Old Sep 8th, 2004, 12:10 AM
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Hi to Dear All,

We plan to travel to
Switzerland (for 9 - 10 days)
Austria (for 4 - 5 days)
France ( 6-7 days )

We are travelling to Europe for the 1st time, do you think taking a Trafalgar or Cosmos tour is a better way to enjoy our holidays without having to worry or to plan for every minor detail on our own ? or is travelling on our own without a tour operator easy & cost effective? will the language be a barrier ( we speak/read only English ).

If someone has an itinerary for travelling to the above given destinations it will be of great help.

Would appreciate your views, names of website that will help.

Adil is offline  
Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:27 AM
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Hi Adil,

You will find on this website that many people, including me, believe that traveling on your own is much better than a tour. Many people in the countries you are talking about speak English, and if you bring a translation dictionary to help you should be fine. It is nice to learn some key phrases in the native language, such as Please, Thank You, Good Morning/Day/Evening etc.

Some thoughts on "by yourself" or "with tour":

You can often match the intinerary a tour on your own for less cost. Also, often, tour hotels are not in city centers, which makes getting around a little more difficult. Yes, they worry about all the details, but the flip side is that you are stuck to someone else's schedule and are sort of forced to spend time with strangers who you may not like.

A good way to start coming up with an intinerary is to look at one of the tour company's websites, see what they offer, and what appeals to you, and then start researching the places on your own. It is hard for anyone to give you an interinary without more details about what you want. For example:

Do you want cities or countryside? You can spend a week in Paris and 5 days in Vienna, or you could skip those cities altogether and explore Salsburg and the south of France.

When are you going? Are you skiers? What do you like to do? Do you think you'll rent a car or do you want to use public transportation?

You can start right here at - read what they say about the 3 countries to get a feel for what you want to do.

Once you identify your likes/dislikes and some ideas, people here can help you much more effectively. Doing a trip on your own is more work, but also much more rewarding!

kaudrey is offline  
Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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Good morning Adil, Karen is right on with the reasons for going on your own, I might add check out the specific tour and determine (use board
or surf as necessary) to find the locations of your hotols. Also looking at the amount of free time you have within a specific place, such as
arrival late in Venice and leaving the following afternoon, etc... If you need additional informations, ask and you will receive many answers..
dickv2 is offline  
Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:49 AM
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Well I agree with the others that traveling on your own is really the best way to go in terms of being rewarding and getting exactly what you want. But I do understand that some people are more comfortable with a little more structure - especially on a first trip.

So -ask yourself a couple of questions.

What are your ages? Tour group members tend to be mostly seniors. Would this group be congenial for you?

How picky are you about hotels and food? With most tour groups (except the most very expensive ones) you get least common denominator hotels and food (where food is included - with many tours this is rare). If you prefer a hotel in the center of town (so your free time activities are more convenient) or if you want to try a variety of good local cuisine - a tour may not be best.

Are you comfortable with very early starts? Tour groups - because it takes longer to organize and move a large group - tend to start early in the AM every day (6am wake up, 7am breakfst and on the bus).

What are your interests? If you have specific things youwant to do or see will they actually be covered by the tour? (The brochure will often have a list of a whole bunch ot sights for each city - but you will merely drive by many of them - check to see what the brochure lists as a "stop" (brief picture taking only) or a "tour" - you actually get to see something.

Also, have you found any tours that meet your desired stops? (Your total is 22 days - I think most tours are either fewer or more countries.)

Also, perhaps search above for Trafalgar and Cosmos to see comments from those who have taken one of their tours.

Hope this helps!

nytraveler is offline  
Old Sep 8th, 2004, 10:07 AM
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Normally my wife and I prefer to travel on our own, using rental cars and/or trains, making our own hotel arrangements, etc. In fact, except for one time, all of our trips to Europe have been done in that fashion.

Two years ago we were lucky enough to be presented a one week Trafalgar tour of Ireland, beginning and ending in Dublin. We had to furnish our own air, so we spent a few days in Scotland (on our own) ahead of the Ireland tour, then flew into Dublin with RyanAir and joined up with Trafalgar. We were pleasantly surprised with the tour, the group, the tour guide, and the facilties used. None of the hotels were on the outskirts of any place we spent the night, all hotels were 3 or 4 star, the included breakfasts each day were excellent, and the several included dinners were of high quality. We were on our own for lunch each day, but the stops were always in locations that offered a variety of eating options (we always headed for a pub for soup and soda bread and a pint of Smithwicks). We were part of an excellent group, about 40 percent Australian, 50 percent US, and the remainder from New Zealand and Canada. The ages ranged from early 20s to two or three couples in there late 60s - early 70s. Very nice group and everyone got along extremely well. The tour itself was excellent, with a good mix of guided activities and free time in each stop. Based on this experience I would recommend Trafalgar, but another tour might have been the tour from hell. I think it is luck of the draw on the group makeup as well as the guide.

Anyway that is my two cents worth. We still prefer doing things on our own but we really did enjoy the group tour and would perhaps do one again.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 01:22 PM
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Like Curt, my wife and I have made numerous trips to Europe and while the majority have been on our own, we have also used Trafalgar Costsaver twice (Italy and France) and Bennett once (Scandinavia & St. Pete). We also found, like Curt, the groups with Trafalgar to be diverse in both age and nationality.

The tour of Scandinavia was less diverse, almost entirely American with a smattering of Canadian. I attribute this to the higher cost.

All three of the tours were about 40/45 people and though there were a few who were obnoxious, it was very easy to avoid them. Otherwise it was a joy to interact with so many. And this is from a couple who took a one week vacation with our best friends (they still are) and vowed never again to vacation with anyone.

We had no complaints about the quality of the hotels. The Trafalgar I would rate 3*, Bennett 4*. All of the Bennett hotels were city center in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and St. Pete. On each of the Trafalgar there was, at least, one hotel poorly situated. The provided dinners on Bennett were excellent, particularly the buffett at the Stalheim Hotel. Those on Trafalgar were fine. Keep in mind that Trafalgar were budget tours.

We took the tours because we wanted to cover a lot of ground with the least logistical planning. I don't really enjoy hunting for a parking lot in Beaune. Getting up early was not a problem. After all, one could nap on the bus without ending in a ditch. Our guides were very experienced and while travelling would give commentary on the history, etc. of the area. They were also available to answer questions. My wife is a diabetic and the guides were able to have her meals modified if necessary.

When we have taken the tours, we have arranged our own flights and preceded and/or followed the tour with an extended stay in a city. We spent three days in Rome before the Italy tour and followed it with a week in London. Before the France tour we spent 3 days in London and the Chelsea flower show and followed it with 5 days in Paris.

You might consider, Adil, taking one tour sandwiched between stays in a city or cities from which you could make daytrips. Anyway, good luck.
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