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Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

Victoria, Canada
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Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

Our family traveled with Expat Explore (based in London), on their 12 Day Europe Escape coach tour this past April and we had a fantastic time!

The trip itinerary was just as outlined on their website http://expatexplore.com, leaving from London, England and traveling through France (Paris & Macon), Switzerland (Grund-Grindelwald), Italy (Pisa, Florence and Venice), Germany (Munich & Boppard), Holland (Amsterdam), and Belgium (Brugge) before returning to London. Three free days (in Paris, the Swiss Alps and Venice) allowed us time to explore the sites at our own pace. Hint: A trip up to Jungfraujock in Switzerland is a MUST especially if the weather is clear.

We traveled with our two teenage children (13 & almost 15 years) who managed to keep up to this fast paced tour (no sleeping in on this vacation!). It was a fairly demanding schedule with lots of walking each day. Hint: choose comfort over fashion when packing your shoes. In addition to seeing all the sites, I think one of the best parts of this tour was knowing that we didn’t have to do anything - just sit back and enjoy ourselves. We didn’t have to worry about finding accommodation or making travel arrangements in multiple cities; it was all done for us.

The tour guides and driver (Simone, Cris & Tommy) were very friendly and knowledgeable. Our fellow coach-mates ranged in age from their early twenties to mid-fifties (from around the globe) and made the trip all the more interesting; it was a fun group, but not too outrageous.

We found the modern coach to be comfortable and the accommodations clean and well located. There was a good mix of free time, guided tours and scenic driving (some days the drive was quite long, but it was broken up with rest stops and lunch breaks). All breakfasts and many dinners were included in the package price. This tour is excellent value for those with wanting to sample many of Europe’s major sites on a moderate budget.

166 replies to this topic
london
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1. Re: Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

Hi there.

Thank you for this.

I am interested in doing this tour and have been planning my own tour at the same time. I am undecided on whether I should go it alone or do the tour instead.

Considering we have not travelled in Europe before, would this tour leave us satisfied with seeing all that is to be seen at these destinations and do you have the opportunity to exclude yourself from tours in the specific countries and go about things your own way?

You sound very satisfied, is there anything bad worth a mention?

Thanks (in advanced) for the help

Victoria, Canada
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2. Re: Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

We looked at planning our own trip too – but having travelled in Europe before, we decided that we didn’t want to be lugging our bags from train stations to distant (affordable) hotels - and frankly I didn’t have the time to spend planning a dozen stops. Since we had only a moderate budget and limited vacation time, we decided the best “bang-for-our-buck” was to see the highlights of each city – and plan to return to our favourite places on another trip (preferably without the kids!).

When the bus drops you off each night (right at the hotel), you are free to go wherever you wish, just as long as you are back on the bus the next morning! The free days were just that – you could travel informally with the group or head off on your own. I had a list of sites in Paris, Switzerland and Venice that were “must sees” and we got to see them all – either with the group or on our own. The tour also took us to some sites that we may not have found by ourselves–wine tasting in a tiny French village, a Rhine river cruise, a cheese tasting and wooden shoe demonstration in Holland.

I will advise that a few of the stops are quite short, some only a few hours. It would have been nice spend more time at Versailles, and in Pisa, Florence and Amsterdam. We did however see many of the historic sites and the guided walking tours were very good. Also, remember this is a “coach tour” and there is a lot of driving (often 6 hours a day). We enjoyed the driving, as we could see the countryside, but it may not be for everyone.

If there was a specific country (say France) that you wanted to visit – then I could see spending a week in Paris and another week in the wine country; you would certainly experience the local culture at a more leisurely pace. But if you want to see a wide range of countries/cities without the hassle of making all the arrangements you should consider this tour.

Hope this helps!

Edited: 26 May 2010, 13:26
KL
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3. Re: Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

hi, i wish to join this trip in this coming sep and i got a couple to questions hope you could clarify:-

i) do they have any hidden cost like "optional tour" which need you to pay extra

ii) how much cash do i need to bring along for the excluded lunch, dinner, free day, unguided tour, etc per person.

many thanks :)

Edited: 04 June 2010, 22:50
Victoria, Canada
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4. Re: Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

There were only a few (small) costs that were not included - the bus into Venice for instance ($4pp) and bus in Amsterdam. Admission fees & extra sightseeing tours are on your own dime - like going up the Eiffel tower or into the Louvre - or to Jungfraujock - but the walking tours and the river cruise (that were included in the tour price) were very good.

As for extra money - it would depend on what you wanted to do - lunch or dinner would be 10-15 euros max each - but you can by pizza by the slice in Venice for 2euros. :-) mmm! We sometimes packed a picnic lunch or dinner. A trip up Jungfraujock was the most expensive - almost 400euros for the family - but totally worth it! I would suggest you visit the websites of the places/sites you would like to see and get an idea of the admission fees ahead of time.

Happy travels!!

KL
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5. Re: Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

hi thanks for your replied, but i wonder why you said extra charges/fares for bus to venice and amsterdam? isnt a bus/coach drivings u guys along the trips? the package price does not include the coach fares?? really confuse?

Victoria, Canada
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6. Re: Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

Sorry to cause confusion... accommodations in Venice and Amsterdam are outside of the "city" and a small fee is charged to drop off/ pick-up from the city (for those who wanted to go) - we also took public transit in these cities, as well as in Munich and Paris to get around.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

Hi I will be travelling with expat explore on the new 22 days Europe tour which starts on 3rd Sept and finishes 24th Sept. Any feedbacks on this?

Victoria, Canada
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8. Re: Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

Wow! That looks like quite the itinerary! The 12 day tour didn't go that far south or east - but otherwise many of the stops are similar (see my first post). I don't have much else to add - except have a great time - and share your experiences when you get home!!

KL
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9. Re: Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

sorry for bugging you again :)

my only concern is if i don't bring enough money for the trip! ... do you think if i bring 700euro is enough (including all the cost for all/ most of the extra tours) ?

Many thanks

Victoria, Canada
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10. Re: Expat Explore - 12 Day Europe Escape

No worries! :)

I should think 700 euros would be enough. We tried to pay cash for most things and took about 1200 euros for 2 adults/2 teens. Some of the bigger ticket items we did put on our credit card ie: Jungfraujock was about 100 euros per person. There are lots of bank machines available - but check ahead of time that your card is activated for foreign travel - and service charges apply so you would want to take out larger amounts only. Also, let your credit card company know (in advance) that you are going to Europe - so they don't decide it's out of your 'regular spending pattern' and freeze the card.

One other thing that we did was to download free audio tours from Rick Steves website for Paris, Versaille, Venice and London. ricksteves.com/news/…audiotour_menu.htm They were very useful to play both in advance of arriving in the cities and to augment the Expat tour info.

Hope this all helps! Enjoy your trip!

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