Notes on My Way Tours
Before comparing a regular tour with a My Way (MW) tour I should probably tell you why I am doing my first MY tour. The reason is simple, I wanted to take my oldest daughter to Europe for the first time, and I believed the MW Europe in 14 days tour would give her a great sampling of the different cities, geography and cultural one finds on this continent. In the course of two weeks she had a taste of two big and different cities (Paris and Rome), a small French town (Beaune), the Swiss alps (Lautenbrunnen), a mid sized German town (Munich), one of the most unique cities in the world (Venice), and the Italian Riviera (Cinque terre). Of course, we also sampled many great foods, a subject of particular interest to her since as a millennial she and her friends on the the forefront of returning to real food, prepared well, right here in America.
As you read below please keep in mind that I am comparing a MW tour that is an "Introduction to Europe" for those who have little or no European travel experience. And that I am comparing it to my personal experiences of fully guided tours (FG) that I have taken. The more specific FG tours seem, IMHO, to have more experienced travelers who have made multiple trips to Europe. The 14 day MW tour was mostly newbies to RS tours and Europe in general.
So what are my thoughts on the My Way tour versus a regular fully guided tour?
The MW gives you more choice since where and how you spend your time. Not a big surprise here, that's what it's main purpose is. For example, we visited the cat shelter while in Rome. I doubt the FG tour would have used valuable time to do such a thing. OTOH, #2 below, to see how we sort of made up our own tour groups as we grew to know each other better.
A bit more time was needed for the group to mature and became cohesive than in a FG tour. I estimate that at about the 3rd day we started doing many things and eating many meals with other tour members. So it became more of a small group tour in many cases. Because the first few days were in Paris with no bus stops, but many separate meals, it took a few extra days to get to know each other well, but once we got on the bus and stopped for meals together, the bonding took place very quickly.
While the trip facilitator has office hours in the morning, she was not easily available most of the day to answer questions, and help with other things. After all you aren't walking about a city with the guide all the time. This is NOT A COMPLAINT as this is the package we were buying into . But, compared to FG tours you will not have as much access to a guide who can give advice. OTOH, our facilitator, did organize a few completely voluntary get togethers that were greatly appreciated by the group. Overall, I think she did a fine job.
If you intend to visit all or most of the places visited on a FG tour, then I think the FG tours may be better cost wise. I was shocked at how much I spent on meals, admission fees, transportation and other things included in the regular tours. Normally, on a RS tour, I spend very little extra money except for souvenirs, and minor items I forgot. On the days they feed us lunch or dinner, I usually only need a light 3rd meal since I know that RS loves to stuff his customers with good food. :-) But, on this tour I was constantly reaching into my wallet to buy meals, passes, bus rides, city tours, etc. On some RS tours you get a museum pass or transportation pass, that you can also use on your free time to help hold down costs. Not so on the MW tours. Overall, I think the FG tours are a better value as long as you like the itinerary and don’t have problems being told when and where.
(See part 2)