Escorted Tours Advice

Old Feb 12th, 2006, 12:32 PM
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Escorted Tours Advice

My girlfriend and I have decided we want to take an escourted tour of London, Paris and various cities within Italy. We have checked with Travalgar and we would travel with them for 16 days flying into London and flying out 15 days later from Amsterdam. We have also looked into Globus. Does anyone know of any other reputable companies and do you have any opinions on the ones I mentioned?
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Old Feb 12th, 2006, 12:42 PM
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Hi J,

How many cities in 15 days?

More than 4? My advice is "don't".

ira is offline  
Old Feb 14th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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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:

And their BB is located here:

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


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

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Old Feb 14th, 2006, 10:14 AM
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Can't advise on the choice between Trafalgar and Globus, just want to bring to your attention that on-line travel companies give 10% discounts off tours. I use Affordable Tours. There is also a discussion board for each travel company.
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Old Feb 18th, 2006, 10:45 AM
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check out Perillo tours- they have numerous guided tours available at reasonable prices.
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Old Feb 18th, 2006, 11:34 AM
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You don't say how old you are....but if you are on the young side...or even if you aren't!...I'd encourage you to go it alone. I see those bus tour groups trudging through these great European cities and, frankly, most look like they are on some sort of a death march.

Consider going on your own, at your own pace; sit in any old cafe you feel like, do museums or not depending on how you feel that day, take time to mingle with locals and borwse and enjoy each other's company in private!

Think about it.
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Old Feb 18th, 2006, 12:00 PM
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My dad prefers escorted tours, so growing up, we went on quite a few of them, using various companies including Globus and Travalgar. They're both fine, although the company I liked the best was a lesser known one called Collette. We did a British Isles tour with them and I was really impressed by the knowledgability of the guide. She also seemed to do an impressive job of taking our tour to the sites at times that weren't exceptionally crowded. That was an impressive feat considering it was summer, and many tour companies seem to follow similar schedules and itineraries.

My dad likes the fact that on a tour, he can simply pay a fee and everything is arranged for him. I arranged an independent trip of Germany and Austria for him, me and my mom, and she has arranged an independent trip to Japan for them, but though he enjoyed both, he says he still prefers tours. Personally, I've had richer, more interesting experiences travelling independently, but I can see why some might like having everything set for them.

However, in choosing an itinerary, do keep in mind that what you get in breadth, you sacrifice in depth. The more cities you visit, the less time you'll spend in each one (and the more time you'll spend on the bus).
JennaZ is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2006, 01:07 PM
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I am always searching escorted tours. Thanks for sharing this info. It is nice to get an opinion from someone who has traveled on most of the various companies. I would have not have thought of collette tours had you not posted this info. I will look into it. Did your parents every comment on the size of the tours? How many people?
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Old Feb 18th, 2006, 01:20 PM
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I took an Insight Tour of Ireland and swore at it as much as I swore that I never again would travel with Insight.

I could go into a myraid of reasons NOT to ever consider this outfit again, but the biggest complaint I had was the itenerary which was full of commercial stops and stops for "optional" excursions that were substantially extra. People who did not opt for the tour were left twiddling around.

Some of the hotels were atrocious. I recall one where some of the rooms were over a bar that featured rock music until 3 am. One room had a lavatory the drain pipe of which led to the floor.
No place else for the water to go.

I must admit that my lasting impression of Ireland from that tour is a blur of green. The actual features of the tour which we could visit were precious few.
We drove around the Dingle Peninsula and I don't think we stopped once except when some guy got his car wedged in between the bus and the rocks and could not extricate himself. (5 guys got off the bus, picked the car up in the back, and moved it over so we could clear and go on.)

I think, however, that my major gripe with Insight came after it switched tours on me. I had signed up for a 6 day tour and ended up on a 7 day tour at less cost and lower quality. I really was not informed of the switch, although Insight claimed I was. When I called the New York office to find out more, I was refused an audience with anyone. I was in effect told to go away and not come back. The company has a policy of not discussing anything with its customers. You must talk to your travel agent. (Had I gotten the information from the travel agent I would not have called in the first place.)

All in all a permanently souring experience.

Frankly, I have done my own tours of London and Paris and don't feel like I missed anything by doing it on my own. I had no problems getting around Paris even though I don't speak French.

London is so well described in many guide books that any literate person should be able to formulate a plan of places to see and things to do that fits their own needs and predilections.

Paris is the same way. Countless guide books describe what to see in Paris. You cannot see everything, so inform yourself and go see what interests you.

I would advise a guided tour only in a place where no one at all spoke English and you felt highly insecure trying to travel there.

Now, that said, I do not rule out one day tours. I took a great one in Paris to Vaux-le-Vicomte and Fontainebleau.
In Salzburg, I turned sucker and fell for the speil about Sound of Music.
It was a total ripoff. Ugly in fact.

In Wales I took a 3 night tour with Backroads. It was a small group and we could discuss what we wanted to see next within the framework of the trip.
We enjoyed that one no end.

Other than that, I have negotiated my travels on my own, and because I did it myself I did what I wanted to do and did not have to move at the dictates of others.

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Old Feb 18th, 2006, 02:00 PM
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I've taken tours for a first time trip. I'd recommend Rick Steves' tours. They are efficient, no tipping of guides or bus drivers, few, if any extras. If it says you are doing something, there is no extra charge. I particularly enjoy the picnics and education you receive. They try to prepare you to travel on your own.

This link goes to their 14 days Europe trip from Paris to Rome. You could fly into London, do it on your own and take the Eurostar to Paris. Tours vary but there are usually a variety of ages often including teenagers.
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