If you’re not sure about whether a coach tour is for you, I share some pros and cons of organised tours from our coach trip to Stonehenge and Bath this summer…
Seasoned travellers often scoff at the prospect of scrambling aboard a coach with 58 other people, and until a few years ago, they weren’t exactly my ideal way to experience the world.
But I like to think coach tours have come a bit of a way from the old-fashioned stereotype (and the Apprentice attempts). I’ve been on a few myself, such as around Iceland’s Golden Circle, and recently, a day tour to Bath & Stonehenge. On our comfortable double decker coach, I was sort of expecting to be the youngest; but actually, we spoke to travellers of the same age from America and China. Here are some other pros and cons of exploring the UK by coach…
PRO: You don’t need to worry about your travel arrangements
If you’re travelling without a car, coach tours can be a particularly good way to see parts of the country you’re visiting beyond the well-linked major cities. On a coach tour in Montenegro, for instance, we managed to visit places that are basically inaccessible without a car. Hiring a car IS an option, but in the UK this is pretty expensive, especially if you’re a solo traveller. Trains and buses are also something you could look at, but you’ll likely need to arrange your own onward travel from cities and towns to see the more out-of-the-way places
CON: You might not get as much time as you’d like in places
With a schedule to stick to, coach tours aren’t the most flexible if you fall in love with a place. Luckily our trip had enough time for some decent exploring of Stonehenge and Bath, although tours to larger cities may leave you wanting more. Top tip? Have a look in advance if there are some must-sees for you, and get those in first.
PRO: You often get included extras
On our coach trip to Stonehenge and Bath, both Stonehenge entry and tickets to the Roman Baths were included in the price. On their own, that’s £19.50 and £17.50 respectively. If you’re not bothered about entry to attractions in cities and just want to potter around, there are often more basic trips you can book too.
PRO: You miss out on hidden travel costs
While it might be slightly cheaper to book your own transport in advance, the extra costs of parking, shuttle buses and taxis can add up. At least with a coach tour, you know that all your travel costs are paid for upfront – so all you need to worry about is buying lunch! (Budget travel tip: We took a packed lunch on our tour to keep costs down even more!)
CON: You’ll be visiting places at peak times
With anything up to 60 people on your coach. I admit, I stressed out a little in the Roman Baths about how busy it was, as about three coach groups had all entered at the same time. If it’s something that bothers you, it might be worth taking a basic option of transport only, and doing your own thing when you get there.
PRO: You get the services of a guide to tell you more about the destination
Not all tour guides are made equal – luckily, the guide on our Bath and Stonehenge coach trip was full of interesting information, particularly about Stonehenge. If you’re in another country, they often include some useful nuggets about the local customs and culture, which I always have time to listen to. And if the guide’s not great? Plug in your headphones and find some YouTube videos about the place you’re visiting instead.
We had a really fun day on our Bath and Stonehenge day trip, and got to check out some really interesting places in our own country, ones we wouldn’t normally make the effort to go to. While I might not always choose a coach tour over exploring for myself, as a solo traveller especially, they can be an awesome way to see a destination’s highlights at an affordable price in a convenient way. If you’re visiting England (or, indeed, any country), visiting some of its amazing places by coach is something I’d definitely recommend looking at.
Our coach tour to Stonehenge and Bath came courtesy of Tourist England – who gave us a pair of complimentary tickets in exchange for a feature. If you’re visiting the UK, they have a range of tours across the country to must-see destinations!