Has anyone "stolen the itineraries" of ABD?

MeridaMerida

Earning My Ears
Joined
Feb 6, 2014
I don't know that we would ever do ABD due to the costs but has anyone successfully stolen the itineraries and done a very similar trip, to get ideas of what logistically makes sense in a country when visiting a few places and some fun kid appropriate activities?
 

Bobo912

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
I combined the old ABD Glacier National Park/Canadian Rockies (GNP, Banff, Lake Louise) and the Tauck Bridges Canadian Rockies (Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper) itineraries and did them on my own. Same hotels (park hotels at GNP, Fairmonts in Canada), most of the same activities, and a few additional activities. It was around half the cost of the ABD and included an additional location (Jasper). I also booked the lake view room at Lake Louise, which probably isn't guaranteed with ABD. The rooms we've been assigned on our ABDs sometimes have a view or some other desirable feature, but sometimes they don't. It was one of our favorite trips. We enjoyed it as much as our ABDs and more than some of them. Of course, it was more work for me to arrange everything, but still easy. Some other countries might be a bit more difficult. I think it's a good place to start if you want to plan a trip on your own.
 

Woodview

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
As I live in Europe I look up many Travel Co. information and plan my holidays around the area & the hotels that they use .

I also use Google Earth , pick a place , & then find a hotel.

At the moment I am in Vianden , Luxemburg staying at Logis Hotel Petry .
 
  • carpenta

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2010
    Have you checked out Tripadvisor yet? You can get a "gist" on hotels, restaurants and attractions in the area(s) you are interested. Set up a trip on your own. Over seas you can get local guides as well as drivers. Google is a good asset.
     

    CaptainCook

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 7, 2009
    I wouldn’t say I steal ABD itineraries, but I do compare itineraries we plan when we travel (on our own) to ABD itineraries to see if there are any attractions we haven’t thought of, if the time we’ve allocated seems reasonable, etc. I also compare to a few other tour operators. And make extensive use of TripAdvisor.
     

    AquaDame

    Disney Cruise Line
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 7, 2010
    Sure have. We used the China ABD as a guide of highlights in China. We were gone a little longer - 14 days - but stayed longer in some areas such as HKDL and Chengdu to do a full day panda keeper activity instead of the shorter one they do. It worked wonderfully logisitics-wise and of course was cheaper financially. Downsides were having new guides at every city, having a couple meals on our own without speaking any mandarin was difficult at times, and it did get a little draining being the only ones in the car for the guides to fuss over. After two weeks I was more than ready to be left in peace for a few hours but felt I had to be super chatty and friendly the whole time.

    We've just returned from a full month in East and South Africa as well - while I didn't try to follow ABD's itinerary this time we did have table mountain and boulder beach on our radar due to their trip. I was not sure I'd ever make it back to Africa so we went all out on safari in the "classic" areas of Kenya and Tanzania and added in stops at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, went to Chobe for a day trip in Botswana from there and then finished with a night in Cape Town before heading back home via London. During our time we mostly were on our own in private cars with guides and in direct contrast to China we LOVED this. The times we did find ourselves sharing game drives with others was a markedly worse experience for us. We all had different sighting priorities, someone was often late which meant losing precious pre dawn time, and we even found ourselves missing out on a beer or some bit of lunch as it was gone before it was our turn to grab our share. Even the vehicles they used were different for groups - we much preferred the pop top land rovers you get with private cars over the open air vehicles where you can't stand up. They swayed and tipped so badly that we either thought we were going to die (we literally slid out sideways in the mud at one park and my hot water bottle plopped right off my lap around a corner) or the driver would go so slow we would miss out on a lot of ground. Oh, and the bugs slapped us in our face when heading back after the sundowner which wasn't pleasant either. I missed windows!!

    After that experience if we do go to Kruger or elsewhere in S Africa again I'll be basing my decision on what the group experience is like in their vehicles and may just copy and go on our own again. Having everyone on the same page would help a lot - in the shared vehicles we had there was a mix of people who were on their first day and others who had already been on safari for weeks like us. The excitement of OMG THERE IS A ZEBRA WAY OVER THERE YOU CAN KIND OF MAKE IT OUT LET'S GET CLOSER is lovely the first few times but not every day, especially when you hope to see something truly rare like a cheetah hunting or in our case a river crossing during migration. Time is SO precious on safari!

    Edited to add: I totally forgot about the Japan ABD! We went out of our way to visit Takayama/Shirakawago due to their itinerary this year too. We enjoyed the area and I'm glad they put it on our radar!
     
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    Mrs. Ciz

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 17, 2011
    For two of our biggest trips (Sedona/Grand Canyon and London/South Africa - both of which I planned 100% by myself), I did look at the ABD itineraries to get ideas, but I didn’t want to move around as often as they did. I wanted to stay longer in each place versus cover more ground. We stayed in Sedona for 6 nights with a timeshare trade and did 2 nights in GC at El Tovar. We saw lots of Native American ruins, went to a cowboy cookout at Blazin’ M Ranch, went tubing on the Verde River, swam at Buddha Beach, did a Pink Jeep tour, the guys played golf, and we did lots of ranger talks in GC.

    On our London/SA combo trip, we did 3 days in London (with lots of the same activities that are on the short London ABD - double decker bus tour, Tower of London with Crown Jewels and beefeater tour, Thames River cruise, rock and roll walking tour, Evensong at Westminster Abbey, Churchill’s War Room, lots of pubs). Then we did 9 days in South Africa staying at 3 different places in the greater Kruger area (Protea Hazyview Hotel 5 nights, Tamboti Tented Camp 2 nights, Shindzela Tented Camp 2 nights). We didn’t do Cape Town or Victoria Falls because our focus was on safaris, and we didn’t have the money in the budget to cover all the extra in country flights that kind of itinerary would require. While in Hazyview, we hired a private guide through Kurt Safari for a morning game drive and an afternoon game drive. We had the jeep all to ourselves! We also did the Panorama Route one day, did a cultural dinner and show at Shaangan River Club one evening, and spent a morning at the Elephant Santuary while our guys golfed. Tamboti was a SA national park camp, so we did our morning and sunset game drives through Sanparks while there. We shared a jeep with 5 other people on both those drives. Shindzela was a private “classic” safari camp, which included all our game drives and 3 meals a day. On 3 of the 4 game drives we had there, my family had the jeep all to ourselves. It was an amazing trip, and by moving around the greater Kruger area, we saw so many animals and in such huge numbers - way more than if we’d just stayed in one location for 2-3 days of safari like many of the big tour company trips I looked at.

    Like I said earlier, we did not have a huge budget for our London/South Africa trip. For my family of 4 (me, DH, DS22, DD20), we spent $12,000 total including flights, rental car, lodging, food, game drives and other activities. With 2 kids in college, an ABD was never gonna happen for us!

    A few years back, DH won an amazing work rewards trip to Jackson Hole/Grand Teton NP. His company put us up in the Four Seasons and had several activities to chose from each day. We did a gondola ride up the mountain to a wine dinner, had a private event with dinner and a band at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, did a wildlife safari into Grand Teton and a raft trip on the Snake River. Everything was first class. We loved it! He also won similar trips to Naples, FL and St Thomas, USVI; both at Ritz Carlton hotels. Because of these trips, I do see why folks so enjoy the ABD trips where everything is planned out and taken care of for you. It was very nice to just show up and enjoy!
     
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  • holden

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 21, 2005
    We basically did the Canadian Rockies tour this summer, with some additional stops. We stayed at both the Fairmont Lake Louise and Fairmont Banff Springs. It was the best vacation we ever had!
     

    TXTransplant

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 28, 2012
    We did the Canadian Rockies trip this summer, too, and stayed at both of those Fairmont Properties. I used a combination of the Tauck and ABD itineraries to plan our trip, but we were able to do SO much more!

    We did not stay at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge because the price was just too crazy high and our dates weren't available. The Fairmont Banff is an absolutely stunning property - one of my favorite hotels I've ever stayed in!

    We were in Canada for a total of 10 nights (one in Calgary at the start of our trip) and 9 full days, and the total cost of our trip wasn't that much more than what Tauck and ABD charge. The downside was that I had to do all the driving, luggage wrangling, and meal selections/planning. But, of all the places we've visited, this is one of the easiest to do on your own.
     

    calypso726

    Escaping reality one Disney vacation at a time
    Joined
    Dec 11, 2006
    We copied a good portion of the Ireland itinerary simply because our available dates would not work with what ABD had available to schedule. We also added some stops that ABD does not seem to do because a large coach would not be able to access those areas. So, our trip became a combination of the ABD itinerary and the best suggestions on TripAdvisor. We love ABD and it is just easier to book with them and show up.
     

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