Tour Packages in Italy

Dec 27th, 2006, 12:07 PM
  #1  
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Tour Packages in Italy

Our family of 4 (children in early 20's) is planning a trip to Italy in the spring for 8 - 10 days. We're wondering if the packages that include flights, hotels and optional tours are a good way to go (our first time to Italy). Have been looking at Gate 1 Travel, for one.
vajvt is offline  
Dec 27th, 2006, 12:18 PM
  #2  
rex
 
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In general, you will find a bias against tour packages on this forum, with a strong undercurrent notion that you can get... generally... more of specifically what _you_ want, at the same or better price, arranging it yourself (with the help of countless experienced veterans here).

I might be receptive to putting together a trip (custom-planned for/by/with you, led by me) at no cost to you for this March. No cost to you means that you pay none of my travel expenses nor any fee for my services. What dates are you thinking? Departing from where?

Best wishes,

Rex Bickers, M.D.
Floyds Knobs, Indiana
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Dec 28th, 2006, 04:05 AM
  #3  
rex
 
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topping... it would be worthwile to have other perspectives, besides mine...
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Dec 28th, 2006, 06:07 AM
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I am perhaps a little more leaning toward the tours, having traveled that way much of the time since I want to be relieved of the idea of being in the right place at the right time and have traveled many many times to Spain, Portugal, Italy, etc with Grand Circle Travel which is more for seniors,however recently have gone with Trafalgar and Globus and Gettours as my daughters have traveled with me and those tours are shorter (as the girls are still working folks). The only problem I find (which is not one for me as I am a morning person) is the fact you are often up at 7, breakfast at 8, aat the bus shortly after. Howev er many of the trips are at one hotel for at least 3 nites so it is not constant unpacking, etc. If it is a first trip like this for you, think this can be the best. Just look up Globus, Trafalgar, etc and weigh the good with the bad. Usually good values. Surely you can do it for a little less money, however then you must do all the planning, know a few words of the language, customs, rail travel, etc. At any rate, happy planning and TRAV EL IS WONDERFUL and will give your family a LOT to remember. Halfpint.
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Dec 28th, 2006, 06:30 AM
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Rex is right that the general bias on this board is against tours, rather than for them. In your case, you say your children are in their early 20's. I think they would be bored on a tour. I'm 26 and I know I would be...I think it would be very easy to put together a trip to Italy (especially on this board, where there are a lot of posts on Italy and a lot of very knowledgeable people replying to them). When I was 23 my boyfriend (now husband) and I went to Italy for 3 weeks and I used this board to plan our trip. Boy am I ever glad we didn't take a tour! Not only could we see everything at our own pace, but the planning was actually a lot easier than I expected. Almost 4 years and 5 trips (to Europe, Central America and the US) later, I'm big into travel and love the planning and research I get to do beforehand using forums like these.

That said, whatever you decide to do, you will love Italy....It's a magical place that truly captured my heart....
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Dec 28th, 2006, 06:36 AM
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Because Fodor's forums are a place where most people plan their own trips, I do not think many of us take packaged tours. That's not to say they are good or bad for you, only that you likely won't get an unbiased answer here.
suze is offline  
Dec 28th, 2006, 08:10 AM
  #7  
 
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Consider how much more expensive a tour will be(even a relatively unstructured one like you are talking about)

That "reasonable" price needs to be multiplied by 4 and will almost always be more expensive than booking independently.

For instance - a tour charges two people full price each for air/transfers/double occupancy, etc. Whereas, if you book on your own that double room won't cost much more than a single. Car service transfers generally charge for the car load, not each person. And other transfers/public transport will be even cheaper. W/ four of you it is an even worse deal. Plus you could rent apartments for less than two hotel rooms.

Once you decide which part(s) of the country you want to visit, there are lots of Italy-experts on here who can help you plan an itinerary and give you money saving tips.
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Dec 28th, 2006, 09:09 AM
  #8  
 
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If you are nervous about planning such a trip, an independent tour package may alleviate some of your anxiety. It may not be cheaper, but such packages usually include airfare, hotels, airport and intercity transfers, and optional half-day city tours. Companies such as Gate 1 as well as Alitalia have such options.

The key to these packages is the hotel, or rather the hotel location: the least expensive hotels are often poorly located in the outskirts of the city. Check and compare hotel locations carefully--don't be afraid to come back here for our comments on the hotel choices.

By the time you upgrade to a better-located hotel, the "cheap" package may cost more than a self-planned trip. Still, if you're not interested in researching and planning, this might be for you.
ellenem is offline  
Dec 28th, 2006, 09:16 AM
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The best way to decide against a tour is just to look at the faces on the people in the tour group as they're being led around or following the flag or umbrella. They look BORED TO TEARS. Plus, if you do it on your own you do what you want, when you want, IF you want, and you don't have to get up really early to be on the bus by 6am.
2Italy is offline  
Dec 28th, 2006, 09:28 AM
  #10  
 
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I do know from experience that fodorites as a rule ARE VERY MUCH AGAINST TOURS. However have been on many, versus doing our own thing and have yet to see anyone BORED on a trip, that is up to you. If you are good at planning and love winging it, GREAT. And both have MANY MERITS. But for first timers, I PERSONALLY think a tour is the way to go, especially for a short trip like yours. Most folks who plan their own are gone at least a couple of weeks. However HAVE FUN, whatever you decide. It is all a matter of ATTITUDE. Halfpint
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Dec 28th, 2006, 10:12 AM
  #11  
 
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I've been to Europe many times since my first trip to Southern Italy and Sicily in 1998. I now arrange my own trips but see great value in using a tour company for a trip, especially for the first trip to Europe. Before that trip I did not know where my greatest interests were so it was good the get the big picture. I actually am considering using a tour company for a future trip to Spain.

When selecting a tour company, look at the literature to see what is offered. Basically, they give you exactly what is described in the literature. We used Perillo because my family had been using them with good success since the 1960's. Though it sounds like a great deal of money the expense was worth every nickel. Those guides offer so much information, including advice. The guide can arrange for special diets at all of the restaurants. If you go on your own you'll have to pay for lots of extras such as: Transfer to/fro Airports to your hotel, in-town transportation, find good restaurants, carrying your own bags throughout the trip, findings and paying for tour guides, pay for wine and or bottled water with every supper. They even prepared a to-go breakfast for us on our departure day and dropped us off on the correct line at the airport. They take you to grand dinners in Florence and Rome that you will never be able to arrange by yourself. It is actually good thing that sometimes you are forced to get out and do something when you might be tempted to take it easy and sleep in. Thinking back it's amazing how little you have to shell out when you are there (and have the photo albums to prove it).

My favorite part of all my trips has been to go out and see the city at night. So make sure that, whatever tour company you use or if you go it alone, your hotels should be located in the city center. And if you have any energy left make sure that you arrange for some evening entertainment, otherwise you’ll be wasting your precious travel time.

Then when you become a savvy tourist you might want to return and or expand upon what you have already seen.
crusty is offline  
Dec 28th, 2006, 11:02 AM
  #12  
 
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I think another benefit of going with a tour on this type of family trip (including adult children) is that the itinerary is planned already, so no source of conflict.

If my Mom told me I had to get up and on a bus at 6AM, that wouldn't fly (lol)... but if it's part of the tour deal, oh well... no worries.
suze is offline  
Dec 28th, 2006, 11:24 AM
  #13  
 
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A compromise is to use a service like Context Rome or Context Florence or other walking tour companies. They will help organize the sightseeing and itinerary. They will even arrange private itineraries based on your interests. They also offer one hour orientation talks to help you get the lay of the land. I tend to start planning by what I want to see the most and then finding a hotel near those sights.
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