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Considering a European tour for your students?

Decisions, Decisions!

What’s best for your students:

A large corporate tour company package tour?

Or a tour custom-designed by best-selling author, award-winning teacher, and long-time European tour leader Douglas Bond?


Thanks for the opportunity to weigh in on your senior trip. In my experience, journeys like these have the potential to be life shaping for young people, for all of us, which I'm sure is your goal in considering a capstone travel experience for your scholars.       


For those of you less familiar with my work and background, a few words on that score might help (you can read more at I co-led my first Europe tour for high school age young adults in 1996, and, oh, my goodness, did we have loads to learn on that first tour. We did it largely the way most big-box corporate tours work; we hired local guides and did packaged guided tours at the sites we visited. I won't say it was a disaster--it wasn't--but it was far far less than ideal. We subjected our young people to tour guides who had agendas (all of us do) that were often polar opposites from our philosophical and theological world view. These guides had no idea what our students had studied, what they knew, how they could be brought into and made participants in the tour. The net result was that there were a great deal of disjointed talking heads standing in front of spectacular sites, but our people came away with sensory overload and little or no sense of the continuity of what they were seeing and experiencing. The best tour guides were entertainers who told good ghost stories, but these largely failed to awaken deeper appreciation and cohesive understanding of what the young people were looking at.


As a result of our disappointment with this model of doing tours, we began carefully crafting our own tours, doing our own research, and preparing to create one big story with each episode of the tour a chapter in the story, the story of Western Civilization, but most specifically, the story of redemption and God's providential guiding and governing all events, all people, artists, musicians, architects, authors, kings and emperors, scholars, heroes and villains to bring about the redemption of his people the Church and Kingdom of God. The process was exciting and invigorating (and produced more than a few books as you can see at and we found over many years of leading young people on European tours that the wonder factor resulting from the cohesion of philosophical and theological unity went up exponentially (I love seeing my students/travelers tear up when we're bringing them into yet another episode and human player in the larger story). Now, well over two decades later, leading an average of three tours a year, I absolutely love taking people to experience the many places and personalities connected to those places that have inspired me and have been settings for many of my historical fiction books and non-fiction biographies. 


A couple of things you may want to keep in mind as you consider using a large corporate tour company or an individual like me. Big tour companies hire people, and the nature of the travel industry is that those people come and they go. It's easy to think that because the travel company has been around for many years that the individual tour director and the many tour guides that your students will listen to have been around and have years of experience doing what they do. Most of them do not, and those that do usually have lots of knowledge of their particular location but without a larger sense of how it fits in the whole. A tour director, the person that is attached to your group, is not your tour guide; they will coordinate with a number of various guides (some in their first week on the new job), and will perform the duties of an activity coordinator, but they are not your guide. It's very important to understand this. In frustration at this disappointing reality, one well-known large Christian ministry has approached me three times and asked if I would be their boots-on-the-ground guide for their high-end tours (about $7K for an 8-night tour). Deeply disappointed with the lack of continuity, worse yet, they found the various guides and their perspectives often diametrically opposed to a Christian view of history and culture. It's unsatisfactory to their travelers who paid a chunk of change to visit Edinburgh Scotland, for example, only to hear disparaging things about what a horrible monster John Knox was.  


Another consideration is the sensory overload of trying to cram too much, too many cities, too many sites into a 7-day excursion. I have found repeatedly that our people are so much more satisfied, they come home with much more meaningful and long-lasting experiences, their perspective enlarged and their imaginations inspired, when we scale the tour to do fewer things but do them better and with varied experiences interspersed: like English country walks, punting on the Cherwell, dining in historic places (not at the group feeding places big tours often take you to consume food), sailing on the bateau bus on the Seine, hiking a spectacular stretch of Hadrian’s Wall or the Cinque Terre, and interacting with locals who have become friends of mine. I can lead the equivalent big cities tour you may be considering, to be sure, and I can make these more meaningful, but I think you will be much happier in the long run, and as a sustainable tour to repeat with your students from year to year, with a mainly 2-city tour (see PDF on sample tour options for students). If you don’t see immediately a tour option that suits your students, download the PDF Bond Tour Itineraries and peruse some of the other tours I have led over the years; there are many site variations that I'm happy to coordinate in consultation with your particular interests and expectations. From my years of experience, I can custom design a suitable and meaningful tour for your students. 


If you decide that the big-box corporate tour route is not a good fit for you, I would love to be the one who coordinates, directs, and guides your European tour. Once you decide, I'd be happy to come meet with staff and families to answer questions, present the tour options with ppt and video clips, etc. Once you have decided on the specifics of the tour that’s most appropriate for your students, leave the rest to me. I love doing these tours! I’ll do all the planning, booking, organizing so you can put your energies into the all-important task of educating the next generation for the glory of God. Please visit to hear what many of our travelers have said about our tours over many years.   


With warm regards,

Douglas Bond


PS Contact me today at or call me 253-381-1961

SAMPLE TOUR LOCATIONS--many variations abound!

Recent Rome to Venice Tour 2023 organized for a classical Christian academy in California:

—March 31, Friday: bus from airport to central terminal; check in to nearby convent; afternoon sites in Rome: *Mamertine Prison (where Peter and Paul may have been held before execution; Paul likely wrote II Timothy here), *Santa Giovanni Laterna (Papal seat before St. Peter’s Basilica), *Scala Santa (Luther prayed on his knees on each step in 1510 pilgrimage); dinner at convent, evening walk in Rome.

--April 1, Saturday: all day, *Coliseum (early church martyrs), *Santa Maria di Poppilo (Augustinian monastery where Luther stayed for a month in 1510), *Portico d'Otavia and the *Jewish quarter (WWII history, Col Kepler’s reign of terror in Rome), * San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains); we will see some of these sites *together as time allows, entry fees included, and other sites students will have the option to visit on their own; it will not be possible to see all of these sites in the time allotted; Rome is vast and choices will need to be made. If in doubt, eat more gelato!

--April 2, Sunday: morning worship with Reformed Baptist Church, Leonardo di Chirico’s congregation near Coliseum; *afternoon trip to the Tyrrhenian Sea for beach time (and more gelato); dinner at convent and evening activities. Or more Rome free time to see: Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, St. Peter's Basilica, Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Michelangelo's Roman baths turned 16th century church), Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, Flower market... and eat more gelato!

--April 3, Monday: leave Rome for the *Catacombs of San Callisto, *Villa Appia Antica (Appian way) (1 hour from central Rome); then drive to Florence (2:30 hour drive) to convent accommodation in medieval square with 12 c church; dinner at nearby Italian family trattoria, then see Florence lit up that evening. Eat more gelato!

--April 4, Tuesday: tour Florence in the morning to see the *Duomo and * Tour Vecchio; as time allows possibly see The David and San Marco (Savonarola and Fra Angelico art) during free time. Drive to Ferrara hotel/hostel (5:00 hour drive), pizza dinner en route,
and night walk around *Castle Este (Huguenot Princess Renee of Ferrara took in refugees Clement Marot and John Calvin at castle).

--April 5, Wednesday: drive to shuttle access to Venice (1:12 hour drive); tour *Venice, *Grande Canal by Gondola (and/or by rental kayak if students want to do that on the canal); *St Mark’s Basilica; *Doge’s Palace; plenty of free time to explore and eat more gelato! Back to hotel/hostel near Venice.

--April 6, Thursday: after breakfast, off to Venice airport and flights home.


I can organize a similar 7-day tour from London to Edinburgh; from Paris to Frankfurt; from Belfast to Dublin; from Geneva to Constance; or WWII Normandy to WWI Western Front sites; hike Hadrian's Wall in 7 days, Irish Sea to the English Channel; hike the Cinque Terra in Italy--and many other possibilties and options! Let's put together what works best for your students! Call me at 253-381-1961


Rome. Florence. Ferrara. Milan. Menton. Aix-en-Provence. Avignon. Orange. Lyon. Geneva.


May 29-June 8, 2018 

Ground Cost Per Traveler $2,850

Contact Doug

Register Now

" of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. Thank you! God used the time in France to remind me of his love."

Payment Schedule:

$200 Registration Deposit 

$800 Fall, 2017

$850 February 1, 2018

We are excited to announce the Rome to Geneva Reformation adult and family Tour for 2023! This tour is custom designed for the homeschool family; okay, the accommodations won't be quite as fancy and we may eat on the run a bit more than our other tours, but the price is paired down to make this an affordable tour for as many families as possible.

Together we will discover the splendors of some of the most fascinating cities in Europe. But this tour is not simply about a geographical starting point and ending point, Rome to Geneva. It retraces the theological move from the error of the medieval church in Rome to the recovery of the Reformation gospel of free grace in Christ alone centered in Calvin's Geneva. It is really a tour from works to grace, from law to gospel, from my performance to Jesus' perfect righteousness in my place. 

This is a student-rate tour, with accommodations in youth hostels and lower-cost hotels, and on-the-go meals. We welcome families but due to reducing the rate down to $2,850 per traveler, we are not able to offer any further discounts. As always, we make every effort to make this a high quality tour, featuring the most spectacular and important sites.

Bond books to enhance the tour experience:

Order Now

the Pont du Gard, ancient Roman aquaduct in the South of France



DAY 1 Rome: Mamertine Prison (where Peter and Paul may have been held before execution), Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Portico d'Otavia and the Jewish quarter, St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli).

DAY 2 Rome: St. Peter's Basilica, Coliseum, Santa Maria di Poppilo (where Luther stayed for a month in 1510), Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Michelangelo's Roman baths turned 16th century church), Santa Giovanni Laterna, Scala Santa (Luther prayed on his knees on each step); Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, other sites during free time: Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, Flower market... (Rome is vast and full of delicious flavors, so plan to gain a few pounds!) Catacombs of San Callisto and Saint Sebastian, Villa Appia Antica.

DAY 3 Florence: Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio (Savonarola's Prison Meditations written here), Ponte Vecchio. On free time: Galleria dell' Acadamia (where Michelangelo's David is), shopping and eating...

DAY 4 Florence: Convent of San Marco (Savonarola lived here), Santa Croce (Michelangelo, Dante, etc., buried here), (on free time): The Baptistery,Campanile Bell Tower, Galleria degli Uffizi, shopping and eating...

DAY 5 Ferrara: Este Castle (Renee of Ferrara hosted John Calvin here; first Italian translation of the Bible commissioned here...), Santa Maria di Pomposa (7th century Benedictine Abbey).

DAY 6 Coach to Milan: Basilica d'Ambrosia, Ambrose and Augustine sites, Cathedral and climbing to the terraces, free-time shopping in the fashion capital of Europe, exploring, eating... Hotel near Milan


DAY 7: Leave our hotel in Milan and drive to Menton for lunch and a splash in the Mediterranean Sea, "the Pearl of France"; follow the breath-takingly scenic Mediterranean coast road to Aix-en-Provence (total drive time 5:00); this is our longest driving day of the tour, but it could not be along a more spectacular stretch of scenery. Arrive in afternoon in Aix, check into hotel in the centre ville and begin exploring, dinner nearby our hotel. Our daughter studied in Aix for a year in '07-'08. Aix is home to Faculté Jean Calvin, a confessional Reformed seminary whose mission is the training of men in gospel ministry and church planting in France today. Participants in the tour can have coffee at Les Deux Garcons where painter Paul Cézanne' had his daily cafe au lait; explore the provincial market Le Grand Marché--Aix is known for its markets and fountains, every gargoyle-ish shape imaginable, oft-painted Mont Sainte-Victoire rising over all. We will visit the splendid Cathedrale St. Sauveur, with architecture ranging from Romanesque, Gothic, to neoclassical. Morning drive to Avignon (2:36)

DAY 8 Avignon, France: Papal Palace, street performers, shopping, wine country. Chateauneuf des Papes (castle ruins and rich wine country). Orange: Cathedral built in 1204 (Huguenot Temple before the people of God were slaughtered here); ancient Roman theater, Roman arch of triumph (one of the best preserved in the world, built 20 years before the birth of Christ); Hotel and dinner in Orange.

DAY 9 Orange to Lyon (2:10), charming Medieval riverside hotel;  Irenaeus founded church in Lyon (2nd century disciple of Polycarp, disciple of Apostle John), Cathedral, Pierre Viret preached the gospel here and the Lord brought about a great revival. Calvin wrote a letter to five Huguenot pastors, his students, who were soon to be burned at the stake here for preaching the gospel of grace alone in Christ alone.

DAY 10 Lyon to Geneva (1:35): Calvin and the center of Reformation Christianity in the 16th century, Saint Pierre where Calvin preached, the Auditoire, Reformation Wall, the Academy, the Reformation Museum.

DAY 11 Breakfast, final farewells, shuttle to Geneva airport, journey home with much to think about and lifelong memories to cherish (okay, and a few pounds to work off when we get home; someone on the Knox 500 tour suggested it should be called the Bond food tour of Scotland with highlights from Knox).


Student Tour


Registration ends on or before

Thanksgiving Day, 20--

Register Today

1. Contact Douglas Bond and reserve your place

2. Print and sign the Registration Contract

3. Mail in a copy of the signed contract with your $200 Deposit

4. Keep Reading!


Per Participant $2, 850 

Airfare not included.


This is a student-rate tour, with accommodations in youth hostels and lower-cost hotels, and on-the-go meals. We welcome families but due to reducing the rate down to $2,850 per traveler, we are not able to offer any further discounts. As always, we make every effort to make this a high quality tour, featuring the most spectacular and important sites.

Payment Schedule:

$200 Registration Deposit 

$800 Fall, 2017

$850 February 1, 2018

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