Trip w mom age 79 - tour or no tour?

Jul 17th, 2007, 04:17 PM
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Trip w mom age 79 - tour or no tour?

I am really struggling w finalizing a trip to Italy with my mom. She is 79 & in good health. I am not a fan of group tours & prefer to plan my own itinerary, but Mom is inclined to leave this to a tour company. I have checked out several tour companies & hate that we will always be at the mercy of their schedule.

We are planning on going in late Sept. for about 10 days to include Rome, Florence & maybe Venice. Any suggestions on a compromise?
mlcg1 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 04:33 PM
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Is your mom up for the tour schedule - which can be very hard to keep up with (all those 6am wake-ups) for a senior. And rushig from bus to site to store to bus to . . .

Why not just book the air and hotel yourselves - and then book city or walking tours in each town as you want. Your itinerary is certainly simple enough that's therre no reason you will run into trouble.
nytraveler is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 04:45 PM
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That's what I'm concerned with, I would rather have some flexability in our schedule & go at our own pace. She seems a bit leary of just having me leading the way.

My biggest concern is getting from city to city. I don't think she will be a very good navigator, so I would rather not rent a car. I also don't want her to worry about "but what ifs".
I'm reading the Fodor's guide & am looking for some tours that will work for both of us. Any suggestions?
mlcg1 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 04:51 PM
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There's no need - and no use - for a car to visit the cities you mention.

There is really nothing easier than taking the fast ES trains between them: they go from city center to city center, they're comfortable.

As Nytraveler has suggested, you can book walking tours or visits in the cities.
Zerlina is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 04:51 PM
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Do the tour.
lucy_d is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 04:57 PM
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If you do a tour consider an "at leisure" or other similar tour that allows a bit more time to enjoy each city and less mandatory time up at the crack of dawn.
amsdon is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 04:58 PM
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I think for your situation - I'd do it independently and use trains. But w/i each city maybe book a guided tour or two depending on how you are both doing. That way you are in charge of your own time/schedule but still have guides some days.

I would NOT do a full blown coach tour - the 6:00 a.m. luggage in the corridor thing would drive be bats . . . .
janisj is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 05:09 PM
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check out elderhostel. might work well for both of you.,

i would visit cities on my own but take tours once there to get overall view.

like mentioned, the strict early morning rising would wear thin with me with my mom along.
lincasanova is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 05:25 PM
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I've known people in their 70s who enjoyed elderhostel trips. I've not been on one, but it's something to look forward to, when reaching an older age

Another possibility is I've read really good things about this company and have just received the catalog. "Sampler" tours give you a two-week trip with a week in each of two locations; one is where you are looking at: Rome-Venice for late Sept. is $3339 (inc. airfare) for two people. I think this company is really neat: independent traveling but with the help of a person there and the ground transportation included, too, between the two locations.

True, I've not taken my first untour, yet, but seeing the terrific reviews from Fodorites and drooling over the catalog has me understanding why many people take repeat trips with them.

scotlib is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 05:44 PM
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Here's a link of one Italy at Leisure tour w/ Globus. I am sure there are many others. If you must do do tour...
several days in one place.
amsdon is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 05:45 PM
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i had the same issue but with a trip to Turkey..We ended up on a tour because my mother was just too on edge..she kept saying "What if something goes wrong?" My mother travelled extensively with my Dad on business and I live abroad so it want as though she was a new traveller. I had tried to plan things myself (and I have a friend who is Turkish who linked me with a travel agent in my city who was from Turkey) and she still had so many "what ifs" that I just realized it had to be a tour. I spent a lot of time looking at brochures and we found something that would fit our needs. The trip was a fabulous sucess. You know your Mother- be objective and then decide which way to go. It was also a burden from my shoulders as I didnt feel responsible for the success or failure of the trip. Good luck!
travelbunny is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 06:09 PM
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I think that the easiest not just for our planning, but for our seniors and their peace of mind, is to do tours when we travel with them. Any stress or struggle with planning, luggage, or transportation will be a stress and struggle on the senior that cares about us because they worry about the littlest things as they age. You do lose a little independence when you take tours, but that's offset by the fact that everything is taken care of. Roll with their schedule, keep your chin up, and just enjoy the ride. Save your independent travel and exploration when you are travelling by yourself or with your peers.
Leburta is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 06:23 PM
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Thanks to all for your valuable input. I'm going to check out elderhostel & untours.

I'm leaning towards trying to plan our own schedule, with Mom's input. I know that if reads your comments about the early daily schedules, she may be more inclined to go this route.

My biggest concern is handling our luggage getting on & off the trains & possible strikes. Of course we will need to pack lite.

Will we be sorry if we don't work Venice into this trip?
mlcg1 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 06:53 PM
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I'm 71, and my sister is 66. We plan our own trips and do our own driving, etc...but then I've traveled for many years and am, as my sister says, "bulletproof." We schlepp our stuff on and off trains, I drive on Autobahns, on the right side of skinny lanes in England, in cities--with a stick shift. So maybe I am bullet proof. I guess I'm pretty fearless about traveling.

My sister is a fabulous trip planner, so she researches everything in terrific detail. We end of with great spread sheets covering all the addresses, prices, etc., before we begin the trip.

I think it all depends on what your mom is like. Is she likely to worry and ask "What if?" as one poster mentioned. Or will she be easy-going and relaxed?

We prefer choosing smaller boutique hotels rather than big four-star places that often cater to tour groups, and we like going at a slower pace than many tours do, though we do take tours within an individual city. However, we're just as likely to spend the afternoon strolling and drinking cappuchino at sidewalk cafes as we are to go sightseeing or visiting museums.

We also are able to travel more cheaply than with a tour.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 07:03 PM
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As long as you think your mother will eventually relax and let you do the planning, I think you should be fine on your own.

If you're concerned about getting on and off the train, why not book a car and driver to meet you at each place and take you to/from your hotels. It will offer you more flexabiliy than a tour and peace of mind.

Just remember to pack light!
Kristina is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 07:11 PM
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It does take a certain amount of strength to travel and sight see. I know you said your mom is in good health but what about endurance. I'm thinking that maybe three cities in 10 days, with the travel in between might be too much, but you can answer that better than anyone. Has your mom been to europe or any other these cities before? Do you think she might need a rest or some down time each day? If so, you might want to do just two places to make it a little bit more relaxed and plus there is just so much to see in each place. Maybe ask your mom if you DID do only two cities, which would she prefer and in the end she may go for all three. You certainly can't go wrong with any of them. How wonderful that you can still travel with your mother, you are a lucky lady.
crefloors is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 07:20 PM
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I am a very lucky lady indeed - my mom is the best! Being a devout catholic, she has always wanted to visit the Vatican & has not been able to convince my dad to take the trip. Our main focus will be in Rome, but I'm sure we could use some downtime just to hang out & take in the sights.

The suggestion for booking a driver to transport us to & from the station is good - any suggestions for sources for this service?
mlcg1 is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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Either could work:

I went to Prague in April with my mother who is 69 and my aunt who is 79. We did everything on our own and I set up an excellent private walking tour - with Katerina from The private walking tour meant we could take things at our own pace which was good for my mother and aunt. I also arranges a car tour which oriented us when we arrived and transfer to and from the airport and to the ballet which I had booked in advance.

I enjoyed going on our own but I felt rather like a tour guide and it was quite alot of presure. Luckily I had been to prague before and had fairly firm ideas about what was managable.

However, a friend of mine went on a tour with her mother who is in her late 80's and found the other people on the tour very helpful with her mother and she enjoyed the company. She said the tour was a great help, not in terms of the itinerary but in terms of the company and people lending her mother their arms etc. many of those on the tour were 60 plus. She said it was easier for her - you may not fancy a trip but it may be less stressful for both of you and you may feel less if the pressure.

Hope this helps.

welltraveledbrit is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 08:17 PM
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At bare minimum, most hotels should be able to arrange a driver for you, though they tend to be a bit more expensive. However, if you book through them, you may be able to see if they can make sure someone will meet you at the train or help you with luggage to the train.

If you google "car service" for your destinations, or search this board, you should come up with a lot of options.
Kristina is offline  
Jul 17th, 2007, 08:54 PM
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Late September 2007? Have you looked at airfare with only two months to your departure?
greg is offline  

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