Looking for tour company recommendations

dedtiredJune 24, 2013

I want to do more traveling now that I am retired. I travel by myself, so I'd like to find a good tour company. Is there one you have used and would recommend? One that is friendly for a solo traveler?

I won't share a room with a stranger, so I have to pay the single supplement. I'm looking for a company that has low supplement rates or even waives them. I'd also prefer not traveling with a huge crowd.

One tour company that is nice is OAT. Their prices are good and the size of the group is good, but they do not travel to Europe.

So, any suggestions for me? Thanks.

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Annie Deighnaugh

Well, we love Tauck and are going to take our 6th tour with them. But save your $$$...they are expensive and they do charge a single supplement, but their tours are fabulous, the people are very friendly, and while expensive, you couldn't replicate one of their tours on your own.

You might also check with your local senior center. My mother travelled with them as a single many times and had a good time.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:43AM
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hhireno

I've never done one but Rick Steves does tours that are limited in size so it might be a place to check. I do use his travel books and enjoy his sense of humor.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 9:55AM
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dedtired

Annie, my BIL uses Tauck, so I looked into them. Wow, they are so expensive. It would have to be the trip of a lifetime! I guess what I am looking for is a less expensive version of Tauck. Smaller groups, with nice people.

hh, I used Rick Steves book when I was in Paris and found it very helpful. I don't know much about his tours.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 10:34AM
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allison0704

My father has done numerous Tauck Tours all over the world. He usually does more than one at at time before coming home. They are nice tours and there is down time, meals not included (in the free time). So it's not like you're on a tour with a group (not large) all the time. My DH went with him to Japan.

DD2 and I went with him (and my sister) to Europe in 2000. It was a 21 days tour and was fabulous - Dad said "where do you want to go?" and I got to pick it out. They don't have it now, but it was a Yellow Roads tour, European capitals.

Dad has done tours that include/are river cruises as well. He's also done tours with other, more expensive companies with tiny groups, but said he would recommend Tauck over them.

*edited to add: Sorry, just saw your Tauck comment, but will leave my post for anyone interested in Tauck.

This post was edited by allison0704 on Mon, Jun 24, 13 at 23:00

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 10:46AM
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maire_cate

Abercrombie and Kent have special rates for solo travelers. It's still more expensive than what you'd pay for your share of splitting costs but if you're flexible some of their last minute deals are a good buy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Abercrombie

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 10:55AM
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ellendi

I have been looking for a tour company for a trip to Italy next spring.
I looked at the above mentioned along with others. We did do Perillo when we went to Hawaii, but I did not want to use them again. (They attract a much older crowd.)
There are high end like Tauck and lower end like Cosmo and Globus. Interestly enough and this makes sense, the lower budget tours attract younger people. I like the idea of a inter generational group.
I think we will go with Trafalgar. They seem to meet all the things I am looking for. The money I save equals another trip to Costa Rica!
Since you are going alone, I am wondering if there are companies that cater to singles? Maybe someone here will be able to help you.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 1:11PM
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dedtired

It seems like there is every kind of tour out there -- women only, singles only, adventure, etc. I guess the hard part is trying to find a group of people who are going to be like-minded.

Abercrombie looks interesting and I'll also look into Trafalgar. If I don't soon make up my mind, I'll never get there!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 3:11PM
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terriks

I've never gone on any kind of tour, but my mother has quite a bit. I don't know what companies she has used. I do think that she has done a Road Scholar tour, which is geared towards life long learning for adults.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 3:30PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Actually most of the meals are included on the Tauck tours...only some days some meals are not when they leave you on your own...but they specify that ahead of time.

A friend of mine travelled all over the world and always raved about Maupintour, but I think they are high end like Tauck.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 4:05PM
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bac717

I highly, highly recommend the Rick Steves' tour company. We traveled with them last fall on our first trip to Europe, a 10-day trip in Italy. They keep the group size small (24-28), but we ended up with an even smaller group of only 19. We had one man traveling solo in the group, but he had no trouble fitting in. By the end of the trip, we were all one big family. We were traveling with another couple who have relatives that had traveled to Italy earlier in the summer with Trafalgar. One of the big differences between Rick Steves and Trafalgar is that with RS you will stay right in the heart of the city in a local hotel so that you can walk to wherever you want to go, whenever you want to. Our friends relatives stayed outside of the city and had to travel on the tour bus to go into the city and then come home on the bus according to the tour company schedule. It would be like coming to Chicago and then staying 20 miles outside of the city in one of the suburbs. You will walk A LOT on a Rick Steves tour, but that's how you really see everything. We learned SO MUCH from our tour guide and the local guides about the culture, the history and everything we saw. Of the 10 nights we were with the tour group (we added a few days on at both ends of the trip to be on our own), 4 dinners were included. Breakfast was included each morning at every hotel.

Where would you like to start traveling in Europe?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 4:39PM
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ellendi

Bac717 to clear up your point about Trafalgar. They have two type of tours. First class, where you stay in the heart of the city, and Cost Saver which you do not.
Important to make sure you know this distinction if you go with this tour company!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 6:13PM
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dedtired

Great information. I've been to Brazil when my niece lived there, so that is checked off my bucket list. I've also been to Paris and want to go back. I think I'd like to go to Italy next.

I watch Steves on his PBS show and he always promotes travelling on your own -- well, with friends or family. Funny that he has a tour company.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 6:38PM
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maire_cate

Just found this site - it's rather interesting. You might find something here that intrigues you.

http://wandertours.com/

Here is a link that might be useful: women's tours

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:33PM
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jmc01

We've done 2 with Trafalgar and they were both Absolutly great and very affordable. Single folks, married folks, parent/child pairs. We'd use them again any time!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:59PM
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bac717

ellendi - I did not know that about Trafalgar. Thanks for the info. I guess my point it that I think it's very important to stay in the heart of the city.

I think Rick Steves has a tour company and has his books because there are some who want to travel on their own and there are some who like to have others do the planning. We chose to use a tour company because it was our very first time in Europe. While in Rome, tho, our RS guide did teach us a lot about getting around the city on our own, which we put to use during the 2 extra days we were by ourselves.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 8:28PM
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allison0704

Actually most of the meals are included on the Tauck tours

I was referring to the down/free time, and have corrected so that it is more clear to someone reading.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 11:01PM
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dedtired

Bac, I like the idea of ending the tour in an interesting spot and spending a couple days there on your own, if you have gotten your bearings via the tour.

Annie, thanks, I got it.

There are just so many options, it is difficult to sort out a group that suits my needs.

I went to Paris with a friend who kind of knew the way around but we spent an awful lot of time figuring things out when we could have been seeing more. On the other hand, some of our most fun experiences came from finding ourselves off the beaten track. One time we went the wrong way on the Metro and ended up seeing more of "real" Paris. It helped that we both speak some French and that the Parisians were incredibly nice and spoke English that was better than our French.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 9:38AM
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ellendi

Ded, I really admire you for traveling alone. I do think that a tour with a mixed group of people is the way to go.
I wish you had a travel buddy though.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 10:05AM
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dedtired

Thanks, ellendi. Want to go with me?

I often enjoy traveling alone. I took a friend along on a trip to Cape Cod and she talked on her cell phone so much I thought I would strangle her. At one point I had to leave the beach because I thought I'd lose my mind. She has a large family (all adults) and she called all of them about three times a day about totally inane stuff. She also liked shopping for junky tourist things.

I am used to having my own space and sometimes it is hard to adjust to having someone else in it. As long as I can go off to my own room for awhile each day, I am fine.

I did a lot of business travel, so I am accustomed to fending for myself. It is a feeling of satisfaction to be able to manage on your own.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 11:51AM
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ellendi

LOL Ded. Who knows, maybe someday we'll do a GW tour.
I know what you mean about traveling with others. You have to be prepared to compromise. This is why it is just DH and I on important trips. (And, although I loved having my daughters along on our last trip to Costa Rica, it does change the focus when you include others.)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 1:16PM
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goldengirl327

We also enjoy traveling with Tauck. Yes, the trips seem pricey compared to others, but we like the fact that they do not "up sell" you once the tour begins. I've often wondered how much you really save once you add in the cost of additional side/bonus tours with other companies. FWIW, we have had single travelers in our groups and they seemed to have a great time.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 7:23PM
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lv_r_golden

Since you mentioned Italy - my BFF of many years has a good friend for many, many years that does real small group Italy tours....I guess I can mention the company name as other tour groups are being promoted here - it is Enchanted Tuscany Tours.

If you do facebook - check out her page. My friend has encouraged me to go on one of her trips as my DH does not have the world traveler gene. She just does Italy. Her pictures look wonderful.

You could probably google the company as well.
We live in CA and she does not so I have not met her.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 2:35PM
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dedtired

The more research I do, the more I am learning about all the add-ons, and that some companies include air fare in their quote and others do not.

Tauck's tours sound wonderful. They do include most gratuities. Still they are a good $2-3,000 per person more than Trafalgar. The single supplement is a killer, too. As much as I would love the luxuries, I just can't swing it.

I'll check out the one you mention, vr-r.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 1:45PM
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cyn427

That Enchanted Tuscany tour company looks nice, lv_r.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 4:05PM
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bac717

I think another important consideration in choosing a tour company is the size of the group. A smaller group is much better!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 8:37PM
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dedtired

OMG, those Enchanted Tuscany Tours look fabulous and the price is within reason. Thanks for pointing them out.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 9:44PM
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lv_r_golden

Glad you found it interesting - I thought it looked good......my friend here that told me about her went to hs and a couple of yrs of college with her in Iowa). So it is almost like you all know her already, right? She would totally know the connection of her friend in So Cal.....

I understand she is on a tour right now. She just posted new pictures on her personal FB page.... If anyone goes with her on a tour, please give us your feedback!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 10:13PM
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maire_cate

I finally found the article I clipped out of my Spring 2013 Travel & Leisure magazine. It's titled "At Peace on My Own" and obviously deals with solo travel. The article mentions 2 cruise lines who have special pricing for solo travelers. Sorry the magazine won't let me link the entire article.

........ "Crystal Cruises just charges 10% for a single supplement on 10 of it's world cruises, saving solo passengers as much as $1,000 per room per night....The Crystal Dining Room's 'Table for 8', reserved for solo travelers, for instance, is a particularly popular spot for meeting other like-minded travelers on their own.

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) has taken the singles trend one step further, adding a new stateroom category, the Studio, designed specifically for the solo traveler. It grants cruisers access to a private stateroom and solos-only lounge. ....(they're) now adding studios to existing ships and including them on both of the new builds."

And African safaris aren't omitted either: Micato Safaris makes special considerations for solo travelers and tries to keep single supplements to a minimum.

Abercrombie and Kent says "that the average A&K solo traveler is female, age 55 or so, and has traveled abroad at least once already this year........A&K increasingly waives single supplements pr reduces them by up to 75% on small group escorted trips to places like the Galapagos and the Yangzi River in China."

"The Globus Family of travel companies says that a full 20%
of their clients are solo travelers. That's why they extended their offerings by creating Monograms, which provides consumers independent travel packages."

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 6:25PM
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dedtired

Bumping this back up.

Lv_r_golden - can you send me an email through Gardenweb? Just click on "My Page after my user name. I am looking into Enchanted Tuscany tours and have a question for you.

Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 5:16PM
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dedtired

Lv-r-golden. Thanks for your email. Unfortunately I cannot respond via GW because your account is set up to not receive emails.

Can you contact me at talk2pam at verizon dot net - hope that makes sense. Thanks

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:52PM
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lv_r_golden

Dedtired, that didn't work, I sent you a new email......

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 9:34AM
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dedtired

Got it. Can't figure out why that would not work. I'll try to reach you again.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:08AM
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dedtired

Success -- I hope.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:26AM
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lv_r_golden

Dedtired, check your email......I couldn't respond to yours.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 10:56AM
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lv_r_golden

just sent more.......

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 12:02PM
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Mimou-GW

If you ever want to vintage shop in France you might be interested in http://sundaybrocantes.blogspot.fr/p/coming-soon.html. The woman who does theses tours used to live in my small town. She and her husband ran a beautiful vintage shop. I only knew her briefly before her move to France and I have never been on her tours but it may be worth looking into.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vintage France

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 12:50PM
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patty_cakes

I get emails from this group, but haven't tried it yet. I've been wanting to do a river cruise, somewhere in Europe.

Here is a link that might be useful: travel tours

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 5:03PM
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dedtired

Wow, Gutsy Women's river cruises are very luxurious.
"Unpack your bags only once and settle into your luxurious, five-star Uniworld floating boutique hotel which has been artfully designed with Old World elegance; modern, thoughtful amenities; and signature touches." Okay, sign me up!

Nan, I dream of traveling to Normandy. Those tours look so charming. I thought -- what a bargain!! Then I realized the prices are in euros.

Thanks. I love all the suggestions.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 8:34PM
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jab65

My husband & I just took our first river cruise with Vantage. We got a last-minute deal, so it was very reasonable. They dock right in the city, so you can go out on your own, if you wish. We'll go again. This was the Danube River from Budapest to Prague, and some of it was on land. So if Gutsy Women's looks good to you, that might be fabulous.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 9:37PM
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dedtired

Wow, Gutsy Women's river cruises are very luxurious.
"Unpack your bags only once and settle into your luxurious, five-star Uniworld floating boutique hotel which has been artfully designed with Old World elegance; modern, thoughtful amenities; and signature touches." Okay, sign me up!

Nan, I dream of traveling to Normandy. Those tours look so charming. I thought -- what a bargain!! Then I realized the prices are in euros.

Thanks. I love all the suggestions.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 9:54PM
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junco East Georgia zone 8a

AMAWaterways has wonderful tours--I went with some friends on the Danube and we were very pleased.
I don't know about their single supplement.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 9:55PM
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dedtired

So many destinations, so little money.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 1:19PM
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demifloyd

I've enjoyed reading this thread!~

My DH and I had planned one major foreign trip a year and one major domestic trip a year during our retirement, but his death a few years into retirement put an end to that--he had traveled the world in his job so knew his way around many places that he wanted to take me back to see.

I have taken my daughters to England and we'd love to visit Ireland but they live far away and their jobs prevent them from having much time off.

So my intention is to travel while I am still in good health and able to do so.

I had heard good things about the Tauck Tours; some good and some bad about the Viking River cruises, and a good friend in her mid fifties and her new husband thoroughly enjoyed the Perillo Tour, but it didn't sound like my cup of tea.

We always traveled on our own but I'm a little reluctant to do that now.

These suggestions help immensely, thanks and dedtired, happy travels!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 9:43AM
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dedtired

Demifloyd, I've heard nothing but good things about Tauck, but I find them very expensive. Since I prefer to have my own space rather than share accommodations with a stranger, the single supplement makes it way beyond my reach.

Perillo would not be for me. I do like what I read from Trafalgar.

Good luck to you in your travels.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 12:10PM
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demifloyd

I agree, I would not want to share a room with a stranger!

Thanks for sharing and good luck in your travels, as well.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 4:44PM
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