorted trip being too long. I personally that that 10 days would be long enough. I have been on a couple tours on buses and the only time that I would ever do one again would be if I was in a third world country/communist,etc.I took a 14 day tour of the Soviet Union(when it was still a closed area and communist) however, a two week tour of England ,Scotland and Wales drove us nuts. The negative side of these tours are the"constant togetherness" of your travel mates,the repetition of getting up early(sometimes 5:30am) to have your bags ready by 6:00am and breakfast-then on the road. The fighting by some people for "positions"of seating on the bus;having to stop at gift shops where the tour people get a cut off what you buy,etc. You literally get to the point that you are so tired that all you do is sleep on the bus and miss the scenery,etc. ANYONE can plan a trip to Europe and survive! Plan what you want to see(limit the countries you see because you will go back) and learn about the sights,restaurants,hotels,etc. Tours are way too regemented.If all else fails to sway you,rent from the video store the movie with Suzanne Pleshette (from the 60's or 70's) "IF THIS IS TUESDAY,THIS MUST BE BELGIUM!" I think that you will get the picture. Have fun,Debbie
 
Apr 28th, 1999, 10:33 AM
  #9  
wes fowler
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Debbie,

On a European bus tour of 25 to 30 days I think the most lasting memory of your trip will be unpacking every night and repacking at 6:00AM the following morning. Bus tours of any duration are fine for those people who prefer a regimented routine, are intimidated by the thought of coping with foreign languages, have neither the time nor inclination to do the research and planning for a trip and are satisfied to leave that planning to others. Bus tours are ideal for those who are not overly adventurous, perhaps due to age, infirmity, personal disposition and many other factors who prefer to leave the possibly annoying aspects of travel to others. The organized tour company copes with luggage, finds suitable accommodations and restaurants (hopefully), determines what the tourist will and will not see and deals with foreign languages and customs. The tour company's tourist "goes along for the ride".

European travel, whether your first trip or your one hundredth, can and should be a memorable adventure. It is far more adventuresome and rewarding to do your own planning, budgeting and touring. You are young and flexible I presume, not set in your ways and habits, you have the better part of a year to plan an independent trip in 2000. I'd strongly suggest you do so. Limit yourselves to 14 to 17 days, one or two countries or major cities and immerse yourselves in their differing cultures and customs. Your appetite for travel will be whetted and satisfied as much in two weeks of limited travel as it would be in a month long tour of nineteen countries and thirty cities, at less cost as well.

There are phenomenal resources available to you in planning: national and regional tourist offices, forums such as this one and its contributors, websites, guidebooks and the experiences and recommendations of other travelers. Take advantage of them. The rewards are immeasurable.

If you'd like some help in planning or advice and suggestions, feel free to Email me directly.
 
Apr 28th, 1999, 11:18 AM
  #10  
Dawn
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I agree with the last few posters. On my first trip I traveled alone, a single woman, 30 years old, and had no trouble at all. But I did do my homework before I went. It's not that I'm against tours, but I don't care for the structure. There are so many resources at your finger tips to assist in the planning of your trip. Limited time & money, thats everyone's problem, but I can't believe that a tour would be cheaper than doing it on your own. What countries are you interested in? I can help with Italy, France, Switzerland, and England. My husband is from the Tuscany region of Italy, and I have traveled quite a bit, with him and on my own. I will give you any advice you need.
 
Apr 28th, 1999, 12:12 PM
  #11  
Liss
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
My husband, 16 year old son and I went to Europe two summers ago for our first time (we were quite timid/intimidated by the thought of going on our own0. So we went on a Rick Steve's Europe through the Back Door "Bed, Breakfast and Bus" tour. The tour was "the best of Europe" tour which covered a lot of distance in 3 weeks. They have lots of other tours as well but tend to get booked up fast.
Anyway, it was a blast. They take care of transportation and hotel and give you time to explore on your own. And there are some group functions as well. It was a good combination of independence and group stuff. We ended up getting along with everyone so group excursions were fun. The group ranged from 5 teenagers (who were great), about 6 people in their twenties and the rest of us were in their 30s and 40s (limit of 24 per group). It demands quite a bit of walking (you need to be in good shape) but that was part of the fun.
The nice thing, is that they taught you travel skills, so after 3 weeks you would certainly feel more comfortable branching out on your own. In fact, we are going back to Europe this summer on our own, with Fodor's books in hand. Thanks to the internet, it is easy to plan the trip.
 
Apr 28th, 1999, 12:30 PM
  #12  
michele
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Agree with all who say this is too long to be on a bus tour and expecially with Wes's comment about packing and unpacking. There are flexible tours out there; try and find them if you really want a tour. Also, check the Fodors "Smart travel tips" forum for a good discussion pro and con of tours. I am sure you two can plan a European adventure independently. ( even if you hate to drive, the trains are very good)


 
Apr 28th, 1999, 07:05 PM
  #13  
Debbie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I was expecting maybe one or two replies - but nothing like this! Thanks heaps, guys!! I've certainly got lots of food for thought now.
BTW, if anyone's planning a trip to Oz, give me a shout. I was born, bred and live in Sydney, but I have sort of an idea about what goes on in the rest of the country as well.
Thanks again!
 
Apr 29th, 1999, 06:43 AM
  #14  
Al
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
By the time one reaches my age (72), one learns a thing or two about travel...or one decides not to travel at all. First, there is SO MUCH MORE information available now. This web site, for example. Second, the more one rides, the less one absorbs. Which is a corollary of "the mind can absorb only as much as the butt can endure." So limit your travel time, limit the number of places you will see. Result: fonder memories, more in-depth experiences, less fatigue. Ah, fatigue. The thief of joy, and the bane of travelers. Reduce fatigue, as Wes advises, and you will have a much better time. Inasmuch as you used the term "hubby," dear Debbie, I presume that you are closer to our age than to those who are in their 20s. Avoid fatigue, avoid fatigue, avoid fatigue. And swear that you will indeed return next time to those places still on your list.
 
Apr 29th, 1999, 06:53 AM
  #15  
martha
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Two things to clarify--some people's responses suggest it's necessary. Debbie, if I get this wrong, please clarify my attempted clarification.
1) Debbie and Mr. Debbie are in their mid-20s.
2) They are hauling themselves to Europe from Australia, so there is good reason for them to want to stay for more than a couple of weeks.

 
Apr 29th, 1999, 08:29 AM
  #16  
Paulo
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Considering you have plenty of time, Debbie, I would suggest you study an independent travel plan. In parallel, you may shop around for "reasonable" escorted tours. If nothing else, at the end of the process you'll have terms of comparison. You'll find out that going through the process is fun, you'll learn a lot, and you'll gather info for a future trip in case you decide taking a tour.

We have been travelling to Europe just about every year, for the past 15 years. Our trips are around 30 days long, and invariably in July (unfortunately, that's the only month we can take 30 days off) and a car rental (6,500km average). We either fly into France or Germany (respectively, the lowest car lease and rental rates), depending on convenience, flight and car rental costs. Excluding the flight, our budget has been USD 8,500, averaging 1,600 (car rental or lease + gas + tolls + parking); 3,400 (lodging); 2,600 (eating); 900 (extras - monument entrance tickets, local transportation, etc.).

If your interest lays mainly on large cities, train travel might be more convenient and much cheaper.

Study some travel guides, find out which cities you feel like visiting, estimate how many days you may want to spend in each, lay down your draft plan for comments ... and start chopping off

If you indeed put yourself to do a serious homework, I doubt that at the end of the process you'll opt for an escorted tour.

Paulo

 
Apr 29th, 1999, 08:50 AM
  #17  
jeanne
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I know-just one more comment on this topic-sigh! There is a lot of info on this site about Rick Steve's tours-I live in Seattle where he is based and have watched him grow his business over 20 years or so-I think it may have a lot to offer you. They are small tours in minivans and are fairly "physical" but not too fast-paced. I think you will enjoy the many comments of people here who gone first-hand. I have spent many years travelling with a European husband in Europe-he's French-so you already know his feelings about any kind of tours! But I may actually abandon him some year just to try one of Rick's tours for myself! Anyway, just a pitch-given your ages and objectives to dig deeper into the Rick Steve's approach-he has a whole travel center here and of course a website, books, etc. all of which are cited here on the forum

have a wonderful trip-my business partner is Australian and I have started to learn more about your part of the world-it sounds lovely!
 
Apr 29th, 1999, 08:52 AM
  #18  
wes fowler
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Debbie,
I hadn't realized you were Australian until you offered advice on "Oz". I can appreciate, now, why you are considering 25 to 30 days. One doesn't travel half way around the world for a quick trip sampling of Europe. Consider the following for a potential 30 day independent tour of Europe: One week in London with perhaps one or two day trips to Bath, Stratford, Oxford or Cambridge. Train to Paris for a week, with perhaps a day trip to Versailles. Train to Florence or Rome for a week. Train from Rome to Logarno, Zurich or Luzerne. Rent an auto, tour Switzerland, the Austrian Tyrol and parts of Bavaria for one week. Return car, train to London. An option might involve flying into London and out of Munich or Zurich, for example. You could well spend your entire time in London, Paris or Rome and not begin to see all there is worth seeing. A full week or nearly so in each will allow you to get more than just the "flavor" of the cities; you'll really have the chance to do some serious taste testing.
 
May 2nd, 1999, 03:45 PM
  #19  
Debbie
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Sorry - I guess I should have mentioned the fact that I'm an "Aussie chick" at the start! I tend to forget how close all you northern-hemispherians (is that a word?) are to each other!
Thanks to Paulo for the budget outline (now I have some idea of what sort of costs I'll be incurring) and to Wes for the sample itinerary.
In the end, I know I'll have to do my own research and make up my own mind, but everyone's advice and descriptions of past experiences will help immensely. Thanks again!
 

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:58 PM.