Europe is a continent packed with history and culture. It is diverse, and if you’re from the States, chances are your family originated from different parts of it. One way to see it, to get a taste of what Europe is about, is to take a bus tour. Here, you can start in France and finish in Italy, or Germany. Any country is within your reach and you build your own itinerary.
Alternatively, you can stick with one country. Most European countries have several vibrant cities, beautiful landscapes, and places of historic interest to easily satisfy your European curiosity.
With this in mind, let’s look at practical advice to ensure you enjoy a great bus tour of Europe.
Read a Few Guidebooks
Once you’ve mapped out your itinerary and booked with a company like Omio, you’ll know where your coach will be heading. As such, take the time to discover what’s around where you’re visiting.
It could be that your coach guide is taking you somewhere you have no interest in seeing, but because you’ve read your guidebook, you’ll know that there is a far more interesting place a short cab ride away.
A good knowledge of where you’re going will give you more options than just where your coach guide takes you.
See What You Want to See
Although bus tours have their own itinerary you should always set out on your own whenever possible. Ensure you know the name of that day’s hotel so you get your bearings before you set out to explore.
To get the most out of your European vacation it is important that you do and see what you want. There is no rule that says you have to be on the coach the whole time. If you’re traveling with friends, a couple, or as a group, you can split the cost of an Uber.
Also, when you meet for dinner you’ll have something new to talk about, which is a delight for you and your fellow passengers.
Your Coach Tour Guide
Keep in mind that your coach guide is a jaded individual that works for months at a time away from friends and family. They are often hounded by other travelers and have a ton of paperwork to complete every day.
Often, they are none too happy when a traveler sets out on their own, but there is no need to see your guide as a jailer. Instead, see them as a resource as many have insider information which you can tap into to enhance your vacation.
Hopefully, by the end of your trip, you and your guide will be good friends.
Be Choosy About Excursions
Some tour companies offer excursions and some offer really great value. Yes, you can plan and execute your own night out while staying in Marseille, but if the coach tour operator has a good offer why not take it?
That said, it pays to be choosy. It is always worth comparing prices for excursions which your hotel can provide or checking your guidebook or online. Some guides get a commission for excursions so, the price may not be as good as what you can find elsewhere.
Experienced tour bus vacationers tend to avoid evenings of ‘local color’ where bus companies come together for a night out. Often, this can feel a little like Vegas with flamenco dancers on a stage while you’re drinking watered-down sangria.
So be choosy and use your instincts.
Like excursions, your coach guide may receive commissions if you buy from certain stores. There is nothing wrong with this but you may not necessarily be getting the best price. Instead, do a little research when you shop and you’ll avoid tourist prices or at least the tourist prices that break the bank.
Try and Meet Locals
When you meet “locals” on your bus tour they are hardened business people that are nice to you because it is their job. They are friendly, and they will help you because they are paid to do so. This is not a true reflection of the country you are visiting.
As such, in the same vein as seeing what you want to see, try and leave the tour bus behind to go to a local place to eat and/or spend the night. The chances are you’ll be meeting ‘real’ people where you can experience what life is like in that country.
That is the best experience.
Choosing Your Tour Operator With Care
When you choose your coach tour operator it is a good idea to check reviews, and make sure they are going where you want to go. Not all bus tour companies are created equal, and they all do things differently. If you can do the following:
- Check reviews on their website and social media. Remember that anything that is extremely positive or negative is probably fake. Try and find authentic reviews so you can decide if the tour is right for you.
- If you know people personally that have used the operator, ask them for their thoughts. They’ll be able to give you the full lowdown on whether or not they are any good. This kind of information is invaluable.
- Look at the excursions as this can make or break your trip. Here, you’re deciding whether they look exciting and interesting or are they not to your palette.
- Make sure the tour is within your budget.
- Make sure you are taking in places you want to see. Shop around for the most suitable tours.
You can never do enough research into a bus tour operator and the more the do the more information you’ll have to make an informed decision.
Coach tours are great for so many reasons, not least because it offers a good economical way of seeing Europe.
To get the most out of them always use a reputable provider and do your research. This way, when you explore a place you’ll know where to go and what to see.
And that my friend is priceless and the best way to see Europe.