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U.S. Bus Tours
Old 08-15-2008, 08:25 PM   #1
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U.S. Bus Tours

Thinking of taking a bus tour with the wife, in the US. Maybe 7 to 14 days. Anybody had any good or bad experience with bus tours and any suggestions on that type of vacations?
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Old 08-15-2008, 08:51 PM   #2
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Old 08-16-2008, 12:29 AM   #3
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Thinking of taking a bus tour with the wife, in the US. Maybe 7 to 14 days. Anybody had any good or bad experience with bus tours and any suggestions on that type of vacations?
I do 10,000 to 15,000 miles a year on bus tours! I travel almost exclusively with a local, family-owned bus/tour company located here in north-central IL. This company is fantastic about planning the trips, going to interesting & fun destinations, getting very nice accommodations, and especially taking care of each individual in the group. They stop about every 2 hours for rest/stretch breaks, as well as for lunch. They also have snacks, water and juice onboard that everyone has free access to. You can just stare out the windows, chat & visit with others on the trip, read, or take naps....whatever you want to do. And on many of the trips that we go on, they have seats that they can spin around to face the rear and have a table that they install (in similar fashion as a restaurant booth) so folks can play cards or do a jigsaw puzzle. And usually after lunch, they'll throw in a tape or DVD and show a movie.

We've traveled with them for over 10 years, and have been from the Key West, Florida to the Canadian Rockies, from the East Coast to Las Vegas, and almost everywhere in between. We absolutely love it! They take care of ALL of the arrangements, reservations, luggage handling, DRIVING, etc. And the best part is that through all these years and miles that we traveled with them, they have become some of our very best friends......the owners, the drivers, the tour escorts....even the guys & gals that work in the office and the shop. We've also met some really nice folks over the years (fellow travelers) whose friendship and camaraderie we enjoy, not only on trips, but also in day-to-day life as well.

We've traveled with a couple of other local or nearby tour companies, and they were OK.....but they weren't (or at least to us, didn't seem to be) as congenial and friendly as the company we normally use. And we've done some trips with other tour companies/groups that don't own their own buses, but hire our favorite one to supply the bus and the driver, and they just do the planning and escorting. We've also taken Mayflower bus tours, and they were nice trips, although 1 or 2 of their escorts left a lot to be desired.....like personality. Their 'people skills' were greatly lacking. But, fortunately, we've found that those type escorts are certainly in the minority, and not common place.

The best way to find out if going this route is for you, is to just give it a shot and see for yourself. Some people (like us) absolutely love it......while some people absolutely hate it. This year we enjoyed 3 weeks with them in Florida in February, and a week with them in Savannah, GA & Nashville TN in May. In October we're going with them on a 9 day trip to the Northeast, and then a week long trip to San Antonio in December. Plus we do a LOT of day trips with them......a couple dozen a year (at least). Next year we're booked for Florida, Atlanta & Chattanooga, Albuquerque, Michigan, Las Vegas, and Nashville. And yesterday I booked a trip to Alaska (including a cruise) with them for 2010!

It's a great way to see the America. It's relaxing, and you don't have to deal with traffic or reservations or any of the rest of that stuff. I'd suggest trying a week long trip to try it out. That way if you don't like it, it's only a week. And if you find that you do like it, then you can give longer duration trips a shot.
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Old 08-16-2008, 03:46 AM   #4
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WIth respect to tours that last for several days or weeks.

IMO Bus tours are not the best approach to travel. They can cover much territory in a short period of time... but you probably will not have much time at any location. Plus you will be on a regimented schedule.

There can be good reasons to take a bus tour... but I would consider an alternative approach.
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Old 08-16-2008, 11:31 AM   #5
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.....They can cover much territory in a short period of time... but you probably will not have much time at any location. Plus you will be on a regimented schedule.
It depends on the tour company used. We did find Mayflower to be quite regimented....sometimes we felt like we were part of a cattle drive (the cattle part), other times (most) they gave us a fair amount of time to explore & sightsee or to just relax.

The company we normally use, almost ALWAYS gives everyone enough time to sightsee & explore They usually have something like 2 or 3 hours of "group" touring in the morning, then turn you loose for the rest of the day to explore on your own, do lunch, explore more and/or relax, and then sometimes (but not always) meet up again in the evening for a "group" dinner. There are days that are more regimented than that, and you spend almost the whole day as a "group", but that's not usually the 'norm'.

Other tour companies that we've traveled with have been somewhere in the middle of those to routines.....not as regimented as Mayflower, but more regimented than the outfit we normally use. Not sure about Mayflower or other companies, but on the longer trips....2-3 weeks.....our local providers usually 'park the bus' for a few days to give the driver & escort some 'down time', and give us travelers that time to explore, rest, do laundry, etc.

YMMV
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Old 08-16-2008, 12:00 PM   #6
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Two side notes:

1) On Mayflower bus tours they 'rotate' seats. Meaning that each morning when you climb on board, you move one row back from where you were the day before (that's on the right-side of the bus.....left-side moves forward one row). The down-side to that is that you need to move all your stuff in the overheads each day. Which is a pain in the butt because you may have souvenirs, jackets, a pillow and/or light blanket (for your nap time), and that sort of stuff that you normally don't take off the bus each night...so each morning everyone is trying to do the 'overhead shuffle'....it's a good way to get frustrated first thing each day as well as to lose or misplace your stuff. With all the other tour groups we've gone with, you keep your original seat the whole trip unless YOU want to change and if there are other seats available. Our local tour company will NOT book more than 36 people on any of the 1 week or longer tours.....there buses are all 56 seaters.....so there's plenty of room to move about or change seats IF YOU want to. We really like having our 'nest' for the entire trip. (BTW, they did a week long tour about 4 or 5 years ago to New Orleans and Natchez and some other places down that way, and they only had 7 people go.....that bus wasn't too crowded!)

2) Another option to check out for bus tours are banks and financial institutions. Many of them have travel groups which put together trips and tours. Some are for that specific institution's patrons only, while others are open to anyone who wants to go.
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