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Do I need to use a group tour?

Camillus, NY
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Do I need to use a group tour?

I am just starting to plan a somewhat last minute trip to Italy. Looking at going the mid-end of April. I actually love doing travel research [especially on TripAdvisor!], but this seems a bit over-whelming. This will be our first trip to Europe. Hubby likes history, I want to spend some time in Tuscany. Seeing Amalfi Coast and perhaps some Mediterranean islands would be nice. We have to keep it under 2 weeks. We would like to travel on our own, instead of in a group, plus we would like to use airline points toward the cost. Can this be done without using a tour group?

Hagerstown, Maryland
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1. Re: Do I need to use a group tour?

Absolutely! It's not at all difficult as long as you're willing to do some research.

Look at train schedules here:

http://www.fsitaliane.it/homepage_en.html

Edited: 06 February 2012, 18:35
Ocean City, MD
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2. Re: Do I need to use a group tour?

Have you browsed some guidebooks for the areas you are interested in? You could fly into Rome, spend a couple of days and then take a train up to Florence 3/4 days. Its 1.5 hrs and 45 Euro p/p. Florence is the capitol of the Tuscan Province and you could do a day trip to Siena or Pisa. From Florence, train down to Naples, 3 hrs 72 Euro. From Naples you can decide if you want to go visit/stay there. Pompeii is about 30 mins on the local regional train. From Naples or Sorrento you can take a ferry to Amalfi, or from Sorrento you can take the Sita bus up to Positano on the A/C. From either you can do a day trip to Capri. From Naples its 70 mins 45 Euro back to Rome for 2 days. 2 weeks may sound like a lot of time, but not really because it goes so quickly.

You could also do an 'open jaw' flight and fly into Florence and depart from Rome, that would save you from backtracking.

www.trenitalia.com and have a look at venere.com and booking.com for accommodations, both allow you to 'shop' by location & price, read the reviews. Italy's star system is not like the US, I've stayed in some very nice/clean 2 star hotels.

Hope the above gives you some ideas for planning. Its really not as difficult as it sounds and thats why Trip Advisor is here:-)

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: Do I need to use a group tour?

the key word in your question is 'you' not 'need'. some people like group tours and some people don't. they are certainly not 'needed' for a great trip -- unless you are a person who enjoys that kind of travel.

I would never do one -- when I am too old to travel independently then I will stay home and look at my pictures. some people love having the logistics handled and love the company of a group.

so no you don't 'need' one, but 'you' might prefer one. it is totally a 'know thyself' kind of deal.

north carolina
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4. Re: Do I need to use a group tour?

All above is good. and most of the folks on TripAdvisor prefer doing their own planning. We can certainly offer plenty of help and encouragement, but it is not too difficult.

HOWEVER: let me add that if you expect to be in the popular spots in April, 2012, then you need to get very busy setting accommodations reservations - very busy, plenty fast, chop, chop. Also if you expect to use your airline frequent flier miles for the air, then it is also time to get busy and try to find available flights, that don't take you to Atlanta and then Chicago and then Moscow and then Milan. We can get from here to there in 12 hours if we get the right flights, but usually American Airlines tried to book us on something that would take about 18-20 hours when we wanted to use F.F. miles.

Ocean City, MD
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5. Re: Do I need to use a group tour?

Janet, I was LOL because I told my children and grandchildren exactly the same thing, i.e. 'when I'm too old to travel independently then I'll stay home and look at my pictures'........and hope I remember where I was:*)

Camillus, NY
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6. Re: Do I need to use a group tour?

Ok, now I am obsessing! ....and I am doing this for my own 50th birthday!! I really don't like the idea of a tour group [ probably will never do a cruise for the same reasons], but I do know I am pressed for time. May have to quit my job to plan this! Thanks, for all the hints so far.

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Do I need to use a group tour?

guide books have good suggested itineraries -- get Rick Steves Italy

but the big thing is booking hotels so soon -- everything else will fall into place once you have your lodging nailed down

and frequent flyer miles? we have credit card points and can cash them for travel any time -- but airmile programs are VERY difficult to book. we once had problems booking to Italy with AA nearly a year in advance - the only flight to and from Rome we could get, routed us through London on the way back and forced an overnight layover (but wouldn't allow us to take a couple of days to make the layover worthwhile)

Camillus, NY
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8. Re: Do I need to use a group tour?

I live near Syracuse, NY. Usairways has a direct flight to Rome from Philadelphia or Charlotte that we can apply frequent flyer points to, but a ton of them!! Trying to read all the reviews of the hotels, inns, etc, now.

Ocean City, MD
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9. Re: Do I need to use a group tour?

The USAir from Philly to FCO is the one I use. I fly a USAir 'puddle jumper' from the small airport in Salisbury, Md (small airport 20 mins from me) to Philly, about 30 mins air to PHL. The flight to FCO leaves at 6:30 p.m. non-stop arriving 7:30 a.m. the next day (Italian time), return is non-stop too.

Camillus, NY
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10. Re: Do I need to use a group tour?

Booked! Rome in and out. Now the real work....12 days, 11 nights, wish we could do more. Must [ I think] on the list: few days in Rome, Amalfi Coast and Capri, and definitely some quality time in Tuscany. May have to skip Venice?