Organized tour or backpack?

Old Jan 30th, 2001, 07:28 AM
  #1  
CJ
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Organized tour or backpack?

My husband and I want to see Germany in May. I saw a tour called the Highlights of Germany, but I'm afraid of the tourist traps and living on someone else's schedule.

How well could we expect to fare if we just planned our own trip used the train for transportation? What are the pitfalls? I'd like to spend about 10 - 14 days...Thanks for your advice.
 
Old Jan 30th, 2001, 04:53 PM
  #2  
steve
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If you travel independently in the US and either speak some german or think you can get along, then you should have no trouble.

By travelling independently, you will be at your own schedule. You will not see everything that you would see with an organized tour because they cram as much as possible into their tours. HOwever, if you want to stay longer at a site, then you can. If you want to skip something, you can.

I have had several friends that took a tour on their first trip abroad and then went by themselves on subsequent trips.
 
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 07:31 AM
  #3  
Debbie
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CJ, I would suggest going on your own so you don't have to be on someone else's schedule. Just about everywhere you go you will find people that speak English but it is always more fun to learn some of the language of the country.
Half the fun of travel is planning your trip and you don't get that with a tour. Going through internet sites for hotels and reading books to plan your itinerary really get you into your trip. You could easily rent a car if you are into seeing some of the outlying towns. I travel by train since I travel alone but it makes it hard to stop for lunch in a cute little village somewhere. Trains are pretty easy though and a great way to meet people.
 
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 07:46 AM
  #4  
Kerry
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While I've done visited Germany, I did backpack through London, Belgium, France & Spain some years ago.

I'm definately the type of person who likes to be independent and not restricted to tours. These billboards are a great way to assist you in planning for your trip - use them frequently!

Doing it yourself and having the freedom to adjust your schedule is definately worth it in the end.

Good luck & have fun!
 
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 09:43 AM
  #5  
Thyra
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CJ, another vote for the do it yourself method of travel. Keep in mind that if you go by yourself you will need to plan more, (which I find half the fun) it's so delightful to find quaint hotels or campgrounds little cafe's and restaurants that are yours alone. Also, independent travel allows you to connect with locals in a way that is nearly impossible when you travel with a tour company and are surrounded by a bunch of other tourists.
If you like to linger at a flower shop, stay in bed all day, splurge on a big dinner or simply go to a local market and pick up some fresh fruits and bread you can! Tours tend to be shuffled into large restaurants that can handle 20-50 guests etc. You have to get up at such and such a time, and you may only have 45 minutes at a sight before you have to head back to the bus and join the others!
The trains in Germany are some of the best in the world.
You can get a lot of information
on www.raileurope.com
(there is also another website for Germany alone, unfortunately I don't have their address) you can get wonderful information on distances between cities and travel times.
I have been to Europe many times and even at 21 never took a tour! It's very easy. As mentioned above, pick up a little German Language tape, to learn the polite words, thanks, please, hello etc. Pick up a few guide books (adds to the fun)
Pack lightly and keep an open mind, Germany is wonderful and you will have a spectacular time!
 
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 11:04 AM
  #6  
Christopher Woolson
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CJ:

If you are hesitant to adhere to someone else's schedule then by all means - DO IT YOURSELF! I highly recommend it if you are even thinking about it.

I went to Germany, Austria and Czech over Thanksgiving 2000 with two friends. It was my first trip to these countries and their first trip to Europe so that gives you and idea of our experience.

Munich was easy to navigate and everyone spoke English though we did try our best at German. The airport was easy as was the Metro... we walked quite a bit and had reservations for the trains between countries.

We had our Fodor's Guide with us to help avoid the tourist traps as well as find those we wanted to hit.

Each of our trains were on time and extremely comfortable. Its a great way to travel and see the countryside... without having to pay attention to directions or other drivers.

I wish you luck!

Christopher Woolson
http://www.flamingo-travel.com
 
Old Jan 31st, 2001, 11:15 AM
  #7  
Bill
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I would be very surprised to see ANYONE on this forum recommend an organized tour. Most of us would go crazy being shuttled around on a bus from place to place, on a stop-watch schedule. Organized tours are for the timid or the elderly... or perhaps those who just don't realize that there is a better way to travel. If you have even a little sense of adventure, you will have a great time on your own. Get a German phrase book and a guidebook attuned to your sort of travel. I recommend Rick Steves for both. In May, you won't even need to make reservations if you want to play it by ear.
 

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