You have made the decision to go to a fabulous foreign destination and you are ready to start your planning your trip. You call your favorite travel agent (Heather Luckey with Brilliant Journeys 😉 ) and tell her your plans. She replies with “Great! You want to go to (insert fabulous destination here)! How would you like to travel, by bus or independently?” That isn’t something you have considered. There are some great pros and cons to each style of travel.
(This is what we call in the industry an FIT, Foreign Independent Travel)
You are not married to a schedule! You do not have to be up at 6 am, ready to tour. You have some flexibility. Of course, when you are moving from city to city and you have a 10 am train ticket for you to make your way to your next city, you do have to be there. But other than that, you are pretty much on your own.
You can really immerse yourself without others possibly slowing you down. When you are traveling in a group, you do have other people to be considerate about.
You can eat and drink where the locals eat and drink! When you are traveling with a bus tour, they have designated restaurants (sometimes just the hotel restaurant) that you will dine at.
Without a guide with you, obviously you will have a higher chance of getting lost.
When you are touring by yourself, you do not have someone there with you to point out important monuments or facts about the city/place where you are.
It is harder to meet people, when you travel with a bus group, you have built in friends that are all experiencing the same wonders as you!
If you are taking a tour and your local tour guide does not show or if your transfer driver does not meet you at the correct time, you could be out that money. Unless of course, you book with a travel agent who fights on your behalf.
You are with a tour director and a separate bus driver at all times. They are experts in the area and have great facts about the area you are visiting.
Your tours are built in for the most part. If you wanted to visit the Vatican, then it is built into your itinerary. All you must do is show up at the designated time
You get to sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery while your driver and tour director takes care of the details. You do not need to worry about trying to find what train you are supposed to be on or haul your luggage across the canals of Venice. All of this is taken care of for you.
The hotels that are chosen for you are tried and true properties that the tour operator uses repeatedly.
Your tour director is your go-to person for everything. If you have any problems or questions this is your personal concierge in a way. I always tell my clients to go to your tour director with problems first, then come to me while on a tour.
You get to see so much in a short amount of time!! The itineraries are very well planned. You generally start out with a city tour and then you have optional excursions you can take in addition to the city tour. So yes, you are up early some days but you get to see a lot of the destination.
Bus tours can sometimes feel rushed. For example, you have an hour to visit the Eiffel Tower, if you are not back within that hour, you run the risk of the bus leaving without you. Of course, you can make your own way back, but at your own expense. And you may miss out on the rest of the city tour.
Bus tours all have the stop at some little shop that is expecting you to buy something from them. For example, a leather shop in Florence or a glass blowing factory in Venice. Some people have zero interest in visiting these areas and would rather skip that part of the tour, but you can’t since you would get left behind.
Early wake ups! On my last bus tour, we had a wake up at 4 am so that we can put our bags out by 5 and be on the bus by 6. This is because it was a day of travel, we left our hotel and made our way to the Cliffs of Dover in England to board the ferry to get to Paris. This can certainly put some people off. Recently though, a lot of bus companies are seeing that people do not want to get up crazy early on their vacations and have some days with later starts so you can take your time getting up and eating breakfast and not feel so rushed.
Either a bus tour or a FIT, you cannot go wrong with planning your next dream trip with Brilliant Journeys. I know with either style of travel, you will have the time of your life!