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Reluctantly switching from independent to group travel

Reluctantly switching from independent to group travel

Old Dec 6th, 2021, 04:24 AM
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I can't believe I forgot what lissie45 wrote about a list of medications! I get my list translated into the language of the country (or countries) I'm visiting. Your insurance company lack of customer support was cringed worthy, lissie45.
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Old Dec 6th, 2021, 05:34 AM
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lissie45, what a frightening ordeal you went through! We have had several medical emergencies while traveling independently. Surprisingly, the worst scenario was in Rome, the best in Luxor, Egypt. Ask for private hospitals if you need medical care as they are used to taking care of patients from other countries, speak English.

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Old Dec 6th, 2021, 05:59 AM
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I think this is something more and more of us are going to be thinking about, especially in the time of Covid. As someone with extensive independent (and even solo) travel experience in Europe, I had started considering tour groups for travel to Asia, Africa and South America (this was just before Covid hit) and was not happy with what I was finding. I couldn't find tours that went where I wanted and didn't spend too much time in places I didn't want to go. They were more expensive. It just was not the kind of traveling I wanted to do. Several discussions on Fodors had me almost convinced that some of those destinations were places we could go without a tour. But now Covid has really hit home how risky travel can be for several reasons. I still think Europe is probably doable independently (or will be once the worst of Covid is past), especially with some of the ideas mentioned above.

My hope is that as more and more experienced travelers become interested in group tours some companies will put together itineraries more appealing to us.
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Old Dec 6th, 2021, 07:58 AM
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There is another possibility, which is a custom tour. I have never looked seriously at this, as I travel solo, and ideally cheaply, but it is a possibility for a couple willing to meet the cost. Several companies that run group tours, especially small group tours,offer this. They would arrange your accommodation and transport and would, I would expect (do check!), be available if anything went wrong. For example:


At the other end of the price range:

I have done a lot of solo, independent travel, but I have done some tours, and in my experience there is usually a trade off, and only you can decide what trade offs to make. For example, my last group tour was to Uzbekistan with MIR. It included an overnight in a ger in the desert, which I really would have preferred to skip (been there, done that, don't need to do it again) and a day visiting an art museum that bored me, but otherwise the itinerary was exactly what I wanted. I did several tours with Intrepid in the early 2000s, and I loved their itineraries, the amount of freedom, and the use of public transport, but the accommodation was sometimes pretty dire. On the other hand, my first trip to Asia was a Smithsonian tour of China with very good food and hotels, but I felt I was in a cocoon. You may have to trade three night stays for a "regular" tour, but could no doubt get that on a tailor-made tour, for a price.
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Old Dec 6th, 2021, 08:33 AM
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I agree with thursdaysd - a private custom tour with an agent overseeing it would be the ideal. I was suggesting that as an option as well. This is common in places such as India and Egypt; we also did this in Morocco. We would speak daily with the agent and had a private driver so we were never without oversight. I don’t know if this is available in Europe and, if it is, it’s likely fairly expensive. But it is a way to manage the concerns your wife has.

I hope, as Isabel suggests, group travel begins to adjust to a different type of travel in the future (when the pandemic really subsides) and, I hope, more options for custom travel are available.

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Old Dec 6th, 2021, 09:36 AM
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lissie45 - Wow, that was quite an ordeal, and it seems you handled it about as well as anyone could under such trying circumstances.
thursdaysd, progol, and others - thanks again for the information provided, the private custom tour idea is intriguing, I will look into some of the ones listed. I'm very curious as to how pricey it would be to design a custom tour similar to the ones we did independently in the past.

I am absolutely certain that, if a serious health problem or other emergency were to arise on an international trip, even if it were just the two of us, my wife would overcome her overwhelmed and frightened feelings, and rise to the occasion. The problem would be that she would be so anxious and nervous throughout the trip, even if everything went perfectly, that she would not be able to relax and have a good time. So I am not going to engage in any arm-twisting , it just isn't worth it.
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Old Dec 7th, 2021, 06:36 PM
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I have done private tours twice, both times amazing experiences. I imagine there are countries in Europe where this would not be so expensive.
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Old Dec 8th, 2021, 05:29 PM
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You've gotten great suggestions on places and companies to find for smaller, slower more specialized tours. As my parents (in their 80s) transitioned from independent travel to tours, I helped them make their guided tour trips more personalized for them. For example, you could add on a couple of days in a particular location at the front or back of the trip. Or, if the tour is staying somewhere multiple nights, you don't have to do what the group is doing on any particular day. For my parents, one day the group was visiting a factory or something like that, but the tour didn't visit the Hague. So i found a separate tour guide who did a full-day tour to the Hague. Other days on a different trip (Barcelona), I advised them to skip the planned lunch, and sent them to a more-local tapas place that I had been to. They ended up bringing another couple from the tour with them, and they had a delightful time. Another special thing I arranged, in Amsterdam, was a bicycle taxi, as my dad was having knee problems. The guide took them on a tour of the city, then took them to a museum that their tour group didn't visit, the Resistance Museum. They loved the bike ride!
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Old Dec 8th, 2021, 05:37 PM
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We have both been quite ill while traveling independently as well as on tours. Hotels can help get you good care in a foreign country. We have had doctors come to our rentals as well as hotel rooms. I will always be grateful to the LHR Sofitel for the excellent doctor they got for us and for the care they offered for several days, rebooking our flights too. They took care of everything imaginable. Plus they cut the cost of our room in half. Amazing service.
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Old Dec 9th, 2021, 06:59 AM
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You don't have to stay in some kind of fancy place with a concierge to get medical help. I've gotten medical help at the most humble surroundings.

However, the problem with relying on the hotels or other lodging, for the OP, is that the spouse fears being completely overwhelmed. For those of us without that fear, it's easier.

Traveling with a private guide is like having a trusted companion who can help in all circumstances. You will get to know each other very well. They are pros who have experience in such matters and can accompany you every step of the way, including hospitals, filling prescriptions, and doctors visits.
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