How To Take a Coach Tour

Coach

In this month's How To guide, we re-visit an old friend - the coach tour. From day trips to the coast to full-scale trips through Europe, tourists have been going on coach holidays for decades. To help you get the most out of your next trip, we're counting down the key Do's and Don'ts.

  • Do

    1. BOOK WITH A REPUTABLE COMPANY. For your coach tour to be a success, you want decent seating, newer buses, a reliable driver, and a track record you can trust. Check whether your bus has air conditioning, toilets and on board entertainment. In the UK, the Guild Of British Tour Operators ensures that all affiliated tour companies uphold the highest standards, from the booking process to the cleanliness on the buses.

    2. PICK YOUR CROWD. While it is important to book with a reliable coach tour company, you also need to make sure that you and your group are committed to keeping a schedule and enjoying the itinerary. There will be enough time to appreciate the sights and places on your route, but this also means you need to be back at the bus when it's time to go.

    3. PLAN YOUR SCHEDULE. If the next leg of your tour takes you through the snow-capped Pyrenees Mountains, make sure you have a jumper handy. If you are going to be travelling throughout the evening or afternoon, bring a snack on board to see you through. Not only will this be healthier than buying food at the nearest petrol station, it will be cheaper.

    4. CHOOSE A HOLIDAY THAT SUITS YOU. Over the years, coach tour companies have cast their nets wide, offering specialised tours that cater to just about every interest group under the sun. There are specialised tours for pensioners, raging young college students, same-sex couples, art lovers, singles, newly weds and eco-tourists. Some tours will take you to one specific location, others will cover a series of countries over a 12 day period or offer a hop-on-hop-off option. With a bit of homework, you can find yourself a trip that is tailored to you and your group's tastes.

    5. PREPARE YOURSELF. If you suffer from car/motion sickness or migraines, make sure you bring pills or remedies to help you get through the long hauls.

    6. WATCH OUT FOR HIDDEN COSTS. Check with your coach tour company before you leave if there are additional costs to your holiday. If you are touring Paris, some tour companies will include a trip to the Eiffel Tower in their total cost, while others won't. Be aware of what you are and aren't paying for, as well as what you may be charged for unless you speak up.

    7. WORK THE SYSTEM. A 'guided coach tour' will be more expensive than your regular coach tour, but it is still far cheaper than travelling through Europe on your own steam. Hotels and meals are included in the price which shaves off the biggest costs of your trip.

      The daily excursions with your guide are optional extras, which you aren't obliged to go on. So use the route that your guided tour is going on, as well as the better facilities that accompany the increased price, and go sight seeing independently.

    8. CHECK YOUR BAGGAGE/CUSTOMS ALLOWANCE. This is really important for those going on 'Booze Cruises' to Calais or a plain old shopping excursion in Europe. While you may be allowed to check to bags onto the coach, customs may have a problem with them being filled to the hilt with French wine and cigarettes.

  • Don't

    1. ASSUME that coach tours will not be as fun/comfortable as other modes of transport. With the right company, attitude and itinerary, touring via coach is one of the most comfortable and stress-free ways to travel. Travel Tip: do your homework before booking. Check out a few review sites, ask friends who have been on similar tours and make sure you know what you are signing up for.

Last Updated: March 2011