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tamtravels Jan 19th, 2007 08:35 PM

Quick tour for first trip? Or wait for bigger trip?
Ok so I finally decided, I'm going to Italy! I've wanted to go for a long time, but planning can be confusing. Here's the big question at the moment. I favor a tour since it's my first trip to Europe and I may or may not have a travel companion. Should I take a quick tour (8 or 9 days) now just to get an idea of where I should go on a longer trip? Or wait til next spring (a whole year....) and take the Rick Steves tour (14 or 17 days) I have in mind? I'm feeling impatient now that I've decided I've waited long enough. However it's pretty expensive and I don't want to spend that much without being really sure. Airfare alone is pretty scarey stuff. Help!

kathypdoe Jan 19th, 2007 10:06 PM

I say go for it. On our first trip we went to Rome with side trips to Pompeii and Florence... sure it wasn't enough time in each place, but it made us go back every year since.... No sooner did we get home, we would start planning our next trip.

LeighTravelClub Jan 19th, 2007 10:44 PM

I don't know what sort of travel experience you have, but if you haven't done much, then you might be best to take a quick tour like you mention. It will just give you a feel for things and boost your confidence for when you are ready for some independent exploring.
Generally speaking, this forum seems to favour independent travel, but there are many benefits in having a first look via a TA.
You could spend a week in Rome for your first trip,or how about The Amalfi Coast. You might find some inspiration on our website at
We don't sell anything. We're just a bunch of travel fanatics, happy to share our experiences and hoping to be inspired by others.

tamtravels Jan 19th, 2007 10:57 PM

Thanks for the responses, I appreciate it. I have taken several cruises and done some traveling so logistically I can usually figure stuff out. I think it's just the first time to Europe that has me a little skittish. I have learned some Italian, 2 semesters last year so that will help. I am also trying to narrow my list of must sees. Venice keeps making it's way to the top. I'm thinking of the Rome-Venice-Florence trip to get going and then Rick Steves italian villages tour next year. Sheesh, haven't even made one trip and am already planning 2!

LeighTravelClub Jan 19th, 2007 11:26 PM

OK, you have some experience,that makes a big difference.Europe is very traveller friendly, you'll have no trouble. Venice is fantastic!! Here is a link to raise your excitement level

ira Jan 20th, 2007 06:30 AM

Hi TT,

You can easily plan a 10-day visit to Venice-Florence-Rome on your own.

I think that you will enjoy it more than a scheduled tour.

It will definitely cost less.

If you are thinking of going in the next month, it's rather late for bargain prices.

I suggest mid-May at the earliest.

For example, has JFK/VCE-FCO/JFK for $705.

Train schedules and tickets are at

Hotels are at

Also see Helpful Information: Italy 2;tid=34568596

What's your hotel budget?


Mcclimb Jan 20th, 2007 06:37 AM

Hi, if you want some good help planning your trip and advice there is a nice company located in Northern Italy that does travel planning and assistance.

You could email at [email protected] and ask questions. They helped me and a some others and they were great.

Hope this helps. You should go by the way even a quick well planned trip is worth the effort and the about company helped us organize a trip based on our budget and travel goals.

tamtravels Jan 20th, 2007 07:48 AM

Thanks for those links! I actually have venere in my favorites list so maybe I'm more ready than I thought. Kayak is a great resource for scanning for airfare, now in my list too.

Does independent travel really cost less than group? All of the "tour" sites say to beware of extra costs like transfers, tips, etc and that's the reason a package deal is better. The flip side to that to me is starting to look like you end up spending money on places you are so so about just to get to the exciting ones.

I'm not sure about my hotel budget. I am not really interested in staying in the 5* places that are the same ones in San Fran or N.Y. If I'm going to Italy, I want to BE in Italy not a franchise. Then again, I'm afraid to end up in a run down scarey 2 bit dive because their pics on the web were taken when they opened 20 years ago. Well that was a bit drastic, but you get the idea.

Mimar Jan 20th, 2007 08:48 AM

Another web site for you: It has hotel reviews. As for your hotel preferences, I'm with you. I look for small, centrally-located places, preferably locally owned with lots of Italian character and charm. You will never be in a place like this on a tour -- except maybe when Rick Steves lodges people in multiple places.

Mimar Jan 20th, 2007 08:53 AM

Inadvertently sent my post before I finished....

Anyway tour hotels are often not central so that even if you have free time, it's hard to take advantage of it. You can look up their addresses to see where they are -- if they don't switch hotels on you.

Sounds to me like you're three-quarters of the way to independent travel. And that you would like it better. If you decide to go on your own, you can gets lots of help from the people on this forum.

ira Jan 20th, 2007 08:58 AM

Hi tt,

>Does independent travel really cost less than group? All of the "tour" sites say to beware of extra costs like transfers, tips, etc and that's the reason a package deal is better. <

Is yuor tour going to fly you into VCE and give you a water taxi to your hotel?

I haven't yet found a tour that will give me equivalent accomodations for less than I can do it on my own.

Your tour company should give you a list of hotels.

You can check them on

You can find addresses at or

You can compare them to what you might find on

Go for it on your own.


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