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On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

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Calgary, Alberta
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377 posts
4 reviews
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On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

I was talking about my trip to a friend over breakfast and the waitress asked the typical where & when questions, but she also asked "how". Now, my smart-azz response was "umm, getting on a plane and going?" But what she wanted to know what which tour group I booked "my package" through. When I told her I didn't do that, I simply booked my flight and found hotels she was mortified! I was promptly informed that my whole trip will be a disaster and that I (as a single woman travelling alone) really should reconsider.

WTF?? Virtually every horror story I've heard is because the tour operator screwed up and something went horribly awry (i.e. the current hotel overbooking thread here). I'm not saying nothing ever goes wrong with individuals booking, but I would rather only be able to kick myself for something like that.

So, I'll pose the question to you guys - package or DIY? And, why did you choose the way you did? At this point it's pure curiosity - I'm not going to go change everything... I just wanted to ask.

Sydney, Australia
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6,395 posts
37 reviews
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1. Re: On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

I always arrange my own flights and hotels. No doubt there are many great packages with nice hotels but there is a danger the hotel will be a boring tourist group hotel and/or a long way out. Half the fun of travel is to make your own plans. I mostly travel to Paris on my own and spend most of the time there on my own and have never had anything but a great time.

East Anglia, UK
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455 posts
12 reviews
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2. Re: On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

We used packages and then with Internet did our own, but the last three trips (one just finished one due in August) we have gone back to packages just because of cost. Here in the UK packages have taken a hit because of the Interenet (Travelscene went out of business) things have got cheaper. We have never had anything go wrong with a package, but perhaps the laws here are different

London
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938 posts
9 reviews
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3. Re: On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

We did our biggest trip of Europe through a package operator (which went without a hitch) but since then I arrange all our travel myself, flights, accomodation, transfers etc. I find it generally works out cheaper to do it yourself, you know the quality/location of the hotels you are staying in and it really builds the excitement of the trip when you spend hours looking for the besdt prices. The biggest plus for DIY is that there is no waiting around for the irritating people in your group that are always late, and you don't have to spend your time socialising with people that in any other time or place you would never have anything to do with.

I wonder if your waitress has actually ever travelled on her own?

Level Contributor
701 posts
130 reviews
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4. Re: On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

I think it depends on where you are going. For China and Russia, for example, with the really huge language barrier and the street signs beings mostly unreadable to the average traveler, a tour group is the way to go. You meet some really great people this way and some you hope you never cross paths with again.

For cities such as London, Paris, Rome, etc, with many visitors and easy to get around, I think going on your own is the best. You may have a few foul ups but nothing major. If you want to eat late, you can. If you want to sleep in, read in bed, no problem. The world is at your feet and you are free to see what ever you choose. The secret, of course, is to do a lot of research so you don't miss the best and must sees. That is where boards like this come in so handy.

Brooklyn, New York
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6,528 posts
24 reviews
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5. Re: On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

Hi - I agree totally with lpennin104. My wife and I have been independent travelers for years. Part of the joy for us is reading about and reseacrching information on places we visit, going off the beaten path, and enjoying the mandatory flexibility for sensible travel. It also provides much more opportunity to immerge yourself in a local culture.

I believe the world is split between tour group users and independent travelers. There's probably no right or wrong - after all the goal is to travel.

South
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296 posts
2 reviews
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6. Re: On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

Used to be a travel agent and worked for a major airline so I am pretty travel-savvy. However, most of the people here are just as travel-savvy. A lot of travel agents just don't get the opportunity to travel much. Even before airlines cut commissions, travel agencies were always under staffed and agents encouraged to book 'packages' (higher commission and less time consuming). I have most always found it is MUCH less expensive to book independentally. I've compared my recent trips to Paris to what a package with a similiar hotel would cost and I have always saved quite a bit (like $1,000 or more). And have the hotel of MY choice. Most generally the hotels used by tours and packages cater to such and lack much charm. The only exception to the package deal was right after 9/11, we got a five night package from Chicago to San Juan staying at the Ritz for a total of about $1,000 for both of us.

Judy

Tacoma, WA
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258 posts
11 reviews
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7. Re: On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

I think it's a crap shoot, but I definitely like going at my own pace. I couldn't find any hotels listed that were reasonable and less expensive through the airlines. I booked one hotel through hotwire and it was overbooked and I was bumped to another nicer hotel. I had no problems with Venere and Veniceby.com. My mom was just on a tour in France with Trafalgar last year and she thought the hotel rooms were quite disappointing.

Rebecca

pennsylvania
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77 posts
29 reviews
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8. Re: On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

DIY - mostly because I don't like being herded with other people. Not sure if it saves money or not, since I've never compared prices.

East Anglia, UK
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455 posts
12 reviews
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9. Re: On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

Travelling in a group - no, no, no! See too many of them in Paris (particularly USA and Japanese - its like watching sheep) and the guides! One American lady taking her group around the Musee D'Orsay ruined my visit to the Degas pastels - the only thing she knew about was the sound of her loud voice!

NY
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103 posts
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10. Re: On a "package" vacation or on "your own"?

Musketters, I get the same response from a couple of people when I told them that I was doing the same exact thing you are doing....traveling to London and Paris on my own...as a single female...(of course this is not the first time I have gone on a vacation solo). I did my research and booked flights and hotels...and all other arrangements I will make on my own. I found it to be exciting, challenging, and a good experience. The way I see it is that if I sit and wait until I can find someone to accompany me to places I'd like to go to, then I might never get there. You'll have fun and have a good time...I'm sure, because I know I will. Enjoy!