Travel: Motorcoach Guided Tours

Mary Ann and I just returned from a 10 day motorcoach tour titled “New England Fall Foliage Tour”.  Previously, we had been on a 14 day motorcoach tour of Italy and a 14 day motorcoach tour of Germany and Austria, but that was a long time ago, so we didn’t know what to expect.

On our tour, we visited the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, had lunch at Quincy Market in Boston, had Chowder at Mystic Seaport, ate lobster in Boothbay Harbor Maine and did a dinner cruise on Lake Champlain in Burlington VT. Since it was a Fall Foliage Tour we also drove through the Smoky Mountains in NC, the White Mountains in NH, the Green Mountains of VT, the Catskills of New York and Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

That sounds great doesn’t it? It was. But is was sometimes frustrating and very tiring at times also.

The tour company we used decided to replace the tour guides at the last minute and the new guides did not know the locations we visited. They tried to read a description off the internet. That was disappointing.

We logged 2900 miles and visited 16 states in 10 days, resulting in a rushed, not well thought out itinerary, trying to cover too much at our expense. On two separate days, we got on the bus at 8am and did not get to our hotel until 8pm.  Ugh!

There were 44 passengers and 2 tour guides and a driver. All passengers were age 55+ and 4 were from our Active Adult Community. We got to meet some interesting people.

This was a local tour company in Lula, Georgia that had been recommended to us by several neighbors in our Active Adult Community who had taken shorter trips. Maybe we just had a bad tour. The tour company did reply to my concerns and have made changes.

Several of our fellow motorcoach travelers told us that this would never happen on Collette Tours or Road Scholar Educational Tours. Our tour was not cheap, but these tours are more expense but apparently offer better planned out tours with more informed tour guides. There are also motorcoach tours by American Express,  Trafalgar and Grayline.

Shopping bus tour companies and really taking a detailed look at the tour is something I really didn’t think about before, but sounds like good advice now. Do you really want to change hotels every night and travel 2900 miles with a large group of 44 people trying to see as many sights as you can in an unreasonable amount of time?

It’s not how many hours you can spend on the bus or how many sights you can say you visited, is it? It’s a pleasant travel experience you are looking for.

Our hotels we stayed at were the Hampton Inns and Holiday Inns which are fine if you have a car, but they were not really close to anything to walk to. We only stayed in two hotels that were interesting, but we really didn’t have enough time to enjoy them and the area.

We now know more about motorcoach travel and are better prepared to research what we are looking for. Maybe taking a shorter motorcoach trip would be better next time, at least for us.

Robert Fowler

PS: If you do take a motorcoach tour, you may want to bring these items:
A pillow for your head (we bought one at Bed, Bath & Beyond)
A cushion for your back, if needed.
A small blanket or throw.  They keep it cool on the coach.
Hanging cup holder
Ear plugs
A medium size backpack to go under your seat