How to Choose a Catholic Tour Itinerary That is Best For You
Once you have researched Catholic tour operators and have chosen one that you like, you may still not be sure about which tour itinerary to choose.
Itineraries can be confusing, especially if you are not familiar with the destination. Some companies provide very accurate descriptions of each day’s schedule while others only provide a brief summary. It will be worth your time to do a bit of research and read between the lines before settling on the itinerary for your trip, and here is why:
For example, a pilgrimage that is 8 days, 7 nights actually means about 5 full days of touring. Of course, if you have just a short hop before arriving in your destination, this may not apply to you. But for others, consider:
Day 1 is the day you leave your home country.
Day 2 can be a bit of a blur by the time you clear customs, meet up with the tour guide, board the bus, do a bit of touring and head to the hotel…. not to mention jet-lag for those who have travelled a distance.
Days 3-7 This is five full days of touring.
Day 8 is usually the morning that you leave the country you are visiting, and in most cases just breakfast before heading to the airport (perhaps Mass along the way).
So to be realistic, begin by deducting 3 days from the total number of days shown. Of course, if you are on a short hop from London to Rome, for example, this might not apply.
Using this example, is this going to be enough time for you to see and do all that you had hoped for? Perhaps you only have 8 days, so it is the best you can do in that time frame. But if you have more time, then check to see if they offer an itinerary that is a few days longer.
One suggestion: Especially for those coming from overseas, if at all possible, fly in a day earlier. You may have to book your own hotel and meet the group upon arrival at the airport, but you will be much more rested and refreshed and better able to really enjoy that first day.
Be aware of travel times within a country as well. For example, if you are staying in Rome and taking day trips to Florence or Assisi, you need to know that it is approximately a 3-4 hour drive each way from Rome to either of these places. So you will probably spend about 4 hours in Assisi or Florence and 6-8 hours on the bus. That’s OK if that fits your wishes and your budget. But if you are wanting more time in a certain location you may end up disappointed.
A call to the tour operator might help to give you an idea of what the day-by-day itinerary is going to be. They should be able to provide a rough schedule of each day and that will give you a better idea of how things will go. Also, some tour operators will give you an estimate of how much walking is done per day, and whether the itinerary is strenuous or slow-paced. Many destinations, especially in Europe, have uneven pavement which can prove to be a challenge.
We recommend AutoEurope as a useful tool for estimating driving times and distances if you are traveling to Europe.
When using their site or most others, be aware that the driving times shown are for cars—buses are strictly limited in most European countries both in speed and in number of hours each day that the drivers are allowed to drive. And they are required by law to take regular breaks along the way. So, driving time by tour bus will be at least 20% longer. When looking at an itinerary take all of this into account.