In spite of our crazy summer, my family managed to squeeze in a 12-day trip to Europe that spanned six countries. It was a guided tour by coach (charter bus) where everything was preplanned and taken care of for us, including wake up calls, transportation, local tours and optional excursions, and most meals.
I've never been on a tour like this one (run by Trafalgar). You give up the ability to stop at will for pictures and side trips, but for this vacation it was worth the freedom from stress that traveling in so many foreign countries could induce. Just not having to drive was worth it, especially in the UK. No worrying about tolls, border crossings, fees to enter (Venice, London), or where to stay.
The guide prepared us for how things worked in each country. Little things like paying for restrooms, how to order a meal (it can be more confusing than you'd think even without the language barrier), and which tourist traps to avoid.
Spending 12 days with 45 people you don't know doesn't exactly sound like an introvert's dream way to travel, but I enjoyed it more than I expected to. We met some nice people, and it was fun to have others to discuss the experiences with. Plus, our companions added to the international flavor since we traveled with several folks from Australia and South Africa.
I would have liked to spend more time in most of our destinations, especially Germany, but for what it was, the coach tour was a great way to see as much as possible in the time we had, and within a certain budget. We saw not only the cities where we stopped, but also the beautiful scenery in between, albeit from 80-100 km/hour. And since a large portion of the trip was paid upfront (similar to an all-inclusive vacation), we weren't stressing over money the whole time.
Traveling with a coach tour isn't for everyone, or even for every trip, but it was perfect for us for this trip. Over the next few days, I'll share some of my experiences, fun things, and photos.
Until then, ciao, arriverderci, auf wiedersehen, au revoir, and good bye!
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