Specialized travel companies offer a variety of packaged tours. Some are general bus torus traveling to many European countries starting in London (mostly for English speaking tourists from the United Kingdom and other countries), others target specific interest groups – history buffs, wine lowers, gastronomic tours, naturalists, ecologists, beer enthusiasts, religious individuals. The list goes on.
Group travel offers advantages for many. Older, unilingual people love group traveling, everything is arranges in advance, the route established, departure ad arrival times are known, as are menus, hotels, all stops and a guide in each city provides commentary. There is a tour director who ensures that the entire tour enfolds as planned, and according to itinerary. There are certainly advantages to people who cannot be bothered to travel on their own due to many difficulties inherent to individual touring. The first, and for most North Americans, is their unilingual status. For this reason and many others North Americans like to travel to the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and to some extent South Africa, all of which are speaking countries.
When it comes to Europe, traveling solo means changing languages every few hundred kilometres, and even currencies. (This today is less of a problem due to the Euro in many countries).
While group travel
offers advantages, it also has some disadvantages that must be considered before booking.
In group travel individuals are of a different background, nationalities, habits and character.
Some are always late, others complain constantly about their accommodation, food quality, visiting times, seats in the bus; just to name a few, yet others pick fights with other group members. A weak and permissive tour director can spoil the whole tour. Generally, tour directors are young many inexperienced, or poorly trained.
There are too many countries and cities in itineraries, which means traveling for most of the day in the bus, then checking into the hotel, and dinner.
The following day a superficial city tour provides a bird’s eye view of a magnificent city with short commentary and the bus heads to the next city or countryside Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, or Luxembourg are so small that you can cross them within a few hours by bus. Occasionally, an inexperienced bus driver may also get lost and drive hours on end in circles as it happened once to me in Sicily).
Then the food may become a problem. Generally, tour operators select the least expensive menus and understandably they are not the tastiest. Chefs pay little attention to quality and presentation. Service is swift and impersonal. Some people like to eat certain foods that may be unavailable in such situations. (I remember well, some American ladies craving spaghetti and meatballs in Kathmandu, Nepal).
Then beverages and their prices may represent problems. In Italy a glass of Coca Cola costs more than a glass of wine, which many North Americans cannot understand or do not want to understand.
Seating arrangements in bus tours may also become problematic. Some seats offer better views than others. Assertive travelers always occupy these desirable seats and others resent it. Occasionally, complaints are lodged, and seats are rotated daily to satisfy all.
Bus tours take long to embark and disembark cutting into visiting times. The most irritating aspect though is a constantly late passenger with no respect for others in the group. They are late to show up for departure, or come late from a visit, or claim to have gotten lost in crowds, or are constantly ill. One day it may be food poisoning, the other diarrhoea, the following day they may claim to suffer of headaches, and yet another day it may be foot aches of just imaginary illnesses.
Before you decide to book a group tour, check out the reputation of the company, and how long they have been ion business. Some companies go into bankruptcy while you are traveling and hotel management may ask for payment before you are allowed to leave, even though you have for everything in advance). Look at the price and hidden costs, the condition of the bus or boat, hotels, and even the driver before you embark.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.