Hello from Paris! If you are a regular reader, you know that I am getting ready to lead the first Ms. Mae Travels tour. I flew to Paris a few days before the tours starts so I could make restaurant reservations and double check everything. You might also know that the idea for this tour started as my husband and I were about to join an organized tour from a different company.
The tour my husband and I enjoyed was my first experience on an organized tour. Previous to that, I had traveled with family – we did all our own planning and organization. While I appreciate both types of travel, there are definite advantages of each one. Here are some things to think about:
Provides an Overview
If this is your first time traveling to Europe, an organized tour can provide a great overview. Many of the tours visit several countries or cities in ten to fourteen days. You will see the highlights and get a taste for what the countries are like. From there, you will be able to visit on your own – returning to the same places to spend more time in each one or to use the highlighted city as a home base so you can explore nearby places.
Less Planning Hassle
Another advantage of an organized tour is that you don’t have to do any of the planning. Some of you may enjoy this part, but if you don’t, going on a trip without having to research or plan anything can be very relaxing. The tour company chooses the best available hotels and restaurants – not necessarily the cheapest, but the best value for the price. They know which attractions or museums are the most popular, and how to arrange your visit to make the best use of your time.
The Guide as a Teacher
The tour guide will act as an invaluable resource. He or she has spent years researching and studying the place you are visiting – maybe they were born there – so they know almost all there is to know about it. The guide-teacher will tell you what they know and then answer your questions about the place or attraction.
There have been times in the past when we’ve returned home from traveling and been asked how we liked a particular part of the city we visited. How disappointing to realize we had missed it because we had not researched thoroughly enough. The tour guide will do their best to make sure you don’t miss anything important.
If you are looking for a tour that has a particular focus, an organized tour is the way to go. The tour that my husband and I went on focused on sites that were important in World War II. We visited Normandy, Bastogne and Nuremberg among others.
The tour I am leading in Paris has an entirely different focus. In addition to Paris’ highlights, we are visiting the city’s best yarn and fabric shops. For people who are interested in fiber related crafts, this tour is ideal. There are tours available for almost any interest or hobby.
There are some disadvantages in taking a tour over planning your own trip. First of all, some people (me, obviously) like planning trips and tours. I enjoy the challenge of looking for the best lodging and restaurants while staying within a budget. You might also like reading about and choosing the activities your family or group would find most interesting.
An organized tour offers less flexibility than one you are planning yourself. Even after you’ve made reservations, it is possible to make changes. When my daughter got the flu while we were traveling, we were able to add a night at the hotel where we were staying and cancel the night in the next town. With an organized tour, your only option for change is to stay at the hotel on your own or remain on the bus while others visit an attraction.
What to Watch Out For
In order to make an organized tour the most enjoyable experience possible, here are some things to watch for when booking:
- Size of the Tour – What is the maximum number of people the tour will accomodate? It’s easy to get lost in a group of 40-50 people. Aim for groups of 25 people or less.
- Miles Covered – How many countries will the tour visit? While covering a large area or many countries may be appealing, the more you see, the more time you will spend traveling on the bus. From Amsterdam to Rome is over 1000 miles – that’s a lot of time to ride on a bus.
- The Real Cost – Some tour companies advertise their products using an inexpensive base rate and charge extra for side trips or other activities. Make sure you understand what is or is not included in the tour.
Ms. Mae Travels Tour to Paris
I’ve worked hard to make the Ms. Mae Travels Tour one of the most enjoyable possible – and I’ll keep working on it, even during the tour. I plan to offer the tour again next year, so I will be looking for ways to improve it.
I will continue to offer the tour to no more than fifteen people so each participant will get personal attention. The Tour of Paris includes a day trip to Versailles, but is entirely based from the same hotel in order to eliminate time spent on a bus and minimize time spent on other transportation. The day trip to Versailles is included in the price of the tour. The tour includes all attractions and two meals a day – all at a reasonable cost.
If you’d like to hear more, I will be adding trip reports to this website about the tour – stay tuned.
What would you look for in an organized tour? What changes would you like to see me make? Leave your comments below or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you were to join me next year, I would want to provide you with a great experience – one you will remember for the rest of your life. Help me make this trip a dream come true for you!