Considering a tour but aren’t quite sure? You’re not alone. Many free-wheeling travellers question a tour’s flexibility, lack of alone time and more – even those in the travel business. That’s why we sent one of our very own tour virgins to get the skinny on travelling by coach and to clear up any misconceptions he and others may have.
After my original trip to Italy was cancelled due to the Icelandic ash cloud over Europe a few years ago, I thought maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. When the opportunity to see Italy came up again, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse – even if it was on a fully escorted motor coach tour. I was to spend a week with Cosmos, visiting Rome, Capri and Sorrento. Now, I don’t have to go into how amazing Italy is as so much has already been said about its wine, food, fashion and history, but I do want to talk a little about coach tours.
This was my first time travelling on an organized tour, and to be honest, I was a little worried. My normal mode of travel is a little more free-flowing. I fully admit to not being very good at the whole tourist thing, as I’d much rather find a place occupied by locals than a place filled with other tourists. Was it going to give me some time to explore on my own? Would I have the flexibility to see what I want to see or would I be trapped on a tightly regimented itinerary? Well, it turns out I shouldn’t have worried at all!
I should probably mention that not all tours are created equal. There are lots of things you should consider before booking a coach tour. You are going to want to look at the pace the tour moves at (how quickly you move from place to place), the amount of territory it covers, the age demographic you will be travelling with, the size of your group, and finally, the type of accommodations you can expect.
The tour I was on was like a perfect tasting menu. It moved pretty quickly (though we did have two nights in each stop), with lots of optional tours to add on to the overall experience. What I discovered is that touring is a really great way to get a sample of a place you’ve never been to. This was my first time to Italy, and I really didn’t know much about some of the destinations we were visiting, especially Capri and Sorrento.
The tour gave me the perfect guided experience here, teaching me quite a bit in the process. The first day in each new city, we got a quick overview while driving through, with some time to explore on our own in the afternoon. The second day was largely optional excursions offered by the tour company, or alone time if you preferred.
Sure, it was different from the way I normally travel but nowhere near as limiting as I thought it’d be. Let me lay it out for you in pros and cons:
-The early morning wake-up call for the bus on travel days was definitely earlier than I’d have planned for myself. This won’t be an issue for early risers. Good thing the bus was comfortable enough to nap in.
-On a preset itinerary, there are always going to be things you want to see that you’ll miss, and things you see that weren’t on your own list.
-A lot of information about an area that I am entirely new to.
-Plenty of free and unstructured time for exploration on my own, or in small groups.
-Information about local attractions, restaurants and local hot spots from the tour guide.
-No worries about accommodations in each of your destinations, as well as all of your transportation between each spot that we stopped.
-Skip the line options at popular attractions.
Now, that last one really can’t be overstated. When we went to see the Vatican Museum, the line-up for entry stretched all the way down the street, around the corner, then down the street again! Our tour guide walked us right to the front of the 2+hour line, right up to the entrance and inside. Now, we were here in late May, which isn’t even peak tourist season for Italy yet. In July and August, the lines must be double this length easily! If you want to see the popular attractions, then skipping the line with a tour group is absolutely worth the cost!
Nowadays, I definitely recommend coach tours (and have done them again myself!) for places that are new to you, if you just want a taste of the place you’re visiting, or if you want to see a lot in a short period. The pros definitely outweigh the cons and there’s a tour out there for just about any type of traveller. Happy touring!
Convinced? Check out these great deals on Globus, Cosmos and Avalon tours! To find out more or to make a booking, enquire online, call us at 1877 967 5302 or visit your nearest Flight Centre store location today.