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independent travel or tour

Wallan, Australia
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independent travel or tour

We are in our early 40's and would like to travel to Europe. I know that really it takes multiple visits to see all of Europe so to begin with I would like to go from London to france and Italy.

Do we do a tour or is it safe/easy to be independent?

Any suggestions on where to go and what to do? would like the main landmarks that the 'tourists' see, as well as some off the beaten track sights.

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England, United...
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1. Re: independent travel or tour

First of all, it is very easy to travel from London to Paris via Eurostar (train). The journey takes 2 1/4 hrs. and trains can be booked via the Eurostar website www.eurostar.com. The earlier you book, the better the price of the ticket. The station in London is St.Pancras and you will arrive in Paris at the Gare du Nord.

There is so much to see in Paris and this can all be done as an independent traveller. The metro (underground train system) works very well and so getting about is not a problem. I suggest you first obtain a pocket guide to Paris which will show you where the sites are located and the layout of the metro system.

Several "must sees" in Paris are located within walking distance of each other.

If you wish to see other areas of France, I would suggest hiring a car. France is a very large country and depending on what appeals to you, there are multiple location choices. There are thousands of landmarks as well as off the beaten track sights.

Again, I suggest you have a look at a map of France, together with a guide book. When you have decided which regions in particular would interest you, post again and I'm sure you will receive some very valuable help.

For the UK (London) and for Italy, you should use the separate forums for those countries.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: independent travel or tour

Get Rick Steve's Europe in 22 days which outlines a hit and run, see a bit of everything independent trip and gives a lot of good advice. You are exactly the audience for his writing. A new traveler who is inexperienced but wants to cover some ground and needs advice on how to do this. You can of course tweak his trip adding more time places, dropping some stops, but it gives you a good idea of how to do it and his general travel advice is good. Europe through the Back Door is another good guide to enjoying a first trip. He balances big tourist stops with some ideas for doing something more local. (although of course the specific authentic local things he touts have now been ruined by his minions -- it is the nature of small delicate things like undiscovered scenic spots to be overwhelmed once they are on everyone's punch list)

WE have been traveling in Europe now for over 35 years always independently and have found it easy and fun. We started renting apartments before the internet and the internet has made it super easy to make your own hotel and travel arrangements. Your odds of finding charming hotels and such are much higher than if you go through a tour group or travel agent. Once you know where your main stops are and about how much time you want to spend there and what you hope to get from the stop, you can fine tune with specific questions here.

For your three destinations, I would hope you have at least 3 week, preferably 4. I would not stay fewer than 5 nights in major destinations like London, Paris or Rome or Florence. It is IMHO preferable to spend a week in a place and add variety with a day trip or two than to move constantly -- but this is a personal preference.

You can see some of the recent travel we have done in France,Italy and Spain in my photo journal listed in my sig below.



Oz en Oisans, France
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3. Re: independent travel or tour

For your "off the beaten track sights" consider what your interests are eg mountains, great views...if this is the case you will need to consider hiring a car as many sites like these are not on a public transport route

We have travelled in most of the European countries and they are in the main safe and its easy to be independent. Be streetwise and read some guide books. The DK guides are very informative and we always take one with us when going somewhere new

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4. Re: independent travel or tour

Lots of good suggestions above. I agree, doing it yourself is the best option. A group tour constricts you to their itinery and everywhere you go is with lots of people. There is lots of valuable information on trip advisor from ways to save money, avoid quese, access tickets, transportation queries, accommodation and places to eat and in travel books such as Lonely Planet and Rick Steeves that can help you tailor a trip according to your interests.

Doing it on your own means if you really like a place you can spend more time there, and likewise if an attraction is not your cup of tea you can move on whereas on a tour you arrive at a place, and have x amount of time before you are herded back onto the bus to move to the next destination.

5. Re: independent travel or tour

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