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Organised Tours - Your opinions and advice please!

Travel Forums North America Organised Tours - Your opinions and advice please!

1. Posted by si403 (Full Member 130 posts) 5y

To put it quickly, 'what are your opinions on organised tours' in general?

Life story below if this helps... :) (this is more specific to my potential trip).

I have done a bit of travelling with 3 freinds to S.E Asia, India, and Costa Rica over the last 4 years. We usually just book the flight, have a rough idea of what we are doing but sort everything out when we are there, hostels, transport, activities etc, as I am sure you all do. I really enjoy the hustle and bustle of getting somewhere late after a long bumpy bus journey, scratching around looking for a cheap hostel then getting up early to find something to do in a hot humid overcrowded city.

Understandably, my girlfriend (of 7 years) feels a bit left out as I spend all the money and weeks away from her. She understands it's something I love doing and is cool with it, but I feel as though I want some of these sorts of memories to share with her as well, as we are looking to buy a house (when we can afford it, in the next couple of years), so before we retire from life and put all our money into a mortgage, I would like to do one last 15 day trip with her.

She isn't the sort of girl who would enjoy hostels or third world countries so we've decided on California, and are looking at doing an organised 15 day tour where we would see San Fran, LA, Vegas, Grand Canyon and San Diego (not in that order lol).

My opinion : A bit of a cop out, easy way to travel where the fun hard work is taken out, however much more convenient to some people, takes the worries out of not being able to get some place etc. Probably quite a bit more expensive for the obvious reason of them doing everything for you. Still get to see all the great things you want to see however no freedom to chose how long for. My main reason for Cali is to see the Grand Canyon and the Redwoods, but the excursion is like a day where I'd want more like a few days in a redwood national park but hey, that's out of my hands lol.

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I have been looking at this one in particular

https://times.rivieratravel.co.uk/index.php/worldwide-tours/tour/california-the-golden-west/

What are your thoughts regarding time/price/and itinerary? And of these sorts of tours in general...?

Any help much appreciated!

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Jan-2011, at 08:26 by si403 ]

2. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 5y

First of all, California is not exactly in very good condition at the present time - they're bankrupt thanks to the Terminator, prices, taxes and traffic are insane, and people are mad as hell! I personally think you'd be crazy to go there now.

As far as organized tours for someone who's used to doing a DIY trip - no way in hell!

3. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 5y

I did pretty much this exact route a few years ago with some friends, and we just self drove and stayed in motels and hotels that we found as we drove along. The only place we had pre-booked was the first night, which is something I usually do anyway. It is really easy finding accommodation on this route, although to be very honest, we had to spend the second night sleeping in the car because we skipped a few more pricey motels, found a few more to be full, and didn't want to backtrack. But even if you booked accommodation in advance, just renting a car still gives you heaps more flexibility than an organized tour in my opinion. And there is a LOT to see on this stretch too, making DIY vastly preferrable in my opinion.

If I'm not mistaken this is pretty much the exact same route that Utrecht took last year with his girlfriend. He'll probably have some good tips to share!

4. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 5y

Quoting Sam I Am

I did pretty much this exact route a few years ago with some friends, and we just self drove and stayed in motels and hotels that we found as we drove along. The only place we had pre-booked was the first night, which is something I usually do anyway. It is really easy finding accommodation on this route, although to be very honest, we had to spend the second night sleeping in the car because we skipped a few more pricey motels, found a few more to be full, and didn't want to backtrack. But even if you booked accommodation in advance, just renting a car still gives you heaps more flexibility than an organized tour in my opinion. And there is a LOT to see on this stretch too, making DIY vastly preferrable in my opinion.

If I'm not mistaken this is pretty much the exact same route that Utrecht took last year with his girlfriend. He'll probably have some good tips to share!

And...here I am

Did a few of the places you mentioned, started in San Francisco and basically did a loop inland all the way up north to Yellowstone, and down to Colorado and back west again via Utah, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Vegas and towards San Francisco again.

Like Sam said, just booking the plane tickets and renting a car is the way to go. There are so many options regarding accommodation, food, drinks etc etc that it would be a waste of money to go on a tour. Believe me, you will enjoy it! Haven't been to southern California though (LA, San Diego etc), but I actually go there later this year (from Houston to LA), so we might bump into eachother (not with the car I hope haha).

I think with 15 days you can cover a lot. A possible itinerary could be (starting and ending in either SF or LA: both have best flight deals and car rentals):
2 full days in San Francisco (minimum for a first taste)
2 days in Yosemite National Park
1-2 days Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
1 day Death Valley
2 days Vegas
1 day Joshua Tree NP
3-5 days San Diego and LA
2 days from LA to SF via Route 1 (Big Sur)

Have fun! You can check the exact route and photos at the link above
Michael.

5. Posted by si403 (Full Member 130 posts) 5y

wow thanks for the advice, I will look through it thoroughly and digest the info.

The thing that's appealing to me bout the orgnaised tour are the tour guides. I usually find when we find a guide it is through luck (ie they happen to be waintin around the train station or something), and they always give loads of info that i wouldnt otherwise have known.. are these easy to come across? or should i assume some good research first would be better.

the price im looking at is £1649 (not including food and optional excursions!). you reckon after flights (prob £600 from uk) and car rental i could cut the costs as well?

thanks again very much appreciated!

6. Posted by DaveinMD (Respected Member 198 posts) 5y

I'm not a fan of organized trips of any kind which is why I'll probably never take a cruise. But it sounds like you are changing your MO to include your girlfriend, a great move by the way. As this is the case here's a crazy idea: ask her which she would prefer.