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Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

Singapore, Singapore
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Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

Hi All,

1) I am planning a visit to New York + Washington + Toronto + Quebec City + Montreal in end Sep / Oct 2012 (my third visit to your beautiful city!) and looking at several escorted tours for Eastern US / Canada (usually advertised as 13-16 days itinerary) with companies such as Insight / Cosmos / Trafalgar. This time round, will be bringing my parents as well!

Has anyone been on these tours? I am looking for best value tours (ie. not necessarily 4/5* hotels or luxury tours) with at least 50% of the meals provided and covering all the major sights. If there are other reputable companies besides Insight / Cosmos / Trafalgar offering such tours, please let me know! Any advice on ways to save money for such tours (ie. book through the web etc?)?

2) To experience the fall foliage, when is the best time to visit? Will late Oct be too late?

Appreciate your advice. Looking forward to experience the bustling sights of of NY again after 8 years! Thanks in advance!

new york city
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1. Re: Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

These kind of tours are rarely recommended here because you end up spending too much time looking out of a bus window and bouncing from place to place--- rather you would be better off limiting the number of cities to be seen over the same period--- some would say spend the whole time in NYC because even with 14 days you will not see everything but of the places listed I would say spend 9 days in NYC and 5 divided between Montreal and Quebec City. I would also recommend getting between NYC and Montreal by air. Just too far to enjoy on a bus.

Santa Monica...
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2. Re: Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

I wouldn't recommend booking any tours with any of The Travel Corporation companies (the company that owns Insight / Trafalgar). The North America division has very poor quality control, so whether or not you have reputable staff and the brochured hotels / activities is hit or miss. This doesn't mean you won't "hit". I would say your odds are 50/50.

Also, "included meals" often also describes hotel continental breakfasts. These are major cities where there are thousands of restaurants at all price points.

If you fly into Washington, DC, you can take an Amtrak train to NYC and Montreal quite easily. There are also cheaper travel options, such as the Chinatown bus or Greyhound bus. I'm sure the Canada forums can advise transport as well. All of these cities have local hop-on, hop-off buses or guided local tours, and many have CityPass options that give you access to most tourist spots. (DC and Quebec City require local tour guides, anyways. While I understand the simplicity of having a tour operator do this for you, you will still theoretically be double-tipping the local guide and your tour leader for those days, which you should factor into tour cost).

I think checking out itineraries from tour operators is a good launching pad, but I agree with bilmin. You would be better off organizing everything on your own. It would be more cost effective and time effective.

RE: Fall Foliage. Late October will be the tail end. I think you would be fine, but mid-October would be slightly more ideal.

NYC
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3. Re: Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

I agree that you would do much better than a go-everywhere-see nothing bus tour. If you want to see fall foliage, you may want to consider working a cruise up (or down) the east coast to Canada. From mid-September to end-October (peak is early/mid October), there are several fall that leave from NYC. They come in all price ranges (Cunard, Princess, & Carnival) & itineraries. A travel agent or some research on your part could probably land you a "deal." The Amtrak Adirondack from Montreal to NY Penn Station is a very long ride but quite cheap & offers lovely scenery along the way as it travels down along the Hudson River.

Singapore, Singapore
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4. Re: Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

Thanks so much for all your advice!

I will take all these into consideration; unfortunately given that I am traveling with my parents (and they actually loved packaged tours), I guess I would need to book them on these "stressless" packages.

Has anyone tried Trafalgar? Am interested in the below tour, and really interested to see the lifestyle / culture of the Amish (have caught a wonderful documentary here in Singapore)

trafalgar.com/east-coast-usa-and-canada-2012

Cosmos has a similar tour but longer duration

:http://www.cosmos.com/Product.aspx?trip=28205&source=CO_Product_Eastern_USA

Any comments welcome!

Thanks everyone, as always!

New York City, New...
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5. Re: Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

The very nature of this forum is set up for do it yourselfers who don't tend to like or use tours. We've had lots of questions about tours though, so if you do a text search on the forum, you'll find a lot of previous threads (all of which say don't do it). Globus, tours4fun and Colette are some other companies that have been mentioned... but I'm not recommending one over the other because the idea of doing so many stops by bus is dreadful to me. The cities you've selected are very far apart and traveling by bus would be my idea of hell. You'll spend more time on the bus than you will seeing any of the places you visit. I would also venture to say, the more meals you have included, in general the worse the quality of food you will eat.

The leaves change first the further north you go. So mid October is usually peak time in New England but the leaves don't really change in NYC until the beginning of Nov. Late Oct. may be too late for the northern destinations.

Boston, MA
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6. Re: Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

Tauck tours does some foliage tours of New England and they get decent reviews. I think it will be difficult to find a single tour that covers as much ground as you want to cover. Plus, as others have pointed out, being on a tour could be detrimental in cities such as DC and NY.

The best thing about Tauk is they don't try to "see it all" and you actually have a couple of places where you spend TWO nights at the same hotel! And the hotels are actually IN the places you are visiting ... when they take you to Boston, they put you in a downtown hotel in a tourist-friendly area so in your down time, you can do things if you so choose. You are not 20 miles outside the city with no transportation other than the tour bus.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

Friends of mine did a Traflagar tour in the Northeast and were extremely pleased with it. They didn't find it too rushed, thought the hotels were great, and enjoyed the company of the other people on the tour. (Note: these friends are in the 60-year age range.)

Boston, MA
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8. Re: Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

I just stumbled upon this ... I know nothing about it, but thought you might like to see it: escortedfallfoliagetours.com/Tours/…

Dallas, Texas...
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9. Re: Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

In answer to your question about best time of year to see fall foliage, the best foliage viewing is further North (in the mountainous areas of the U.S. that you will see on your way to Canada, and also in Canada). Late October is usually a bit too late for the Northern regions. I would aim for the first two weeks of October or the last week of September/First week of October..

The more southern regions and coastal regions may be showing foliage changes in late October, but foliage vistas are not as wonderful as they are further north.

Singapore, Singapore
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10. Re: Advice on Escorted Tours for Eastern US/ Canada + Fall Visit

Thanks everyone! Appreciate all your comments!