Europen Vacation Planning
Which Vacation is right for you?
For many Americans, Europe remains the land of dreams and fairy tales. Castles, mountains, old cities, magical names we’ve heard since childhood – Picadilly Circus, Piazza San Marco, Beg Ben, Little Mermaid…. Many think of Europe as unreachable and expensive. Yet, nine millions Americans made last year transatlantic trips. They went as students (on budget with backpacks), baby boomers (many of them with kids in tow) and retirees. They went with budgets ranging from magnificent to meager, they traveled during all seasons, with itineraries varying from one long weekend or one week to one year. But they saw Europe – and so can you.
Once we went to Swiss Alps and stayed in a small Alpine car-free village Murren. We stayed in authentic chalet in the middle of the village, with gorgeous view. The chalet was only $80 per night including delicious breakfast and personal attention of a wonderful owner Denise.
Consider buying a travel package, which can make the whole process as simple as choosing itinerary and price. The packages range from fully escorted group tours with everything included, to basic fly-drive or rail, hotel combinations for independent travelers. These packages will save you money as well as planning time. For those who prefer to tailor their trip, there is no limit to options.
So, what vacation is right for you?
Nobody would buy a piece of clothing that is not a right size. So too, when buying vacation, finding the right fit can make or break the experience. We deal daily with vacation requests in many shapes and sizes as today's travelers. In order for us to find the right tour or package to suit your style and personality, we suggest to answer the following questions:
1. What is important to you? What do you expect from a trip? Are you looking for particular level of comfort or luxury? If luxury accommodations are important, let us know.
2. How much activity do you want? Some people want to see everything, other prefer a casual day on the beach or to relax in a cafe.
3. How do you fit in? We will help you to choose accommodations that are compatible with your style and comfort level. If you like things casual, some hotels might be too formal for your taste. If you consider an escorted tour, it is important that other people in a group will be from similar background, share the same interests or educational level.
4. Are your expectations realistic? Are you willing to compromise in order to save money? If so, decide whether it matters that the hotel room faces the back or has no view. You usually get what you paid for. If traveling on a bare bone budget, do not expect top-drawer luxury.
The perfect fit
Now that we found out more about your travel personality, expectations and budget, we will search for a tour or package that best matches your needs and desires.
ESCORTED TRAVEL INDEPENDENT PACKAGE TRAVEL (FIT) CRUISES
If you enjoy escorted traveling with other people, desire comfort an escort provides, having your itinerary planned and all travel details handled by the professionals, this option is for you. Escorted tours also provide a perfect introduction to not only popular tourist spots, but also exotic destinations where some may not want to "go it alone".
It's a known price. With an escorted tour, you pay one upfront rate and there is no hidden fees except maybe guide tips. All is included, and you won't have unpleasant financial surprises along the way. A well-planned tour is a good value. It comes from years of operator's experience and knowledge. The tour operators have tremendous purchasing power with hotels, airlines and restaurants.
There is a tour for every taste and interest. Major escorted tour operators offer vacations to different destinations practically anywhere in the world.
It is a comfortable, reliable way to travel. You never have to worry about directions or communicating in unfamiliar language when on escorted tour. Your tour guide does it well. The motorcoach takes you door-to-door. The most upscale tour operators even provide bellboy to take care of luggage. All you have to do is relax and enjoy the scenery. When you arrive to your destination, you will be relaxed and ready for your sightseeing. A professional tour director possesses historical knowledge, know their country and local flavor to your trip. The outstanding tour guides, like those at Abercrombie and Kent and Tauck Tours make a difference for your holiday. They manage the trip details smoothly.
You don't have to worry about reservations, lines or connections. The tour operator makes sure your dinner, accommodations or museum visit is smooth. You don't have to stay in line for admission tickets. You are taken care by professionals who have decades of experience where you are visiting.
How to select a Escorted tour. First, look at the length of the tour to fit your schedule. They range from one to three weeks. If this is your first time in Europe, want to visit many highlights, and can't decide to which country to go, it is a good idea to select multi-country tour. Next time you will know what you like and come back for regional tour in detail. Next, look how many nights spent at each location. There should be at least 2 nights in most cities. Some tours look like a good value, but if you analyze it, the travelers spend too much time on the road. You don't want to see the country from your bus. Also, hotels location are important. When you will have a free time to explore the city, if your hotel is outside of town, you will need transportation and time to get to the city center. It is better to select tours which start in one city and end in another. Example, you fly to Rome, then see Florence, Venice and drive back to Rome. This "scenic ride" translates to extra ride to Rome. The tour which let you fly back from Venice is a better choice.
As a rule, upscale tour operators use better, centrally located hotels in cities. In countryside, they often use exceptional properties known for their character (castles, chateaux, characteristic country inns). Their tours feature personalized service and excellent dining, mostly a la carte. Special speakers are invited in addition to tour guides. People who take these tours once, loyally return for more. They would not consider anything else.
Family tours are widely available now with guides who give special attention to kids and some of the operators offer kids babysitting while parents can take time to themselves. The benefit for such groups is that the children interact with their own on the tour, and also meet local children and find out about their way of life. You won't hear "Are we there yet? " because kids are busy walking and exploring on a way. And, if they are tired, support van is always available.
There are many special interest tours and small group tours. These travelers like vacations devoted to a specific theme or off-beaten path. They also enjoy traveling with a small group of people who share their interests and activity level. Adventuresome, intellectual, historical or cultural pursuits characterize this traveler's personality.
If you are open to new experiences, activities and situations and prefer to visit places on your own, we can help booking air, hotel, or packages with modular components.
This tour usually includes:
- Roundtrip transatlantic air
- transfers between cities by air or rail if needed
- transfers from airport to hotel
- accommodations in selected hotels (you select hotels depending on your taste and budget)
- Hotel breakfasts, tax and service charge
- Half Day tour or more sightseeing in each city - which you will use anyway to get started - many people prefer special interest private tours
In addition there are other options available: daily excursions, theater tickets, dinner shows, museum and metro passes. These options allow to build your own vacation from the building blocks which will satisfy independent traveler.
Independent Rail or Drive.
For explorers, when they get wonder and get lost, the excitement of finding unexpected on the way is the most rewarding feeling. Either a ancient castle, or small country inn, or a new wonderful view makes vacation special. For such travelers, the best is a Fly-Drive or Rail-Drive package. Many wholesalers "pack" wholesale (discounted air) with car rental for the very attractive price. For those who does not want to drive, rail transportation in Europe is easy, on time and very reliable. Some people even use overnight train instead 1 or 2 nights accommodations to save traveling time and money spent on hotel. Rail passes are good values and come in many varieties. Some countries give 2 for 1 discount in summer for two people traveling together - first passenger pays full price, second half. Family passes include children for free. As for hotels, if you know where you want to stay, they can be booked in advance. Otherwise, hotel vouchers like Best Western give you freedom to move as you like and are the best buy. First reservation is booked here in US, next reservation is done when you leave your hotel. The hotels assist with booking. Very popular and a good value are Country Inns which provide excellent dining, include wonderful breakfasts and owners' personal attention.
Cruises are a great way to experience Europe and explore ports and islands usually not easily accessible by land. Ask us about river cruises in Europe.
Can't find what you want and don't want to do your research? Let us know and we will recommend something!
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