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Companies who arrange independent travel ?

Companies who arrange independent travel ?

Old Sep 26th, 2022, 08:29 PM
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Companies who arrange independent travel ?

I am looking for companies that would arrange the "bones" of a trip to London for me but let me fill in the blanks.

We 3 sisters in our 70's had planned a trip to London for May 2020. Guess what happened to that?!! We are ready to resume life now and want to go in May 2023 for about a week. We are traveling from the Midwest.

I have traveled quite a bit and usually arrange my own trips. But none of us has been to London before and we are a little skittish now. We want to go at our own pace and not keep up with a group.

We can arrange our own airfare, but it might be nice to have someone else arrange the hotel, the transfer from the airport and maybe a couple of activities or meals. And possibly have a contact in London.

I have so far found Globus Independent tours. It appears they have good reviews for their group tours. Any comments on their independent tours?

Any recommendations for other agencies that do something like this? Any comments or advice for us?

Thank you
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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 09:11 PM
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OK - not to answer what you actually asked . . . If you were asking about a more 'exotic' destination it could be to use the services of a travel planner of some sort. BUT London has got to be the easiest place to visit. You could get lots of suggestions from folks on here -- but I honestly can't see paying a middleman to do waht any sensible person can do themselves.

A travel planner would have to charge a lot to make it worth their time/effort
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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 09:14 PM
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. . . Once you are IN London there are decent-day tours tham might interest you but devising the framework of a trip to London (or anywhere in the UK) is flat simple.
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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 10:38 PM
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SusieIowa, as you describe it, you plan to visit just London for a week next May. I don't know of any organisations that will provide the service you are after but if you break it down into its parts (as you've done already) then it should be easily arranged.

Flights you say you can organise either yourselves or possibly through a travel agent. Then there's accommodation, for which I'd book somewhere nice and centrally located using booking.com. Your hotel can possibly arrange pickup at the airport (many places would be accustomed to doing this) or ask for recommendations on this forum. For transport in London, buy an oyster card (or similar) at the nearest train station after you have settled in and you can whizz around London to your heart's content.

The three of you could select some of the highlights of London that you'd like to see, perhaps aiming for two places for each day. I'd do this with guidebooks and the internet. Take note of their opening hours and plot them on a map. London Walks provide lots of opportunities for guided walks if that's of interest.

Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about selecting particular restaurants in advance. I'd just go to a local area and rock up (or book somewhere you see that looks nice for another day). You may wish to book a high tea at a fancy hotel or something similar if that appeals.

Half the anticipation is in the planning and if you hand that over to someone else, you both miss out on that and may end up with something which isn't entirely what you wanted (and it's almost certain to be more expensive).

Enjoy yourselves! Sounds like it will be fun.
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Old Sep 26th, 2022, 11:57 PM
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I agree with the others, it's not a difficult destination but any travel planning can feel a bit overwhelming initially. I suggest you plan and book things yourselves as YOU know what you want. A travel agent or tour company does not. You can book day trips if you wanted, either something like a guided walk as suggested above - https://www.walks.com/ - they also do day trips outside London, like Oxford or Windsor for example. There are other companies offering similar.

I'd start with accommodation. Look at a map of London and see where the different areas are and what is in that area. Ask here on the forum for help. You ideally want to be easy walking distance from a couple of tube stations and a bus stop for ease of getting around. Narrow down your choices by using your budget as a guide. Both Trip Advisor and Booking.com allow you to do this, others probably too. Another idea is to read the trip reports on the forum and see where others have stayed.

Once you have that sorted, think about what you'd want to do while you're there - galleries, museums, theatre, shopping etc. It can all be researched and booked, if necessary, online. A high tea is a great idea. We were very fortunate to have high tea at The Ritz and it is a wonderful memory. Book way ahead, it's very popular. Here is a link for ideas -
https://afternoontea.co.uk/uk/london/

You mention being skittish and wanting a London contact. If you stay somewhere more upmarket, the front desk or concierge will help if needed. Also if you don't think you'd feel comfortable using the tube or buses, there are taxis.

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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 12:38 AM
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Since you know each other so well you are probably the best people to sort out the whats and the whens. London is a big place and it is easy to get to places like Oxford/Cambridge etc by train so the key issue will be how to reject so many great things. Adding an agent into this is going to be difficult but you can easily set up local people to help you day by day. If money is no object then a hotel can sort all that out for you. Three rooms in a posh hotel should have concierge slavering to plan stuff for you but equally in cheaper hotels there should be a desk with loads of ideas of tours.

Public transport is easy to use and remember that most museums are free so you can visit for a few hours and go back as often as you like and they nearly all have a coffee shop or a restaurant (plus shop) as that is how they make some of their income
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 01:27 AM
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Many of the posters here have been to London and can share their advice. I would probably start with your accommodations first. What kind of hotel are you thinking of and what is your budget? Would you each want a separate room?
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 08:24 AM
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If you each have a contactless credit or debit card, London life will be so easy. You can use it on the tube (no need for a separate Oyster card) and many establishments. Tap away and have a wonderful time!
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 10:06 AM
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Contactless is great! My American bank is just getting around to contactless, so I use my British cards on TfL (tube and buses). Apple Pay works the same way as contactless cards, but not so quick to use at the turnstiles. Don’t forget to tap it again when you leave the tube, but you only need to tap it when boarding the buses.
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 10:25 AM
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In the past, DH and I used American Express for air, hotel, and major train ticketing. I don't know if AE does that anymore. More recently, I called Air France and they had packages. I've successfully used Orvis for trips (including helping us leave early....as you wrote, good back up). All pre-covid info.

Another possibility is Google flights from your nearest airport to London. Often packages for air, hotel and car come up.

Stay where there is concierge service. Here's my London TR...go to post #126 for the end of Madrid and start of London.

https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/madrid-and-london-1009205/

Last edited by TDudette; Sep 27th, 2022 at 10:38 AM.
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 10:40 AM
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I use AAVacations for maybe half of my trips to London (and some trips to other destinations) -- not for any sort of itinerary planning but to get package prices. Coming up in early Dec for example booking R-T business class tkts from the west coast to LHR and three nights at a very upscale hotel ended up saving me thousands of $$$ over just the airfare alone.

Most of the other 'legacy' airlines have similar set ups -- UA, Delta, etc.
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 10:45 AM
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I’ve started booking all my flights directly with the airline. In the past I’ve used Expedia or Opodo, but find it much easier to make a change when dealing directly with the airline. Even with a non refundable ticket the airlines will usually let you rebook within 12 months at no extra cost if the rearranged flight is the same or cheaper than the one you originally booked.
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 11:43 AM
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See if this link looks better:

Madrid and London
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 12:12 PM
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Iíd suggest reading itineraries for group tours in your price range. That gives you a framework you can add and subtract from. You might also look at the listings on Journey Woman for ideas.
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 12:48 PM
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"I’d suggest reading itineraries for group tours in your price range. "

Unfortunately that leads many to think they can cover the same ground as rapid fire group tours. Better IMO to pick up a guidebook or two and decide some of the places/things they want to see/do and build a plan around those. Group coach tour itineraries aren't really 'translatable' to independent travel.
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Old Sep 27th, 2022, 01:37 PM
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I must second Janisj’s opinion and advice. Unfortunately, most group tours are terribly generic. While they generally hit the highlights, they are rushed and do not allow for individual interests. IMHO, while they can be the basis for a whirlwind sightseeing trip, they do not translate easily into a personalized, one city trip. I can spend a week going to museums, and theater, never setting foot in a store to shop. Others may want tea and shopping. Both are fine. The OP and her Sisters must decide what they want from their trip. Tours are scheduled to the max and allow people to think they can do more than they probably can as individuals. The OP and her Sisters can attend noon concerts in churches, even have dinner in some of the churches, or join tours in museums or historic homes, etc. that are tailored to their interests. If they do not want to deal with public transportation, take taxis.
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Old Sep 28th, 2022, 05:23 AM
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Thank you for lots of helpful information.

Good reminders of all the benefits of independently planning a trip.

Budget:: You have got me working on better nailing it down. Not luxury travelers but do not want hostels anymore either.

Examples of hotels I liked in the past: the Husa hotels in Madrid. Hotel des Grands Hommes. in Paris. .

Contactless credit cards. This concept needs research.

New technology plus the pandemic plus age. 3 factors in my unease about independent travel I suppose. Are others experiencing this?

I think Globus independent city stays must be a new service. No comments from anyone about them?

Your comments are very helpful. Amazing to get all this advice to mull over.



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Old Sep 28th, 2022, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by SusieIowa View Post
Thank you for lots of helpful information.

Good reminders of all the benefits of independently planning a trip.

Contactless credit cards. This concept needs research.

New technology plus the pandemic plus age. 3 factors in my unease about independent travel I suppose. Are others experiencing this?

Your comments are very helpful. Amazing to get all this advice to mull over.

Susie + sisters: Your credit cards very well may be contactless; many cards are but the technology is more commonly used in Europe than in the U.S. (I believe.). Do they have the “wave” symbol?



Last edited by nyse; Sep 28th, 2022 at 06:34 AM.
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Old Sep 28th, 2022, 07:13 AM
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I recommend that you stay in hotel with a concierge at the front desk. They are very helpful and can book you rides , make reservations, answer questions. I love visiting London!
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Old Sep 28th, 2022, 08:42 AM
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You may wish to book a high tea at a fancy hotel or something similar if that appeals.

Itís called afternoon tea, unless you really are looking for high tea which youíre unlikely to get outside of a home.

Some restaurants do get fully booked, itís worth prebooking some popular ones that you may like to visit, closer to the time you are travelling.





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