We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

Melbourne, Australia
4 posts
Save Topic
Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

Hi Everyone I'm new to Tripadvisor and this is my first enquiry.

After attending a travel expo and coming home armed with more travel brochures than is reasonable for any human to require, I got confused. So many fantastic tours thoughout Europe and also within specific countries. So I have narrowed it down to....If I were to never go again (God forbid) where would I regreat not seeing....answer Italy Greece and Croatia....My question therefore is ......Do you think it would be manageable to travel these countries on our own or better to take tours within these countries? friends have said the public transport systems are fantastic and user friendly so don't waste the dollars on tours. Also what do you feel about hiring cars in Europe? from what I've read heard and been advised, driving there is quite scary!! and one more sly question on the back of all this .....From Australia the flights are quite expensive....was thinking of flying in to London or Paris and training it to Italy to begin with....any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.....happy travels to you all and thanks in advance :0)

Maryland
Level Contributor
1,461 posts
85 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

Good to have narrowed down the countries you will want to see, try and narrow down where you want to go in those countries and also what you want to do and see. How many days you can spare will also determine what you can do.

Planning your own trip is easy especially with the help you can get from the travel forums. Have you checked the cost of train from London or Paris to Italy? May be the difference will not be so great compared to flying into Italy or Greece or Croatia.

If possible fly into one of the countries you plan to visit and fly home from another one. To do this you book your flight as a multiple country itinerary. This will save you a lot of travel time and you will not have to be backtracking.

Public transport is very good and reliable in Italy. Someone else can comment on Greece and Croatia. Driving in city centers in Italy is not recommended due to restrictions which when violated will incur heavy fines. So narrow down the number of days, your interest, places in each country you will want to visit, time of year, budget for hotels and come back with specific questions.

People are helpful on tripadvisor and you will get better input when you are more specific.

New York
Level Contributor
2,391 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

How many weeks are you planning for this trip? There's so much to see in each of those countries you could easily spend 6 weeks and not experience nearly all that there is.Everyone is different, but if you have anything less than 2-3 weeks I would focus on one country so you have the proper time to experience it unless you're just planning one city in each.

Melbourne, Australia
4 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

Firstly thank you soo much already :0)

We are looking at a minimum of 6 weeks and out to 8 weeks so I was thinking at least two weeks in each country and the remainder of the time to spend a bit longer wherever we choose.

Sorry about being a bit vague as I'm not sure how to begin all of this and it's a tad overwhelming

Thank you again

Edited: 07 March 2013, 02:52
New York
Level Contributor
2,391 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

Sounds amazing. You certainly can plan the entire trip yourself. I personally don't like organized trips. Sometimes I'll take a walking tour in a city or an excursion for the day, but that's about it.

The first time I went to Italy many, many years ago I went on a tour. two thirds in I had them drop me off at a train station and I headed to Rome on my own!! I hated being on their schedule with all these people that I had no desire to spend my vcation with. So many people told me I'd be ok to not take the tour,but I was a bit nervous at the time.

You'll have to do your research and there's a lot of information here on TA.I recommend you buy some good guidebooks of the countries you plan to visit and start reading. Once you have a tentative plan people can help you with answering questions on the specifics.

Enjoy!

Adelaide, Australia
Level Contributor
30,831 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

Check for a multi city air ticket with www.emirates.com Fly into Milan and out of Athens.

www.trenitalia.it/homepage-en.html trains will connect you to Varenna (Lake Como), Venice, Monterosso (Cinque Terre), Florence, Rome, Naples (Amalfi coast) Ancona.

Ferry Ancona to Split (Croatia) www.blueline-ferries.com

Take the coastal bus route Split to Dubrovnik.

Dependent on your travel dates fly Dubrovnik to Athens ww.croatiaairlines.com

Greek islands ferries www.ferries.gr

Greek domestic flights www.aegeanair.com

Accommodation www.venere.com

www.italia.it/en/home.html

www.croatia.hr/en-gb/homepage

www.visitgreece.gr

Edited: 07 March 2013, 07:49
Melbourne, Australia
4 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

Thank you for all your time and trouble you're wonderful :0)

I'll be getting to work on these straight away, so happy you responded thank you again

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
2,956 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

A word of warning about tour itineraries. I actually look at tour brochures when I plan a trip and have once taken an Insight tour in Spain long ago. Tours have very busy itineraries which often cover a lot of distance in the specified time. They achieve this by leaving the hotel at about 7am (meaning a 5.30am wake up call), and spending long hours on the road.

So I find that if I see a 4 week tour in a brochure, then in the same amount of time, I will try to cover about half the number of places that the tour visits, and try to cover half the distance that the tour covers. This means that you can do things at a more comfortable and relaxed pace.

Melbourne, Australia
4 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

That's an awesome tip

Thank you so much :0)

Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
32,451 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

It's impossible to say whether it would be "better" FOR YOU to find a group tour or do everything yourself. Go and get a heap of brochures and see whether you can even find a tour you might consider, for a start! Even if you decide otherwise, it would help you narrow down what you want to do.

I've done both, and of course there are advantages and disadvantages to both. A lot depends on whether you are only visiting cities or also want to visit rural areas, when a) you might not find a tour covering where you want to go to but b) if you do, it can be a lot easier than doing it on your own on public transport (in my case, car hire is not an option, but I don't want my attention diverted by driving anyway - or the hassle of parking, avoiding ZTLs in Italy, etc.).

The big advantage of a group tour over doing it all yourself is that they do all the work sorting out itinerary, transfers, hotels etc., and in my experience a self-organised tour is not necessarily any "freer" in terms of timing: you will normally have a fixed itinerary with transport and hotel bookings. Also, some people (most of those who frequent TA) enjoy all the planning, but some find it really hard. If you haven't done it before, anywhere, there is something to be said for finding a good organised tour at least as an introduction to the country or countries concerned.

Otherwise, it would be easier to choose a limited number of bases from which to visit other places than to be constantly moving on from one place to another, when you can be in an even worse situation than the sort of coach tour described in previous responses (because you have to get yourself up for that early train or whatever, and organise your own transfer to the station/airport). A problem I see a lot where I live is that tourists make the mistake of taking trains during local commuting times, which for non-bookable trains means they end up having to stand!

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
2,094 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Organised Tours versus planning my own trip

Speaking only for the Italy leg of your trip, if this is your first trip, keep it simple...you just can't see it all in one trip. A suggestion would be the Amalfi Coast or Sorrento for 5 nights, Rome for 5 nights, Florence for 5 nights, and Venice for 5 nights. Trains between each city/area is easy, quick, and inexpensive (generally). You can see the cities and take day trips from each at your leisure...or take day tours. From Venice you can hop over to Croatia or Greece and repeat the routine. Keeping it simple and uncomplicated leaves you time to actually enjoy the trip instead of worrying about what tomorrow brings. Slow down...