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Europe Tour Companies May/June 2014 (24 yr old & Nana)

Europe Tour Companies May/June 2014 (24 yr old & Nana)

Old Dec 18th, 2013, 01:51 PM
  #1  
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Europe Tour Companies May/June 2014 (24 yr old & Nana)

Hey everyone!

My Nana and I decided we wanted to do some bonding and take a trip to Europe. Nana was nice enough to offer to pay if we stuck to a few conditions =)

1. She insist we use a tour company.

(She understands that we could save money planning it and doing it ourselves, but she insist that are her age and it being just the two of us females, that a tour would make her feel more comfortable)

2. She insist that we stay at "nice" places

(She said she worked hard all her life for her money and that she was supposed to go on a trip with my grandfather whom recently passed away =( , So she insist that we stay at nice places with extra comforts and not at hostels or places that might be deemed "sketchy". She wants to stay in the heart of the cities so we can get the best experience.)

3. She wants to try to go to the Countries she hasn't seen yet.

(She's traveled a lot over the years, whereas I've only been to London and Paris)

So since I am getting a free vacation and time with my Nana I obviously agreed to her terms. That puts me in my predicament though.

I've been researching tour companies and have found many:

(Tauck, Collette, Globus, Trafalgar, GAdventure, Cosmos, Insight, Brendan, Monograms, ECT.)

From the research I've done I THINK that the "nicer" tours would be Tauck, Insight, Globus and Trafalgar? Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

This is where it gets tricky for me........It seems as though most people who go on tours are all seniors OR 20 something's. I can't seem to find a tour company that caters to a mix of ages. I mean I am sure I will enjoy the vacation regardless, BUT it would be nice if I could make friends around my own age while on the tour. Its hard since my Nana is an active 70 something, and I am a 20 something so its a pretty big age gap. I am just afraid I will end up on a tour will all seniors, and if my Nana decides to turn in early one night, that I'll be all alone at the hotel bar. (sigh)

Here's a little more information about what were thinking:

We want the length of the trip to be over two weeks. I am leaning towards a few that are about a month but that might be pushing it a little bit. But we have definitely set a 14 day minimum. Also the Countries my Nana hasn't been to are: Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Austria, Czech, Slovakia, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Scotland.

I was thinking it would be cool to see the World War II sights. I would also love if I could sneak a Country in that my Nana has already been too, but I have not (Spain, Italy, or Greece). I know we obviously can't see all these countries but I think we could view half of them and still have a quality vacation. I was using Germany as a starting point when I researched because I would love to see the "Romantic Road" and the Black Forest. Also we are looking to go May/June 2014.

Can anyone give me some advice and/or suggestions into what they think would work for my Nana and I? Maybe someone is going on a tour around the same time? Anyone have past experiences they can share?

Thanks everyone!

-BDevlin
bdevlin314 is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2013, 02:02 PM
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>

Cross Globus off your list. They often stay in hotels that are not central and the hotels are not great. Try Tauck, Collette, Abercrombie & Kent, or perhaps some educational companies such as museums.

Tours generally are geared toward seniors (except something like Contiki which your nana would not be able to join). That's the problem with tours. The exception that I know about is Road Scholar family trips but you said you want nice accommodations and their accommodations are mostly not central and not upscale. For a free trip you'll have to suck it up and travel with seniors.

Do not try to see too many countries or make too many stops on a tour or the trip will be a blur. Choose one country or area to visit to get the most from your trip.

Most people posting on this forum do not go on tours. This is a place to learn how to travel independently and share information on independent travel. I have taken tours but they've been of Turkey, Sicily, Malta, not areas you are looking to visit.

Go on line and read the itineraries and look for a tour that fits what you need. Then come back and ask for feedback on specific tours. Remember to really read the itineraries and look for hotel location, included visits (not just drive bys), number of nights in each location.
adrienne is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2013, 02:10 PM
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You do have sort of a tough criteria.

The high end tours (like Tauck) that stay in very nice/centrally located hotels are expensive so they cater mostly to well heeled older adults.

Rick Steves which has a demographic covering a wider age range, may be too physically active for your Nana.

If it was me, I'd consider picking 2 or 3 cities in your Nana's wish list, and then hire a private guide in each one. That would give you the benefits of being able to pick high end hotels exactly where you want, but still have someone take you to all the sites. You can arrange car service from any airport so you wouldn't have to worry about schlepping luggage and such.
janisj is online now  
Old Dec 18th, 2013, 02:11 PM
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Make sure your nana understands that any tours - even upscale ones like Tauck:

Have early starts every day (usually bags outside the room by 7 am)
Have long days on the bus versus time actually sightseeing
Meals will usually be in hotels and americanized version of local foods

Friends of my parents did Tauck a couple of times when they decided hauling luggage was too much for them - but even though it is upscale they organized their own dinners at nicer restaurants (extra cost for food and taxis)

When reading a tour brochure to see what you will see/do understand the following:

"View" means you will see the outside of a sight in passing, often from the bus window

"Stop" mean a 5 minute photo op out frotn but you don;t go inside

"Visit" means you do go inside - but often for a limited time and see only part of the sight (perhaps 1.5 hours versus 3 for independent travelers)

If a sight isn;t mentioned - no matter how famous - assume you will not see it - or will have to buy an extra tours to do so.

If she is ready to keep up this pace for 3 weeks - more power to her. I couldn't (or wouldn't be willing to do so) and am a good 15 years younger.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2013, 02:16 PM
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She's done tours in the past, and we did one when I was in high school, so she knows they can be a fast pace. She just insist we do a tour because she wants more people with us for safety and such. I know it can be ridiculous and I myself wouldn't mind planning the whole thing ourselves but these are her wishes and since she has the check book she gets what she wants. I'm just trying to get feedback from people because many of the things I have read about the tour companies are contradicting.
bdevlin314 is offline  
Old Dec 18th, 2013, 02:31 PM
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Bdevlin314, I would strongly recommend Tauck or Abercrombie & Kent if money is no object.

Also check out Lindblad Expeditions and Smithsonian for upper end touring. These companies are above my means, but I sure enjoy checking out their itineraries. It would be nice if you could spend several days at the end of your tour in a city of your choice - in a lovely, centrally located hotel, of course.

Let us know what you decide and good luck.
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Old Dec 18th, 2013, 02:45 PM
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Then book Tauck or Abercrombie & Kent and just resign yourself that for the 2-ish weeks you will be in the company of old codgers

There are worse things in this world . . .
janisj is online now  
Old Dec 18th, 2013, 02:46 PM
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. . . and if you are lucky some other Nana or Gramps is taking their adult grandchild on the same tour . . .
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Old Dec 18th, 2013, 02:50 PM
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How active is she? If she can handle a carry on bag herself I would certainly look at Rick Steves. The hotels are central and comfortable and the guides are very good. You don't usually start at 7:00 am, and most tours spend two nights rather than one at morst stops.

I haven't used Odysseys Unlimited or Adventures Abroad but they have small groups and might also work for you. At the more expensive end, besides Tauck, you could look at the Smithsonian and R. Crusoe.
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Old Dec 18th, 2013, 03:30 PM
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I've been on a couple of tours with old codgers...getting there myself. Some do bring along older grandchildren along and they seem to really enjoy it. You might also be surprised at how much fun some of the oldies can be.

I've never experienced the early starts some have mentioned. I think the more upscale tour companies realize that early starts are not viewed with much enthusiasm.
historytraveler is online now  
Old Dec 18th, 2013, 07:43 PM
  #11  
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She is pretty active. I'll check out Rick Stevens like you all said. Like I said I much rather plan this trip ourselves but she keeps insisting that we go with a group of people. If we had enough people going she would go without a tour group but we have a very small family so thats not an option. But I'll check out all of your suggestions thanks!
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Old Dec 18th, 2013, 07:52 PM
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That's Steves - http://tours.ricksteves.com/tours/

Maybe you can add some time before and/or after the tour, even if it means staying in one place and doing day trips (hardly a hardship in somewhere like London or Paris).
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Old Dec 18th, 2013, 07:54 PM
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Oh, and I had forgotten until I looked up that link. RS now offers "My Way" tours, where they provide the transport and book the hotels, but you handle your own sightseeing. Maybe that would be a good compromise?
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Old Dec 19th, 2013, 12:31 AM
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To add to your difficulties, if you can find a tour that has travellers from different countries, I think you'd have a more interesting time. If you take a Rick Steves tour, I would think that you are almost guaranteed that they will all be American. Maybe that's true of many tour companies, but certainly his.
dreamon is online now  
Old Dec 19th, 2013, 03:16 AM
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My aunt and uncle were very pleased with Tauck, used them several times. Another option, pre-arrange flights, all transfers, all hotels through a good agent then tour on your own.
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Old Dec 19th, 2013, 03:34 AM
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Hi

I have used Insight Vacations twice and can highly recommend them. As a starter check these tours - http://www.insightvacations.com/au/t...durationmax=14. Tours cater mainly for an older crowd although there have been young guests on the ones I have been on. It sounds like you get on well with an older age group too so you won't be drinking alone in a bar particularly if there's Aussies on the coach
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Old Dec 19th, 2013, 05:55 AM
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If you decide on Tauck, get their best price and then go to www.pavlustravel.com

We did and then got another 5% off the total cost of the trip.
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Old Dec 19th, 2013, 05:56 AM
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My wife and I have completed 7 tours with Insight Vacations and have already booked our next one for September 2014. They are well organized. The main feature for me is that they only have 40 people on the bus whereas other tour companies will have as many as 50. Most hotels are centrally located.

I have posted trip reports on some of these tours. If you click on my name it will bring you to my 'page'.

You can't go wrong with a trip through Italy. Sicily is a separate tour but you can include Malta. Egypt, Greece and Turkey were fantastic tours.
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Old Dec 19th, 2013, 06:15 AM
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"Only 40 people" [!!!]

Far too many for me. RS tours max at 28 (on a full size bus) and some at a lower number. I think Adventures Unlimitd and Odyssey are smaller still. I like Intrepid, which only takes 12, but I don't think they bother with Europe, and are budget level.
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Old Dec 19th, 2013, 06:23 AM
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I'll make another suggestion based on the list of countries Nana (I have one of those also!) has not visited: a Baltic or Norwegian Fjords cruise. You get the same accommodation each night in your floating hotel and can take tours to all of the sights on your port days. There would be a better mix of ages on the ship and tours so you would have your quality time together while mingling with new faces. Depending on time and money you could combine more than one cruise to cover more areas of interest. For higher end cruising check out Celebrity, Holland America or Princess.

Lots of options for you here. Good luck!
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