Small group upgrade on this tour?

We are trying to decide if it would be worth it to pay the extra for a small group on this tour. Has anyone done this tour in a "small group?" Did you feel it was worth the extra money? We are a group of four couples and are split on the decision. Thanks in advance for any input.


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    Absolutely not worth paying extra for the Small Groups on this tour. It is going to be busy with other tourists anyway. You are also going to be staying in the same hotels--- on some Small Groups tours Tauck folks stay in more boutique type hotels, but not this tour. I live in Philadelphia and have been to every place the whole of this tour goes to except perhaps the iron works. Say hi to Thomas Jefferson in Williamsburg, he's a friend of mine!
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    I did not do this particular tour, however I have been to all of the locations either on my own or with Tauck's On Hallowed Ground tour which is about half of this one. The places that you are visiting, such as Jamestown and Williamsburg, are large areas that you will probably have time to explore on your own. If there is a docent, you are usually given a "VOX" device so that everyone can hear even if you are not right next to the guide. Every time that I have visited these places, if there was a guided tour it was with a larger group than the 25 that is Tauck's small group. I never felt that it was hard to see everything.

    Having said the above, I did the small group with John Muir's California. I have done numerous regular groups and I found that personally, I prefer the larger group. If you want to interact and meet other people, the larger groups offers you more "variety" of people. You are already 8 people so you will only have about 16 others on the small group.
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    edited April 2016
    I'll give the opposing discussion.

    Over the last three years, we have been on four small group tours and one regular size tour- we like the small groups much better and consider them absolutely worth it. It is hard to compare if you haven't been on both sizes of the same tour and there may be tours where it isn't worth it, kinda like business class vs economy comfort for shorter flights. The bottom line whether it is worth the additional expense is a personal decision- we think it is or at least has been so far.

    Our one regular size tour was a US tour (Hidden Gems of New England) with a US bus. It only had one door at the front and no second door halfway back on one side (present on most (all?) European buses), so it took quite a bit of time for the group to board and exit the bus at each stop. We have always had standard size buses (49 pax) for our small group tours (avg 24 pax) so there were always plenty of spare seats if we wanted or needed extra room.

    I don't know if this was a function of US vs European Tauck tours, but the age make-up of our full size US tour was significantly older and less mobile than the others- so, in addition to the single door issue, it took longer for folks to get on and off the bus at each stop. This was true, despite the fact that some of them didn't leave the bus at a few stops. That added even more delays. On two occasions we sat on the bus but our departure was delayed because someone had to go search for a fellow traveler who could not find their way back to the bus or forgot what time we were supposed to be back.

    On a full size tour, it can take twice as long to complete simple administrative tasks- food selection, seating, and serving of Tauck-provided meals, handing out room keys, restroom stops, etc., etc.- the TD must consider all potential delays when setting up the schedule and determine how much time to allot for this at each stop- it can really add up and result in significantly less time for touring.

    With small groups the chances of having fellow travelers that have a communicable illness or are less fun to be around are cut in half.

    On the personal side, we find it easier to get to know our co-travelers when there aren't as many of them.

    To add a bit more to one point Kathy18 makes- if they are not aware or careful, families or other social sub-groups on the same tour, especially on small group tours, can make it seem to others, like they are on a separate tour. Regardless of the tour size, make sure everyone in your group mingles with others on the tour.
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    edited April 2016
    What are the dates you are lookiing at for this tour. Because it looks as if the dates in the next two months are wide open, so you may be lucky and there may not be a full quota of people in your group anyway. We have had that happen. Funnily enough, the September dates are full sand that is often a humid time of year in those areas, yuck!
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    Personally after doing both Tauck regular and Tauck small group, I prefer the small groups for so many reasons especially getting to know more people intimately and becoming BFF and saving time. It is not too much money if that is your priority.

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