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We've discussed "Why Tours?" How about "Which Tours?"

We've discussed "Why Tours?" How about "Which Tours?"

Sep 16th, 1998, 02:42 PM
  #1  
Jen
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We've discussed "Why Tours?" How about "Which Tours?"

Okay, all this time I've been militantly against tour travel. I know tours will never be for me. But I've been helping lots of my friends and family plan trips and a few of them do really want to take tours, for whatever reasons, and I don't want to convince them otherwise if that's what they think is right for them. But I've studied brochures and am appalled at how quickly tours move and how much time is spent en route (and I LIKE to travel at a fast pace)...the one I'm thinking of was a Trafalgar Tour of Italy, and I know Trafalgar is pretty popular. So, okay, I'm not going to criticize, but I'd really like to know which tours you all have enjoyed/hated the most, and pros and cons of the ones you've taken. The ones you have enjoyed, what appealed to you the most? I'm also curious about less mainstream tours, like special interest tours (for example, I saw one called "Art Lover's Tour of Italy"), and what they are like. URLs would be mightily appreciated, too, if you know of any.

Please, I don't want anyone to start in on how bad tours are in general, or putting down people who take them. Like I said, I still wouldn't choose a tour for myself, but I'm trying to keep an open mind for those who would!
 
Sep 16th, 1998, 05:06 PM
  #2  
Arizona
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We've done things on our own and we've gone with tours. Now, at 70 and 68 respectively, we realize that we are no longer 25 and 27 -- one look in a mirror confirms. I have a hunch that you are closer to the latter than to the former ages. Time changes us all. And so do destinations. Some places are not "user friendly." Case in point: the interior of China or the mountains of eastern Turkey or among the Masai of Tanzania. And we've "done" them all. You need help. With the language, with lodging, with transportation, with food, with medical needs. Sure, some other spots are very easily seen "on your own" -- England, New Zealand, Alaska, western Europe. Some persons, too, are not physically able to get around on their own, and tours fill a big need for these folks. My most vivid memor of this was crossing McKinnon Pass at the crest of New Zealand's Milford Track with a man in his late 60s who had lost the use of his right arm during the war. Quit? Never! We guided him, helped carry his pack, and his grateful comments made our trek just that much more fulfilling because he knew every single flower and plant along the trail. Which tour to take? The one that suits your needs, aspirations, courage, and budget.
 
Sep 16th, 1998, 05:42 PM
  #3  
marcie
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Hi Jen. My husband and I took a Trafalgar Tour in Italy in July this year. The tour was Italy Bellissimo. We took it as an orientation tour, having never been to Italy before and when it finished in Rome we continued travelling on our own through Italy, France and UK. The reasons we chose a tour? For we Australians, its very scary driving in Europe - like you Americans, they drive on the wrong side of the road! We found that we could not have done ourselves what Trafalgar achieved for the price we paid. We chose this particular tour for a couple of reasons, it didn't move on every day, mostly staying two nights in each place, and it stayed ON the Isle of Capri rather than just daytripping over. The pace suited us and we enjoyed their expertise as far as local knowledge, guided commentary etc. The hotels were central and of a very good standard. On tour, we gained confidence in the language, customs, and learnt dos and don'ts of travelling safely. Our tour guide was Italian and she made the tour almost like a language course, by the end we had all become quite fluent! We wouldn't take another tour through Italy, as we are now confident enough to do it ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed our time after the tour when we went it alone. However, I would recommend it to any first-timers and also anyone not wishing to tote their own luggage. Congrats on keeping an open mind - to each his own!
 
Sep 16th, 1998, 08:55 PM
  #4  
Marcia
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Upper price range - and wonderful, Tauck and also Maupintour. It seems to me that in the moderate range I have heard good things about Gibralter Tours.

I believe the Smithsonian hosts tours, and many university alumni groups do as well. You don't have to be an alum to go, just going their alumni assoc. for a year. The ones I've seen or heard about: Univ. of Michigan, Univ. of California and Stanford Univ. All of them wonderful tours, with professors as part of the guide package. Many are very expensive and first class, but some, like Stanford, have family, suitcase and budget tours which are more reasonable. Stanford has some which just stay in one place (Suitcase tours to Paris, for instance).
Another source is the Nature Conservancy - which has destinations (like a dude ranch within a Conservancy Property) as well as eco-tours. I am sure other enviornmental organizations do this as well.
Yet another source are specialty membership groups, like art museums (all the big ones do it), Archeology Magazine as all kinds of ads, and I presume the professional associations may have some travel offers as well.
Happy travels.
 
Sep 26th, 1998, 05:29 PM
  #5  
Eugene
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I am quite interested in Tauck tours.What has been your experience with them? Is the time too scheduled? Please relate your tour. What you travel with a group again?
 
Sep 27th, 1998, 11:21 AM
  #6  
Bee
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I've been on Trafalgar tours and I enjoyed them. Yes, the pace does move quickly at times (and not enough at others) but it was nice not having to lug everything around myself, having transportation and accomodations all taken care of and getting in early at most major sights since I was with a group.

As to which tour package is best, well, I guess it does depend on what you really want. The tours I took were considered first class so most of the hotels were in a central location and highly rated and included most of the meals and visits to noteworthy sights. I know that there are several budget tours around -- most of the hotels are located outside the main town/city and that they do not include a lot of perks (special visits to sights).

The Trafalgar staff was knowledgable, personable and quite hilarious at times (made us laugh).

The best thing about the tours I went on? The people I met! I made 40 or so new friends and still talk to them everyday via e-mail, phone call or letter. I've visited a few of them here in the US. One of my friends flew Down Under for a visit. Most of us are planning to see each other sometime next year (itinerary to be decided). We would have never met if we did not go on tour.

One thing I tell everyone before they go on tour: Read the tour brochure so you know what to expect! I'm still amazed at how some people pick a tour and then complain that it didn't go to one place or another! The brochure outlines what places the tour will be going to and contains general info that comes in handy when you're on tour.

Last thing: Trafalgar tours generally stop at some commercial factories along the way (i.e. glass blowing, wool, pottery factories, etc.) It's a barely disguised sales pitch but you do not need to buy anything and can just browse around.

 
Oct 24th, 1998, 08:43 PM
  #7  
Kate Flanagan
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My husband and I have taken 3 tours with Butterfield and Robinson, and they were great. Previously, we would have considered ourselves "no tours" people. But some friends recommended B&R. They are definitely upscale (i.e. not cheap). And they skew older than we are (we're 50 and 40), possibly because more established people afford them better. But most of the people are quite OK. The "gimmick" is that they are very active tours - walking, biking, etc. We hiked 9 miles a day this summer in Provence, following maps and directions the guides gave us. You don't have to hang out with anyone; you can just go at your own pace. Most people walk in couples or very small groups. You don't all march along together. You do usually eat meals together, because the trip includes some GREAT meals (and fantastic hotels). You enjoy all the other benefits of a tour: occasional (optional) side trips with local guides, having your bags moved from hotel to hotel for you. But the big benefit is the fact that they find all these back roads and map out the routes for you, so you really enjoy the countryside. They occasionally cruise by in a van in case you get lost, but otherwise you're on your own. It's great!
 
Oct 25th, 1998, 10:16 AM
  #8  
Robin
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GOOD QUESTION! I'm generally not a "group tour" person, but am considering trying one next year. Has anyone done a Rick Steves tour? If so, would you recommend it? They keep their groups small - about 25 people and promote an "active" and "insider" view.
 
Oct 26th, 1998, 12:33 PM
  #9  
Ronanne
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My husband & I just returned from an Insight tour to Turkey. We had a fabulous time. The tour guide really made the trip. He was extremely knowledgeable and experienced. Group size was 35 people. I would definitely go on another Insight tour.
 
Jan 25th, 1999, 04:04 AM
  #10  
Phyllis
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We want to take a tour of Prague,Vienna and Budapest and would like feedback about tour companies. Looking at the itinerary of a favorite tour company,Trafalgar,it seems that the hotels are a cab ride away from the city centers!!!Anyone ever been on Collette Tours?
 
Jan 26th, 1999, 06:01 PM
  #11  
Lori
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We took a Globus tour this past summer which skimmed over England, Scotland and Wales. It was a very good introduction to overseas travel and you saw a lot in a little time for a pretty good price. We would consider them again, but are taking a CIEtours tour of Ireland this spring. We prefer small family run establishments to big hotels and found a tour which combines B&Bs and 1st class hotels.
 
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