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Italy tour decisions

Old Jan 1st, 2006, 12:13 PM
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Italy tour decisions

My husband and I are really debating on a trip to Italy this year. We have never been to Italy or Europe for that matter. We do prefer a escorted tour. I am debating between Insight, Globus, or Go Ahead vacations. If anyone has any latest opinions please let me know. I know most people are not into tours on Fodors. Thank-you.
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Old Jan 1st, 2006, 05:42 PM
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My sister-in-law and her husband took a Globus tour a couple of years ago. They enjoyed it very much, but after hearing about their trip upon their return, I was struck by a few thoughts.

Every day started very early (packed, fed and on the bus by 7:30 am). That's too early for me day after day, and of course you can't change your mind once you're on the tour.

Because they were travelling primarily by bus, their hotels were all outside the historical centers of each town (so that the bus could pull up to the hotel entrance). Perhaps this isn't a big issue if you're being transported everywhere, but I would miss the experience of staying in the older sections.

They couldn't remember where they saw things. The tour just moved too fast every day for them to remember (and savor) the details.

Other than the tour guide(s), they had almost no contact with Italians. What a shame.

I don't know whether other tour companies have itineraries similar to the Globus tour my SIL took, but I'd suggest you look for the "slowest" itinerary (i.e., more time spent in each place).
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 04:13 AM
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Jean, Thanks for your reply. Each tour has various paced tours to try and accomodate those who would choose a slower pace, which also stays 3 nights in each town versus 2. It is nice to see as much as you can, but if you see so much you can't remember what you saw good would that be right? We are in our mid 50's and traveling alone on our own as the adventurous do isn't for us at this point in time. Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 04:57 AM
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I have taken several Globus tours both on my own as well as with my husband. I agree that many of the tours are fast paced and often you stay outside of the city centre. I was a travel agent for years and sold both Globus and Insight...both are good quality. I am very adventurous so we would often break away from the tour group and do our own thing, which made for a more interesting tour. I think for a first time to Italy/Europe a tour is not a bad way to go and usually offers good value considering your transportation, portage, hotels, some meals and sightseeing are included. The optional tours can rack up quite an expense and you are often at the mercy of the tour group as the hotels are not centrally located. My experience is that the group meals are often uninspiring...but in Italy they were better than what we came to expect in other countries. I agree that I would choose a tour that spends several days in a location, as there is nothing worse than being whisked away from a city before you have had a chance to get acquainted. Heidelberg we had 1 hour and 10 minutes to see the cathedral...have lunch...use the facilities...and shop...not likely!! We were late coming into Vienna due to a highway accident and had little more than 3 hours to try and see some sights...very sad. We were having such a love affair with Salzburg that the bus almost left without us. I have very much enjoyed the escorted tours I have taken in the past but they pale in comparison to the trips we have taken where we traveled on our own by train and car rental...eating where we choose and lingering in a place if we feel compelled to do so.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 05:42 AM
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Yes and your point is well taken. I agree. I think if we went once and really loved it we could go back alone on our own but for first time travelers to this country I would feel better on a tour. I would love to know the people, feeling "stressed" trying to get around drive, etc. I might not feel like I am even on a vacation at all.

Do you have nay preference for Insight versus Globus? I take it you prefer Globus since you traveled with them? It seems Insight is more $$$ is there a good reason for the additional money? One usually gets what you pay for. Better hotels food quality etc. perhaps?
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 06:27 AM
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Grand Circle (www.gct.com)has slow paced tours with usually every other day a free day for sightseeing on your own. I think someone had a complaint about them last year but I'm sure if you use the search function above you will find complaints on every tour company. Check with the BBB also.

Look for a tour that spends at least 3 nights in each city and doesn't backtrack (begins and ends in the same city).
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 06:58 AM
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I did consider Grand Circle but they do not offer the cities I would like to visit. other than that factor they seem to offer a great price. Yes I think the 3 nights is best but then again I will not see one of the places I have always wanted to see, Isle of Capri. The 3 nighters just include the 3 main cities.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 07:10 AM
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Hi Diann,

I've visited Europe 4 times, all planned on my own. 3 trips with friends and one completely solo to Italy this past Sept. So, I cannot comment on your tour choices, since I am one of those people who would find a tour my worst nightmare....

But, the one best comment I can make is not to be intimidated about going to Europe if you want to try it on your own. It's just not that different. Most people seem to catch on to the basics of getting around, shopping, ordering in restaurants, in just a day. As far as getting stressed out about it - why? Nothing tragic is going to happen. The worst might be you get somewhere a little later than planned. Small inconveniences in exchange for your freedom.

Happy planning and buon viaggio!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 07:18 AM
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To be honest...Globus gave a better agent discount. I sold both products and my clients were pleased with both. I would compare where the hotels are located as I know that Globus has moved the hotels further and further out of the city centres in order to keep their costs from escalating. From my experience, you might find Insight has a few more inclusions...included sightseeing, meals etc. I would definately compare that aspect as the optional tours can range in price from USD30.00 to USD120.00 per tour plus tips.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 07:22 AM
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List your itinerary options and we will see which one makes the most travel sense.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2006, 08:38 AM
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Diann, please don't think youth is a requirement for adventure! (I'll be 55 this year.) Unescorted travel only requires additional research, and I believe additional research translates to greater understanding of what you're seeing and better (and more accurate) memories of your trip. Dayle's comments were perfect. Nothing terrible will happen if you can't figure something out. Just make your plans and ask questions here before you go, at your hotel when you get there, at the train station, at the restaurant, etc. We've received some great tips from Americans and Europeans we've met in our hotel, at the next table at dinner, on the train, etc. When you arrive in a city, you can take walking tours or escorted day trips to nearby sights.
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