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First time arranging an international trip. Help. Update 3.

By CharlieSpencer ·
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My wife would like to travel to the UK or Ireland next year for our 30th anniversary. (I'd prefer to go somewhere with a common language :-) ) I usually make my own arrangements within the US successfully, but I know nothing about making international travel arrangements or where to start. Our only international experience is a guided tour of central Italy a few years ago, but it was arrange by experienced family members. That left us with current passports, so that's out of the way.

We're in our early 50s. We're more comfortable with guided activities than in striking off on our own. We're more interested in historical, cultural, or scenic sights than shopping, shows, resorts, or nightlife. We'd rather see fewer locations with more time at each than multiple sites with limited exposure. London doesn't have to be on the itinerary. We're planning on 7 to 9 days. An early budget estimate is between $4000 and $5000 US (3200-3700 Euros; 2500-3250 pounds), including air fare from the southeastern US (Atlanta or Charlotte).

I'm open to suggestions on how to arrange the logistics of this trip. Obviously I could start with a travel agent, so I'd appreciate any guidelines on selecting and working with one.

Update 1 - am I better off going with one of the guided tour companies like Cosmos or Globus, instead of trying to pull all the pieces together myself? Also, the time of year is flexible, excluding the dead of winter.

Update 2 - As I write this I've come to realize that not being comfortable with the alternatives to driving is the biggest pain point in my planning. See my 'Thanks' reply to JamesRL for more detail.

Update 3 - So much for that. We decided to spend the money on a lovely new root canal my wife instead, and two crowns (the kind in her mouth, not her head). Ah, well; such is life.

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All I know is that eyes on the ground is helpful...

by AnsuGisalas In reply to First time arranging an i ...

It's very hard to tell over the internet which one of the hotels in the price range is a lousy dump and which one is a diamond in the rough, for example - and since these things have to be decided before you get there, it's helpful to have a local informant

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Guide books are good for that.

by DelbertPGH In reply to All I know is that eyes o ...

Usually you'll get something that's okay, unless you're warned in advance that it's a dump, in which case you can choose the dump, if it's cheap. Hotel Slavia in Paris, for example. Don't plan on taking a bath there if three other people in the hotel are trying to run the water. But in the 80s with three daughters it was all we could afford, and I was happy with a hotel smack in the cheap end of the Left Bank.

Guide books have a reputation to protect. I've found Lonely Planet suits my tastes.

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Thanks; working our way through Frommer's 'Great Britian'

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Guide books are good for ...

sticking Post-Its on pages as we go.

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The program used to be called Elder Hostel

by robo_dev In reply to First time arranging an i ...

Then they changed it to 'Road Scholar'.

www dot roadscholar dot org

My parents went on something like a dozen ElderHostel trips to England, Ireland, Italy, Australia, and even some trips right here in the US.

While the demographic of 'ElderHostel' was definitely retirees, my understanding it that the new 'rebranded' organization is trying to attract young folks like yourself :)

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You'll probably have to put up with being called whippersnapper...

by AnsuGisalas In reply to The program used to be ca ...

but otherwise it sounds good. They certainly sound like they have experience in arranging trips that are more relaxed in the pacing, and probably know to avoid the more annoying things, like going to places overrun by young people and families with small children

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Their programs are definitely interesting, but

by CharlieSpencer In reply to The program used to be ca ...

almost all of the British ones are at least ten days. That's more time than we want to spend, and it has the side effect of pushing them out of our budget.

For anyone else who might be interested,
http://www.roadscholar.org

If it was me, I'd be all over the 6-day birdwatching trip in the US Blue Ridge mountains. $599 with lodging, meals, lectures, field trips.

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Ansu is right

by Michael Jay In reply to First time arranging an i ...

I put out a note to Shelly and GG, there are some others from TR in that zone, and the best thing is the home court advantage, the people who live there can give you the best heads up.

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That sounds fantastic!

by seanferd In reply to First time arranging an i ...

I hope you enjoy it, and an early happy anniversary to the both of you.

I doubt I'd be any use in the planning department, sorry. But I don't think you could step foot into Ireland without three guided tours biting you in the *** immediately.

travel state gov / travel / cis_pa_tw / cis / cis_1145 html
discoverireland com / us /
lonelyplanet com / ireland

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Oy! Palmie!

by gadgetgirl In reply to First time arranging an i ...

PM me! Immediately! At once! If not sooner!

(Thanks, MJ, for tipping me off about this thread )

GG

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You'll have to Follow me first.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Oy! Palmie!
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