Travel Snobs No More – guest post on Destination Go

I recently was a guest blogger on Destination Go, the travel blog for Go Ahead Tours.
A little background: I always vowed  I would never  do a guided tour. But as you will see below,  I thoroughly enjoyed my 9-day guided tour to Italy a few years ago.  Choose  your tour company carefully — the Go Ahead guide was laid back and fun and our fellow travelers were, too. But when I was in Copennhagen this past summer I saw huge tour groups at our hotel who were herded around like school kids — and their daily excursions started with breakfast at 7 a.m. Now what kind of vacation is that?   
Here’s my recent blog for Destination Go: 

My kids have been traveling since they were infants, on treks across the U.S. and across the world. As our family’s passports filled with stamps, I must admit that we became travel snobs. There are a number of rules by which a travel snob lives, the first of which is: Never pack more than a carry-on bag. Rule #2: Skip the escorted trips and travel independently.

Margo McDonough and her daughter Natalie McDonough Fisher enjoy a moment on the sea cliffs of Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

A few years ago, we broke Rule #2 when we traveled to Naples, Sorrento & Rome with Go Ahead Tours. I had envisioned guided travel as a grown-up version of a school field trip—complete with stern chaperone. But our guide was laid-back, witty and proved to be a font of knowledge. This was our best trip abroad ever, and it made us rethink some of our travel snobbery.

On a previous family trip to Paris, I was the de facto tour guide—answering my in-laws’ frequent questions, seeing that they got an extra blanket in their hotel room, mapping out all the sightseeing and meal options. On this planned jaunt to Italy, I wanted to kick back and let someone else do the hand-holding. I had heard good things about Go Ahead Tours so I looked into the 9-day Naples, Sorrento and Rome tour.

The ruins of Pompeii…exploring the Blue Grotto in Capri…a mozzarella-making lesson at a family-run farm…the Colosseum and the Vatican (and maybe a little shopping, too) in Rome. The itinerary sounded fabulous; hopefully, our guide and fellow travelers would be, too.

Our fellow tour participants came from all walks of life but all seemed to share a common goal of wanting to be travelers, not tourists. Many had prepared by perusing a title or two from the Suggested Reading List that Go Ahead distributes for each tour. And all appeared eager to immerse themselves in the culture and traditions of Italy.

Natalie McDonough Fisher makes a new friend at the Colosseum.

Our nine days in Italy went by all too fast but I never felt rushed because someone else was doing the legwork. We traveled with my huband’s parents, and while the in-laws watched a lively performance of tarantella dancing, my first-grader and I made  friends with a local mom and daughter at a Sorrento gelato stand. While they were at a Dinner with the Tenors on our last night Rome, my husband took our three sons out for a late-night (and final) taste of authentic Italian pizza.

I’m happy to report that my family is no longer part of the travel snob clique. However, we still stand by our first rule of travel snobbery: pack only carry-ons. That’s all we brought on our 9 days to Naples, Sorrento and Rome and, all that we’ll bring on our next Go Ahead adventure.

A family trip to Costa Rica this winter? Maybe the U.S. National Parks next summer? Or, perhaps a wildlife safari in Kenya to celebrate our son’s high school graduation?  Deciding which trip to take is the only hard part of a Go Ahead vacation.

Margo McDonough is a mother, a traveler and a writer. You can read more of her thoughts on traveling with a family at her blog.

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Posted in Europe, Family Vacations, Featured Traveler, General Travel, Italy, Naples, Rome, Sorrento, Travel Photography, Travel Questions, Travel Spotlight, Travel Stories | 0 Comments and 3 Reactions