A consumer survey conducted for the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) revealed more than 75 percent of Americans prefer to make their own travel arrangements. What most don't realize is that they can often have the same freedom and flexibility by letting an expert tour operator or travel agent do the work for them, according to USTOA.
Whether an adult or student, travelers can choose the type of travel they want based on the amount of free time they would like. Below are five vacation examples from USTOA members, ranging from 100 percent to 20 percent free time.
The USTOA’s examples:
Explore France with 100 percent or 25 percent leisure time
Paris: 100 percent free time
Guests can create your own Paris itinerary with total flexibility on Go Ahead Tours' "Paris City Stay" vacation package, priced from $1,749 per person. Included in the nine-day, seven-night package price are round-trip airfare from Boston or New York City, with other airports available at an extra charge; hotel accommodations, breakfast daily, arrival and departure transfers, and the services of a bilingual tour director. Travelers tailor their own vacation with a selection of optional day and evening excursions which can be added at additional cost. Travel is available through Dec. 1, 2011, subject to availability. For more information, phone (888) GO-AHEAD or visit www.goaheadtours.com.
France for Students: 25 percent Free Time
On NETC's nine-day, seven-night "La Belle France" educational tour, students have three afternoons and three evenings at leisure. Included in the tour are visits to Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Chartres Cathedral, Chateau de Chenonceau, Chateau de Amboise, Mont St. Michel, the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy, and the American Military Cemetery. Group rates for six or more students begin from $2,813 per person until December 31, 2011, and include round-trip airfare, 7 nights hotel accommodation, and breakfast and dinner daily. For more information, phone (800) 771-2323. Or visit www.educationaltravel.com.
St. Petersburg: 75 percent free time
Sightsee with your own private car, driver, and English-speaking guide on a "Splendors of St. Petersburg" 6 day/5 night Russia package from General Tours World Traveler. The package includes five nights at the Grand Hotel Europe, and a guided tour of the Hermitage, including the Gold Room on day two. On the following three days a private car, driver, and guide are at your disposal for eight hours per day (entry fees for sites are additional). Through April 1, 2011, package cost is from $2,499 per person, double occupancy, land only. International airfare is available at an additional charge. For more information, phone (800) 221-2216. Or visit www.generaltours.com.
Australia: 70 percent free time
See Australia on your own, with all the essentials planned, on Swain Tours' custom "Reef Rainforest and Sydney" itinerary. This 14-day, 11-night vacation provides four nights each in Sydney and on an Island of the Great Barrier Reef, plus three nights in a rainforest lodge. Priced from $2,540, per person based on double occupancy, with air fare from Los Angeles or San Francisco, the itinerary is available through March 31, 2011. Optional activities include a Rainforest safari, Sydney Harbour Cruise, and a Great Barrier Reef cruise. Add on airfare is available from additional cities. For more information, phone (800) 227-9246 or visit www.swaintours.com.
China: 20 percent free time
Travelers preferring more structure can visit China on Pacific Delight Tours' 13-day/11-night "Historic Cities & Yangtze River Air Inclusive Silver Experience" tour. The tour spends two nights each in Shanghai and Xian, four nights aboard a Yangtze River cruise, and three nights in Beijing. Also included is a Chongqing day tour. Price begins at $2,599 per person, based on double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles (add $200 for New York). This cruise tour runs from March 2011 until March 2012. For more information, phone (800) 221-7179 or visit www.pacificdelighttours.com.
Restrictions and additional security fees, departure and local taxes and fees may apply. Prices may vary based on departure date.
For more information on vacation arrangements worldwide and for a list of USTOA member companies serving those destinations, visit: www.USTOA.com.