Gate 1 Travel – 14 Day Italy Review

Gate 1 Travel, Review, Budget, #Travel, #Italy #Tuscany, #Amalfi, #Venice, #RomeI knew next to nothing about Gate 1 Travel prior to our Italy trip, except the slogan “See the world for less.” They offer a wide variety of locations and escorted tours compared to other (luxury) travel companies! My first impression was that they were trying to unload less popular tours at discounted prices on Groupon Getaways. Trish actually described her experiences on another helpful travel blog I follow when she purchased a shorter Italy package that included car rental. My husband and I specifically chose the 14 Day Tuscany & Amalfi with Venice & Rome package in May and paid (almost) full price. I want to share with you my take on whether this package was a good value for the total cost, the quality of the Tour Manager, and our overall impression of all of the locations and excursions! I will break it down by 5 categories, similar to the Engagement & Wedding Series, after the summary: Itinerary, Activities, Accommodations, Tour Manager, Value

Gate 1 Travel: General
  • Trips offered range from 6 to 20+ days! Packages include land only or with flight
    • We added flights to ours since it was just easier with the additional discount.
  • You can book either use your own travel agent or use Gate 1’s
  • Escorted tour packages with accommodations, breakfast, and a few other meals
  • Tour Manager travels with the group throughout the whole trip. S/he coordinates all accommodations, local excursions and multi-tasks with planning future trips.
    • Answers questions on the fly and gives culture tips & language phrases
    • Passes out “daily water bottles” at each stop.
  • Few weeks prior to embarking on trip they send a PDF Travel Document
    • Details include accommodations, add-on excursions booked/vouchers, know before you go, information on culture and the ever important “tip guideline”.
  • According to other travelers who have booked through Gate 1 they do not have a very responsive or helpful customer service. So it is definitely better to leverage your own travel agent for support! We were lucky and only had a couple logistical hiccups during the trip.

If you’re wondering about the general summary of our expectations and locations visited take a gander at Ciao Italia, which also handily links all of our subsequent Italy posts!

Itinerary 5/5 ★★★ 
Activities Available 4/5 ★★★ 

They offered a good variety of excursions in the package as well as add-ons such as the Gondola Ride and the Dinner Opera. My favorite included activities were the Glass Factory demo in Murano and tours through Cinque Terre by boat, train and bus! If we were more familiar with the train and ferries we could have saved the cost and explored other towns ourselves! The Gondola was a good value compared to booking in person! However, the one tour I thought we could have totally passed up was the Piazzas & Fountains. We were only ~15 minutes walk away from the Spanish Steps so we could have explored to all of the stops ourselves!


Thank you again to all of our lovely family and friends who gifted us these extra tours so we could try everything available!

Accommodations & Food  3/5 ★★★ 

Lucky for you, I diligently reviewed all of the 4 hotels themselves on Yelp and TripAdvisor! Gate 1 boasts 4 star+ hotels, but I truly think that there’s a different standard in Italy compared to the US. Some of the hotels may have started out at 4, but it’s unclear if they get reinspected year over year to maintain the rating. (The trip dates on the website could have variations on the following hotels; I noticed some of them listed staying in Sorrento instead of Naples.) We started off strong in Murano then went downhill to rock bottom in Rome!

Tour Manager 3/5 ★★★ 

Summary of the 14 Day Gate 1 Trip Itinerary with links to a review with highlights of each location! Murano, Venice, Lucca, Montecatini, Florence, Cinque Terre, Siena, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Capri, Pompei, Rome, VaticanAs I briefly mentioned in my Ciao Italia summary, we had a Roman tour guide named Giovanni (AKA Johnny) who traveled with us on the trip and had a noticeable vendetta against Rick Steves. He greeted us on our first night for the 14 Day trip (1/3 of the group had started earlier as an add-on at Lake Como as part of the 16 Day Italy Trip). He coordinated all of the daily local city Tour Guides and worked with several of them in the past. I don’t have other Tour Managers to compare him to personally, but other Gate 1 patrons we traveled with mentioned that he was not the best of the best. Johnny had worked several other trips straight without breaks so by the time he got to ours he was ready for his 2 month holiday afterward! He did arrange nicely arrange for the musicians to board our the Gondola to serenade us Venice! When we ran out of cash in Capri (because we were not warned about the extra costs) he let us borrow some money for the boat ride.

I’m not sure why Johnny needed to collect our traveler preference information when after Venice all of our rooms were TWIN BEDS. I think it was the default option when booking over the phone with our travel agent. In Tuscany, when we asked him for directions in Florence to the Bobali Gardens he disparaged the location saying it wasn’t worth our time, and gave us directions to avoid crossing at the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, even though that was clearly the most direct route on the map. While in Tuscany, he showed up tardy on the bus two times to leave for our day trips and laughed them off as “bad hair days”. At our last stop Johnny played no part in alleviating the worst hotel experience at Romanico Palace in his hometown (he was already checked out by then). In fact for one of our final excursions he made the poor decision of asking the couple celebrating their anniversary to sit in the very front where there was no support so when the bus made a very sudden stop one of the passengers flipped over the edge onto the ground! Johnny did check to make sure the passenger was okay. We also never snapped a proper GROUP PHOTO with everyone including the travelers that left early after Tuscany. Romanico Palace took a very poorly lit photo of us in their restaurant, however we were crowded in a horseshoe and looked miserable. I see all of these happy groups with Tour Managers all over their website!

Value 3/5 ★ 

If we had more time to plan our own trip and knowing what I know now with the immense resource of other travel bloggers, we could have planned a cheaper trip. However, you can’t beat the ease of picking a trip location with dates convenient for our schedule. I started getting nervous when it was about 6 months before our honeymoon time frame and we hadn’t completed any research! There was also an incentive to book before the new year since the website showed prices rising after December by $500!

Gate 1 $500 difference to create a sense of urgency to book ASAP!

$500 to create urgency to book ASAP!

  • We booked our flights with the tour through our tour guide so after the “discounts” it was $2,932/person BEFORE the add-on activities & trips, which is comparable to the low end of the “Air & Land” quote above.
    • As a deal seeker I scoured the internet and found a code on RetailMeNot! $25/person is trivial compared to the total cost, but better than nothing right?
    • To reserve our spot, we paid a $658/person deposit via credit card. We saved up with a lot of help from our friends and family who contributed to our Honeymoon Fund Registry the following months to pay the remainding balance for the final payment.
Gate 1 Invoice for 14 Day Italy Tuscany & Amalfi with Venice & Rome Tips, Tricks, Cost, Review

The cursed twin room default! We weren’t able to change this room option through the online reservation management OR by letting our Tour Manager know.

  • I’m not sure what the “Package Airfare Reduction” line item refers to but I tracked a few flights from our area to Venice and Rome and it ranged from $800-1,200+ with some budget Airlines. I was quite pleased with Lufthansa and AirCanada (thankfully NOT United)!
  • They have the option to “Save 5% by Paying Via Check” as they tack on a hefty 5% Credit Card processing fee!
  • We booked EVERY add-on at an additional $466/person, so total cost for trip was $3,398/person.
  • HIDDEN COSTSTIPS for local tour guides and Tour Manager! I suspect it’s because Gate 1 is an American company and there’s no way to escape the tipping culture here. Plus it allows them to make their base cost pricing seem more competitive. We could avoided a large cost at the end if we booked on our own and saved a couple hundred € Euros… Costs below are per person.
    • 12 days of travel (excluding flights) x $7 = $84
    • 9 local tour guides x $3 = $27
    • 2 bus drivers over 12 days x $3 = $36
    • 3 hotels housekeeping x $5 = $15 (I know we had 4, but Romanico Palace we couldn’t wait to leave.)


Overall Rating 3.5/5 ★★★1/2 

Averaging all of the ratings I actually calculated 3.4, but I rounded up since I can’t be categorizing fractions of ratings on my blog! That would be impossible to search and track. I also expected to receive a survey after our trip according to our Travel Packet PDF… When I reached out to them via their contact form

Your feedback is important to us. Shortly after returning from your trip, you will receive an email from Gate 1 Travel requesting your feedback via a brief online survey. We are constantly striving to improve our programs and your opinion is very important to us. Thank you again for choosing Gate 1 Travel.

However, I guess this blog post will do! All in all Gate 1 escorted tours are a good way to explore countries which you are not familiar with the language/culture, however now that we are more familiar with Italy I think we can plan our own trip. I also submitted an inquiry to their website and I can attest that they unfortunately are not very responsive. Their Facebook page doesn’t even have an option to send them a message directly, nor do they respond to the (negative) reviews consistently. There was also a strange moment where their Instagram account completely disappeared, and it resurfaced a couple months later.

Categories: Business, Review, TravelTags: , ,


  1. This is such a great and in depth review of traveling with Gate 1! I love that you broke down the hotels also, and I completely agree that a 4 star in Italy isn’t exactly what we’d consider a 4 star in the states. I can’t believe how many places you got to visit in just two weeks! It’s a little unfortunate that the tour guide wasn’t the best of the best, I’d have been disappointed but all in all it sounded like a great trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Jackie! Haha yeah it’s alright since I enjoyed just being with my husband and experiencing all of the locations. They do have great ideas for itineraries so I might check their routes for other locations.


  2. Italy is one of my favourite countries not only for the pizza pasta and prosecco! I’ve never done a guided tour around but looks like you saw lots of the popular spots!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing this. At least we got an idea when we plan to travel in Italy. Great writings!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the review! I’m personally not a fan of tours and its good to hear your perspective on this one. I usually find booking yourself is cheaper and then I like to be able just to do my own thing! Thanks for all the details regarding this one though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Yeah we were so stressed and short on time from wedding planning haha or otherwise we would have done it ourselves but it was nice having someone else taking care of everything else ;D. My hubby still thinks our DIY trip to SF and Bay Area is his favorite to date.


  5. This is a comprehensive itinerary. Love all the places included in the tour. Italy is such a beautiful to explore. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts about the tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. sounds like a pretty good tour all in all! It often turns out that you can do it cheaper on your own but at the same time there’s always something nice about having every organised for you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sorry you had some bad experiences but glad not everything was awful. Your review is so detailed and well done that I hope everyone wanting to book with Gate 1 Travel will check your blog post first!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cool! I will look into Gate 1 for my upcoming travel. Seems like it really gave you an affordable, awesome trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for the honest and thorough post. Perhaps I wouldn’t book my trip through Gate 1 Travel after this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You’ve put so many details in your article, it’s incredible. I’d have been so disappointed not to be able to change the twin room option…! It’s ok for a few nights but not for the entire trip… However, you visited wonderful places and, of course, that’s what matters the most. I’d love to follow such an itinerary in Italy.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hanna, I’m glad I found you. I like your honest, detailed opinions based on facts! Unfortunately, I can’t find anyone like you and your reviews in my neck of the woods (down South). But I will definitely consult your travel guides before my first trip overseas. BTW–did you get bedbug bites from the Hotel Romanico Palace? I saw a photo that someone else did, in fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nekita! You are very welcome! Right, I ran into the same issue when I did my research so I’m so happy that you found this review useful! Oh did you end up booking with another tour group/company? Yes let me know if you have any questions for any of the stops we visited in Europe!

      THANKFULLY we did NOT have bed bugs at our stay in Rome that would have added onto our truly awful experience haha. It honestly doesn’t surprise me though especially with the way they treat their patrons.


  12. This is fantastic. I love Italy and have been 3 times. Haven’t seen everything you have listed so must go back. Especially to see Cinque Terre! hope to see you at Fly Away friday tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no I can’t believe I didn’t reply to this comment until now Janine! Oops. Yes Cinque Terre is a must especially since each town has its own unique charms. I’m sure you’ve seen parts of Italy I have yet to see too! Was so funny talking to a girl from Milan I met and she said I might have seen more than she has haha.


  13. What! What an amazing guide through Italy! You need to publish this ASAP – I’m bookmarking it for sure! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday – hope to see you again this week! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Kana! I finished writing up the reviews of the individual locations that are linked but I’m also trying to figure out how to get some Gate 1 people to pay attention haha since there’s no e-mail to actually contact them.


      • I’m trying to find all your links as we are going on this trip in May. We have done 2 other tours with Gate 1 – 11 days in Iceland and a Danube cruise with a Polish extension. Both were awesome! I think in Europe most hotel rooms have twin beds, often pushed together. This has been our experience on other European trips too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi there! Sorry for the delay in response. I hope you were able to find all of the links! If not here’s the category that will show you all of them.

          That’s awesome you guys did the other tours with them and had a great time! Haha yeah the twin bed seems to be the case for most of the places. Are you guys planning on any trips for this year or the future? 🙂


        • Found all the links thanks! The trip we are going on is this Spring and is almost identical to yours. You mentioned the heat a lot – when in May were you travelling?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh I saw you mentioned May in your first comment. Yes it’s a nice time of year to go, but towards the end of May it was quite warm especially when walking around in the last stop in Rome for several hours. The beginning part in Venice since it’s further north wasn’t nearly as bad.

            I’d definitely recommend packing some sunscreen since I unexpectedly got burned while in Capri!


          • We leave May 5th and tour officially ends May 20th which is our wedding anniversary. I am concerned about staying well hydrated. I am supposed to drink 10 glasses of water per day.


          • Oh that is exciting that it ends right on your wedding anniversary! If you have a travel water bottle I think there should be areas where you can fill up. Otherwise you might have to go to the convenience stores to purchase some. There were the Coop markets in all of the cities we visited and they were reasonably priced. You might be able to contact Gate 1 about this ahead of time to make arrangements?


  14. Quite busy schedule! But I think for a honeymoon, it’s nice not to be worried about planning and making sure you have all the buses/hotels/tours ready in advance. What was your favorite city that you went to on the trip?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our favorite city/area was definitely Amalfi Coast! The beauty of the place completely wowed us and we instantly fell in love. Would love to stay in Sorrento or Positano next time we visit! For some reason when we describe it people confuse it with Cinque Terre (also amazing views)!


  15. Wow! You covered a lot of ground in a short time period. Italy is so amazing! I lived there for a few months in Florence and never made it to Lucca, which I really regret.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! I’m already thinking of other spots to check out on our next trip back since we didn’t get to check out Lake Como or further south. Aw well there’s always chance to go back. What was your favorite part of living in Florence? It sounds amazing!


  16. This is so great. My dad has been super curious about gate1 after finding some dream trips on there, so great to see an honest review on here. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You managed to squish soooo much information into that review!

    It sounds like you did an amazing about within a short space of time, so it is really good that you managed to have it all booked for you ahead of time. To be honest, I am not sure i’d be able to cope with that much of a planned schedule. I’d probably prefer just to relax and explore the cities slowly (or find places nearly to hike!)

    About the twin beds, did they turn out to be queen or double twin beds? That is what we always seemed to end up with in Italy (even if we asked for a double.) In the end we’d just sleep in one bed, and leave one bed made up for the next day! If it was single beds, that must have been soooo annoying on your honeymoon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Josy! I was actually getting writer’s block while making this since I had so much I wanted to share haha it took me several days to finish. Haha yeah for next time we visit Italy now that we are much more familiar we will definitely just book our flights and research everything else beforehand so we can find more hidden gems.

      Oh for the twin beds they were 2 separate beds until we ASKED them to push them together and they put the bedding to secure them together. It was only the first location that we had them actually prepare the room in advance for us! I think that’s what they do on cruises too. Maybe next time we’ll upgrade haha but I’d rather spend more money on food or activities outside of the hotel.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Very detailed! I love this review! It’s odd you did not receive the survey after the trip, we received it within a week after returning along with other emails reminding us about the referral program and upcoming deals.
    Ahh the twin beds, yep, I don’t miss those. Did they push them together for you at least?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha yes after we asked they pushed them together! It was so strange that I couldn’t change the option. I think we probably didn’t get the survey since we booked indirectly through our Travel Agent/friend! All of our documents went through him so he might have received it. We sent our feedback directly to him, but he didn’t have any control over most of the aspects anyway.


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