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timfromdenver  
#1 Posted : Friday, March 13, 2015 12:00:00 AM(UTC)
timfromdenver


Posts: 5

Hello all, we are getting ready for our first gate1 trip and our first escorted tour of any kind.  Ive been looking for the answer to this and cannot find it anywhere so anyone that has gone on a larger tour would hopefully have the answer. We are wondering, when we are with the tour group and guide, for example walking thru venice or florence, I have to assume gate1 does not treat us like kindergartners and herd us along, insisting we stay with the group?  if we are walking with the group and we see a side street that we want to explore, or something to photograph, do they care if you break off and then its just up to you to find them again or meet at a predetermined time or place?  i cannot find reference to this anywhere.  Similarly, can we take the bus to a scheduled designation one day, but then when we get off the bus, go off on our own and just meet back for the ride home?  how does this work as far as independence during a tour, even on those days when we are travelling with the group to something scheduled?  Also, when you are on these walking tours, in a group of 60, do they break up into smaller groups?  do they give you those speakers to wear around you neck?  i saw those in a video from another company and they looked quite annoying so we are just trying to figure out how this large group thing works and if we have freedom to break off, or not participate at all and just utilize the transportation? thanks so much everyone.
Donna Marie  
#2 Posted : Friday, March 13, 2015 12:00:00 AM(UTC)
Donna Marie


Posts: 239

so, yes, they like you to stay together in a tour.  However, let's say as you mention you want to wander off and get to the next destination by yourself - yes you can do that, but tell the guide so he knows not to add you into the head count on the bus.  At times, you do wear the "whisper" head sets. You need them to hear if you are in a large group (good Lord, they are never 60 people otherwise, I would never go).  My largest group was close to 38/40 and then got smaller when folks left (they only signed up for a week of the tour).

If for instance you are on a long bus ride, they stop every 2 hours for bathroom breaks, snacks, lunch.  Guide will say you have 45 minutes or 60 minutes and they expect you to be back on the bus.  Most of the time, you will need to do this as it would be somewhat impossible for you to get to the next location on own.  But, that stated, if you don't want to, just tell guide.

If you wander off and hold up the group and they can't find you, EVERYONE on the bus will be mad at you.  So, be sure to tell guide when not staying with the group. 

Have fun!
Upcoming
15 Day Spain (9/2017)
Completed Thus far with Gate 1...
15 Day Vietnam and Cambodia
10 Day Serengeti and Beyond: African Safari in Tanzania
15 Day Moroccan Allure
14 Day Israel and Jordan
15 Day Croatia Bosnia Slovenia and Venice
15 Day Turkish Treasures
9 Day Affordable Ireland
17 Day Peru and Ecuador
16 Day Classic Thailand with Phuket
11 Day Egypt with Abu Simbel and 3 Day Lake Nasser Cruise
10 Day Greek Islander Mykonos Santorini Athens
12 Day Enchanting Italy
9 Day Israel
gotta travel  
#3 Posted : Friday, March 13, 2015 12:00:00 AM(UTC)
gotta travel


Posts: 128

Tim, as Donna Marie notes, there is some latitude for independent exploring provided you inform the tour director so as not to inconvenience the rest of the group.  The escorted tours from G1 typically allow a half day for self exploration at the major overnight stops.  On our Baltic State tour with G1, we had a group of 4 who took off one day while the rest of us went with the planned agenda.  Worked out fine as that trip had us staying two nights so little risk had they encountered transportation delays while on their own.  

 Our experience is that not all tours have the 'whispers' that allow the guides to talk in a more normal voice rather yelling to be heard over the din of many other tour groups.  I didn't think I'd like them but wish all of the escorted trips had them as they allow me to wonder around and snap photos while listening to the tour commentary.  I get antsy standing around in a group listening (my wife doesn't seem to mind) but I'm more inclined to wonder around and still stay in range of the group.  

Sounds though that you may be more interesting in checking out the independent travel options G1 offers and you can also try their build your own trip feature (caution:  while a lot of cities are listed in their drop down menu, they don't offer build your own to all of them).
KSA  
#4 Posted : Saturday, March 14, 2015 12:00:00 AM(UTC)
KSA


Posts: 48

Ditto what the other person said - it is not fair to inconvenience the rest of the group by everyone having to wait while the tour director tries to find out where you wandered off to.  Easy enough to just let the tour director know in advance what you would like to do and come to an agreement.  For instance, when in Rome, after a morning tour of the Vatican, we were to be bused back to the hotel on the other side of town, have free time for the afternoon, then meet in the hotel lobby to be bused to the restaurant for that evening meal.  I arranged with the tour director to be dropped off in the vicinity of Trevi Fountain (instead of being taken back to the hotel since Trevi Fountain was on the way) so I could just wander around on my own in that area that afternoon and that I would find my own way to the restaurant at the proper time that evening.  And what a wonderful afternoon it turned out to be! After enjoying a gelato at the Fountain and seeing several other sights in the area, I started walking in the direction of the restaurant and stopped to rest on park bench in a little neighborhood park.  Along comes an elderly woman who couldn't speak English but motioned to ask permission to share the bench with me.  Although we couldn't speak to each other, we enjoyed watching the playing children, laughing at their antics.  Then, she looked at me and started singing a song.  Beautiful! Then motioned that it was my turn.  I managed to sing Amazing Grace.     A wonderful close encounter of the friendly kind that never would have happened had I just done the usual on the tour!
littlera  
#5 Posted : Saturday, March 14, 2015 12:00:00 AM(UTC)
littlera


Posts: 685

Nice story KSA.  You never know when special moments will happen.  You can't predict and usually cannot make them happen.  When they do, you never forget and treasure it forever.  We have had similar interactions with locals, and it just makes your day.

That is one of the possibilities that make travel so special, and a true privilege for those that manage to do it.
Randy and Deanie
Up next:
14 Day Treasures of Sri Lanka. 3/21
14 day Classic South Africa with Victoria Falls 11/20
12 day Kaleidiscope of Scotland 7/20; rebooked 7/21
Been there, done that:
11 day Classic Colombia 3/20
14 day Majestic Balkans 5/19
16 Day Spiritual Southern India 11/18
14 Day Holland. Germany,Luxembourg & Belgium with Paris. 5/18
15 Day Indonesia: Java & Bali 10/17
13 Day Classic Costa Rica with Tortuguero and Manuel Antonio 2/17
18 Day Nepal & Bhutan 9/16
13 Day Kasbahs and Deserts of Morocco 5/16
15 Day Classic India with Ranthambore 11/15
11 Day Classic Baltics 6/15
11 Day Kaleidoscope of Guatemala and Honduras 1/15
13 Day Kaleidoscope of Ireland 9/14
14 Day Israel and Jordan - 5/14
15 Day Kaleidoscope of Thailand with River Kwai 11/13
16 Day China with Tibet and 3 Day Yangtze River Cruise  5/13
8 Day Classic Ecuador and Amazon Adventure 10/12
13 Day Turkish Treasures 5/12
10 Day Affordable  Peru  10/11
16 Day Affordable Bangkok, Cambodia and Vietnam 10/10
15 Day India's Majesty with Nepal  10/08
10 Day Greece with cruise 3/04
timfromdenver  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, March 18, 2015 12:00:00 AM(UTC)
timfromdenver


Posts: 5

thank you everyone for the replies.  I should clarify, the thought of inconveniencing anyone else in exchange for our own agenda is my #1 pet peeve in the world and i would never, ever do it under any circumstance.  if the tour guide says meet at the bus at 4 Pm, I'm the guy running scenarios in my head and calculation time needed to get there plus adding in extra time and getting my wife mad by making her head back early to ensure we are there with 30 minutes to spare in case anything comes up.  I was not asking about leaving mid tour and trying to find my own transportation back.  I'm saying if my group is walking thru florence and listenting to the guide, and we see a shop we want to go into but the guide is moving down the street to the next landmark, I hope we can go in and then catch up with the group later and not be told by the guide we cannot leave the group for 10 minutes for any reason to see something we are interested in because we must stay with the group at all times on a walking tour.  I'm not sure how that will work.  or, if they say it's time to go find your own lunch and meet at X in an hour and we will all go into this museum, i would hope we can tell them we would rather not see that museum and can we meet elsewhere later or at the bus when it's time to leave.  we have already booked the escorted tour and actually are looking forward to someone else guiding us at times and taking care of transportation, i just don't think we should be forced to walk from spot to spot without being able to branch off to explore something we may only have one chance to see.  thanks guys
Donna Marie  
#7 Posted : Wednesday, March 18, 2015 12:00:00 AM(UTC)
Donna Marie


Posts: 239

timfromdenver:

Just use common sense; if on a walking tour and you pop in to a shop you see to look around, generally they are not going to wait for you, so you if are wanting to "catch up" I don't think anyone is going to stop you.  That stated, you take a chance of getting lost and not finding your tour group (sometimes this is where the "whisper" headsets helps - when you can no longer hear guide, you know you are out of the boundary and can back track).  Guides are different in each country and may say, "please stay with the group" in any given city for any given reason (some tours it may be easy to lose the passengers).  But you will see when you are on the tour and you can figure it out as you go.  For instance, if you are in the old city in Jerusalem and you see a shop on the walking tour - you are NOT going to want to "pop" in as you will lose the group due to the crowded, narrow streets, etc.  In that instance, you would go back on your own time to shop.  Generally speaking, they give you "on your own time" in cities to wander and then meet at a central location.

Good luck.
Upcoming
15 Day Spain (9/2017)
Completed Thus far with Gate 1...
15 Day Vietnam and Cambodia
10 Day Serengeti and Beyond: African Safari in Tanzania
15 Day Moroccan Allure
14 Day Israel and Jordan
15 Day Croatia Bosnia Slovenia and Venice
15 Day Turkish Treasures
9 Day Affordable Ireland
17 Day Peru and Ecuador
16 Day Classic Thailand with Phuket
11 Day Egypt with Abu Simbel and 3 Day Lake Nasser Cruise
10 Day Greek Islander Mykonos Santorini Athens
12 Day Enchanting Italy
9 Day Israel
gotta travel  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, March 18, 2015 12:00:00 AM(UTC)
gotta travel


Posts: 128

Hey Tim,  hope post didn't offend (not my intent) and know you all are looking forward to a great time (take it from references to Florence and Venice you're going on one of the Italian tours which are really great and G1 does those up right).  Bottom line is just grab some time with your tour director/guide at your first night's get together and work it out.  It is after all your vacation and I've found most of the guides to be very flexible (had one on our Baltic tour who was let's say not so happy faced when we wondered off or slowed down the pace, but all in all even that was a wonderful time).


Typically the city walking tours are fairly fast paced as they're just intended to orient you to the place and give a little history so you can navigate back to areas of interest.  You do stop in at a few choice places and have a local guide which are things you don't want to miss (those are the places where I let my wife stay with the group and listen and I meander around, well within sight of the Mrs so she doesn't worry I got lost.  Good that at least one of us pays attention so when we get home and show the endless stream of pictures someone actually can remember where we were and what we saw).  

If it is Italy even in places like Pisa and Assisi, you bus on over, the guide gives you the back story on the place and then you go off and mosey around on your own meeting back at the bus at some specific time.  So I think you'll find the tours to fit your style.

Like you I had some trepidation the first time we did an escorted tour as I don't do schedules well, but they grow on you and you get to form some wonderful bonds with your fellow tour members.  

Have a great time.
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