Traveling with Monograms: Combining the Best of Two Travel Styles in One Trip

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When it comes to travel styles… well, I don't really have one.

I don't fit into one style category when it comes to travel; I'm not a strict budget traveler, nor do I only book luxury trips. I sometimes travel solo, but also sometimes travel with family or friends. And when it comes to independent vs. group travel, I don't really have a preference – I like both!

And I have a feeling that plenty of other people are “style chameleons” when it comes to travel, too. Which is why I was so excited to team up with Monograms Travel for a trip in Europe last month.

In simplest terms, Monograms is a company that helps people travel. But Monograms' services don't really fit into one category, either. In other words, their trips are perfect for people who like the best of both worlds like me.

Amanda in Burano
See? Always a chameleon.

Note: This post was brought to you as a result of the Monograms trip, a project between Monograms and iambassador. As always, all opinions are completely my own – I maintain full editorial control of the content published on this site.

What is Monograms?

Monograms is what you'd get if you mixed a tour company with a really good travel agent. The best way I can describe what they do is to say that their trips combine the convenience of group travel with the freedom of independent travel.

When planning a trip with Monograms, first you have to decide where you want to go – Monograms offers trips on all 7 continents! – and when.

Once you've narrowed down then when and where, then you can start planning your trip, either using some of Monograms' pre-planned vacation packages, or by building a “YourWay” Vacation.

Gondolas at dusk in Venice
Gondolas in Venice

I traveled with Monograms on a custom YourWay Vacation that included 3 nights each in London, Venice, and Rome. I really like this trip option because it allows you to mix and match destinations a bit, decide how long you want to spend in each city (anywhere from 2-5 nights), and have quite a bit of flexibility in your itinerary.

Popular YourWay Vacations include Rome-Florence-Venice, London-Paris-Amsterdam, and Barcelona-Madrid-Lisbon.

A trip with Monograms includes all the details you'd expect a tour company or travel agent to plan for you, from airport transfers to hotel reservations. YourWay trips also come complete with one included sightseeing tour in each city, plus a dedicated Local Host in your hotel to help you book extra excursions, find places to eat, and generally just enjoy your trip.

Amanda in front of a pub in London
Outside a pub in London

How Monograms is like a guided tour

Monograms trips are based on the standard guided tour framework in the following ways:

  • Trips start on specific dates.
  • Airport/train station transfers are organized for you.
  • Hotels are booked for you.
  • There are some guided elements, like the included city tours, that you'll do with other Monograms travelers.

How Monograms promotes independent travel

But of course traveling with Monograms is not like traveling on a guided tour; not really. There's a lot more freedom in a trip like this. For example:

  • There's no dedicated group tour guide.
  • You have the freedom of choice – Even though packages are offered and hotels are booked for you, you get to choose how long to stay in each city, and also select your hotels out of a handful of choices.
  • No organized or group meals.
  • You can customize your itinerary by signing up for more Monograms-organized tours, or you can just go do your own thing.
Sunset in Venice from St. Mark's Campanile tower
I did my own thing in Venice and went up the Campanile for this view at sunset.

Why travel with Monograms?

I REALLY enjoyed my trip with Monograms. This “best of both worlds” style of travel worked for me, especially in a place like Italy where independent travel is certainly possible, but not always straightforward.

If you're curious about what the Monograms experience is like, here were the things that really struck me as being stand-out parts of my trip, and reasons I would be happy to book with this company again:

1. Included transfers

Water taxis in Venice, Italy

One of the most stressful things for me when I'm traveling to a new place is figuring out how to get from the airport to wherever I'm staying. Yes, there are usually taxis, but when you also have buses, shuttles, trains, ride shares, and more to choose from, it can often seem overwhelming – especially if you're arriving groggy off an overnight flight.

The great news is that airport/train station transfers are included with every Monograms trip. When I arrived in London for the beginning of my tour, a Monograms representative was waiting for me in the arrivals area, ready to direct me to my driver who would whisk me away to my hotel in central London without me having to even think about consulting a Google map.

When I arrived in Venice a few days later on another flight, a Monograms rep was again waiting for me in arrivals, and proceeded to walk me to the water taxis (there are no cars on the island of Venice, just boats!) and get me on a boat. Once I arrived at the taxi stop in Venice, someone else was waiting for me to walk me through the maze-like streets of Venice to my hotel. The whole arrival process took less than an hour; if I'd been on my own, guaranteed it would have taken me multiple hours to figure it all out!

The water taxi station at the Venice airport
Venice airport water taxi station

2. Convenient hotels

I only experienced Monograms in three different cities, but I was impressed by the hotel choices in each one. They were all in central locations convenient to major attractions and/or public transport.

For example, the hotel I stayed at in London was near the South Bank of the Thames, within walking distance to Tube stations and the London Eye. In Venice, I was right in the heart of the San Marco neighborhood, only a few minutes' walk from both Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. In Rome, my hotel was in a quieter neighborhood near the Termini train station, near lots of less-touristy restaurants.

Gondola under the Rialto Bridge in Venice
In Venice, my hotel was only about a 10-minute walk from the Rialto Bridge.

And the hotels were all really nice quality, too. The two I stayed at in Venice and Rome were updated and modern inside with huge rooms – a surprise in Italy!

Hotel room in Rome
My hotel room in Rome – this was only half of it!

3. Intro sightseeing tours

In every city you visit with Monograms, an introductory city tour will be included on your first morning. These tours hit some of the most popular sites in the city, and are a great way to get your bearings and learn a bit of history.

These tours are guided, and the group sizes depend on how many other people are traveling on a similar Monograms itinerary to yours. I LOVED these tours, and thought it was brilliant planning on Monograms' part.

In London, our included tour was a bus tour around Central London with one of the smartest guides I've ever had. He knew EVERYTHING. We made a photo stop at Buckingham Palace, and went on a tour of the inside of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Inside St. Paul's Cathedral in London
Inside St. Paul's Cathedral

In Venice, the included tour was shorter, but included a morning tour of the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica – definitely the top must-sees in Venice.

Grand Council Chamber in the Doge's Palace in Venice
Inside the Doge's Palace in Venice

In Rome, the included tour lasted half a day, but covered just about everything. We went to the Vaitcan Museums right at opening time to see them with less people, and walked through St. Peter's Basilica. We then headed over to the Roman Forum, and got a short skip-the-line tour inside the Colosseum.

Gallery of Maps in the Vatican Museums
Inside the Vatican Museums
View from the Roman Forum
View from the Roman Forum

These intro tours are great, especially when you have limited time in a new city and want to see as much as possible.

4. Local Hosts

A unique thing that Monograms offers is Local Hosts in every city. I was unclear on what the role of these people was before I traveled with Monograms, but it turns out that they're exactly what their title implies. Local Hosts are guides who aren't actually guides; these folks hang out at your hotel to help you with just about anything.

When you arrive to a new hotel, your Local Host will help you check in, and then will sit down with you to go over your itinerary for that city. They'll give you any tickets for optional tours that you've pre-booked, and can help you book other optional tours, too.

Your Local Hosts can help recommend good places to eat during your free time, can suggest the best ways to get from Point A to Point B in a city, and can also give you extra tips on sightseeing.

Aperol spritz and cicchetti in Venice
Spritz and cicchetti in Venice
Gelato in Venice
Gelato in Venice

In London and Rome, my Local Hosts mostly stayed in the hotel the whole time to help people with logistics and questions. In Venice, though, my Local Host was also the one who helped get me on/off water taxis, and even went with me to the train station to make sure I got on the right train when it was time for me to head to Rome.

This idea of employing Local Hosts instead of guides is such a good one! It means you can have as much or as little hand-holding during your Monograms trip as you want.

5. Optional extra tours

We have to talk about some of the optional tours you can book through Monograms, too. More independent travelers might opt to skip the extra tours and plan their own time in each city, but for those like me who usually want to DO IT ALL when they travel, then Monograms has you covered.

Like the intro sightseeing tours in each city, most of Monograms' optional tours are guided. Monograms partners with local tour operators to offer tours to see/do the most popular things in each city.

For example, in London you could book a tour of the Tower of London, day trips to Windsor Castle or Stonehenge, dinner and a West End show, tickets for the Harry Potter studio tour, a nighttime cruise on the Thames, and more.

Harry Potter studio tour in London
Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour
Nighttime cruise on the Thames

In Venice, optional extras included gondola rides, a cruise to the island of Burano, or even a day trip to Verona.

Colorful houses in Burano
A day trip to Burano is a must in Venice!

In Rome, I went for a lot of the food options (which included food tours and cooking classes), but other optional tours included e-bike tours, tours of the catacombs, evening concerts, and day trips to places like Pompeii.

Food tour in Rome
Food tour in Rome
Pizza-making class in Rome
Pizza-making class in Rome

6. MonogramsGO app

Lastly, it's worth mentioning that Monograms has its own app that travelers can use called MonogramsGO. Along with using the app to keep track of details like hotel names, it can also be used to get restaurant recommendations and use GPS and maps offline, meaning you can still navigate without wi-fi or using cellular data.

Check out Monograms for your next trip!

Who is Monograms good for?

So who are Monograms tours made for? Well, I really think that a lot of different types of travelers could love traveling with Monograms. People like:

New or nervous travelers

Because Monograms handles stressful things like hotel bookings, airport transfers, and intro tours, I think this is a great option for newer travelers, or people who get nervous when going to new places. A lot of the most nerve-wracking details are handled for you, hopefully allowing you to enjoy the trip more.

On the other hand, because Monograms trips allow for quite a bit of freedom and flexibility, it gives you the chance to try out being a little more independent on your trip in a very low-risk way.

Shakespeare afternoon tea in London
In London, you could use your free time to go to an afternoon tea!

Time-poor Millennials

I'm of the Millennial generation, and I have lots of friends who say they'd love to travel more, but often just don't have the time to handle all the travel planning. After all, searching for flights and hotels and putting together an itinerary takes time – time that many people just don't have to spare, even if they DO have the money to travel.

Monograms is pretty much the perfect match for time-poor Millennials who want to see the world, but who don't have the time to actually organize it.

Amanda at the Colosseum in Rome
A very happy Millennial traveler at the Colosseum

Multigenerational trips

Lastly, I couldn't help thinking the whole time I was on my Monograms trip that this would be the perfect way to travel with my mom. No dragging suitcases around or wasting time finding directions, comfortable hotels with free breakfasts, and knowledgable Local Hosts to help with additional logistics are the perfect combination for the sort of mother-daughter trips we tend to take.

Whether you're trying to plan a trip with multiple family members, or with parents or grandparents who might be less-frequent travelers, I think Monograms would be a great option to make everyone feel comfortable on a multigenerational trip.

Windsor Castle in England
My mom, for example, would have loved the optional tour to Windsor Castle!

Bottom line: Monograms is great for travel style chameleons like me, and might be good for you, too. This trip was technically a work trip for me, but I don't think it'll be the last time that I travel with Monograms!


Who's ready to look into traveling with Monograms on their next trip?

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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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4 Comments on “Traveling with Monograms: Combining the Best of Two Travel Styles in One Trip

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  1. Wow, you definitely sparked my interest with this post. Do you think it would also be suitable for a family. We lived in Europe for 4 years and travelled extensively / independently with our three kids, but I found it extremely hard (and hit and miss) to plan multiple hotels and destinations and excursions etc. It definitely sounds perfect for “city hopping” like you did.

      Yes, I definitely think this could be a great option for families, too! I’m not sure if Monograms offers discounts for kids on all their trips, but it might still be worth it if it means less stress over planning and more time to just enjoy each city with your family! You could also just use them for hotels, transfers, and those intro city tours, and then just do your own thing the rest of the time. It would severely cut down on the planning time!

    This sounds like a great evolution of ‘tours’. It sounds like Monograms have been very smart to cater for the market of people with little time and not much confidence in booking with overseas providers. I generally don’t recommend going with a traditional tour as they don’t give you opportunity to do much on your own, but this sounds like a really good combination of having your hand held while still being able to get out and really experience a place. I tend to book all of my stuff myself but this is intriguing enough for me to check them out!

      Yes! I think it’s a great option for a lot of travelers. I liked the combo of organized things and free time, and will likely use Monograms in the future for some family trips!

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