Busting the myths about coach holidays
So you think you know what to expect on a guided holiday?
Long days on the road, early starts and not enough free time, right? Wrong!
Guided holidays have grown up. Think modern, luxury coaches with free wifi and reclining seats. Think relaxed departure times, optional activities and plenty of time to explore new places on your own.
Travelling on a guided holiday is like having a friend in the world’s dream destinations. A friend who knows where the great restaurants are, who speaks the local language, and shows you everything – from the best shopping spots to where to find the coolest rooftop bars.
Your bags are taken care of, you’ll sail past the crowds at major attractions (no queuing!), your downtown hotels have everything on the doorstep and your driver will whisk you from place to place in style.
This can leave you free to focus on magical days of discovery and making memories to last a lifetime.
MYTH: There will be too much time on the road.
REALITY: Today’s itineraries have been carefully planned to ensure stretches on the road are not too long. Two-night stays are also built in to give you time to make the most of exciting destinations.
While you travel, your Travel Director will provide expert commentary about where you are heading next as well as the passing sights. Relax as they bring the history and culture of each new destination to life beyond guide-book facts and figures.
The majority of guided holidays’ luxury coaches come with free wifi so you can stay connected and share your discoveries with friends and family back home. On-board rest rooms and large reclining seats ensure your travels are comfortable while your Travel Directors help you acclimatise to new cultures, answer your currency queries, demystify foreign menus and explain local customs.
Best of all, being chauffeured means you don’t have to do battle with maps, unfamiliar roads or asking for directions. That means you’re free to have a glass of wine with lunch, recline your seat and chat to your fellow travellers on the way to your next adventure.
MYTH: There’ll be too many ‘touristy’ experiences.
REALITY: Travel specialists continually comb the globe to find unique places to visit and immersive experiences that give you a deeper encounter with your destination.
There’s no doubt you’ll see all the famous sights in the world’s great cities (with queue-free, priority access to most). Some holidays offer insider experiences, like Trafalgar, where you could find yourself shopping for local produce with a chef in Florence, dining with a family in Myanmar or tasting chardonnay with a winemaker in California.
They uncover interesting places to eat, stay and play that truly showcase a city’s authentic local experiences meaning you may need to bring your dancing shoes to visit a tango club in Argentina, or your appetite for a rustic lunch in a farmhouse in Provence. Learn how to make sushi with a Local Specialist during a cooking class in Tokyo, drink in the beauty of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast as you sail on an elegant gulet, or enjoy walking in magnificent grounds during your stay in Ireland’s Ashford Castle.
These encounters are what sets guided holidays apart from the rest and are about as far from ‘touristy’ as you can get.
MYTH: Coach holidays are just for Seniors.
REALITY: Different trip styles mean you’ll meet families, young professionals, people who are travelling for the first-time along with active retirees on most guided global adventures, giving you an enjoyable mix of fellow travellers for your journey.
Read through unfiltered, online feedback channels, where past guests of guided holidays often talk about the strong friendships formed through shared experiences while travelling.
Dedicated family holidays have been designed with maximum fun in mind and cater to the growing numbers of grandparents, parents and kids who are setting off to see the world together. A mix of cultural activities are selected to both entertain and educate everyone from small children to teens – visit cowboy ranches in America to ancient castles in Scotland, from Harry Potter film locations in London to Gladiator training school in Italy, these holidays know what people of all ages want to see and do on their travels.
Welcome drinks, rotating coach seating and opportunities to dine as a group also help create a warm and sociable environment for solo travellers. And with new destinations like Iceland and Myanmar being added to itineraries, activities, styles of accommodation and dining experiences are constantly evolving, meaning no one trip is like the last.
MYTH: Days start too early and are packed with rushed experiences.
REALITY: The days when bags had to be outside the hotel room door at midnight for a 6am on-the-coach departure are well and truly over, with lie-ins and leisurely breakfasts now typical before the day’s adventures begin.
Two-night stays in many of the world’s most exciting places like Florence, Paris and Istanbul allow you to see and do everything on your doorstep at a slower pace.
With many evening meals optional, you’re free to make your own culinary discoveries while free time for shopping, walking and people-watching over a glass of something local is an important part of all trips.
MYTH: I could organise a similar trip myself.
REALITY: It would take many hours of research, extensive local knowledge and access to a network of insiders across multiple countries to plan the quality of holidays offered. Carefully selecting hotels at just the right distance apart to minimise time on the road, arranging entry fees and priority access to museums and historic sites and getting tables for dinner with the best views takes a well-connected team.
Finding the right academic to escort you as you visit places of historic significance like Gallipoli or having a Local Specialist by your side as you walk barefoot around Myanmar’s variety of Pagodas.
Being able to offer this extra layer of insight into a place beyond just seeing the major sights, takes time, dedication and relationships with influential locals.
MYTH: All guided holidays involve big groups.
REALITY: We know one size rarely fits all so guided holidays are designed to suit different tastes and styles. For example, Trafalgar’s Hidden Journeys itineraries are designed for smaller groups of 26 people or less offering boutique hotels and intimate dining in harder-to-reach destinations. Hidden Journeys work well for travellers who have ticked off the iconic cities on previous trips and want to delve deeper into places off the tourist trail in Canada and Costa Rica and closer to home in Japan and China. Four and five star hotels along the way are often combined with Authentic Accommodation like a stay in a Japanese Ryokan or a beach bungalow in Costa Rica
Many insider experiences can be had in even smaller groups – in the tiny Turkish mountain village of Demircidere, guests split into groups of four to dine in family homes set among hillside olive groves.
Optional activities also give you the chance to enjoy smaller group experiences such as a late night entertainment at Paris’ legendary Moulin Rouge or a scenic helicopter flight over Niagara Falls in Canada.
Check out all the latest options and you never know – Guided Holidays could be a perfect option for your next overseas holiday.