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Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 11:37 AM   #1
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Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Well folks, I've decided that I need a vacation. I'm looking at going to Italy.

Although it would be an interesting experience to plan every little step of the way, I would far prefer not to reinvent the wheel. Accordingly, I would welcome any suggestions as to companies from which I can purchase a pre-packaged Italy trip for 7-days, with a choice of various itineraries (e.g., 2-3 cities, airfare, transportation, etc...) Essentially, I don't want to do any planning except when I want to go (late-April), and what package I want.

Can anyone help?
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 12:08 PM   #2
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

I've never used them since I don't like prepackaged vacations, but I've heard good things about Collette Vacations http://www.collettevacations.com/vie...productID/3322
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 12:44 PM   #3
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

I've been looking at some of the friendlyplanet.com packages for a few years. Haven't gone on any, but I did due diligence on the company, and they seem legitimate, reputable, and customers seemed happy (do your own DD, of course, counsel ).

$700 plus tax and tip for 7 days in Athens and around there. Probably the cost from new york.

http://www.friendlyplanet.com/athens.asp

I think they are all sold out right now on the Athens trip. Maybe they'll have more later? Dunno.

I've been eyeing the $900 Amazing Thailand deal from LAX for 14 days.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 12:51 PM   #4
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
I've been looking at some of the friendlyplanet.com packages for a few years.* Haven't gone on any, but I did due diligence on the company, and they seem legitimate, reputable, and customers seemed happy (do your own DD, of course, counsel ).

$700 plus tax and tip for 7 days in Athens and around there.* Probably the cost from new york.*

http://www.friendlyplanet.com/athens.asp

I think they are all sold out right now on the Athens trip.* Maybe they'll have more later? Dunno.

I've been eyeing the $900 Amazing Thailand deal from LAX for 14 days.*
Unfortunately, Friendlyplanet doesn't seem to have anything for Italy.* However, I did like the menu feature that allows you to search by length and total cost.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 12:55 PM   #5
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Brain fart. I hate to admit that I temporarily thought Athens was in Italy. Sorry! I now know it is in Greece. Goes to show what hurried browsing of their site can do to you. They do have some good deals though. And I think they are a little bit less planned than some package deals - ie - you can take off during the day and do your thing, or sign up for their optional excursions/events and pick from their menu of activities. I'm not really the package tour type, but having them preplan excursions takes some of the googling, legwork and stress out of vacationing.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 01:23 PM   #6
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
I'm not really the package tour type, but having them preplan excursions takes some of the googling, legwork and stress out of vacationing.
I'm not normally one for the package tours either, but since I'm not going alone I thought that a packaged tour might make it less stressful for the both of us. I've browsed Expedia and a few other travel sites, but none of them seem to offer a pre-packaged Italy trip (e.g., 3-nights Rome, 2-nights Florence, etc...) For many years, travel agents had dozens of brochures for such trips, but I guess times have changed.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 01:34 PM   #7
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Maybe call up a local travel agent and see what's up. Get em to mail you some glossy color brochures. I'm sure these type of trips are out there. Somewhere.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 02:26 PM   #8
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
Maybe call up a local travel agent and see what's up.* Get em to mail you some glossy color brochures.* I'm sure these type of trips are out there.* Somewhere.
That might be a decent place to start. There are plenty of travel guides to Rome and Italy in general, but I don't want to start with them. Once I've determined the general itinerary and the cost, then I'll delve into exactly what I want to see in each particular city.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 03:28 PM   #9
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Take a look at ricksteves.com

He has tours you can book and lots of info on how you can do it yourself.
His travel books on Europe are great.* They are usually in the library
along with his videos.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 04:27 PM   #10
 
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Rome, The Vatican, Florence, Venice, Tuscany,Naples, etc, so much to see, so little time.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 06:37 PM   #11
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipper
Take a look at ricksteves.com
I second RickSteves.* We (DW DD) took his week in Rome and then added a week on our own.* Our guide was first cabin and got us into places you would spend a lot of time in line to see.* One of our best day of the trip was when we went to Atria (sp?), which was Rome's ancient seaport.*
Rick Steves makes his name at showing people how locals live.* Hotels are good 3 stars but you would not spend much time in them.
Read the comments on his website from other travelers.
After Rome we went on our own via train to Sienna, Florence, Venice, and Ravena. The eastern coast offers a lot and generally does not get the tourist attention.
If you are there over Easter, do NOT plan to use public transportation.
Our two weeks in Italy rank as our all time favorite---just phenomenal wine, food, and sights.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 01-31-2006, 08:14 PM   #12
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

This summer we'll travel to Italy in July with GrandEuropeanTours http://www.getours.com/trips/bit.html.* * We're looking forward to having a couple days at Rome, Florence and Venice.*

Enjoy!

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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 02-01-2006, 04:49 AM   #13
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Just here to second Cut-Throat. You will have a much more relaxing time if you pick one or two places and settle in. If you try to "do" Italy with a package tour I imagine you will spend a good part of the time in a bus, or scuttling around trying to hear what the lady with the umbrella is telling you about painting X or monument Y. You rush out of the bus for about long enough to take a snapshot of something that there's a better postcard of, anyway..

The problem with Rick Steves is that, having established his "off the beaten track" system with enormous success, his tracks are now pretty-well beaten, i.e., I have heard tell of little out-of-the-way trattorias where there aren't any locals anymore, just a bunch of foreigners clutching Rick Steves' books....

Take a deep breath and head over to the Slow Travel website. It may seem daunting to have to pick and choose, because initially you want to see EVERYthing. Now some type A Americans need to have a checklist to feel like their vacation has been "accomplished".. [Every hear anyone talk about going to Africa without hearing the phrase "Big Five"?? Makes me cringe.] If you can ditch that mentality you will be much happier. If you have to have an organizing theme, pick something that has a personal meaning to you. Are you more interested in the art? The food? Landscapes and long walks? Religious sites? Architecture? History? Fishing? Mountains? Cities?

If you really don't feel up to flying solo, there are smaller focused tours that would probably a better choice, though they are more pricey than the classic "package."

Anyone remember that movie, "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium.."? I wonder if it's as funny as I recall or if it's one of those things that doesn't age well.

Anyway, here's the link: http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/. They have message boards and sections about trip planning.

Have fun!
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 02-02-2006, 07:27 AM   #14
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Thanks for all of the suggestions. Unfortunately, nothing that I've seen online resembles what I believe is (or should be) out there in terms of a pre-packaged deal for 2-3 cities in Italy for a week. Every site I've visited deals in separate hotel, airline(s), individual cities, etc... All I'm trying to do is save myself the hassle of researching every city for all of the pertinent details (e.g. quality hotels, how long I should stay in each city, train tickets/rental car, etc...), and also the hassle of booking such details.

Growing up I always saw travel agents handing out brochures with pre-packaged trips to European destinations, varying in price based on the style in which you wanted to travel.

Apologies for the rant, but I'm becoming so frustrated by NOT finding what would be logical that I'm getting to the point of simply resigning myself to the task of handling all of the details myself (with the invariable 1-3 things that can and will go wrong). I thought people took vacations to relax, not get stressed over taking one.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 02-02-2006, 08:14 AM   #15
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

I clicked on the google link at the bottom of this thread for "Italian Vacation Packages" or something like that. I think I found what you are looking for.

http://www.goaheadtours.com/master/d...p?tourcode=NSR

Granted, it's 9 days, but I'm sure there are a dozen more like this out there. The tour goes through Naples, Sorrento and Rome. The company has a bunch of other Italy packages too. Is this the type of deal you are looking for? The kind where they fly you there, put you up in hotels and ride you around in a bus and take you to tours? Looks like some meals are included too.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 02-02-2006, 08:36 AM   #16
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

http://tinyurl.com/8kkad

http://www.trafalgartours.com/USA/Home
(this seems to have a good search, including budget, and a number of different 'levels' of tour)

http://www.globusandcosmos.com/Default.aspx?tabid=1394

http://www.abercrombiekent.com/index.cfm?navid=3.6.3.2

http://www.atlastravelweb.com/italytour.shtml

now I found these in about 5 minutes (gee, Jay, you really DO want someone to do all the work for you!) but there are over 5 MILLION Google hits for "italy" "package" "tour"...

Don't stress yourself out! Open up a nice bottle of Chianti, put out a few olives in a little dish, pop in a CD of Andrea Bocelli and start relaxing!

EDIT: Shortened URL
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 02-02-2006, 08:37 AM   #17
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay_Gatsby
...I'm getting to the point of simply resigning myself to the task of handling all of the details myself (with the invariable 1-3 things that can and will go wrong).* I thought people took vacations to relax, not get stressed over taking one.
I actually view doing all the planning as a positive. *It gives you the chance to learn a little about the place you will visit. *Even when you look for a hotel to book, many times the hotel websites have a "things to do" link that can guide you to things in which you may be interest.

If you research the location of the place you want to visit, you can learn enough about it so you don't go there cold.

I make my own trip planner whenever I visit a location and use it more like a framework than a strict plan.

To build my own customized vacation planner I use resources like...

http://www.frommers.com/

http://www.tripadvisor.com/

Travel agency websites like http://www.collettevacations.com/

Location tourism websites

Library videos and books

Vacation blogs
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 02-02-2006, 08:41 AM   #18
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Jay,
Would you consider a Mediterranean Cruise? I don't know what season they go, but it would solve your problem of not wanting to pack up and move around so much, and not having to plan anything.

If you're into that sort of thing.
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 02-02-2006, 09:00 AM   #19
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

If price is of any concern, the EasyCruise looks pretty interesting. IIRC, it goes in a circle every 7 days, and hits a different port in the french and italian rivieras each night.

http://www.easycruise.com/

The accomodations and atmosphere seems more "spring break" than "cultural and refined". That's at least the impression the marketers gave me from the photos on their website.

Problem is, you'd still be responsible for your own entertainment during the day.

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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy
Old 02-02-2006, 09:41 AM   #20
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Re: Pre-packaged tours of Italy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
Travel can be exhausting, but those of us that like to do it, are resigned to that fact. I always say that I need a vacation after my vacation so that I can rest up.
I think there is a distinction between "travel" and "vacation."* Some, like CT is describing, want to travel - plan stuff, see stuff, meet people, explore, wander.* *Others, as I think Jay is saying, want to relax.* *They want to do it in an interesting place with pleasant weather, but they want not to have to think, plan and worry, as that's what they are trying to get away from.

Both options make sense for different people, or even the same people at different times.
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