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Old 10-04-2017, 11:09 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,066 posts, read 18,997,066 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
Consider hiring a private guide! / minivan tour! (My Hand is up volunteering!)

I have planned to do this in countries that are best experienced knowing the language. (South America). I found a couple options of hiring college age kids (If I drove). In your case, a fellow 'local' retiree might be the perfect fit and make a bloody delightful time of it.

When we were there last yr, all our hosts insisted on driving us around for a day or two. (all inclusive in our $10 - $20 / night accommodations) They had National Heritage Trust passes that were very helpful! (Free entry to 400+ sites) Coming from USA, you need to join the Royal Oak society BEFORE you leave USA and arrive in UK. We came from the east (Dubai) so didn't have access to Royal Oak. So the hosts were quite generous in treating us as visitors.

6 of our hosts were retired teachers who had lots of history to teach us. 2 worked PT as Cruise ship tour guides for local excursions. (We treasured the FREE tours and explanations from them, as well as our evenings and meals spent together)

Consider also THE WEATHER!!!!/ season.
As one who comes from 280 days / yr of rain (in USA), the UK can really 'wash-you-out'!
Our May and June time-frame was really quite good for weather in UK / Ireland. (some luck happened, but it is one of the driest seasons)
This kind of travel suits you and your family very well - we all get that. But it really isn't suitable to the OP and her husband who have never traveled overseas before (or, perhaps, much of anywhere else except to visit family.). It's not suitable for MOST travelers - you are a unique breed. As you know, we are enthusiastic about home exchanges. No way in the world would I suggest that to an inexperienced traveler. Nor do I shove my preferences down anyone's throat.

I do sort of agree with the weather issue. But I'd say April and May. June is getting into high season, and more crowded and (typically) more expensive for airfares.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
We absolutely wouldnt do it on our own. Believe me, you would not want to be in a car, driving on the wrong side of the road, with my husband who has a very poor sense of direction, and can barely find the milk in the refrigerator.
I DO think you should do a tour this time out. But I'll add that I've been to the UK over twenty five times (my family is there and I've long since lost count of my visits). I've never driven once. The train and bus system is excellent. With a few taxi rides, I enjoyed the countryside rather than stressed out about the driving and directions, etc.

Last edited by Jkgourmet; 10-04-2017 at 11:21 AM..
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Old 10-04-2017, 11:21 AM
 
8,115 posts, read 8,620,727 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
Thanks for the tip about the grocery stores. I would be very interested in that.

I’m very glad to hear that luggage is taken care of on a tour. There are several stops were we stay for two nights, so I think there is “decompression” sort of built in. Also, there are two ferry rides back and forth to Ireland.

I think this will be our chance to get our toe in the water, so if there is a next time, we’ll be a bit braver.
I also enjoy visiting grocery stores, not only in a foreign country, but even out of state. It's so much cheaper to buy food there for an in-room meal or for snacks to bring with you while traveling, including bottled water.

I am also considering the same plan as you. I really don't like the idea of a cruise. Would you mind sending me the name of the tour companies that you are considering in a DM? Thanks.
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Old 10-04-2017, 11:44 AM
 
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I'm not into escorted tours so I can't comment on that specifically but that is A LOT to cram into 11-12 days. Are you okay with the fact that you'll just visiting some highlights? The thing with trying to "see" so much is that you don't get to do much else besides spend time on a bus getting there.

If you don't want to take the tube, just take a cab from the airport to your hotel, and then to your pickup point. That shouldn't really be a dealbreaker, imo.
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Old 10-04-2017, 12:46 PM
 
Location: Eureka CA
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Skip the cruise. Use trains. Don't try to drive. PICK ONE COUNTRY and don't try to do too much. You'll have a wonderful time!
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Old 10-04-2017, 12:52 PM
 
13,874 posts, read 7,391,112 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantabridgienne View Post
I'm not into escorted tours so I can't comment on that specifically but that is A LOT to cram into 11-12 days. Are you okay with the fact that you'll just visiting some highlights? The thing with trying to "see" so much is that you don't get to do much else besides spend time on a bus getting there.

If you don't want to take the tube, just take a cab from the airport to your hotel, and then to your pickup point. That shouldn't really be a dealbreaker, imo.
From most places in the US, that 11-12 days is really 9 to 10 days since you burn the first day as a red-eye zombie and the last day is a travel day. With that amount of time, keep it to two cities. London for a week and a side trip for a few days to somewhere else.

Nobody takes the tube from London-Heathrow to the city these days. You take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station and then taxi to your hotel from there. From the baggage carousel to the train, you have a baggage cart to push. Same thing at Paddington Station to the taxi queue.

Personally, I do that length trip with a roll aboard and a day pack.
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Old 10-04-2017, 02:02 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,066 posts, read 18,997,066 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
From most places in the US, that 11-12 days is really 9 to 10 days since you burn the first day as a red-eye zombie and the last day is a travel day. With that amount of time, keep it to two cities. London for a week and a side trip for a few days to somewhere else.

Nobody takes the tube from London-Heathrow to the city these days. You take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station and then taxi to your hotel from there. From the baggage carousel to the train, you have a baggage cart to push. Same thing at Paddington Station to the taxi queue.

Personally, I do that length trip with a roll aboard and a day pack.
On a personal basis, I'm totally in agreement with you. But my sense is that the DH doesn't really WANT to go, and a tour is the way the OP is getting him to agree. I hope he has a great time and will be more open to travel in the future.

I'll only add that it is possible that they might fly into Gatwick instead of Heathrow.
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Old 10-04-2017, 02:17 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
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No 2 week trip is going to let you see everything. What I think should be the most important is making sure you are comfortable with your choice. Most Americans are not born intrepid travelers. It's a skill they developed over time and multiple trips. There is nothing wrong with doing a tour or a cruise. The idea is to have fun, enjoy what you did get to see, and be excited about returning! Travel doesn't have to be so much work that it's not a vacation. And anyone from the US who is driving in the UK for the first time is NOT having fun!

I think both your ideas are good. And I disagree with the person who said if you take the cruise you will be bused all the time. Harbors were almost always the site for a city going back to ancient times. And the 'Old Town' area always has plenty to see. You can pick out tours if you want to but if you go to the port lectures on the ship I think you will find a lot to see that's in walking distance or a short cab ride.

You will see more for less money on the tour or the cruise. You will see nothing in depth but get a taste of everything. You won't have to search for parking or figure out where to have breakfast. It's all planned for you. And for a first trip that may be the best possible scenario.

Decades ago when I first started traveling, pajama tours were cheap. Tours that would do 11 countries in 10 days or something similar. I did these whenever I could. You couldn't get more bang for the buck and I saw enough to know what interested me enough to go back. Today I am an intrepid traveler and if I was planning a trip to an area I knew little about I would still consider a tour and weigh carefully what I could see on my own in the time allotted VS what I could do on a tour.

Don't worry about the age of the people on the cruise. Some of them will be in better shape than you! And you don't have to hang out with them. And BTW the optional excursions the tour or cruise company try to sell you are way overpriced. You can usually walk right off the ship and find a fleet of local guides and taxis ready to take you on the same tour for a lot less and on your time schedule. You don't have to wait for a busload of people. I have done this in places where time was tight and I wanted to see as much as possible.
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Old 10-04-2017, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Looking over your shoulder
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Port to port is a disadvantage of getting a “feel” of what the country and people are like. Cruise ship if limited to a few hundred people can be nice however the much larger ships with a huge number of visitors can be horrible, it takes a long time to board and deboard at each port.

Tour buses can be interesting because you see the countryside along with towns other than just port cities. Most motor coaches are new or well taken care of for tour groups. Motor coach touring will limit visitors to less than 50 so it’s easy to visit the shops in cities or getting a nice meal at a restaurant while traveling.

Our first tour was a riverboat stopping at cities along the way. There was a small number of tourists which made things easy, however we didn’t get to see the countryside between cities, only the area along the river which was interesting. However a year later we did a tour via motor coach and it was enjoyable, but I liked the motor coach and view of the country between cities.
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Old 10-04-2017, 02:24 PM
 
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
9,190 posts, read 8,287,258 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jkgourmet View Post


I DO think you should do a tour this time out. But I'll add that I've been to the UK over twenty five times (my family is there and I've long since lost count of my visits). I've never driven once. The train and bus system is excellent. With a few taxi rides, I enjoyed the countryside rather than stressed out about the driving and directions, etc.
This!! We've done London, Ireland, and Scotland I don't know how many times and have never driven.

London and the surrounding areas are so fab, I'd book an apartment in London and base myself there for the first part of my stay.
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Old 10-04-2017, 02:31 PM
 
13,874 posts, read 7,391,112 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jkgourmet View Post

I'll only add that it is possible that they might fly into Gatwick instead of Heathrow.
Yeah, but LGW also has express train service to London-Victoria. For me if I'm doing tourist stuff, Victoria Station a heck of a lot more convenient than Paddington.
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