Hello- first time one here I apologize if this is the wrong place. I would like to take a 2-3 week trip to Italy. No one is coming with me and I would feel safer in a guided tour. I am looking for tours that provide lodging/transportation and some meals. There are so many companies how do I tell which are legitimate or scams? affordabletours.com seems like an umbrella to other tour companies and I found a tour on there that I like. I just don't want to get scammed.
Have you looked at the Rick Steves tours -- thst is, the tour company that sponsors this website? Many people here have travelled with RS tours as well as others -- many numerous times. Compare tour content as well as prices. Google the tour operator name to see reviews.
Just stating the obvious--your best bet, in my opinion, would be a Rick Steves Tour, There are several to choose from and I think that you will find excellent reviews and recommendations on this website.
I think you are using the word scam incorrectly. I don't think you will find any tour company that will take your money and not deliver a tour. I think the better question is how to determine the quality of the tour. The internet and time is your friend. Use it. Goggle the tour company and read the responses. Now for you -- your age, physical ability to walk, stand, etc., what do you want to see, where do you want to go, want to go by bus, train, ship, barge, how much do you want to spend - perday/total? That is just the beginning. Answer most of the question and some of us can probably made some recommendations for you.
There are two types of tour companies - those that actually run the tours - like Rick Steves, and others that are consolidators that represent a lot of other tour companies under an umbrella. Both can do a good job. Just a matter of what you want and can afford.
Another recommendation Rick Steves tours. I also travel solo much of the time and have found the tours to be fantastic. They have a maximum group size of 28 and travel on full size Coaches, so everyone has lots of room. You'll learn an incredible amount about the history and culture of the places you visit, lots of free time is provided and the group meals are incredible. If your budget will allow, you might consider paying the single supplement to get your own room. In my case, I feel the cost for that is worthwhile.
Another mis-use of the word "scam".
I certainly like Rick Steves tours. However, when looking to tour an area where he does not, I look carefully at their itinerary (if they list hotels etc., check them out) and do a net search of the company. This may also be a time to spend a bit more and check in with a travel agent. They often have experience and can guide you to the type of tour you want. Sure, it costs $$, but would you rather throw it away on a second or third rate tour?
I think the OP wants to avoid a company that goes out of business after taking a traveler's money leaving the traveler high and dry. It has happened to some tourists in the past. Hopefully the advice given so far has helped.
Good on those of you who respond to spam posts by providing better answers.
@Laura, which are you saying is spam?
Also, reputable tour operators CAN run into financial trouble. My friend and I went on a well-run China tour in 2009 with an established local firm; she booked another trip with them two years later and when she hadn't heard from them for a while she found that the company had gone bankrupt in the 8 months since her deposit. Not a "scam" in that they had really intended to provide a quality tour experience -- but an expensive disappointment.
I think Laura meant scam, as in posts that stir up fears, and not spam.
If you want to avoid getting scammed in the genuine sense (paying for a company that takes your money and then disappears), be sure to take a tour from a company that's been around a while. Some of the big names, besides Rick Steves, are Perillo, Trafalgar, Globus, Gate 1, OAT, Tauck, and Maupintours (among others). They differ in price, but you usually get what you pay for. For instance, a more expensive tour will use nicer hotels that are closer to the city center (very nice if you want to do something on your own; you're not dependent on the tour company for transportation). The tips will be included. There will be fewer shopping stops (the guide gets a cut of everything you buy; fine if you really want to shop, a waste of time if you don't). There will be more included tours and fewer extra-cost options. You will spend more time off the bus actually seeing things, instead of "seeing" them from the window of a moving vehicle.
I'm not saying you must take an expensive tour; just that you should be aware of what you're getting. Read the itinerary carefully, and learn the code. "You will see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Champs-Elysee" means you'll drive by them. "You will visit Notre Dame" means you actually get off the bus to see it. "Optional tour of Versailles" means it costs extra (often, a lot more than it would cost to do on your own). Again, there's nothing wrong with any kind of tour, as long as it meets your needs and expectations.
Glaringly obvious: Travel insurance! You are spending hard-earned money no matter your budget. Do NOT automatically purchase it through the tour/cruise company! Explore all alternatives: reasons for cancellation, illness, medical emergencies overseas, operator failure, etc. Decide how much you are willing to risk. As Rick Steves says, a few hundred dollars in preparation costs/time makes the difference in an enjoyable trip of a lifetime and remembrances of misery. (BTW, a long-established company with excellent recommendations is not infallible: we were put off a cruise ship overseas two days after the company declared bankruptcy and abruptly ceased operation. Thank goodness for AX Platinum which was more timely in securing alternate travel home than the travel insurance reimbursement we eventually received)
Thank you , everyone, for your help. I am not sure why someone would think my question is SPAM. I will be travelling to a foreign country by myself so I have valid concerns. I appreciate the feedback on how to find a reputable company and a quality tour where I can put my hard earned money. Thank you for clarifying SEE vs VISIT - I would not have picked up on it otherwise. Great tips you have given me, thank you for taking the time to respond :)
I have a friend who has been on Tauck tours and recommends Tauck. Compare to Rick Steves. Checkout itinerary. Look at sightseeing schedules as well.
I apologize if I did not give a legitimate question the benefit of the doubt. It's a common web spammer's technique to "ask a question" about a certain company and post the link to that company, which is their own company. It looks more suspicious if the person doesn't use a real name and has no earlier posting history (but every one has to start somewhere). Although umbrella sites probably do link to real products, affordabletours.com does not look like a place where I would search for a tour.
I need similar help please. I should have booked with Rick Steves so I would have confidence ....that said, I paid 20% with a company and started looking for reviews outside of the ones they provided and can't find anything. Not trying to advertise for them....just want to be sure this isn't a scam before I pay the rest of the money. The company is bellarome . com --- I wrote it so it won't look like a link. Can someone tell me if this is legit?
GOOGLE them, and see if the site looks legit, where else they ar e listed, etc.
Took me 5 seconds to find that they seem to be an established company based in the UK