by Andrew Lin
To many people, the group tour–and especially the bus tour–can be an easy alternative to the logistical stress of planning trips for families or other large groups. With its pre-set menu of accommodations, destinations, and transportation, it is the tourism equivalent of an easy-prep microwaveable meal: just add people, and then travel. But there are other benefits, too. On a bus tour, you can efficiently cover a string of major cities and a slew of attractions in a matter of days, avoid lines and confusion at tourist destinations, and learn about the area you’re visiting from a local expert instead of from a travel book. The result is often a much more economical, pleasant, and less hectic vacation (especially if you let someone else do the driving!)
Like every other form of travel, bus tours also have their own set of challenges–but with a little preparation and care, you’ll be assured of a smooth ride and an enjoyable trip. With this in mind, the TakeTours staff has compiled some helpful tips that come from our extensive experience with bus tours.
TakeTours Guide to Bus Tour Etiquette
1. Remember the most important thing when it comes to any vacation: that it is your vacation, even though you are sharing it with others. Let the tour guide worry about the logistics, and concentrate on being open to the sights, sounds, and wonders of the places you’ll be visiting. Approach the trip with the attitude that you’ll have a wonderful time, and no one else can ruin it for you.
2. Behave in a courteous manner toward all of your fellow travelers. Keep your voice and incidental noise down, and monitor the behavior of other family members. Look out for groups taking photographs to avoid getting in their way, or maybe even offer to take the photo for them. Suggest rotating seats on the bus every day so that everyone can share the different angles and views. Little contributions such as these can go a long way toward improving a group trip.
3. If one of your fellow passengers is bothering you, confront any annoyances calmly, nicely, and immediately. Politely let your fellow passenger know how he or she is disturbing you. Of course, avoid interfering in personal business, but a kindly-worded acknowledgement can work magic at the right times.
4. Bring necessities in a small travel bag to keep at your seat and leave more major items packed away in luggage storage area of the bus to maximize space for all passengers.
5. Sit in accordance with your movement needs, in aisle seats if you like to get up and stretch your legs or frequently use the bathroom, or in window seats if you like to look at the view or lean against the glass to rest.
6. Be sure to check with your travel vendor before you depart to determine what, if any, added options or mandatory fees will be needed on the trip, and how much they are likely to cost. This way, you’ll avoid surprises and awkwardness during the trip, and won’t need to make unscheduled stops at banks or ATMs which may inconvenience other travelers.
7. If you bring snacks and water for longer drives, please remember, as a courtesy, to remove the trash from the vehicle when you get off the bus.
8. Inform your travel guide before your trip if you have any relevant health or mobility issues that may impact your ability to enjoy certain attractions/destinations or slow down your group, so that he or she may help ensure the best experience possible for everyone. Keep needed prescriptions with you at all times.
9. When given free time at attractions, be sure to adhere to all meeting times and locations provided by your tour guide. You being late makes your entire group late, and can negatively impact the schedule for the rest of the day.
10. Remember to tip. Happy drivers and guides are good drivers and guides! They depend on the extra income generated by service charges (guidelines are usually available in the trip descriptions.)
11. Always try to provide feedback after your trip has ended. We can only help vendors improve their products if you provide us with your impressions of their work. And photos are most welcome, too!
12. Lastly, travel with an open mind. Although bus tours can sometimes mean hours spent on the road, or other small inconveniences, they are also a fantastic opportunity to meet people and enjoy some of the world’s most beautiful and interesting places in an inexpensive way. And who knows? Besides photos and souvenirs, you might return home with a few new friendships.
Let TakeTours do your vacation planning for you! We have great deals on assorted bus tours and excursions. And we can also help design a group trip to meet your specialized needs. Don’t hesitate: let us help you see the world!
Andrew Lin is summer intern here at TakeTours.com, as well as an aspiring writer. Some of his favorite travel destinations include: Japan, Thailand, China, anywhere on the coast in Central America, and Canada.