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Group Tour Pros and Cons

Seattle, Washington
7 posts
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Group Tour Pros and Cons

My dad and I are planning on visiting Israel for the first time. We are deciding between going with a group tour or going all on our own. We are looking at General Tours World Traveler eight-day Israel tour. Ideally, we would like to do our trip part group tour and part on our own, so we can have free time to visit places or do things not available during our tour. If you have taken a tour to Isreal, what type of free time did you have? Did you have enough time to experience the sites you visited? What were the major pros and cons that effected your tour experience. Of course, I know every tour company may provide something different, but I'm hoping to get a general idea of what taking a tour would be like.

Thank you so much for your response :)

Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
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15,487 posts
66 reviews
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1. Re: Group Tour Pros and Cons

Most group tours do not include much "down" time or free time for you to do your own thing. What many people do in order to have the extra time for things and places not included is to add another few days at the end - that way you can re-visit places that warrant more time, add the sites you missed, etc.

Washington State
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2,164 posts
11 reviews
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2. Re: Group Tour Pros and Cons

Their eight day tours are only six days of touring. Woefully inadequate!!! I would look for a tour of at least ten touring days.

Tours are highly efficient and you see a lot in a short period of time. I think they are good for people who are not used to international travel and who don’t have lot of time to prepare for a trip. The flip side is a lack of flexibility and not a lot of down time during the day.

What kind of a tour are you interested? Religious? General? Historical? If you give us a little more information, we might be able to make some suggestions.

Seattle, Washington
7 posts
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3. Re: Group Tour Pros and Cons

We are looking for a historical/general tour. We would also like to arrive a day or two early before our tour and add a few extra days after our tour. Our trip length is challenged a little with how much time I can take off work, so we chose looking at the shorter tours, so we can add more of our personal days before and after. My dad has travelled internationally many times, and I have travelled to Europe a couple times, so we do have experience. Any tour pros and cons thoughts will help!

Thanks for your posts!

Ottawa, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jerusalem, Galilee, Tel Aviv
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5,801 posts
137 reviews
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4. Re: Group Tour Pros and Cons

Tour pros:

-itinerary is planned and will cover the major sites

-tours are themed so if you want a general tour, you will see a real cross section of sites

-all hotels and transportation are taken care of

- should something happen (medically, lost luggage, etc), the tour guide and company are usually terrific in helping solve issues

-you see a lot of sites in a short period of time

Tour cons:

- very little downtime

-tours may be very large and it takes time to load and unload the bus and to wait for people at bathroom breaks

-you may have a terrific tour with lots of people with shared interests- or not, there is no way to predict this

-the time spent at sites is very limited. Most people feel they do not get to see as much of a site they find interesting as they would like. You may also land up at sites that are not of interest to you but luckily, you won't be there very long!

On a first trip to Israel, the idea of taking a general tour is excellent, especially if you are extending the tour afterwards so you can revisit areas you might have wanted to spend more time at, perhaps visit museums and galleries that are often not included, or visit new areas. The tour will give you a chance to orient yourself, see the major sites and after the tour you will be comfortable getting around on your own and knowing what you want to add.

I have done tours and done a lot of individual travel. Each has pros and cons.

Mount Vernon...
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33 posts
50 reviews
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5. Re: Group Tour Pros and Cons

This is a long overdue posting, and perhaps would be better put someplace else, but I'll add it here anyway. I traveled to Israel last August as a femaie solo senior traveler, and had done much reading and research before the trip - Trip Advisor helped with that immensely! I was in a position to join a tour group for a few days, and wanted to publicly give the praise due to the professional guide, Nina Grunhaus. Nina was not only knowledgeable about the subject matter, she was also so warm and friendly that she became one of the best memories of my trip! Nina speaks four languages easily: Spanish, English, Hebrew and Italian. Her laugh was contagious, and she always seemed to have a smile on her face. As a person traveling alone, she made me feel very welcome to the group. I was also one of the only people not speaking Spanish in the group, and Nina made sure that I got all the information given to the others. If you want to get in depth information about a specific site, enjoy the company of a very friendly Israeli woman and feel like you've made a new friend in the bargain, I'd suggest hiring Nina for part of your stay in Israel. I don't have an email for her, but I do know she is on Facebook. Might be under Janina Grunhaus, however.

Washington State
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2,164 posts
11 reviews
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6. Re: Group Tour Pros and Cons

Well, if time is an issue, the General Tours itinerary does a good job with the six days it has. It seems to be tilted towards Christians sites. If they would let you add a couple of days at the end in Jerusalem, you would have no trouble filling them.

Tel-Aviv
Destination Expert
for Tel Aviv
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8,748 posts
12 reviews
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7. Re: Group Tour Pros and Cons

And a couple of days in Tel-Aviv before the start of the tour.

Chappaqua, New York
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8. Re: Group Tour Pros and Cons

You can email her at nina@israelxperience.com

Singapore
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340 posts
166 reviews
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9. Re: Group Tour Pros and Cons

In our experience lasr August, joining group tours is more reliable, and time is preditive, since the vehicle they use are large tourist buses. Unlike the private tours that we hired (2 of them), they uses 5-6 seater cars only, on both case we encounter vehicle related problems, eg. Aircon not working, flat tyres.

And information we learned from goup tours are more, since guides will always have some info to share for the whole group, rather than private guide which also drives will be too personal and you tend ask before they explain.

Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
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15,487 posts
66 reviews
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10. Re: Group Tour Pros and Cons

I'm sorry to hear that you did not have such a good experience with the private guides you hired - this only serves to highlight what has been said here often - how important it is to "interview" a private guide before hiring them. This way you can clarify what you are looking for and see if you and the guide are a good fit.

It seems to me that your experience where "you tend ask before they explain." is not common to most private guides - where on a private tour you get a wealth of information - usually more than on a large group tour - and you get to ask as many questions as you have which the guide can answer.

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