We recently had the chance to talk with an eight-time Classic Journeys’ guest and get her take on planning the perfect customized vacation. Many people believe that traveling with a tour company means that you’re trapped in an itinerary, but on our tours that simply isn’t the case! But you don’t have to take our word for it: Ella, a frequent traveler (and frequent customizer) weighs in:

“I’m very detail-oriented, so the odds are against any pre-planned trip satisfying me,” says Ella Weiss. Having arranged eight Private Journeys with Ella, who is the point person for her husband and a group of traveling friends, we can confirm that she knows herself very well! “Sometimes we stick close to an itinerary like in Sicily. Sometimes we combine them like Turkey and Greece. Always, Classic Journeys sees what we need and finds a way to make it even better.”

On packing and unpacking…

“Personally, I like to spend more nights in fewer hotels. So that’s one thing we always talk about. In Sicily, there’s a night at a hotel in Agrigento at the Greek temples. We wanted to see the temples, but we preferred staying put in Palermo. It wouldn’t be for everybody, but it was a perfect adjustment for us.”

Villa Athena

On squirting cider…

“Restaurants are very, very important to us and you steer us to some real gems. In Spain, we went to dinner at a cider mill. They open spigots on big casks of hard cider. It shoots out and you catch it in your glass. The only other diners were locals. The fish was the best I’ve ever eaten, and the evening was exceptional.”

On our “spectacular” guides…

“They’re real people, very friendly, very smart, very hospitable. In Tuscany, our guide Lisa invited us to her house where her sister-in-law made ravioli for us. Seeing people in their own environments is the most important thing. It’s great to travel with these people who are so good at connecting and personalizing the experience to what interests us. You can tell it’s not just a job for them.”

Guests and guide in Italy

On over-the-top customer service…

“I say that Customer Service is your middle name. When I called travel companies I saw in the NY Times, Classic Journeys was the most responsive, and that’s true from beginning to end. I still can’t believe how you helped us track down that friend of one of our group members in a tiny Greek village. I know if we want to shorten walks or add some shopping time, you’ll do it—no problem.”

About Classic Journeys:

Classic Journeys offers adventure vacations in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. Guests enjoy luxury accommodations and gourmet meals that reflect the best of each region, coupled with easy-going walks, daily interactions with locals, and native guides who make countries and cultures come alive. Regularly scheduled departures are six to 12 days long. Average tour size is 10, although for private departures groups can be any size from one to 30 or more. Full details and links to itineraries are available at classicj.wpengine.com/private. To speak with one of our personable and knowledgeable guest services coordinators, email us at blog@classicjourneys.com or call 800-200-3887.