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Old 10-02-2012, 08:38 PM   #16
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Rick Steves' son, Andy, has started his own college-age focused tour company of his own. I think the info is on ricksteves.com.
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Old 10-02-2012, 09:29 PM   #17
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I didn't do a Contiki tour but my best friend did. She loved it. I backpacked around the UK when I was 20 with a Britrail pass and my then-fiance (now husband). It was super fun. We were there for a semester on exchange, so we had lots of adventures from our university, as well as two weeks to travel on our own. We did 3 days/2 nights in Paris on our own as well. Not being a fluent French speaker (I could get by, thank goodness for a really excellent French teacher my senior year of high school!), it was tough, and my husband spoke no French at all and felt very lost and uncomfortable at times. When we go back to Europe, we'll definitely do some touring with a group, partly to alleviate the discomfort of not knowing the languages. We'll certainly explore on our own, too.
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:06 AM   #18
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Another Contiki vet!

Did a two week tour that went through 8 countries.... Loved it! It was a great way to figure out which countries I wanted to visit later... And I enjoyed the friends I made. People on the tour were from all over - Australia, UK, Puerto Rico, South Africa and the US.
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:08 AM   #19
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My son did a trip with Explorica. They conduct tours for mostly high school student groups. Individuals can get spaces on group tours in many cases. I was looking into this for my daughter because a trip has not been planned for this year at their school. His class went to Spain and France for 10 days. Check out the website.
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:43 PM   #20
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I did the Contiki tour of Italy when I was 19 with a friend! I really loved it. I'm absolutely not one who could have wandered around Europe on my own. I'm a planner and I like a schedule and I don't like taxis and trains, especially when I don't understand the language. It was wonderful! At the time, I hated that they always got us up and out so early, but there is no way I could have seen everything that we saw in 13 days by constantly sleeping in. It's absolutely what you make it, and most of the day is on your own with the option of excursions, like a gondola ride in Venice. People were lined up all over the place and we just walked on! It was the same thing in at the Eiffel Tower when I went with a group in high school. The tour groups never have to wait in those hours long lines! My vote is for the tour, but they can always plan a little bit of time to hang out wherever before and after
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:58 PM   #21
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LOVED Contiki

I LOVED LOVED LOVED my Contiki tour. It was quite a while ago - 14 years ago. It was a 16 day through all of western Europe. I was studying abroad and wanted to travel around Europe first.

Why I did a tour vs. backpacking. This was my first time really traveling by myself. I thought about backpacking - it just made me too nervous not really knowing where I was going. I liked the idea of not having to worry about transportation, hotels, etc.

I found that the 'tour' wasn't a tour in a sense. It is geared so much towards the 18-35 year old range that it was so much fun. You had free time in every city you were in. They offered different excursions you could, or you could go off on your own.

I really wanted to go on another tour before I turned 35....unfortunately that didn't happen.

After my tour, I did go back to Rome a month or 2 later by myself for a week where I felt comfortable using the trains, finding a place to stay in a hostel, etc. I had enough anxiety go abroad by myself that I wasn't up for doing myself the first time.
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:03 AM   #22
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I am about the most cautious parent around and I let my kid go traipsing through Europe alone (with a couple of friends) at 17. The group trip things I read about all seemed like drunken party binges. When they were on their own they had to keep their wits about themselves.

They did the hostels, trains, a couple of countries. Saw the big tourist things, and the other parts of the cities as well.

It was a great experience.
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