Your experience with tour companies?

My fiance and I are planning our wedding, and of course thinking about our honeymoon afterwards. We’re considering going with a tour company - one of those places where you pay a package fee which gets you airfare from LA or some other large city, hotels, transportation within the country, some meals and tours, etc. We haven’t done this before but think it might be nice so we don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to plan the honeymoon while also planning the wedding.

Have you used one of these tour companies? If so, which one and how did it go? Any companies that are especially good, or ones you would pay to avoid? If it matters, our first choice is Australia and our next choices would be Italy or Ireland.

Thanks!

Tours have one problem: other people. You are on a honeymoon, after all. Maybe get someone to recommend a travel agent to you who can do the organizational heavy lifting and have a tour for two.

We’ve used Globus for a 10 day tour of Italy. They were pleasant to deal with. Absolutely no glitches at all. 1st class company all the way. Friendly tour guides, clean reliable transportation, excellent hotels. Did exactly what thay stated they would with no surprises. I would definately use them again.

Tried ABC Tours out of New Jersey. Worst ever. Bad flights. Terrible hotels. Rotten customer service. Will never use them again.

Hope this helps.

I used Trafalgar to tour UK and Ireland. Coach and staff very nice- but be warned- the hotels are not the same as you would find in the USA or Australia (just as a comparison). They tend to be older, smaller and less comfortable.

As has been pointed out the other people on the tour can be draining.

As a couple others have mentioned, you need to SERIOUSLY reconsider doing a tour for your honeymoon:

  1. In general, you move…a lot. Like each night in a new place/hotel. Like spending a LOT of time in transit (not relaxing/enjoying the places you visit). Now I know there are differences in tours/tour companies. But overall, they need to pack in as much as they can to make the tour cover a lot of ground. I would think for a honeymoon, you would want to just hang in one city and maybe do day trips from there.

  2. You will meet and get to know the other members of the tour. And in general, the other members will be older - in many cases a lot of retired people (they have all the time on their hands). Having a newly wed couple on the tour will be such a treat for them…and consequently possibly a nightmare for you. Unless, of course, you really do want ALL that marital advice…

  3. Some of your fellow tour members you’ll get along well with, some you may never get to know, and some will just annoy the crap out of you. And there’s no escaping them for the duration of the tour.

Not that I’ll ever get married, but of the places you listed, if it were me, I’d go with Italy all the way. Maybe split your time between Rome, Florence, and Venice. Sounds pretty touristy (as if a tour group isn’t ;-), but 3 or 4 days in each of those spots would be a great vacation. Lots to see and do. And even just hanging out would be great.

As a former travel agent, I would caution you against a Big Tour for your honeymoon.

You are going to be exhausted on just about every level the first couple of days on the honeymoon. Do you really want to spend it with 50 other couples in a tour bus looking at St. Ed Holy Gonads or something?

Also, chances of you being the youngest people on the tour are very high. Very High. A friend and her husband did their honeymoon on a cruise to Alaska. They were 24. The average age of passengers on the ship was 60ish. They ended up partying with the crew.

Maybe pick a package that is Air/hotel/ car or transfers to some warm and relaxing location.

Your brain and body will need a chance to decompress from the pomp and circumstance that is the Wedding.

This may or may not apply to you. If it doesn’t then disregard it. A lot of people that haven’t done much international travel think that it will be technically difficult and among the challenges of a lifetime and it has to be carefully, carefully planned so as to avoid certain disaster. That is generally not true unless you want to honeymoon in Somalia. There is no language barrier in Australia or Ireland. All you have to do is look online for a suitable hotel and figure out where to rent a car and you are all set. You can do what you want once you get there. The difficulty level is probably less than travelling cross-country from LA to Boston. I don’t even know what a long tour of Australia would look like. It is geographically about the same size as the U.S. with only about 7% of the population.

My strong advice is to just pick a place, do a little research, and go. It doesn’t matter if it is Australia, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Denmark, France, Costa Rica, or South Africa. It isn’t going to be very difficult once you get there. Even most youngish people in France speak English as do people in all the places I just listed and those are just examples.

I used the Contiki Tour Company earlier this year and had the time of my life. I made ten new best friends over the course of my nine days in Europe. In fact, I’m writing this post from the apartment of my new girlfriend - whom I met on my tour. We also had lunch yesterday with another guy who was on our tour.

I was afraid that since it was a tour for 18-35 year olds that it would be a bunch of punk college kids, but it ended up not being that at all. There were teachers, PHD candidates, white collar office workers, chefs … you name it. I have a bachelor’s degree and I felt undereducated.

Honeymoon, though? Nope. Make your honeymoon about being with each other.

If you are going to Australia – and that’s a good choice for Americans on their first international trip, because the culture is similar enough to that of the US to make it easy – that I’d suggest you just make one place your base, and perhaps do day trips from there. If you like the big city, then I’d suggest Sydney (though there’s plenty of bush close to Sydney); if you want a tropical holiday, with water and coral reefs, then I’d suggest Cairns.

In both cases, the cities are very well organised to cope with tourists. You really don’t need to book much, except for a hotel/motel, until you get there. But then you can go on guided tours that last no more than a day or so, and in both cases you will have plenty of choices, or you can rent a car and drive to places, or you can just sit on a beach sipping some beer or wine.

If you want to see all of Australia in a short period you need to fly. A bus tour- you will see miles of- well, bush and road kill. In the UK you have castles around every corner- here we have a bush.

As Shagnasty has said, it is fine to plan and drive- but get a good tour book and plot out what you want to do every day. Don’t hire a car from a major city- you will get lost. Allow at least one rest day every week.

Sartre once said ‘Hell is other people’. Tour companies are ‘holiday hell with other people’. There are exceptions, as noted in this thread, but stack the odds in your favour and avoid them.

There is nothing that a tour company can arrange for you that you can’t just as easily arrange for yourself. The difference being that you can make choices to suit yourself and each other, whereas the tour company just sees you as revenue units and lumps you all together.

Tour companies are also notoriously unreliable and inflexible. Let’s say you sign up on the basis that the tour covers X and Y, two places/sights you really want to see. Then, once you are already on the tour, they announce that for various reasons they have changed the details and you won’t be seeing X or Y. You’re sunk. They have lots of small print allowing them to do this, and you can beg, scream, protest and plead all you like but you’ll just get the corporate line, lame excuses and absolute bland indifference.

Do it yourself and make it fun. Plan your trip yourself. Decide where to go yourself. Book it all yourself. It has never been easier or cheaper to do this than it is now.

Two Christmases ago we took a riverboat tour of Eastern Europe (the Danube). We travelled on the MS Amadagio, and the accommodations and food were first class.

However, the air travel both to (Budapest) and from (Prague) was hellish. Our package included airfare, but the time allowed to make connections was not enough; what with delayed flights and having to get our luggage, escort it through Customs, and recheck it, we missed all our connections. It was incredibly stressful; our oldest daughter had a full-blown meltdown in New York on our way home, the poor dear. If I were you, I’d plan my own air travel and allow at least three hours for an international connection and two for a domestic.

And the airline going over lost our luggage. A lot of the tourists’ luggage was lost. The tour guide / concierge / whatever you call her was run ragged, trying to get the airlines to ship our luggage ot the next port of call. We finally got it about four days into the cruise.

Incidentally, kudos to Delta, who, when our delayed flight caused us to miss connections, had a gate agent meet all of us getting off the plane, with boarding passes for our new connections. Very very efficient, and much appreciated; we actually felt “cared for”, which is unheard-of with modern air travel.

Have to agree about not choosing a tour for a honeymoon. Not enough time in bed, unless you skip parts of the tour - which is not what you’re paying for… Also the cruise thing is not recommended. My brother & sister in-law spent a lot of time in their cabin on their honeymoon cruise, because she was sick as a dog most of the trip. We took a cruise for our honeymoon back when cruises were not nearly as popular (or cheap) as they are today, several couples at our dinner table every night were celebrating their 50th anniversaries. I can remember some really lively conversations - until everyone dozed off…

This is great advice. I have done quite a bit of international travel before - never with tours - so it’s interesting to hear this advice about the tours. On our last vacation we went to Costa Rica and took several day tours that our hotel offered, but that’s a bit different than a full vacation tour.

Thanks for all of the advice - we may need to rethink this. I’d love to hear other folks’ experience, too!

We went to Costa Rica for our honeymoon. We didn’t have a tour or even a way to get to our hotel from San Jose once we arrived yet everything was very easy. We just hired a cab once we got to San Jose and I think it was about $80 to travel about 80 miles to travel to our resort.

Have more confidence in yourself. English is the closest thing to a global language that we have. It is painfully easy to research good things to do whether it is in Boston or the Middle East. There is no reason to be stuck on a bus with a bunch of old fogies. The world is your oyster. Crack the shell and enjoy it.