Is 'Tour' a Dirty Word?

Aug 3rd, 2001, 08:28 AM
  #1  
SingleLady
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Is 'Tour' a Dirty Word?

I was so excited when I got information about a tour I'm hoping to take to England next year. My spirits plummetted, however, when I read several scathing comments about 'tours' here on the boards. Should I change my mind and just stay home? I'd hate to think I'd be spending my hard earned, carefully saved money on such a frivolous waste of time.
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 08:32 AM
  #2  
Mary Jayne
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Personally, having done a lot of tours (particularily with Grand Circle and Saga) we have felt tours are wonderful, particularily the first time a person visits an area. After you have been somewhere on a tour, you may want to go back and spend the time with your own plans. However with a tour, things are taken care of for you and you don't have to worry about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just pick one that sounds good to you. If you don't want to be too regimented, choose one where you stay in one place for a bit, rather than on the bus every day (which can be a drag). Pick and choose and try it. Some folks are soooo self sufficient that they scoff at those who prefer tours. Do what YOU want to. Enjoy. Mary Jayne
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 08:52 AM
  #3  
Alice
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Our first trip to Europe ten years ago was on a tour our son and his wife sponsored for us and his mother-in-law - a very, very special Mothers' and Father's Days gift.

We all went to Portugal and Spain and it was marvelous to be on a tour, where we didn't have to spend any time planning where to go, where to stay, where to eat (well, we did do that a few times), and there was also no problem about our being in agreement. It was a fantastic trip without a worry. We saw a lot, did a lot, and since professionals had it all planned out, it was extremely time efficient.

Now, I must say that since then we have gone to Europe on our own without a tour and loved that, too. Of course, I'm not a single woman and if I was, I'd stick with the tours because I'm certainly not a loner. All the work is done for you and you also have people to meet and get to know while you're together for a couple of weeks or so.

Whatever you do, however you go - DO GO TO EUROPE. It's fantastic! We're going again next May and I've already started the planning (half the fun to me).
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 09:12 AM
  #4  
Joan
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Touring with a group is better if you don't try to skimp...this is not a time to save $200. You get what you pay for with tours much more than when you are solo. I did the "tour" thing when I was younger and would again when solo and older 'cause I'm not going to give up my beloved travelling. But I learned the hard way that the quality of hotel can be downright depressing if you try to budget too hard.
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 09:13 AM
  #5  
carol
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I couldn't agree more with Mary Jayne. As a single woman who has travelled independently and with tours, I really enjoy both. As a matter of fact, if I'm not planning to stay in one place (Paris, Rome, etc.), I wouldn't travel any other way than on a tour. When I was younger, it was kind of fun to schlep by train or local bus from one destination to another, but honestly, these days I enjoy the ease of travel a tour provides, and the companionship of folks who share my interest in a particular area. My only advice is to choose your tour company very carefully. Make sure that the maximum number of people is not more than 25, that you are provided some free time, that if there are "optional" excursions, you are not charged an arm and a leg for each one, and try to find out where the hotels are located (I prefer those which are close to the center). Please please don't change your mind--hold on to that excitement and enjoy the trip.
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 09:34 AM
  #6  
Hiho
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I would say that tours have both negative and positive aspects, and travelling independently has both also. I would not want to go on a tour in most cases, nor would I recommend that, but if you feel more comfortable travelling that way, by all means do so.
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 10:10 AM
  #7  
andi
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I too am a solo traveler, and have found wonderful, very small group tours to be just terrific. These are somewhat pricey, and are geared to special interests (in my case, hiking) but there are cooking trips, art related trips, etc. I think the key, if you can afford it, is small groups.
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 10:20 AM
  #8  
Dianne
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SingleLady,

Don't "just stay home". Sure travelling costs money, but what are you going to do instead - buy a new fridge, get new carpeting? There's nothing more exciting than travelling and everyone should experience it.
Get some guidebooks on England so you can make the best of any free time the tour does allow. You'll find you'll soon be excited about the trip again!
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 10:28 AM
  #9  
Capo
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I echo Hiho's sentiments exactly on this.

I, personally, would not choose to go on a tour but that's merely my preference. There are a lot of other things people enjoy doing that I don't care to do...like jumping out of airplanes, watching pro football, or voting Republican. :~)
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 12:30 PM
  #10  
carol
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Oh boy. I'm afraid Hiho and Capo both reflect the perhaps inadvertent but absolutely inevitable smug and condecending attitudes about tours of "independent" travellers, as though travelling on one's own is inherently better--all that blather about getting to know the "real" people and the culture. Puhleeze give me a break--it's just so much holier than thou. They give one the impression that there isn't a tour in the world that could provide one with perhaps an even greater opportunity for true entree into, and understanding of another culture. Oh well, more's the pity. I'm afraid they still think that all tours are alike and tacky--when just the opposite is true.
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 12:44 PM
  #11  
Capo
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Carol, unfortunately you make the mistake many people do, confusing preference with judgment. I didn't judge, or belittle, people who choose tours; I merely said tours are not my preference.

If I say I prefer red wine to white wine (which I do) is that "holier-than-thou" towards people who like white wine?
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 01:10 PM
  #12  
Tammy
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GO ON THE TOUR! If this is something you want to do, then go for it, don't listen to the criticism and have a wonderful time. My first trip to Europe 4 years go was a tour. I don't regret for one moment going on the tour. Yes, there were times that I got a little tired of being apart of a group, but I was able to see a heck of a lot in a short amount of time. The tour gave me the courage to know that I can plan trips myself without any problem. Since '97, I've been to London, Paris twice, and going to Spain in October. "Tour" might come across as a dirty word on this site because for the most part posters enjoy planning and taking trips without the use of travel agents and tours. Have a a wonderful trip!
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 01:26 PM
  #13  
elaine
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Hi
I don't know why we all can't just agree to accept different opinions, and
"agree to disagree" but that's another topic. I don't think anyone
has referred to tours as "frivolous wastes of time", which is a pretty
provocative statement in itself. Some people do express opinions in a way that seems to exclude any other possibilities; that's unfortunate.

Tours are great if you like them; they are awful if you don't like them. Tours are great if you go on a good one; they are awful if you go on a bad one.

If you've found one that has made you excited and interested, if you know that you will be staying in decent, well-located hotels, if you are satisfied with how much time you will have in the places that interest you, if you are looking forward to the conveniences and you accept the compromises,then you are making the right choice for you and you should have a great time.
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 01:29 PM
  #14  
Mel
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Single Lady: GO and have a great time! My first visit to Europe was as part of a Trafalgar London/Paris/Rome tour my sister and I took in 1994. It was a great way to ease the nervousness of travel to a new place. It gave me the confidence to travel independently, which was a true gift.
I'd just recommend that you use whatever free time you're given to wander on your own, talk to locals and imagine you are on your own--how would you handle the little things that the tour helps you with? Are they things you realize you could do yourself? Asking yourself these questions will help you prepare for your next trip--and there WILL be a next trip! Smile a lot to your bus mates, be tolerant of your differences and don't give in to the "shop till you drop" mentality of the tour guides. If you don't need anything at a particular shopping stop, ask the tour guide what time the bus leaves and take a walk! Have a great time!
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 03:20 PM
  #15  
Mariarosa
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Hi SingleLady! Definitely go on your tour and don't let the "scathing comments" ruin your enthusiasm!

The first few times I went to Europe, as a child/teenager, were on organized tours. I went with my family. For the most part we had a great time. Our favorite part of going with a tour was meeting other people on the tour. The tours that we went on were for Spanish-speakers and there were people from all over Latin America and all over Spain. I became friends on those tours with two girls - one from Mexico and one from Argentina - that became my "pen pals" for many years afterwards. We would always have a group to go out in the evening exploring. It was fun. I did notice on those tours that the age, on average, of the people on tours from North America tended to be much older than the tours from Latin America. I found this very interesting. I think Americans, on average, are very independent, which is why, I think, many people on this board have made "scathing comments" about tours. In the tours I went entire families travel together and the age groups vary from children to the grandparents (in fact, one year we travelled with my grandparents too).

Nowadays, I travel independently. For me, independent travel is much better value and a better use of my time - you choose exactly where you want to stay, where you want to go, how long you stay, etc. However, for people traveling by themselves (like Single Ladies) a tour gives them the opportunity to meet other people. Enjoy!
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 04:18 PM
  #16  
Philip
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I have been on several tours and I find they are a great way to explore new territory. Tours are great because they do all the driving, hotel booking and they get you to the places that you really want to see (and sometimes ahead of the people standing in line).

Tours can be bad if you have weirdos on the tour. Just try to ignore them and focus on what you are seeing. I've met several wonderful people on tours and I was able to explore the city with them. Also I've never known the food on tours to be anything other than mediocre. Try to plan a few meals away from the group.

Also read and decode tour brochures carefully. Things like "This is a good day to catch up on your postcards" really mean "There ain't nothing to do in this backwater town." Don't be afraid to use the internet or telephone to find out how far your hotel is from a main attraction. Call a hotel and ask them if the hotel is within walking distance of "such and such". And does the city you are going to have a decent subway or bus system. Do a little research before you go and there won't be too many surprises. (Plus that research really kicks in when one person on the tour tries to hog the tour guide all to theirself).
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 04:20 PM
  #17  
Tourist Trapper
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Just be sure to check the small print on the brochure. Look for the length of time spent in each stop. This will give you an idea of what to expect. I was very disappointed when I saw what little time was spent in some interesting places. This will also show you the size of the tour busses, how many people on each tour and what the optional excursions will cost. Get all the brochures you can and compare.
This way you won't (hopefully) have any disappointing surprises.
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 04:30 PM
  #18  
Sue
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Hi SL


Tours solve some problems about travel but create some new ones. However, the same applies for travelling independently.

Whichever method of travel you choose, you will be able to solve the problems intrinsic to each method in the course of planning your trip. So, not to worry! Go back to feeling excited!

Your use of the word 'scathing' suggests you may be upset by criticisms that are meaningless and completely counterproductive, in that they don't point the way to a solution. "Only cultureless idiots take tours" or some such drivel isn't worth your getting upset.

Personally, I find criticism to be most constructive when it is specific, that is, it reveals what *specific* goals can demonstrably be better served by one travel method as opposed to the other. For someone to say that a given method isn't one's preference is to give information about oneself, as opposed to information about the issue raised. Giving information about oneself isn't very helpful unless one is a famous travel celebrity like say, Arthur Frommer.



 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 05:02 PM
  #19  
Kathy
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By all means, GO! I agree with all (except Carol) above, even tho I travel independent and often, alone. However, if being alone is not your thing go with a group. Do research and remember, you can drop out of the tour at any time. Just let the guide know you will not be along the following day. I have done one tour and that was to China. There were approx 40 people and lots of singles so I had a great time. Because China can be difficult i was very glad I chose a tour. In your case I believe the advantage would be just not being alone. Once you go you'll never stop!
 
Aug 3rd, 2001, 09:53 PM
  #20  
Alma
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I just got back from a wonderful 15 day tour.I went by myself. My husband stayed home. There were 40 people on the tour. Almost all meals, other than lunch, were included. Bagage handling, hotel booking, sightseeing and fun trips were included. I met wonderful people, got lots of pictures & memories. I also went by myself, without a tour, to Paris right after my British tour. I didn't have a very good time and I think it was lonely for me after 40 people on the other tour. We had lots of laughs and we keep in touch with email now. Look for my post, Collette Tour. It will tell you about the group. I did years of research for the tour. This was a first class tour with a great tour guide. What ever you do, don't listen to the negative but do search & check the small print. Not all tours include choices for dinner and lots of tours have options to buy that can run into $300+ a person, if you don't want to miss events.What ever you do, don't stay home. I know my trip was a once and a lifetime vacation and I'd go again with a group anytime.
 

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