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Should we take an escorted tour of Ireland?

Should we take an escorted tour of Ireland?

Old Apr 18th, 2005, 04:11 PM
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Should we take an escorted tour of Ireland?

Hi all, I've been reading all the great comments people have made about the escorted tours they have taken or want to take but now I think I am even more confused and undecided about what to do. It seems most feel it is best to drive on your own and not be regulated by an escorted tour itinerary (and I do like to take my time when visiting historical sites)but none of you have been in a car with my husband who drives like a maniac normally and is worse when in unfamiliar territory and he would have to drive on the left no less! He will be so much more relaxed and easier to live with if someone else does the driving (not me! He's a back-seat driver and just as nervous as when he drives!) However we aren't traveling alone. We are taking our 16 year old daughter and her 15 year old friend. I've read that the kids will hate the escorted tour and my daughter mentioned that she wants free time to do her own thing. However, we are also going with my husband's parents who are 75 (he drives as badly as my husband) and 72(she drives at a snails pace and would refuse to drive anyway) They have some trouble walking (they tend to waddle), am I headed for disaster? My mother-in-law wants to see the north (where her father is from) My father-in-law wants to see the south (where his parents are from, and her mom) Who knows if we'll ever get to go again so I'm for seeing as much as we can in the 2 weeks we will have. Is the escorted tour our best choice? Will there be any young people on any of these tours? Brendan seems to have the most negative feedback so perhaps we should avoid them but which one is best? Globus? CIE? Trafalgar? I want to stay in nice hotels or B&B's and eat at decent restaurants, can I trust the tour companys to make good choices? We are planning to go in August. Help!!! Thanks!
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 05:08 PM
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Given the age differences and where you want to visit, I personally think a group tour could be a disaster.

But bus tour and driving yourselves are not your only choices. You could hire a driver/guide and organize your own private tour.

This would be pretty economical since there are so many of you traveling together, and you could go exactly where you want for as long as you want w/o having to drive yourselves.
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 07:33 PM
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Hi Karen- I agree with Janis' suggestion of a personalized tour - I've done a lot of research, because we have an even bigger challenge with age range from 75 to 8 months, and 29 of us! You'll be able to find several possibilities - 12Travel is one, and they have a grand web site, whether or not you use them. And I was extremely pleased with the response and attention from Michael Forristal at www.Irelandescorted.com - only wish I had found him sooner as we were already too far along in our plans so hated to change. Ireland Escorted deals solely in personalized tours for small groups, and might be just exactly what you're looking for. (If you're going in August,I can report back on what our teens liked after we return July 10.) Perhaps you could even start by doing Dublin on your own, with day tours, hop-on, hop-off bus, etc, for a few days then connect with your personalized tour. Two weeks should be fine - we previously covered a lot in that time - unfortunately, we have only eight nights this time. You might want to look into what festivals and events will be going on in some of the places you want to visit,and plan to include some. Check the calendar on www.aoifeonline.com/calendar to get an idea - looks like lots going on in August. Good luck, and enjoy - both the planning and the trip!!
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 11:02 PM
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"None of you have been in a car with my husband who drives like a maniac". There, you've answered your own question! Can you imagine your family driving and squabbling and ..... Take a Globus or Brendan tour! When our son was fifteen, he joined us on a European tour and had a great time. He's 49 years old now, married with his own child and remembers the trip with fond memories. The in-laws will find a few new friends on the tour, the kids will be Ok. Really! And, you and your husband will be far more relaxed! Take this from someone who has gone with her husband on about 15 driving trips and about five tours! GRANDMA
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 05:23 AM
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KarenO, I,ve done it both ways...with my husband on several self-drive tours and with my daughter on a CIE tour over spring break several years ago. I can't say enough good things about CIE tours. The group itself was varied in age from 5 or 6 year olds,teens and up to us older folk. The tour itself was very interesting for the facts shared by the guide and the fact that only 2 venues were visited each day with time to explore where we were staying...several 2 night stays in the same hotel. I could go on with more, but you have to decide what you want to do and where you want to go in Ireland. Whatever the choice, enjoy!
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 06:19 AM
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I'm with those that suggest a personalized tour. They are certainly more expensive than the cattle call tours that exist, but you will get to do what you want and have whatever free time you want. If you will all be nervous with the driver, let someone else do the driving.

Bill
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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We do group tours when we do overseas biking and independent trips for our overseas museum/ed trips. We have done a couple "extended family" trips overseas with a composition similar to yours, and we have found those work well ONLY if we stay in one or two cities and everyone just meets for dinner, etc.

Given the variables of your group and the scope of your potential trip, a personalized or group tour does make sense.

Your concerns are in many ways met well by a group tour, even the most unpersonalized one.

First, everyone in the family is going to have a different idea of what an appropriate amount of time should be at a historical site. Your idea of too little will be someone else's idea of way too long. If the group tour is making the decision, it's not YOUR problem.

Second, there is always time to go off on your own. The nice thing about the group tour is there is always a plan/structure built into the day so that the "time on your own" doesn't mean one member of the group holds eight people hostage while she shops for the perfect tea towel for Aunt Margaret.

We've been on group tours where the only teens/children are ours. They did not suffer. They had dinner conversation with adults. Real ones.

Good luck.


 
Old Apr 19th, 2005, 11:06 AM
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Karen - That's true, the group tours can work very well in your situation. I forgot that we took a 14 year old granddaugher to Italy, and two grandsons, 14 & 16, on an escorted tour to Eastern Europe - the intergenerational interactions were very good, spread among lots of people as each teen found interesting "elders' from all over the globe, and certainly expanded their horizons even farther than the countries we were touring! (They were well accepted by MOST of the adults - one or two didn't always appreciate the exuberant 14 yr. old - but he's the one who pushed a heavy-set, ill fellow passenger in a wheelchair all around Auschwicz!) And I liked Amelia's comment that on a group tour, if someone's not happy, it's not YOUR problem!! Let us know what you decide!
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Old Apr 20th, 2005, 05:45 PM
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I read an article about Tauck Bridges, tours geared for intergenerational groups. I got their brochure, looks interesting. Maybe more expensive but you might want to look at their brochure. www.tauckbridges.com. Let us know what you decide to do.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:27 PM
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Thanks for everyone's advise. After having talked with all family members involved in this trip we have decided to take an escorted tour (the teenagers were not as happy about it but they aren't paying for it so their votes held less weight). No one wants to drive and a private tour will be too expensive, it's already going to cost the six of us over $18,000.00 for the two weeks. We will probably be using CIE but that could change if I hear some negatives about it. I looked at Tauck and Trafalgar but they did not have a 14 day tour that had a Belfast stop plus they were about a $1,000. more a person. I am also looking at Globus. I'm not sure which is better. The hotels that CIE uses seem to be almost all 4 star. Globus uses more 3 star I think. I don't know if there is much difference. Anyway, I will let everyone know what tour I decide on and will report on the tour once we get back (in August). Thanks!
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:47 PM
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Karen, there are different types of tours offered. Some have all days scheduled. Some ("leasure tours&quot have free days here and there. Some are only planes/hotels and transfers, 1/2 days city tours, and the rest is your own free time.
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 03:58 PM
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Karen, if you have not looked at Insight Vacations, you might want to check them out. We did one of their Ireland tours in 2003 and were very impressed - the price was good too. They are a step aboive Trafalgar (owned by same company) and probably a step below Tauck (based on price anyway). The tour we did included 3 nights in Northern Ireland which was great. We learned so much from our Irish tour director and had so much fun too. We have just scheduled are 4th tour with Insight so you know we are happy with them. One other thing you could consider is adding some time before or after the tour to be on your own. We flew into Galway and spent several days there on our own, then took the train (fun and easy) to Dublin for a a few more days on our own before joining the tour. That way the kids could experience it both ways. Have fun, Ireland is a great country to visit. Jim
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 04:57 PM
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One major thing to consider with an escorted tour is how many one night stops there are. Much better would be 2 or 3 night stops. One gets mighty tired of the one nighters, hauling the suitcase out in the hall early every morning.

A few years ago myself and three friends wanted to see Northern Ireland as well as Southern and about the only tour company that offered such was Globus. It actually turned out to be two one week tours, first to the south, then back to Dublin and met up with a different group and leader for a week in the north.

Again, pay particular attention to how many one nighters there are. Above all, enjoy. Ireland is great!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:48 AM
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Geribrum has given excellent advice. We have made a family rule that on escorted tours, we shop for the trip with the fewest 1-nighters for several reasons. First, unpacking/repacking/digging through the suitcase really becomes wearing after awhile. Second, a two-night stay allows you to wash out socks and underwear with a good shot of getting them dry by the time you leave. Third, two days is enough to get a "street sense" of where you are staying to make the most of the locale.
 
Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:49 AM
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What an interesting challenge to travel not only with a 16 year old with friend but also older folks (I'm 74 myself)! I think an escorted tour makes sense for the reasons suggested, i.e., you don't make have to make decisions that will please everyone. There will I'm sure still be time for people to do their own thing here and there. Especially good decision in light of the driving habits of certain people in the family!

Ireland is indeed a lovely land and each traveler can spend time reading up and dreaming of the sights. I would think CIE, Globus, Insight might be looked into...but who makes THAT decision?

Ozarks Bill
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 12:02 PM
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To make re-packing easier use large zippered clear plastic bags. You don't have to open all of them each day.
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Old Apr 24th, 2005, 05:12 AM
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Sorry. Never mind. You've definitely considered the options.

I'd still vote for two week long rentals instead of 14 days on the bus...but I don't drive like a maniac.
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