Have you heard lots of bad things about coach holidays?
As a result, have you tended to avoid a coach holiday as an option for your travels?
In this article, I want to discuss some of the most common issues I have experienced over my 25 year career as a coach holiday tour manager.
Instead of encouraging you to avoid a coach holiday completely, I want to share how you can easily overcome the most common problems, which are often caused by misconceptions or lack of research.
1. Should You Avoid a Coach Holiday If You Don’t Like Other People?
It never ceases to amaze me how many people on a coach holiday seem genuinely frustrated that there are other people on the coach.
Groups can often be a full coach, which means 47 people travelling in the same metal tube as you. It also means 47 people getting on and off the coach at each stop, 47 people checking in and out of each hotel and 47 people going for meals at the same time.
Coaches themselves mean you are going to be in close proximity to other people, with probably the same amount of legroom as an economy plane seat. This means you will most likely have people in front of you and behind you.
Time and time again this issue really starts to annoy guests. As with lots of things in life the small things about being in a group of people can really start to annoy after a few days such as the amount of time taken getting on and off the coach, or other travellers reclining their seats while on the coach for example.
If you have never travelled on a coach holiday before why not try a coach day trip just to get a sense of what you are in for or maybe just a short weekend break? Knowing what to expect might help you be better prepared but if after your shorter trips, you still feel the same then perhaps reconsider your holiday choice.
The other way to deal with this issue is to weigh up the pros and cons. Coach holidays can provide great value for money (because there can be 47 of you on one coach), so why not focus on the things you want to see and do and the value you are getting? If you are finding being with other people all the time overwhelming then why not have a couple of meals out on your own, or perhaps take a leisure day to explore under your own steam?
Rather than avoid a coach holiday completely, if you get on OK after a day trip then why not try a shorter trip and build from there?
Are coach holidays any good?
Coach holidays are a great way to travel if you want a full itinerary of visits and tours. You can cover a lot more than on your own. There is a great deal of choice including how much time there is to explore on your own, differing activity levels and different standards of hotels. They are also great if you don’t want to drive.
2. Should You Avoid a Coach Holiday If You Suffer From Travel Sickness?
One of my very first trips featured a soundtrack of a young lady being sick every time the coach went around a corner, and given we were up in the Italian Dolomites there were lots of corners. Her travel sickness was so bad that she sat in the very front seat of the coach, the jump seat, and it still didn’t help. As a result of such a bad experience, not to mention the 24 hour journey down to Italy by coach she didn’t go on any more trips and stayed at the hotel instead.
My most recent trips have also featured guests who suffered quite badly from travel sickness. They had not understood how much coach travel was involved in their holiday, having looked at a map of the UK and concluding that the journeys were all quite short. Having realised that most of the journeys didn’t include much motorway travel they really suffered despite being allocated seats ahead of the front wheels.
Travel sickness is terrible. I know, I suffer from it too. A coach holiday might not be the best option if you are badly affected.
Requesting the front seats generally won’t work as coach holiday companies generally have seat rotation or other policies for front seat allocation. However, most coach holiday companies should offer fixed seats near the front of the coach if you request them. This may mean you forfeit your opportunity to get into the front seats if there is seat rotation in operation.
One of the issues that seem to cause most issues for travel sickness sufferers on coaches is the temperature. It’s the same for me too. If it is too warm then gradually a green hue develops. As such I always travel with a small handheld fan, a rechargeable one and battery powered back up.
Ginger sweets are also handy and if it is going to be a really tough day then ginger tablets can be great, without the dizziness and side effects of travel sickness tablets.
Deciding to avoid a coach holiday completely might be an extreme option. Why not look in detail at the itinerary, ask about the seating policy and see if you can reserve a seat that helps minimise the risk? Also, ask the coach holiday company for advice about trips and travelling.
(As a lifelong sufferer here are my tips on how I manage my travel sickness)
3. Should You Avoid a Coach Holiday If You Don’t Enjoy Group Meals?
Meal arrangements on coach holidays vary. Depending on the holiday there will be a number of breakfasts, lunches and dinners included.
Often when staying at a hotel coach holiday guests will be expected to dine together, perhaps at the same time or located together in the same part of the dining room, or both.
Lunches and dinners can often have the same requirements, with guests allocated a selection of tables perhaps in the restaurant/dining room.
These allocated areas can include a mix of table sizes which can mean that you end up dining with other people regularly.
For many, this is an important part of the coach holiday experience, but for others, perhaps new to coach holidays or who prefer to dine more quietly this can be a bit of a difficult adjustment.
Perhaps asking more about this before booking might help you make a decision about whether this is something that will impact your holiday experience or not. In the past, I have had some guests really upset about this and have had to arrange small tables of two for them. This has caused problems with other travellers who have been upset by this, seeing it as some sort of snub or reflection on them.
If your coach holiday is going to include lots of group meals then why not take an evening or two off and dine out? This may make the experience a bit easier to deal with if you feel it is going to be problematic and your dining experience will be a good conversation topic too.
One of my previous guests never ate with the group as he liked to eat his main meal mid-afternoon. Despite paying for dinner each night he ate on his own during the day and then enjoyed a free evening. He was a bit of an exception but it is certainly one way to avoid a coach holiday issue!
Don’t avoid a coach holiday because of group meals, just personalise it to suit you. Group meals don’t always mean dining together anyway as some hotels offer dine at leisure style eating which allows coach holiday guests to eat when suits them.
4. Should You Avoid a Coach Holiday If You Like Dining A La Carte?
Coach holiday companies that include meals will most likely have booked some sort of meal package. Sometimes this can be a buffet meal for the group. Other times it can be a table d’hote type menu with limited choices and it can also mean a fixed menu i.e. there are choices for guests other than perhaps take it or leave it.
Each of these options can be problematic if you enjoy perusing a lengthy menu and making your choice from lots of tempting options.
Buffets can be quite limited sometimes, or perhaps have a mix of dishes, some of which are more popular than others. One coach holiday company had specific buffet criteria which included how many fish, meat, vegetarian, hot and cold options a buffet had to have but that was the exception rather than the rule.
Table d’hote menus can provide some choice, but often these menus are negotiated by the coach holiday company who pay a fixed price. This can mean your options are perhaps more limited than other diners in the same restaurant, or sometimes other coach holiday guests in the same restaurant.
Fixed menus are surprisingly common on coach holidays and it is, as you can imagine, nearly impossible to get a menu that 47 people all enjoy.
If dining is a key part of your holiday experience then it might be worth asking for more details before you book. Knowing in advance can help you deal with this issue much better.
Instead of feeling you have to avoid a coach holiday completely why not enjoy a local meal during your trip and pick exactly what you want? Just because the meals are included in your coach holiday doesn’t mean you have to take them.
5. Should You Avoid a Coach Holiday If You Don’t Like Being Organised?
For many guests being organised, or rather having everything organised, is one of the main features of a coach holiday. Some guests love turning up and just being told what to do and where to go at what time.
However, for some people, the fact that they need to be at meals, on coaches, off coaches, back at coaches etc at set times can be really difficult to handle.
This can be a problem when guests on a coach holiday didn’t realise how much travelling was involved, or how much was included in their holiday. It can often leave them feeling like they don’t have a minute to themselves, which of course for some is the attraction!
As I mentioned at the top of this article a coach holiday is going to mean being with a large group of people. That means that things that are relatively quick and simple when travelling on your own need more planning and more time when travelling in a group.
If luggage porterage is included for example you will need to put your luggage out for collection by a certain time in the morning before departure.
You may need to eat at set times, rather than dining at times to suit you. Departing means being at the coach at a set time of course, with the added pressure of not wanting to be last or perhaps first on board.
When visiting places you may need to stay together as a group, for example, if you have a local guide or you are travelling on something like a cable car, or a railway.
Depending on the holiday you may need to pass through customs or border checks. Some of these require groups to line up in visa order each time.
A coach holiday by its very nature means there will be organisation to deal with.
If you feel this may be a problem perhaps ask in advance about meal arrangements and the balance of free or leisure time. Although everything is included in a coach holiday you don’t have to do it all so you can still customise your experience to suit you.
Some guests do feel somewhat obliged to do everything because they have paid for it. This can lead to them doing perhaps more than they feel able to do or becoming tired. A good way to deal with this potential issue is to focus on the things that are really important to you and have some days or options where you give yourself a bit of flexibility. Travelling can be very tiring.
Feeling you have to avoid a coach holiday because there is some structure involved can be a bit extreme. Coach holidays can offer great value in terms of getting to a variety and a large number of places. Why not speak to the coach holiday company and check out how much free time you have on the holiday and use this to plan your own adventures?
6. Should You Avoid a Coach Holiday if You Like to Explore At a Faster or Slower Pace?
Pacing issues are one of the most common issues that guests experience on a coach holiday.
For some guests, the pace of the holiday i.e. the amount included, the activity involved, the time spent as a group, the group meals, and the total time spent together can be too slow. This can be as simple as the walking pace being too slow on tours and visits for example.
This can also be problematic if guests have taken a coach holiday that has had every minute of the day organised, which they loved, and then they take a coach holiday with much more free time to explore independently. This free time can feel somewhat daunting or feel wasted if they are not sure what to do, or they prefer a guided visit.
However, the opposite can also be true. Some guests book a coach holiday expecting to spend time gently gliding around on a coach enjoying the views and find lots of visits and walking difficult to deal with. They are perhaps used to more resort based holidays and the adjustment can be difficult to make.
Whilst coach holiday companies will generally publish information about the fitness and physical ability you need to have to take a particular tour it can be difficult to get a sense of the overall pace. Researching the itinerary in a bit more detail can help, as can talking to the coach holiday operator and asking more questions in advance of booking.
Most coach holiday companies will have some sort of tour schedule which will give an idea about the amount of travelling each day, the activities included, meals included etc.
Pacing is really difficult. Everyone on the coach will have a different idea of the right pace – this is often a problem between travelling companions or partners too with one wanting to do everything and one wanting to go a little slower.
If you are travelling with someone else who has a different travelling pace from you then perhaps agree on some activities to do together and some to do separately. The great thing about a coach holiday is there are likely to be others on the holiday doing the same thing if you want to go with someone else.
As with the previous point instead of feeling you have to avoid a coach holiday completely why not investigate and see how you can tailor the program to suit your speed?
Should You Avoid a Coach Holiday? Summary
- Many of the misconceptions about coach holidays can be avoided by good pre-holiday research and planning.
- Ask lots of questions about the timings and the itinerary, read reviews, and ask questions in forums.
- Your Tour Manager will be able to help with suggestions of how to personalise the coach holiday to suit you a bit more.
- Don’t avoid a coach holiday just invest time in some research and find the perfect one for you.
- A coach holiday could be your perfect holiday.
Coach Holiday Companies
If you want to tickle your travel taste buds then why not have a peruse through the websites of these coach holiday companies, there are plenty of holidays to tempt you!
If you have found this article about whether you should Avoid a Coach Holiday useful you might also like;
Top 4 Coach Holiday Myths Busted
9 Reasons to Choose a Coach Holiday – based on real traveller feedback
10 Coach Holiday Hacks For an Even Better Trip
For more resources to help you find your perfect trip check out my Coach Holidays page
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