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On Our Own Or With A Tour Group?

Discussion in 'Travel and Tourism In Italy' started by watsadamen, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. Join a group tour

  2. On our own

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Ciao! I am new in this forum and there is so much I would like to learn from here. My sister and her family recently went to Italy and visited several beautiful cities. It was my sister and her daughter's first time in Europe and her husband chose Italy because he has been there before. My brother-in-law considers Italy the best country in Europe. He also believes that if it is a person's first time to travel to Europe, then he/she should choose Italy because visiting Italy is like being in the whole of Europe already.

    I am posting this thread because I would like to ask if I would take a trip with my senior citizen mother, is it advisable to join a group tour or just tour the country on our own? What is your advise?
  2. I would definitely suggest going by yourselves. Often, when you join a group tour, you only visit the well known places, and you don't always discover the smaller, lesser known places which make your trip to the country best. It's more fun to just walk around by yourself and work out where to go. As well as this, when you're on your own, you can decide where you want to go and where you want to stop by yourselves, so if you're feeling tired or hungry, you can just stop rather than having to talk to ask other people first.
  3. I'd also say going on your own would be the better option. While there's nothing wrong with joining a group, I think you don't get the fredom you need to really enjoy a country like Italy.

    Even on your own, you have to stick to a timetable, but at least you get to make that timetable up yourself, your not stuck to a set itinerary every day.
  4. I've had times where I have done group tours before and honestly, if I could repeat the experience I would have just gone solo.

    The thing that's hard about group tours is that they are trying to cater to everyone and by doing that I feel like they cater to no one, if that makes sense. You're stuck to a fixed itinerary, with a certain amount of time dedicated to certain places. If you're bored out of your mind somewhere, you might be stuck there longer than expected, or if you're fascinated by something you might feel like you're being hurried along and haven't spent enough time there.

    It's a friendly country and I don't think there would be any issues going without an organized tour group or guide.
    pwarbi likes this.
  5. The group tours do tend to try and keep everybody happy, and while they do to a certain extent, everybody is different and going to want different things from an holiday, so in that respect, I think the tours do as good as they can, but like I said, going solo or just with your own family, is always the best way to see any country.
  6. It depends on your situation; how long you are going for and what you aim to see and do. On a personal level I would go solo because I have been before and speak some Italian.

    In your case, if you are there for a limited time and your mother wants to see the highlights, a local tour maybe better as they can buy cheaper group tickets for certain places and you don't need to queue, for example the Uffizi in Florence, but it depends on the day you choose to go.

    If your mother is fairly active then you could plan your trip by yourselves. A lot depends on your schedule, and your mobility because some places don't have tour groups if there is only one or two attractions in a town.
  7. On your own is definelty cheaper but I guess that if you are hear for sightseeing going on your own you might have to chance to miss out some really important sights. On the other hand with a guide tour you'll have to spend a little bit more but in exchange you'll have with you a professional guide to explain all things you want about places and he/she'll make sure you'll visit all the important sights out there.
  8. #8 watsadamen, Aug 11, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
    Thanks for the replies, guys. Most of you suggest that we go on our own. Also, I am sorry for failing to mention that my mother's mobility may be in question. She may not tolerate long walks as I do. I know they usually do this for group tours. As my sister told us, there are areas wherein they would walk far since the bus could not park near the tourist site since parking for buses is limited. But if we go on our own, is the mode of public transportation accessible?

    My sister suggested we join a group tour like theirs because they were able to visit several cities such as Venice and Rome, as well as in the Tuscany area like Siena and Florence. She said the cities were all so beautiful and the food, divine.

    If we join a group tour, transportation will be more convenient for us since we are planning to visit different cities. Information regarding history of the places we go to will also be addressed. If we do it on our own, it would be at our own pace and it would be more relaxed vacation for me and my mom.
  9. @watsadamen I thought your mother's mobility may be a factor, and that's why I thought a tour would be better for you. Parking is bad in Italy and there are lots of cobbles and steep slopes. I found my wheeled case useless in some places. A guide would be used to handling people with walking difficulties and could arrange things to be easier.

    Public transport is fine, but won't be so relaxing. It's great for backpackers or people who know some Italian, because there are different types of trains, and not all places have train stations and some are a fair walk away. In your case a tour bus is sensible option.
  10. Understanding the pros and cons and balancing out what will work is going to help you decide what is best in you case. Although, I tend to agree with Gabe it is a big factor to get around on your own while depending on making public connections; whereas, on a tour with a group the bus is there for you. Hmm. If you have the funds, you could always consider grabbing a taxi in times of need in either scenario.

    No matter what, I know this will be an adventure of a lifetime for both of you. Sometimes it works out planning every detail, just have to bear in mind that when you kind of just explore as you go is equally gratifying.

  11. I wonder if you could get just a personal tour guide rather than a group - someone who can show you around and drive you to certain places for a set fee each day or something, but let you dictate the schedule a little more than a larger group tour would. I've done that in other countries - but I don't know how pricey a service like that would be in Italy.
  12. That would be a great idea but unfortunately, it could be too costly for us :(

    I guess the choice would highly depend on my mom then. I heard the best time to visit Italy is on Spring. Maybe my mom still has time to build up her energy. My friend's parents visited the UK recently and my friend told me her parents went to the gym like a month before to prepare them for the heavy walking on their trip. Perhaps, this can also apply to my mom.
  13. What you could do is depending on where you want to go to and for how long is to use a local guide when you are there. For some places you may not need a guide all day anyhow, but it depends on what you intend on visiting. Florence you can spend weeks there, so you have to pick and choose what you are interested in.

    When I lived in Florence we would get the coach to go on a day trip to Siena and places like that or take the train. Often when you wander around you hear other guides anyhow, but it depends on how long the trip is and how much ground you wish to cover. Spring or autumn is best, but spring can still be a little cold in the north.
  14. A holiday or a trip needs to be something that you look forward to and you shouldn't really have to prepare for it. If your mother's mobility is an issue, then maybe mix it up a bit? Most of the time you don't have to book the tour guides when you book the holiday, you can choose what tours you fancy (if any) when you get there so some days you can do your own thing at your own pace, and then just join up with a tour group, as and when you mother feels up to it?
  15. I always travel on my own and never as part of a group because I don't want to be limited to only what the tour provides. Particularly if I want to take my time to dine in a certain restaurant, etc. The reason I would recommend avoiding a packaged tour with an elderly person is that the tours can be long and draining. They start very early in the morning, so if you are tired and want to sleep in, you are out of that option. There is not enough flexibility because you are tied to the tour plans.

    The only type of tour I might recommend is those luxury personalized tours where you have a guide but it is really upto you because it is your own private tour. However, I think you are also perfectly capable of planning it out for yourself and prebooking all your hotels and tickets to make it easy on yourself and still be organized and planned like a tour might be.
  16. I think if you are traveling with your senior mother it may be a good idea to travel in a tour group. This way everything is laid out for her and they are also accommodating to older people who may have trouble walking as much by providing things like a wheel chair. I mention this because my older aunt just went to South American and did a tour group. She said she would have never been able to travel as much and see as much if she had done it on her own. I personally like to travel on my own but with an elder adult I would consider a tour.
  17. I wouldn't discount group day trips though, because they can be worth it, if getting to a destination is limited or difficult like San Gimignano where you can't park, and there are no trains, but only buses. Even a tour around the Vatican can be worth it, so you now what to look out for and know which areas you aren't allowed to go into. Many places are like this where they are not open to the public for certain hours, and if you can't read Italian (or there is no sign in English) you wouldn't know that.
  18. It certainly doesn't have to be a case of either or, you can do both. Just because you book your own holiday, arrange your own flights and hotel, when you get there, there will be plenty of day trips and tours that you can sign up for as and when you want.

    A lot of places can be visited on your own and so you can take things at your own pace, but a day with a group once or twice shouldn't be too demanding.

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