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Tour company recommendations for my 70 year old parents

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Aug 1st, 2013, 02:27 PM
  #1
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Tour company recommendations for my 70 year old parents

My parents (in their 70s) will be celebrating a milestone anniversary next year, and would like to take a trip to Europe to celebrate. It has been many, many years since they have been to Europe, and they have decided that they are more comfortable taking a tour rather than trying to navigate getting around by themselves. They are looking for a reputable tour company in the "middle of the road" price range - i.e. not luxurious but not staying in youth hostels either. They would like to see France, Italy and Germany, but are open to other tour routes as well. Fortunately, they are both in good health and are fine with lots of walking. Fine dining is not important to them - they would like to see the major sights and experience Europe without worrying about logistics, language barriers, transportation, obtaining tickets, etc.

Have any of you ever taken a guided tour in Europe and if so, would you recommend your tour company?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

A
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:00 PM
  #2
 
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You will get (many) more replies if you post this on the Europe board. However, most posters on Fodors travel independently.

I have taken a few tours with http://tours.ricksteves.com/tours/ - you need to pack light and be able to handle your own luggage, but in exchange you get central hotels, reasonable itineraries, no extras or tipping and excellent guides.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:01 PM
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Sorry, just realized this IS the Europe board, I thought I was still on Travel Tips.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:05 PM
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Thanks thursdaysd! I suggested Rick Steves to my mom, but I have never done one of his tours, so it is good to hear from someone who has. I'll pass along the tip to pack lightly.

Best,
A
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:10 PM
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I've taken two RS tours and agree with Thursday - and both
tours had more seniors than young'uns and everyone seemed to
be enjoying their experiences.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:12 PM
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I've taken several Grand Circle tours and enjoyed them. This is a more leisurely type of tour where you don't change locations often. The program directors are knowledgeable and the company also uses local guides for certain sights.

http://www.gct.com/
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:14 PM
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We have never done one, but friends have and I wonder if an Elderhostel tour would be interesting to them. The study that goes with it is very good, I understand.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:27 PM
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I believe Elderbostel is now called Road Scholar. An excellent suggestion for active seniors.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:29 PM
  #9
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These all look great - I am forwarding them on to my parents for their review. Thanks for your suggestions!

A
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:30 PM
  #10
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historytraveler,
I googled Elderhostel and it did come up as Road Scholar. There are some very interesting trips listed - several I would like to take!

A
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:49 PM
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There is a trip report on Rick Steves' Portugal tour currently on the Europe Board which will give you an idea of what they are like. Pull down the "View by Country" tab and click on Portugal. We have never taken a tour in Europe but several of our friends have enjoyed Rick Steves' tours.
Another option would be a river cruise where you have a chance to be quite independent if you wish.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 05:25 PM
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My teenage daughter and I traveled on four Rick Steves tours from 2007 through 2011. We loved the tours and have a lifetime of memories! We loved the ambience. There was a wide age range on the tours that we went on. Our guide in France, Patrick Vidal, is the best tour guide that I could ever imagine. My Rick Steves trips were:
France
Scotland, Wales, England
Germany, Switzerland, Austria
Sweden, Denmark, Norway

Hubby has gone on a Road Scholar tour and loved it, but for me, the cost is too high right now. I have been on two lower budget tours with Gate 1 recently, but I don't think it would be a good fit for your parents.

Kim
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Aug 1st, 2013, 06:40 PM
  #13
 
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RS tours tend to require a little more physical stamina than do some of the others. Check out Trafalgar or Globus.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 07:00 PM
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The OP said they were in good health. RS tours are a much better bet than Globus or Trafalgar with fewer tour members and no shopping ops.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 07:05 PM
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Attynmom,

You wrote: “They would like to see France, Italy and Germany, but are open to other tour routes as well.” I would vote for INSIGHT for a solid mid- level tour company. But I would not choose to see all three countries on one trip.

I would probably select either France (Paris with Normandy or Provence) or Italy (Rome with Venice and Florence and points in between) with several days extension respectively in Paris or Rome either before or after the tour itself.

From what I have read, Rick Steeves tours are fun but include lugging your own baggage “over cobbled stoned streets” and more vigorous activity.

Hope they have a grand time…
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Aug 1st, 2013, 08:26 PM
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Many colleges offer trips for their alums so might check into that also.
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Aug 2nd, 2013, 08:08 AM
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Globus, Trafalgar and Insight are all a good choice. They all have multi-country tours. Yes, you will see things very quickly but if they want to see the highlights of France, Germany and Italy, why not.
You can see all of these companies online to check out the different trips. Make sure you read all the fine print.
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Aug 2nd, 2013, 08:24 AM
  #18
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I have neighbours that have traveled - by tour - everywhere. He is 75 & has knee problems etc. One of the companies that they have used many times is: ElderTreks

http://www.eldertreks.com/

Ian
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Aug 2nd, 2013, 08:39 AM
  #19
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Thank you all very much for these great suggestions. I have forwarded them all to my parents for their review.

Best,
A
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Aug 2nd, 2013, 10:12 AM
  #20
 
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I posted above about Rick Steves trips. Here is additional information:

Rick Steves has smaller groups (22 to 25) with maximums set and adhered to.

Rick Steves never ever has any forced shopping trips. A forced shopping trip is when the company takes the group somewhere out of the way and the guides get kickbacks for what was bought. It is impossible to escape because the group is normally stuck there. When it is in the city center and escaping would be easy, I have seen tour companies withhold important information (such as meeting locations and times for outings that are a part of the tour) until after the shopping trip. They simply refuse to give the information until the shopping trip has ended. Been there and done that with other tour companies, and I hate it. I love to shop, but on my own time. Such a waste of time. Gate1 has the shopping trips in their fine print, but they do not make it sound forced, but it is! EF has forced shopping trips, too.

With Rick Steves, it is true that all luggage has to be carried by the participants. DD and I pack very lightly, so it has never been a problem. I have seen others struggling to carry their large amount of luggage.

Airfare is NOT included in the Rick Steves tour price.

The quality of tour companies varies significantly. I would rate Rick Steve 5 out of 5, would rate Gate1 3 out of 5, would rate EF Tours (for adults) 1 out of 5, and would rate EF Tours (for students) 3 out of 5. Therefore, the same itinerary with two different tour companies could be two COMPLETELY different types of trips. I have learned the hard way. Remember that we get what we pay for!

I hope your parents have a wonderful trip! Feel free to e-mail me, if you would like.

Kim
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