Escorted Tours

Old Jan 24th, 2006, 08:35 AM
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Escorted Tours

We plan on taking an escorted tour of Italy. Any suggestions or warnings regarding the tour companys...Trafalgar, Globus, Perillo?
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 08:53 AM
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This forum is substantially biased in favor of independent travel as offering a far better experience... for less or similar cost, to tour companies.

That said, I believe that most people view Perillo as Lexus; the other two are Dodge and Pontiac.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 09:31 AM
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Check out Tauck Tours
http://tauck.com/tours/europe-tours/italy-tours

Also Rick Steves' tours
http://tours.ricksteves.com/tours06/...tegory_ID/161/

How large a group are you comfortable with? Where do you really want to go?

What type of hotels do you prefer?

What can you afford to spend?

Some of the cheaper tours have many extras which add up.

There is a lot of choice out there.
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 10:46 AM
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From my impressions Perillo is Toyota - Lexus would be Tauck. The others would probably be Ford - or Kia.

(Caveat - not done any of these myself, these are reports from my parents friends, older relatives and neighbors)
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Old Jan 29th, 2006, 06:13 AM
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You will get very little imputs from the fodors group on escorted tours. I have also researched and I think on affordabletours.com they have some reviews on there. That might help. I think from what I have heard if Tauck and Perillo are out of the financial bracket, (as it is for me) the next positive one with mostly good reviews in Insight. Good luck.
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Old Jan 29th, 2006, 11:37 AM
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I have heard great things about
Grand Circle Tours...which are
designed for Americans over 55...
small groups...great food...good prices...and you can wander on your
own. (all are not over 55). We've
done two wonderful Xmas trips with
them..Conde Nast Traveller's Guide
has added them to their Gold list.
S
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Old Jan 29th, 2006, 12:35 PM
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IBGRMA:

As you've been already told by Rex et al, this board is primarily made up of experienced indepenedent travelers...a few of whom are "fiercely" independent travelers. Very few "tourists" on board here. However, to a man and to a woman, all of us are "fiercely" helpful based on a wide range of traveling experience, mistakes, recoveries and discoveries, etc.
Here's my usual two-cents worth. In all sincerity, unless you have completely dismissed the possibiity of touring Italy on your own, I beseech thee, try it...you just may quickly learn to love it. It is not difficult, and not the least bit insurmountable..all it takes is a bit of initial resolve, time (to study and research at you local book store and library, and on the internet), the constant willingness to get on the boards and ask, ask, ask! I daresay, that the average traveler herein has been to Italy several times, and amongst us, to each and every region. You have a wealth of solid information just waiting to inundate you!

If you decide to do it, fire away with questions, you'll get a suggested itinerary out of it and a mountain of recommendations, phone numbers and web site info, etc etc.

If you still decide against it, I'm sure respondents will offer their advice for tour companies as some already have. My dearest and closest frends are not independent travelers and always end up with Tauck wherever they go...from what I hear, they are the
choicest of the choice. Enjoy!!

Stu T.
Whatever you decide, have fun!
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Old Feb 4th, 2006, 09:01 PM
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IBGRMA:

My first trip to Europe was a 9-day regional tour of Italy with Globus.

Pros:
1) I was travelling solo and didn't speak Italian -- the fully escourted tour gave me the confidence to pack my bags and visit a foreign country.

2) Didn't have to wait in long lines to get into museums and other places. These establishments seem to give preference to group tours.

3) Always had a knowledgable tour guide in every city we visited...same tour director and bus driver for the duration of the tour.

Cons:
1) If you're not a morning person, then forget it. You have to be up really early, like 6-7am. I'm not a morning person so it was hard at first. But, in hindsight, it was a good thing for me...I got to see more and do more in such a short period of time!

2) I felt kind of rushed sometimes. Like when we went to see the statue of David in Florence (WOW!) I could have stayed there for hours just admiring Michaelangelo's work but was forced to rush out of there to meet the rest of the group.

3) They fill the bus with over 40 people...just hope that everyone will be considerate of others. In my tour, there was a man who always arrived late...other members complained. The tour director reprimanded him and threathened to leave him behind, which took care of the problem. Other than that incident, everyone got along just fine.

Overall, it was a great experience. We stayed in small (especially in Rome) but clean hotels in Rome, Florence & Venice with side trips to Pisa, Verona and Padua. All the cities are beautiful with many wonderful things to offer, but I fell in love with Venice. Maybe because our hotel was right along the Grand Canal? it was walking distance to everything...maybe because I was able to walk around during the day/at night and felt safe? grocery shopped with the locals? maybe all of the above? But one think I'm sure of, I'm going back for a visit...and you don't need a tour guide in Venice!

Hope this helps.
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Old Feb 4th, 2006, 11:47 PM
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I've only taken guided tours where the independent version was not an option (kenya/tanzania 1994, china 2001) aside from that, I like to experience the country on my own! PS, just for reference, when I was booking this Italy trip, I compared my notes with travel companies..they have you on a bus for what equates to about 2 full days of your trip, and I can book the trip myself, with good choice of hotels and transportation, for about a third of what perillo charges!!! And have my freedom to boot!
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 09:19 AM
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I am posting the same message I did just a bit ago, in response to somebody else:

We have traveled using Trafalgar and Globus, as well as some other tour companies, in addition to traveling independently.

Tour companies are a great way to go for those who are so inclined, as so much is done for you, and there is much less waiting in line to see the major attractions.

The tour company I recommend that is in the same general price range as Globus and Trafalgar is Insight Vacations. Insight is a sister company owned by the same parent as Trafalgar, but just slight upscale, with more things included, and somewhat better located hotels.

Their website is located here:

http://www.insightvacations.com/us/

And their BB is located here:

http://forums.insightvacations.com/eve/ubb.x

If you would like a copy of a couple journals from some of our Insight tours, just write to me at:

LMarvinB(at)yahoo.com

Change the "(at)" to the "@", of course.

--Marv
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 09:44 AM
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I am also trying to decide on whether to book with Travalgar or Globus for a European trip to 4 countries. This website has told me that they are Independent Travelers who post messages. I have tried to check with Consumer Reports to compare touring companies and travel agents to no avail.If you find out which is the better company or reasons that you chose a particular company over another could you post it? Greatly appreciate it.
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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 09:44 AM
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i will skip any emotional pleas to reconsider but i would recommend that you ask any tour operator where you will be staying each night and where you will be eating if there are group meals.

then with the power of the internet, look up those hotels and restaurants and ask yourself if this is where you would choose to eat. i am not picky about hotels except for the location. quite often, tour groups will stay away from city centres because they get better deals and it's easier access with the bus. for dining...same concern...the best restaurants are usually not equipped to serve large groups so there is much compromise in this area.
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