The luxury way to see the world: Coach tours are starting to offer levels of style, flexibility and access that leave other trips in the shade
- Forget about rock-hard seats – coaches now have armchair-style seating
- In-journey entertainment comes as standard on most coach tours, as does wi-fi
- Visit some of the world’s most exciting cities and sights in a single coach trip
Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week, he reveals why coach tours now defy expectations.
Something very surprising is happening to the humble coach tour. Holidays that some travellers dismiss out of hand are starting to offer levels of luxury, flexibility and access that leave other trips in the shade.
Here are five surprises for holidaymakers…
Forget about rock-hard seats and economy-class legroom – the best of today’s holiday coaches have armchair-style seating (stock image)
SURPRISE ONE: You travel in style. Forget about rock-hard seats and economy-class legroom – the best of today’s holiday coaches have armchair-style seating, often including singles or pairs of seats facing each other across small tables. Tour firm Leger is so proud of its Luxuria and Silver Service vehicles that it has put airlinestyle seating plans on its website so that you get an idea of how much space you’ll have.
Silver Service coaches include a four-seater ‘rear lounge’, where you can stretch your legs, and chat with fellow passengers or your tour leader during the journey.
SURPRISE TWO: You won’t get bored on the motorway. In-journey entertainment comes as standard on most coach tours, as do wi-fi, plug sockets and USB ports at each seat. With the wi-fi-based ‘Roadshow’ system from Shearings, for example, you log on to your phone, tablet or laptop for free and watch new-release and classic films and TV shows, listen to music or audiobooks, flick through the pages of online newspapers and magazines, or play games.
Fancy a hot drink or a bite to eat while you travel? Most coaches carry snacks and have areas with tea- and coffee-making facilities. And you can almost always expect an on-board toilet.
A visit to husky-breeding kennels in Finland is just one of the optional extras on a coach tour with Insight Vacations
SURPRISE THREE: You won’t spend all your time on the coach. The itineraries of the best trips mix travel with exploration days, and many excursions are optional extras so you can strike out on your own if you choose. Plenty of tours also mix and match the way you travel, especially when you start the tour overseas. The 20-day Grand Scandinavia trip with Insight Vacations (from £4,365pp) includes a cabin on an overnight cruise from Sweden to Finland, before you rejoin the coach and head to Lapland, tour the land of the midnight sun, and pet some friendly puppies during a visit to family-run kennels where they’ve been breeding Alaskan huskies for generations.
SURPRISE FOUR: You get great service. Tour firms compete to employ the safest drivers and the best tour managers who travel with you, taking charge of the administration, keeping you informed and arranging guides for the included city tours. The aim is to remove every hassle of travel. With Insight Vacations and others, your luggage is taken from the coach to your hotel room each night, and tips are paid on your behalf.
Road to Rome: Coach tours visit sights such as the Colosseum
SURPRISE FIVE: You go to amazing places. The right coach tour can help you tick off an extraordinary number of the world’s most exciting cities and sights on a single trip. Fly to Madrid to pick up the Mediterranean Highlights coach tour from Trafalgar (from £2,605pp) and you’ll start with a guided visit to Madrid’s Royal Palace. Then, over the next 13 days, you’ll tour Gaudi’s Barcelona, enjoy dinner in Monte Carlo, see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the rolling hills of Tuscany and Duomo of Florence, and end your holiday with guided ‘beat the queue’ VIP visits to the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum in Rome.