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Escorted Travel – Not Your Grandma’s Bus Tour

If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belguim. That’s the name of a 1960’s television program that satirized the European packaged tours of that day. Stereotypically, such tours rushed harried travelers from one site to the next via a giant bus in an effort to pack in as many sightseeing stops as possible.

Well, the face of touring has changed. Sure, there are some itineraries from escorted giants like Globus, Tauck and Mayflower Tours, that cater to older folks and cover six European countries in two weeks. But many of these companies have modified their itineraries or introduced new programs to reflect the younger, more independent, more adventurous traveler.

Cosmos in Hawaii
Take, for example, an 11-day Cosmos tour of Hawaii, the “Hawaiian Escape with Kauai Extension,” which includes hotel stays on Oahu, Maui and Kauai. You are met in Honolulu by your tour director, who is on hand throughout your stay in Hawaii to answer questions, facilitate sightseeing and help transfer you from island to island.

But the beauty of this tour is that your days are not chock-full of group sightseeing – several days are free for you to explore on your own, whether that means finding the ideal beach for boogie-boarding, scouting out some hiking trails or shopping to your heart’s content. Your tour director will help arrange “optional excursions,” which cost extra and might include a morning snorkeling trip, a helicopter ride or a dinner cruise.

Sure, you may be doing some sightseeing and inter-island traveling with up to 40 other like-minded people, but there’s lots of time for you and your new spouse to spend time alone, as well.

Note that Cosmos is the “budget conscious” arm of Globus & Cosmos. The hotels are all clean, comfortable and conveniently located , but they are not luxurious. (For first-class accommodations, check out Globus’ offerings: Globus.)

Monograms in Australia
Monograms Independent Vacations are new itineraries from the Globus family of brands that allow for independent travel, but with a local host on hand. That means you are on your own for most of your trip, with the flexibility to explore destinations at your own pace, but you also have access to a local representative in each city to help you negotiate any problems that may arise (What do you do when you lose your passport? Sprain your ankle?) He or she also answers questions and generally serves as a support system for you when you’re in a foreign country.

The Monograms “Cairns, Sydney & Melbourne” independent vacation allows you to spend three nights in each of these popular Australian cities. Included in the package price is city sightseeing in Sydney and Melbourne and a half-day cruise of the Great Barrier Reef. Breakfast at your hotel is included every morning. You have a choice of hotels with the Monograms program: standard, “quality” accommodations or you can upgrade to first-class.

As you are planning your honeymoon, you might want to check out itineraries and prices for such packaged vacations. It’s likely there’s a vacation from one of the above travel companies that matches the destinations or countries you want to visit.

Remember that tour operators negotiate hotel prices in bulk and pass on those savings to their clients; typically, you can save money by booking a package as opposed to arranging multiple hotel stays on your own. Not to mention, packaged travel means one-stop shopping – all flights, airport transfers, accommodations (plus some meals and sightseeing) are arranged for you. That makes honeymoon planning hassle-free for a busy bride to be!

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