Upcoming first trip to the UK

May 31st, 2016, 09:14 PM
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Upcoming first trip to the UK

My hubby and I are planning to take our first trip to the UK next summer. We'd like to start and end in London, about 10-11 nights and tour through England and Scotland.

What are the best guided tour companies to look into? So far Trafalgar is the one I've found with the places to see. Any suggestions on other companies?

thanks for any help!
clill is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 09:21 PM
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I would NOT do a quick UK bus tour. If they cover London, bits of England and Scotland all in 10 or 11 days you would be spending most of your time sitting on the coach watching the UK through the bus windows.

If you have 10 or 11 nights on the ground - Maybe fly into Scotland, spend 3 nights in Edinburgh, take the train to York for 2 nights, train to London for 5 nights, fly home. No bus required.
janisj is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 09:37 PM
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janisj's itinerary is good in either direction. No point whatsoever in flying into and out of the same city.

You couldn't pay me to take a Trafalgar tour. Too many people crammed into a bus for too many hours, probably poorly sited hotels and bad food. If I were going to take a European tour, and for the UK it is really a waste of money, I would use https://www.ricksteves.com/tours (I have used this company: medium sized groups with plenty of space on the buses. Central hotels, excellent guides, pretty good food.)

The UK is very easy to navigate on your own. Spend some time at seat61.com reading up on trains, use skyscanner.com to check for cheap flights. And get some good guidebooks.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 09:46 PM
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And if you want to see a bit of rural Scottish you can take an actually fun tour like these. Small groups (less than 16) for day trips or a couple of days in the country

janisj is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 10:02 PM
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For our first trip to the UK, a guided tour is the best option for us as my hubby had a stroke a few years ago and he would enjoy that option the best. I'm his caregiver and it would be far too much for me to plan the trip and keep things going on our own - not relaxing or enjoyable at all! Janisj's option is great for a 2nd trip, but for this first one, a guided tour is best for us.
clill is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 10:28 PM
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Have you BEEN on a guided tour? Can your husband keep up with the group?

Planning the itinerary janisj outlined is not difficult and is done before you leave. You can travel at your own pace, not one set by the tour company.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 11:03 PM
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While we usually travel independently my husband and I took a Trafalagr tour to Italy two years ago. It worked well for our needs because it stopped 3 nights in each city and we had a lot of time on our own. We traveled by high speed train between each city ( I wouldn't put Mr Wonderful on a bus for long distances.) We did not want any one night stays and wanted a lot of meals on our own. The hotels were fine and located well enough so that we walked in each city and did not rely on public transport. We did take a taxi once in Rome and a vaporetto in Venice but we walked a lot.

Do talk to customer service representatives with any tour you are considering and don't book on the same phone call. Make sure they understand you are gathering info and comparing with other options. Explain what your needs will be and see if they can accommodate them. Find out what the access on the buses and in the hotels will be like. Ask about the pace of the tour so you know if it will work for you.

My dad was disabled and on our trip to London last month I noticed more accommodating with elevators and ramps at curbs. Don't know what it's like in other parts of the country and I did not pay attention in the early part of our trip in Bath.

If you want to explore independent travel there are a lot of us on Fodors who will be happy to help you.
Scootoir is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 11:04 PM
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I have to agree. The train from London to Edinburgn only takes about 4 1/2 hours. Only 2 hours to York. You can easily do both London, York and Edinburgh on your own. All will offer guided tours of the city if you don't want to do it on your own. Rabbies offer a number of tours from one day tours to 5/6 day tours, and they are an excellent company. One advantage is their small size which would be much more accommodating than being with a large tour group.

Keep in mind that it may be far more difficult to keep pace with a large tour company like Trafalgar than with a small group tour and doing small guided tours within the cities you want to visit will be far less hetic than traveling around on a big bus. Do have a look at what Rabbies has to offer both in England and Scotland.

BTW, Rabbies does all the work. You decide which tour you want to do and select what category of Hotel or B& B you want and they do the rest. I've often found them very flexible in their plans in order to accommodate personal physical problems or even particular sightseeing requests. Certainly much more than a large company.

BTW they are very reasonably priced.
historytraveler is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 11:07 PM
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Sorry Scootoir posted after thursdaysd and before my post. Slow on the typing here, To clarify, I agree with janisj and thursdaysd regarding large tour companies.
historytraveler is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 11:08 PM
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Sorry -- but if he is at all impaired you do NOT want a commercial tour like Trafalgar. You have to have your suitcases in the hall by 7 or 8 AM, on the bus by maybe 8:30 every single morning. No allowances for feeling unwell, or not being able to keep up.

If he has mobility or cognitive issues you will be stuck on the bus when the rest of the group might be taking a walking tour. It would be GAWD awful IMO.

If it fits in your budget -- then a private tour w/ a driver/guide for you alone would be good . . . but pricey.

But the typical large coach tours like Trafalgar, Cosmos etc are not for people in your situation.
janisj is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 11:12 PM
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We were all posting at the same time . . . The Italy tour scootoir describes for Italy is not what the normal UK mid/low priced UK tours look like. They would not use trains, and are a series of one night stops and all day in the bus -- maybe 2 nights in London but otherwise they keep moving.
janisj is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 11:13 PM
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Have a good look at the itinerary of the tour you are planning to take; how often do you move from one hotel to the next? How much time on the road? How early do you have to get up every day, and how much time do they give you at the sights? It's probably the opposite of relaxing and enjoyable. If you want to travel at your own pace, it is much better to book 3 hotels, in Edinburgh, York and London. Then you can decide on what interests you, and rest when you need to, instead of having to get on a bus every single day.

As Janisj says; fly into Edinburgh, take a train to York (trains are very comfortable; if booked in advance a first class can be very reasonable, but even second class is fine). Then train to London.

I looked at the Trafalgar 'England and Scotland Heritage' 8-day tour. You spend most of your time on the bus, and every night in another hotel. Sounds like hell to me.
Tulips is offline  
May 31st, 2016, 11:15 PM
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Haha, posting at the same time, same ideas!
Tulips is offline  
Jun 1st, 2016, 12:32 AM
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Access, by law all facilities offered within the EU should be fully accessible by the likes of wheel chairs etc. In reality different countries have achieved this in a variety of ways and failed completely in others.

In the UK you will find larger railway stations are pretty good but the Tube in London is still laughable outside the very big stations. Banks and hotels will all be great but smaller restaurants may still have a door step.
bilboburgler is offline  
Jun 1st, 2016, 06:04 PM
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Odysseys Unlimited is a small-group tour company, pricier than some others but you might check their British tours. We did a trip to Turkey with them, and it was wonderful.
carolyn is offline  
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