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Has anyone done an Insight or Trafalgar Tour of Britain?

Has anyone done an Insight or Trafalgar Tour of Britain?

Sep 18th, 2000, 04:28 AM
  #1  
Kerryanne
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Has anyone done an Insight or Trafalgar Tour of Britain?

Im just wondering if anyone on this board has taken either and Insight or Trafalgar tour of Britain/Ireland. From what I've been reading on this board, it seems most have chosen to travel indepentantly and then made their own way around... My travel agent told me as first timers and with a limited time frame, we would be best to do an escorted tour. Any comments or suggestions would be welcomed on what you experienced travellers feel is a better way to go.. We are intending to travel next year, end April to first week in June....6 weeks. We will be coming from Sydney, Australia.
 
Sep 20th, 2000, 11:03 AM
  #2  
Lanny Morry
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Greetings from Canada!

If you have never been to England, don't know precisely what you want to do, want to see a lot, don't want to have to worry about making arrangements to move every day or two from one hotel to another as you explore a different part of the country then I recommend a tour to familiarize yourself with the country and what you might want to visit on a future visit. A tour gives you the perfect opportunity to size up what really appeals so that subsequent holidays are really tailored to your precise dreams.

This said, I personally have done Insight in England twice -- once for the south of England in the 1980s and once with my elderly mother who did not want to worry about catching buses, trains, renting cars etc. for a two week tour of England/Wales/Scotland. I found the South of England tour to be absolutely, utterly wonderful and I would highly recommend it. It was 6 nights/7 days from London to Lands End and back again going through Rye, Salisbury, Stonhenge, Brighton, Glastonbury, and all my favourite parts of England -- the southwest area of Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall -- then up to Wales and back across via Oxford, Stratford etc. I would do it again in a minute even though I have been to England more than 20 times in the past decade. It is, simply, the easiest way to see many highlights in a short period of time. I was not so enamored of the long tour of all of England and Scotland, largely because two women from Australia got on it at the start with a terrible cold they had caught coming over to England and they shared it with the rest of us. By trip end the entire lot of us were sick as dogs. Two weeks is a long time to spend your time confined in a bus being ill together! I also found two weeks just a bit too restrictive as I would have liked to break away from the group before then and do other things.

You should be aware of the age group on the tours, though this was not a problem for me. Most people are 60 plus -- when I did my first tour I was in my 30s but travelling with my mum who is more than 30 year older than I. The mix of people is wonderful: you will find a healthy and genial mix for the most part, from my experience, made up of Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and a few Americans (Americans do not seem to know Insight as much as people from Commonwealth countries). I am still corresponding with a lawyer and his wife from Melbourne I met 12 years ago on one of these trips, so friendships can result. Or you can remain as private as you wish!

Is all of your time to be spent in England and Ireland? If it is I recommend you perhaps take two 7 day tours with time between them spent in a region that you can explore more fully in between time, whether you stay in a hotel or a B & B in the region.

Perhaps if you have specific questions you could e-mail me directly and I will try to respond.

In terms of your timing -- mid-May will offer you the most wonderful time for English gardens as you travel. The roses and rhodedendrons will all be at their peak then anywhere from the Midlands south. If you elect to take a a tour into Scotland at that time be prepared for cold. We drove through snow banks in the highlands in early June and it was never warm the whole time we were there, so time your trips north accordingly!

Lanny
 
Sep 20th, 2000, 11:57 AM
  #3  
Dave
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Kerryanne,

While I'm not vehemently against package tours, I can't imagine spending six weeks on one. Perhaps you might consider one or two shorter (one week?) tours for an overview and travel on your own the rest of the time.

Even better in my opinion would be to make your own travel/accomodation arrangements, but take several one or two day regional tours (Scottish Highlands, Lake District, Cotswolds, Wicklow Mtns, etc) which would combine some of the convenience of guided tours with a significant amount of flexibility.

Britain has an excellent rail service (by American standards it's fantastic so you needn't worry about driving if that's an concern (Public transportation in Ireland is much more limited). Also, being from Australia there's at least SOME commonality in language.

Dave
 
Sep 20th, 2000, 06:49 PM
  #4  
Kerryanne
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Lanny and Dave,

Thankyou both so much for responding...I must admit I hadn't considered doing separated tours therefore mixing up the people on board and allowing a few days breathing space in between... Thanks for the suggestion, I will now research into that also.

Coming from Australia and with the airfares being in the vicinity of US$4,000 each return we have to make the most of the six weeks leave we have. Thats why we thought we'd try and do Italy and Britain/Ireland at the same time, we also don't know when or if we will ever get the chance to go overseas again... Even thought I'd love to. But finances and a daughter with MS, are restrictions we face. So we figured we should do as much as possible, in case it's the only chance we ever get. I was told that self drive and B&B stays in Britain (which I'd love to do) are now a very expensive way to go in comparison to a complete tour package. Any thoughts on that? So long as the room is clean and the bed clean and there is a shower or bath, Im not so fussy so maybe even Inns would be okay. Although I have no idea of pricing...
Love to hear your thoughts, Lanny as you seem to be well travelled and probably quite recent and up to date with pricing...
 
Sep 21st, 2000, 04:36 AM
  #5  
Dave
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Kerryanne,

For coach tour info and pricing, take a look at "www.cietours.com" and "evanevans.co.uk". This will give you an idea of what's available.

By the way, I'm CERTAIN that I can travel cheaper on my own with a Britrail pass than with either of these companies - I have done so each of the past three years. However, I stay in basic (but USUALLY clean) budget B&B's and never eat in expensive restaurants. I also enjoy deciphering train and bus schedules, which is perhaps a bit odd!

April-June is a great time to go. I usually visit Britain in late May/early June and have almost invariably had great weather, and also seldom have to book accomodations in advance. If possible, you might consider doing Italy first since the climate might be more temperate in April? This Spring I went to Ireland in early April and, while it was a great trip, I wish I had been there a few weeks later when the Emerald Isle might have been a bit more green.

Dave

 
Sep 21st, 2000, 05:02 AM
  #6  
love2trvl
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Hi Kerryanne:
I have done tours and traveled independently. I have found that when I visited a place for the first time a tour is the way to go. This gives me a inkling as to what I want to visit when I return. Subsequent trips to these places has been on my own. 6 weeks is long time for Ireland/Britain, how about a trip to Paris or Amsterdam? I have used CIEtours and AirFrance Vacations. I was pleased with both. As a result I developed a love for Ireland, Britain, Amsterdam and Paris and European travel in general. My next tour will be to Italy so I can develop a new love. Have a wonderful trip!!!
 
Sep 21st, 2000, 06:23 AM
  #7  
Lanny
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Greetings back Kerryanne:

I cannot help you at all with Ireland as I have never been there (I am almost ashamed to admit), but I do know England/Wales/Scotland well, and Italy also. If you have not been to Italy and do not speak the language then I positively recommend a tour there but make it one of a decent length -- and here I would go to 10 days to 2 weeks without even thinking about it -- so that you have two or three nights in important cities such as Rome, Florence and Venice and tours fanning out from them through the intervening days.

Re England. Car hires are very, very expensive in England -- I had a car last year for 10 days and it cost me $800 Cdn. just for the car, and petrol costs the absolute earth. Before the lastest fuel rise the cost of a full tank in this modest Rover that I had was approximately $80 Cdn. ($100 Aus at current rates) and because I like to travel and see things I was filling the tank every couple of days at the minimum. I can only imagine what it is like now, but do know their rates are 2.5 times higher than here in Canada (we think $0.68.2 Cdn. per litre at the current time here is horrible after being around $0.50 Cdn./litre all of last year ) and is currently 3.1 times higher than the US service stations 20 miles from my home to my immediate south.

In terms of B & B rates outside of London and the Cotswolds, and a few key cities such as York and Chester which are trendy and therefore rather more expensive, most B & Bs run in the 15 to 25 pound per night range. They are more economical if you find a place to stay for a week or more and can pick up a weekly rate which is something I personally would recommend if you can pinpoint a couple of areas you would like to stay in longer and tour from there on local buses etc. For instance, since you are coming from Australian fall/winter and into English spring/summer were you to decide you wanted to spend some time on the seashore on the English Riviera around Torquay or Paignton, I can tell you that excellent B & Bs in Paignton came in at about 100 pounds per week, which is quite reasonable (I prefer the ones in Paignton to Torquay).

But by the time you factor in car hire, petrol, B & B and all your meals except breakfast, you are fast spending more than the package tour usually runs. So in that respect I think your travel agent is being absolutely honest with you.

If this is your possibly once in a lifetime trip then you need to maximize what you get to see so the tour does, as I say and as the travel agent told you, represent good value for your money. And you won't be worried about where to park the car all the time, which is an incessant problem in English cities and villages alike which were created long before anyone conceived of us all having vehicles. My advice still remains to break up the holiday in England a bit: a few days in London to get over jet lag and see the city, museums and galleries, then off on a tour, something like the Glorious South, then a rew days somewhere before your next tour.

One idea you might explore with your travel agent: could you do a tour, go half way to a point -- for instance then take a week in that area and catch the next tour back to your starting point? I know Insight seemed to have this flexibility in the past so you might explore it further.

Lanny



 
Sep 21st, 2000, 06:51 AM
  #8  
Mark
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Hi ...

Have you thought of getting Euro Train Pass or Brit Rail pass ....

They will give you unlimited train travel in GB & Europe for the length you desire ...

I have to say that if you have 6 weeks, you could cover more of Europe, eg. Paris .... although I'm English, I LOVE Paris !!

If you had a rail pass, then you could easily catch the train to some of these places ...

The problem with a tour is how rigid they are ... also you only get to see the tourist bits ...

Not sure of your age ... but wonder whether you might get bored ...

Mark
 
Sep 22nd, 2000, 04:20 AM
  #9  
Kerrryanne
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Thankyou everyone for all your helpful advice. I have to say after reading the posts the idea of driving and filling the tank with petrol at English pricing is not so attractive. I worry when it costs me $40.AUS to fill mine! And it would certainly add to the cost of the trip. So far the most appealing idea is definately doing the escorted tours and maybe breaking them up with a few days between each.

Thankyou all so much, happy travelling to all!
 
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