Sicily group tour or on my own

Old May 22nd, 2021, 04:40 AM
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Sicily group tour or on my own

Hi, in the past I have always enjoyed planning our own trips, to Europe or hiking in Banff. We are hoping to plan a trip to Sicily for spring of 2022 and came across this group tour.
https://odysseys-unlimited.com/tours...cily-in-depth/
Usually I might copy the itinerary and do it on my own for two reasons, lower cost and more flexibility. As we get older I'm wondering if it's beneficial to have connects or support in another country? iI anyone has thoughts on the benefits of taking a small group tour like the one in the link above, I would appreciate your comments. thank you
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Old May 22nd, 2021, 05:34 AM
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stoweflake, DH and I followed the bell curve of completely guided to semi-guided to diy back to semi-guided! After DH's passing, I am now looking again at completely guided but with some free time built in. The Odessey tour goes to all the places that we visited (see TR below if you are interested) and more! We hit a timing snag for Piazza Amerina with bus schedules and Siracusa was a stop because we couldn't get a room in Taormina:

Sicily 2002 - A Trip of Miracles

I'm leaning towards the tour TTTT. As we aged, the schlepping for tickets, working out bus schedules got more and more a pain. Please report back.
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Old May 22nd, 2021, 08:10 AM
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That sounds like a great trip! My husband and I visited Sicily for the first time a few years ago and visited Palermo, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina and Siracusa and really enjoyed each location. We had a shorter trip than you are planning and wish we could have stayed longer. We did plan this trip on our own (with the help of a Rick Steves guidebook and this forum) and it went well. We rented a car in Palermo which we dropped off at the airport in Catania. We were concerned about leaving luggage in our car when we visited Agrigento, as we did not stay there, so found a place where we could leave our luggage for the day.

You certainly can do this trip on your own, if you like. We usually travel independently but have done a few group tours (Road Scholar) to areas we are less inclined to try on our own and have enjoyed those as well (Vietnam & Cambodia, the Middle East.) We have also had travel agents help us plan trips to Tanzania, Peru & Ecuador and Turkey for us and those were also terrific.

We considered taking an Odysseys-Unlimited trip to Vietnam & Cambodia but ended up going with Road Scholar. However, we liked what we read about Odysseys-Unlimited and would consider traveling with them in the future.

For me, I think the decision about planning on my own or doing a group trip boils down to a few factors: the comfort level of visiting the location, the time I want to take in planning, cost, and how much support I might want on location.

On both of the Road Scholar trips we took someone in the group needed minor medical assistance. The group leader was able to seamlessly assist with that (one needed stitches after a fall, another needed medication.) It was wonderful to have an air-conditioned bus waiting for us with cold drinks ready when we finished touring sights in Vietnam and Cambodia. On that same trip, a boat we were supposed to take for an overnight trip had mechanical difficulties but the group leader was able to easily arrange another one. We were unaware of the problem until we were boarding the new vessel (which was lovely.) We also made friends we are still in contact with on both trips, which has been a nice bonus.

My goodness, I have rambled on! Feel free to ask me any questions, if you like. Good luck with your planning!
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Old May 22nd, 2021, 10:55 AM
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What KTtravel wrote!

FWIW, I left my duffle bag on the city bus from the Palermo airport to our hotel. Someone turned it in to the driver and we retrieved it the next day from the bus company. Anything left in a car should be out of sight.


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Old May 22nd, 2021, 04:13 PM
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TDudette KTravel. What thoughtful lovely responses to my question. Thank you so very much. As I mentioned, we have traveled with planning our own trips and we did use the Rick Steves books for Tuscany and Spain. After several years of ill health, my husband is doing much better. No skiing the Alps or hiking Banff (or even a 6 hour private walking tour or Lucca) for him anymore but walking and travel will work just fine. I usually like to do my planning over the winter. It's a great research project and I found it very fullfiling.
Viet Nam and Cambodia are on my to do list once we start traveling again. I'm a little shy about many places with COVID still out there. We were on major lock down because of my husbands health this past year but things are looking good moving forward.
At some point I would like to try Road Scholar. I've heard good things about it. We would be planning this trip for the spring of 2022 so it will be a while until I report back. Thanks for the trip report and the guidance.
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Old May 22nd, 2021, 08:06 PM
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I, too, progressed from tours to independent travel. However, I travel solo and don't want to drive, so sometimes I take a tour when public transport looks iffy - or if I feel like taking a rest or seeking companionship in the middle of a long trip. In the case of Sicily I thought that public transport, specifically for the Villa Casale, might be a problem, and I went with a Rick Steves tour, bookended with some time on my own.

See: Crumbling Palazzos and Creamy Cannoli - Savoring Sicily

For the current version of that tour see: https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/italy/sicily

You do need to be in good shape for a RS tour, I'm not sure I'm up to one these days.
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Old May 23rd, 2021, 04:12 AM
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Thanks Thursdaysd. great TR. I'll read it carefully when I get closer to my planning this winter.
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Old May 23rd, 2021, 01:41 PM
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We have gone on two fantastic trips with Odysseys Unlimited, Japan and Egypt/ Jordan.
I highly recommend this company.
However, you do not get to stay on Ortigia Island in Siracusa. It is the heart of Siracusa’s history and was hands down our favorite place in Sicily. They are putting you outside in the country so no walking around this charming area at night.
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Old May 23rd, 2021, 01:59 PM
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Not sleeping on Ortigia is a real black mark. The Odyssey tour spends very little time in Erice and Trapani, too. Doesn't seem to visit the baroque towns either.
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Old May 23rd, 2021, 04:49 PM
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I think this really depends on your comfort level. How important is the ease of a group tour to you? I visited Sicily independently (with friends), and did all the driving. It was wonderful. But I'm me and you're you.

FWIW, calling the tour you linked "Sicily in Depth" is a bit of a misnomer. It's a nice enough survey of the island, but nothing in-depth. Which is perfectly fine, if that is what you're seeking.

In any case, Sicily is marvelous, and however you choose to organize your visit you will very likely enjoy it!
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