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15-days Expensive?
scotalia78
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Hello!

I’ve been planning a trip for myself and 8 friends/family members as a practice run for future tours I’d like to run.  The trip will last 15 days (June 23 – July 7) and will cost $1850+air+meals.  I can & have traveled much cheaper than this in the past, but some of the people I’m traveling with refuse to stay at hostels.  I’ve budgeted $50 per person per night accommodations, so we can stay at some budget hotels/pensiones etc.  Below is our itinerary.  I guess I just want to know if the budget I’ve set for us and the “whirlwind” itinerary I’ve created is 1) doable (using a 9-pssngr van) and 2) too costly (i.e. could it be done comfortably more cheaply?).

June 22 – Depart USA
June 23 – Paris
June 24 – Paris
June 25 – St. Goar
June 26 – Rhine cruise then Rothenburg
June 27 – Rothenburg
June 28 – Munich/Dachau Concentration Camp
June 29 – Austria (near Neuschwenstein Castle)
June 30 – Morning in Innsbruck; to Venice
July 1 – Venice
July 2 – Florence
July 3 – Florence
July 4 – Orvieto/Civita di Bagnoregio (or other hilltowns)
July 5 – Rome
July 6 – Rome
July 7 – to Airport for Home

I know this is a VERY hectic 2 weeks, but we are all ready for the “race” that will be our trip.

Thanks for your help.  This site is EXTREMELY helpful.

Don
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So it’s $1850 for 15 nights lodging and a seat in a van? Have you budgeted for road tax and checked prices of diesel in those places? How many in a room? Have you checked insurance? Parking costs? Have you based this on finding quotes from Auto Europe, Sixt, and other car rental companies? Mapped distances and estimated drive times and tolls with www.viamichelin.com or another source? How about hotels—do you have rooms reserved, or at least checked prices and current availability?

Not meaning to sound, well, anything, just trying to help you nail down all the logistics if you haven’t already budgeted based on actual known costs and availability.

I’ve “guided” groups, and it’s not fun for me. I have little patience for the “we thought this would be just like America, except maybe they speak funny, McDonalds costs a little more, and maybe it’s a little bit stinky” crowd.

scotalia78
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Thanks for the feedback Don.

Yes I have priced out as much as I can (ie Renault 9p Master van from renaultusa.com, best guess on fuel consumption with going cost, road tolls, hotel averages, attractions, walking tours, drive times via Google Maps , etc.).  No I have not reserved rooms yet.  I’m the adventurous sort and the group I am traveling with wants to be somewhat flexible with the itinerary (ie stay an extra night in the Italian hill towns if desired), so reservations besides 1st and last nights will not be made until on way to destination via telephone.  (Do you think this will be a problem?)

People per room: 2+.  If I can get a quad I will.  I anticipate mostly doubles and triples though.  We are ok with that.

I’d like to get into being a tour organizer/guide, so I have done some of the homework for this first trip.  But I just wanted to make sure it all seems properly priced to the more veteraned travelers out there.  I haven’t been to Europe since ’04 and I remember finding a lot of rroms no problem that weren’t listed in guidebooks at reasonable rates.  Online research points to this to, but I’d hate to get there, and find grossly under-budgeted for rooms, or worse: over-charged people I’m traveling with.

I actually teach “how-to” European-travel classes in my hometown and think this might be the next logical step for me.  But I do feel very apprehensive as I’ve never done this type of thing before and don’t know anyone who can give me advice on leading a group through Europe.  Anytime I’ve traveled with others in the past, we’ve basically been on the same page or we decided to split up for a couple hours for some free/cool-off time.

If you can give me any advice that would be great.

Thanks

Don
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Thanks for the tip about Renault USA. I know it doesn’t help much for this particular itinerary, but the few car models I checked look like there’s a nice price break with a rental of 3 weeks and beyond. Still, with all insurance and fees included, their prices seem pretty good. You’re getting a brand new vehicle and all.

I would budget 100€ per room per night to be safe. If at the end of the trip you’ve got money remaining, maybe take everyone out for a really nice dinner. If you get in a a bind, you can always use Etap hotels; www.accorhotels.com — they have nicer brands, too, going up to Ibis, Mercure, and Sofitel brands.

jonniboy
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Quote:
ORIGINAL: Don
I’ve “guided” groups, and it’s not fun for me. I have little patience for the “we thought this would be just like America, except maybe they speak funny, McDonalds costs a little more, and maybe it’s a little bit stinky” crowd.


To be fair Don it’s not just an American thing as I have family (Irish) who refuse to venture outside the ‘safety’ of the Spanish holiday resorts, where everyone speaks English and there are Irish bars,fish and chip shops and tonnes of other Irish and Brits. One of my ex-students told me that when he went on a group trip to Romania with fellow Spaniards, they were always saying “maybe in this next Romanian town we’ll be able to find paella and jamon serrano?” Personally I never saw the point on going abroad just to do things you could do any time at home but whatever floats your boat I guess. 

RE
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Quote:
ORIGINAL: Don


I would budget 100€ per room per night to be safe.
do you mean for each person or for the group? :O

apyf
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If the group is big enough, you should qualify for group discounts and concession rates at some places. 
 
Some airlines offer discounts for large groups too (you have to contact their group/meeting travel departments to see if your group will meet requirements), but I don’t know if the savings would beat a fare sale price.
 
Accomodation with that many people will be an issue.  I would not leave it to chance to hope to find somewhere.  Book it ahead of time.  Because as the organizer, you will be the one who have to find alternative accomodation if one hotel couldn’t take everybody in.  It’s way too stressful on you.
 
Remember that even though some hotels advertise triple or quad rooms, alot of the time it’s a double or triple with a fold up bed. Hotels would need to set it up (if the extra beds are even available), will your group be happy with waiting around?
 
Flexibility is great in small groups, with big groups, it’s chaos. 
 
scotalia78, good luck on planning the trip.  Personally, I couldn’t do it, especially for family.  If anything goes wrong or isn’t to one person’s liking, the organizer will get the blame..and with family (well maybe just my family) you will hear about it forever.
 
And if there is money left over, they should be buying YOU a nice big thank you gift.