Italy 40th Birthday Trip

Oct 7th, 2009, 08:43 AM
Original Poster
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Italy 40th Birthday Trip

HI all,
I have gleaned much advice from these forums over the past few years and I have a trip to Italy to plan for the end of May 2010. The occasion is my 40th birthday and after my last trip to Italy in Feb/March 2006 I decided that I would return for my birthday. I have a group of 10 who would be travelling together. Here is my itinerary that I have put together:
Day 1: Leave US, Day2: Arr Venice/ afternoon Venice,Day3: Venice,Day4: Venice
Day5:Venice to Florence,Day6: Florence (day trip to Sienna/San G),
Day7: Florence (David) to Rome,Day8: Rome (Forum Colliseum),Day9: Rome (Vatican)
Day10: Rome,Day 11: Fly back to US
I would like input on coordinating group travel, hotel accomodations and any other advice on group travel. I have talked with a travel agent that is pushing me toward an organized tour(not so bad) but my friends seem to think I could put together a much more interesting and cost effective tour.
Thanks, Rich.
olympicgaym is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 08:50 AM
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The trio Venice-Florence-Rome is a pretty common package and you may be able to find it at a good on web consolidators such as Gate1, Expedia, Go-Today, alitalia, evacations, or vacationstogo. i would take a day from Venice and trade with Florence; 3-3-3 is better. Price it out and compare.
Viajero2 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 08:52 AM
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Hi O,

>I have a group of 10 who would be travelling together.....I would like input on coordinating group travel,....<


That said,

You have a good itinerary.

Don't put out any money for anyone else. If someone is interested in going, have them put up a nonrefundable deposit. If anything has to be paid for in advance, get he money from them - or they don't go.

I believe that the TA's can put together a group tour in which 9 pay and the 10th goes free. Have you checked into that?

ira is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 09:16 AM
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Thanks for your responses.
Ira - I do have a trip that a TA put together that is just that: 9 pay 10th free. The trip is a good balance of 1/2day tours and full free days.

I only question the TA approach, because some have asked why I changed my original concept of self planning. I have no problem planning trips for my partner and I, but that is 8 less people to keep happy!
olympicgaym is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 09:45 AM
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I took 4 couples to Italy in 2007 and 6 in 2008. It takes work but both were good trips. Lots of time apart also was key. I am a TA but more so a huge lover of Italy. The first was a group of friends the second not and the first one was a real pleasure! The second not so much as there were two couples with no social graces whatsover that gave credence to the term "ugly Americans".

I would also take a day from Venice and add to Florence as with your day trips from there you will hardly have any time in Florence at all.

Book hotels with staffed front desks so there is always someone to answer questions. If you plan to dine together you will absolutely need reservations. I made them about a month in advance, and several nights we were on our own for dinner which was nice.

If you are responsible for buying any tickets at all, get all monies up front and make them non refundable as Ira suggests. We had one couple last year that bailed on everything planned in Tuscany at the last minute and then wanted their money back but that did not happen as everyone else would have had to pick up their slack.

Make sure everyone agrees on what they want in a hotel so oyu do not get any whining.

Good luck!
kfusto is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 09:56 AM
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You will probably have some drop outs when everyone realizes the cost.

As mentioned above, Do not make any financial commitments for anyone. Keep your financial life very simple. No group reservations (except restaurants).

The Venice, Florence, then Rome plan is a good one.

Personally, I would try to simply tell the group the city schedule, the hotels that you have booked and the flights that you have booked and let them make their own commitments. Also, I would avoid detail, hour by hour planning.

That is a pretty big group to be going around as a herd.
Big_Red is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 10:09 AM
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hi olympic,

i agree with Big Red. I would find some accommodation that YOU like, and can accommodate your group size, then leave it up to them. you want to be able to relax, not feel responsible because someone doesn't like the colour of their bedroom wallpaper.

Once you have numbers [and know who the participants are] you can start thinking about meals. why not ask each couple to be responsible for dinners in one place? - agree a budget [doesn't have to be the same each night] and let them sort it out. breakfast wil be in the hotel and lunches as and when.

as for sightseeing, unless you want to do everything as a group, again, i would simply say what you intend [eg, you are booking the galleria Borghese on a certain day and time] and again, leave it up to them.

have a great trip,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 10:55 AM
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Thanks all.
I plan on meeting with the group and putting all of the options on the table. TA vs Self planned, etc.

My original concept was to have this be a more independent minded trip with everyone making their own arrangements.

I will keep you updated as the planning progresses.
olympicgaym is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 11:19 AM
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I would leave first thing in the morning for Rome on day 8. Since the train trip between the two cities is less than 2 hours, you'll have most of the first day to explore Rome. That way you have a full day in Florence.

I'm leaving for Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice) in a few weeks on a trip I planned and booked myself. When I priced out the cost of doing it with a tour company (and I checked quite a few of them) it was almost DOUBLE what we could do on our own--and we are staying in decent hotels in great locations. I figured in the cost of sightseeing, local transportation, meals, etc. It will be my second trip there.

On the other hand, several people have given good advice on the financial pitfalls of planning for 10 people. One compromise might be using a tour company (Perillo does this for instance--but I assume others do also), that arranges independent trips. You pick only the services you want (e.g. if you only want them to book hotels you choose the hotels you want) and everyone pays for their share directly to the company. It's still one stop shopping, but gives you greater flexibility and may save money.
Rachel62 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 03:06 PM
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I would think you could do better on your own. If you do decide to go with a tour, make sure to check out the location of the hotels. They are often a long way from everything you want to see, which is one of the biggest reasons not to take a tour. The reason your TA is pushing a tour is because she will get a commission!

One big thing you need to decide ahead of time is how you plan to pay for meals where you all eat together. Will you just split the bill evenly among everybody? Will people want to pay to the penny just for what they have ordered. (If that is the case, at least it's a little easier in Italy, where the tax and service are included in the price listed on the menu for the most part.) This kind of thing can cause a lot trouble if you don't have it very clear ahead of time.
SusanP is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 03:10 PM
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oh, yes, Susan,

didn't ellenm have a trip where this caused big problems?

keep us posted, olympic on what you decide to do!
annhig is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 04:21 PM
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I think planning a trip for ten people sounds like a great way to NOT have a wonderful 40th bnirthday trip...
hazel1 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 04:31 PM
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Unless you are planning on becoming a travel agent there is no way I would organize this trip. You don;t want to be in the position of nagging friends or family about payments, decisions and mediating between everyone's ideas of what they want to do.

Agree to go to a service like Gate1 and buy a package that YOU like. Then tell everyone else what you are doing and let them make their own arrangements through the travel company. That way everyone gets the type/budget hotel they want and you aren;t stuck with people pulling out at the last moment - or expecting you to give them refunds etc.

Travel should be by train. You can provide the schedule and say when you'll be traveling and everyone can buy their tickets once in Italy.

And don;t try to do every activity all together. There will be early risers, late diners; some people who want to be on the go every moment and some who want to sit and do nothing for hours.

Give everyone your itinerary - and a list of other choices with times. Then those heading to the same place can go together - or not.

IMHO - this is the only way to travel with 4 or more people. Everyone gets what they want and there are no conflicts.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 04:34 PM
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Sorry - I've organized a trip for just 4 - the beau and I as well as by B and SIL. It was a road trip and worked out well because we stayed several night sin each place. Some days two of us would take the car and do one thing, while the other two would do a different activity. Some days we divided into couples and some days we divided by boys and girls - and some days all together.

It worked very well - and we had a lot more to talk about at dinner. And the beau and B weren't bored by the fold museum and we didn;t have t wait around the town while they golfed.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 05:36 PM
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I hope to balance the trip with plenty of independent time for all. I have expressed since the beginning that we would all be together but not glued together for the trip!! Most who plan on going, are going because they seem to think I will be a great tour guide and show them a good time because I am such a swell guy!!
I am getting everyone together this weekend and present the two options: TA planned trip or my ala cart version. I will be doing a lot of research in the next few days on hotels.
All your advice is well taken.
olympicgaym is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 07:12 PM
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Rich, do you really want to spend your time in Italy being a "tour guide" for nine other people? If you do I have a question, have you done this before? I am sure you are a great guy but honestly I wonder if you will feel like you are by the end of your trip.
LoveItaly is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 04:18 AM
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nytraveler-- planning a trip for 4 is nowhere near as complicated as planning a trip for 10; not even close. Like a good engineer would say, this is not linear, but an exponential relationship.
Viajero2 is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 05:34 AM
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Just a thought but you could consider self catering & get apartments in the same building. The apartment on the top floor - yours as the birthday boy - should have a roof garden where you can all breakfast & discuss where each couple/group were planning to visit each day or exchange notes on the previous days visits. Failing the roof garden the courtyard on the ground floor.
johngerard is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 06:17 AM
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Hi Rich,

From my own limited experience and what I have heard from others I think that trying to please 10 people for more than a day is almost impossible.

Let the professionals do it. Explain to your friends how lucky they are to get a 10% discount.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 06:19 AM
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Ditto LoveItaly on Oct 7, 09 at 10:12 PM
ira is offline  

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