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Possible 2010 itineraries for touring England with group of high school students

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Possible 2010 itineraries for touring England with group of high school students

Old Jan 1st, 2009, 05:00 AM
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Possible 2010 itineraries for touring England with group of high school students

For my 3rd trip to England, I am considering leading a group of students using EF Tours in June 2010. (I teach at a small private school and teach classes to homeschooled students, too.) I will probably have between 6 and 12 students. I went as a parent with EF Tours in 2005 and this is a great way to facilitate getting young people to Europe. And no, Iím not interested in doing the logistics of planning such a group excursion on my own. If it happens, it will be with a tour group, and this is the one Iím familiar and happy with.

Iím starting my planning really early and donít even have commitments from parents yet, but Iím looking at the possible itineraries now. The tour I went on in 2005 was terrific and went to Brighton, Bath, Stonehenge, Salisbury, Cheddar, Warwick, Stratford, Oxford and London for 3 days. Much as I enjoyed that, I donít want to repeat it. The two tours Iím looking at both go to Oxford, York, and Bath and have time in London. (Only 1 goes to Stonehenge, which I love but I wouldnít make my decision based just on that. One tour has 3 days in London, the other only 2, but the 2-day tour includes seeing a play at the Globe. The 3 day tour would give us time to tour the 4 things Iíd put on the top of my first-time-mustsóThe Tower, Westminster, St. Paulís and the British Museumówhereas the 2 day tour would probably only allow time for 3 of those.)

So my question is about the places that arenít on both tours. What are your comments on these destinations for 16-18 year olds (who are very good kids and mostly very good students and have had me for English Lit):

Duxford and the Imperial War Museum
Whitby Abbey
Fountains Abbey
Blenheim Palace/Bladon
OR
Rydal Mount/Lake District
Haworth/Bronte Museum
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 06:04 AM
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hi texasbookworm,

Duxford and Imperial War Museum are on my personal "to do" list for when I can get there.

Airplanes are great attractors to many, and after looking at a number of old, grand houses/palaces, they all start to look the same (sorry, that could offend some, but I think it does happen).

If you can get him, my son's tour EF tour group had Peter Jacques as tour director. I think that was Peter's last name. I remember discussions of whether to use a British or French pronunciation.

Get a good tour director and you should have a good tour, doesn't much matter the company. That's become my opinion after my own experiences and reading many others'.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 06:11 AM
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If you do a search for EF tours you will find plenty of negative comments and bad experiences along with a few good ones (first time posters - EF employees?). If you want a decent student tour, then go with a mid-range student tour company instead of low budget. The lowest budget tours are EF and Explorica. A nice mid-range would be CHA or Passports. The best would NETC or ACIS.

Just so you know how this works, unless you pick a private tour (at more $$$'s) for just your group, you will be combined with other school groups. You may be stuck with middle school kids or a group of party kids. Just because you select a tour there is no guarantee you will get it especially since you are a small group. Decisions about which tour you actually end up on will be EF's, not yours and you won't be informed of the change until last minute. If a group of 25 pick one tour and you as a smaller group pick the other, you will usually be switched. EF will almost always base their decisions (whether to change things in the midst of the tour or before)on what the large group wants especially if that group leader has traveled with them before.

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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 06:15 AM
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scotlib - What student tour companies have you actually traveled with? They are very different in quality/location of hotels and what is included.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 06:24 AM
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Read these two threads.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34780804

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34821706
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 06:48 AM
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hi kybourbon,

I have only traveled with EF. It is exactly as you write: have a small group and you get lumped with another. You could get changes last minute and hate it. Routes get changed and you may not like them. I have read all those stories online.

I know we had a great time and I have thoroughly come to believe it was because we had a great tour director. It was his history background that got us an unlisted stop at an American cemetery in the Netherlands (it was after we stopped at Aachen and then headed to Paris, so exact location I have no idea!). That one stop really made the trip for my WW2-buff son.

The teacher who leads our school's trips also thought highly of Peter in comparison to other past EF tour directors (but the students of those trips enjoyed themselves, too, not just my son's trip).

We stayed at 4 hotels. The one-nighter I would not re-use, two of the multi-night stay hotels were either right on or near a tram/tube stop. The Paris hotel was a bit further to walk, but doable.

I would not be surprised if the one-night hotel was the absolute cheapest. Something along the lines of we were only there long enough to sleep one night so it is the least important of the hotels.

Actually, maybe I did do some work to help get a good trip. I did some reading before the trip, so when it was "free time," I had some ideas of what to do. But I would do more next trip. For the locations that are actual stops, I would read a lot. We visited the Louvre and I was not ready with a map to know which way I wanted to go, that's an example of pre-planning for which I would do more.

Maybe we just got lucky, I don't know, but we used EF and had a very fine time.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 06:57 AM
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My latest trip to England was with my 18 year old. Highlights:
Imperial War Museum
Tower of London (of course)
a day in Bath-the Abbey, the baths and the beautiful little park she now says she wants to be married in
and Stonehenge/Avebury/driving through the Cotswolds.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 08:37 AM
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scotlib - It was your comment that EF wasn't any different than other student companies. I've traveled with several different companies and there are big differences. Yes, some people luck up and get a good EF tour, but if you ever have a bad one, you will never wish that on anyone again. I think this is a year many might get lucky because of the economy and hotel availability. I would rather pay a bit more and have a nice tour than to use EF or Explorica again. They are the bottom of the barrel of student tours, use the same hotels (sometimes an hour from the city you are supposed to be staying in) and Explorica founders are former EF execs.

Another option is to book a group package through companies like Go-today, Gate 1, Virgin Vacations. You would have flights, trains, hotels (you pick from their selection)etc., but could be own your own for the actual sightseeing.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 10:17 AM
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I can HIGHLY RECOMMEND NETC TOURS. I have taken 3 trips with them in the last 4 years with high school students. They are a fantastic company. The tour guides are the best I've dealt with. They really interact with the students and challenge them with questions about the historic sights we have visited.

I would recommend you look into their company.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 11:11 AM
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kybourbon,
Thanks for the group package operators names. I am keeping those for future reference!

When the OP specified EF, I though, oh, oh, here's a potential can of worms! The links you give do give the typical picture of what I have read of EF. I posted on the second one myself, when it rose from the depths of old posts.

I wrote "doesn't much matter the company" because from reading online (Fodor's and other forums) that when complaints are posted, 9 of 10 are likely against EF, but the remainder could be Passport, NETC, ASIS, Globus, Trafalgar, any company.

The tour director as saviour or terminator of saving or destroying the tour was not always mentioned, but mentioned enough times in either direction that I now have my personal theory of tour director's importance.


Mamaw,
I love your trip reports. Yes, your kids have had great tours and I hope you get to go on many more.


Unfortunately, just about any company but EF costs too much for the kids at my school. I kept careful track of what we spent on my son's trip. Even with the optional stuff added in it was still less.

I am most grateful for the trip because I realized that I could do the same myself, and now have made a trip independently to the UK, with another one in the works.


Back to the OP's destination question, I still vote for Duxford and War Museum
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