7.7.09

Top ten coach trip tips

Coach trips can be great and also exasperating. They have good points and bad points in about equal measure. Here are my thoughts. Five good things about coach trips:
  1. They're cheap. Add up the cost of travel and accommodation (plus any attraction tickets) and you can't beat them on price.
  2. They're convenient. Once you're on-board, you're driven everywhere more or less door-to-door. And you can visit places not usually accessible by public transport, ie out-of-the-way heritage railways.
  3. You're looked after. There's a Tour Guide and driver on hand to fix things and impart information. You're not alone!
  4. They're sociable. Especially if you are single. There's a community spirit on a coach trip with everone sharing the experience, but few 'Guardian readers' seem to go on them - expect Daily Mail type views sometimes from the older participants!
  5. Scenic views. Coaches can go (sometimes with difficulty) where trains can't, and there are often stunning views to be seen.
Five bad things about coach trips:
  1. You have to get up early. The start is usually at the crack of dawn and you have to get to the pick-up point (usually by taxi, which is an extra expense). There will then be an hour or so of pick-up stops before you get going. Each day will start early too.
  2. You'll see a lot of motorways and motorway services. The driver has to take rest breaks and the passengers need 'comfort breaks'. Motorway services are a rip-off, with extortionate prices for drinks and food. Take sandwiches if you can! You'll also inevitably get caught up in road works, so take an iPod!
  3. The hotels are rubbish. They are often in the back of beyond, near a motorway exit. Having said that, they are mostly comfortable and clean. The food is of limited choice and not exactly gourmet style, but there is always a veggy option. Dinner is usually at a set time; there will be a stop for you to find your own lunch.
  4. The itinerary can be unpredictable. You can spend relatively short amounts of time at interesting locations and excessive amounts of time at relatively boring places, but this is obviously subjective. I like steam railways and go on steam railway holidays, but often all you get is a single journey on part of the line (a round trip is always prefereable) and no time to visit the sheds/museum etc.
  5. You have to tip the driver and Tour Guide. And I never know what to give. A couple of quid each seems to work ok, pressed into their hands as you are leaving the coach!
Coach trips are intense experiences and can be tiring, despite mainly sitting down all day. I treat them as a recce opportunity. If I see somewhere I like then I may go back there at some point in the future and spend more time there - though I haven't yet done that. What do you think? Do you have any coach trip top tips? Notes: I have been on two weekend coach trips so far. The first was Rails Peaks and Fells, and this year's was to the North Yorkshire Moors, both with Newmarket, who advertise in local papers. I have also been on several day trips, usually with Worthing Coaches:
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