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Your Best Escorted European Tours

Why are escorted European tours still popular?

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Escorted coach tours of Europe can be a great choice when you’re planning a memorable vacation.

  • You avoid the stress of booking hotels, searching for affordable transportation and trying to find the perfect attractions to visit.
  • It’s all taken care of - an escort who guides you around and is your assistant for the whole period and a driver…who drives you around.

It’s as simple as that...and that’s why we cover both Escorted and Independent vacations in Europe in this Tutorial.

Large coach, small coach, hosted packages, rail trips…

Many escorted European tours operate on large luxurious coaches as listed in this part of the Tutorial.

Other sections cover small group travel, hosted packages and rail programs.

Escorted European bus tours…

Escorted tours can be either sightseeing or special interest programs.

A separate section special interest trips will be added later to this Tutorial …cooking, art, history, biking and walking…Oktoberfest, Christmas Markets and young adult trips. You’ve got lots of options. We will do the research for you.

Escorted European tours can be low cost…with accommodations usually on the outskirts of a city, medium priced or first class staying at the bigger chain hotels, and very upscale tours staying at deluxe properties.

The benefits of all escorted European tours are the same…having the nitty-gritty details of trip-planning mapped out for you in advance by somebody who knows those areas inside out…and having an experienced tour director guide you to the must-see attractions.

You can find the benefits and drawbacks of escorted travel here as well as many other tips to help you decide what is the best for you.

Your benefits of an escorted European tour…

  • You save a lot…most operators book hotels, air transportation and other travel services in bulk at a discounted rate. You’ll pay less for a tour than you would if you booked and paid for all the items individually.
  • No need to speak another language…your escort does that and your driver knows the way.
  • You probably learn more about Europe’s attractions than you would on your own.
  • You often travel with like-minded passengers on an escorted tour…if you choose the right operator.

And here are some items to also think about…

  • At times you might feel a bit “herded around” and not appreciate some of the early morning wake-up calls…if that is you I would recommend a hosted package or small group tour.
  • With the exception of luxury tours, the guides will often sell optional tours that are not included in the cost…making the trip more expensive than expected… Be watchful.

Some important questions you may want to ask before you sign up…

  • What does the price actually include…how many nights, meals, admissions and transportation?
  • Are optional excursions offered…every day…what is the cost?
  • What are the suggested tips for driver and guide? Of course it’s your own decision depending on how useful they were to you!
  • How large will the group be…if there are fewer passengers, will it be a driver-guide instead of a driver and a guide? See Small Group Touring.

  • What is the average age…are singles or couples participants?
  • Are the hotels located downtown or on the outskirts? Many first class and all budget tours use hotels outside the city center.
  • How many one night stops are included? Some operators (Insight Vacations for example) have a minimum of two nights…most first class and budget tours have several one-night stops.
  • For budget tours ask if rooms have a private bathroom and air-conditioning…

Essential tips for enjoying escorted European tours

  • Maintain your independence…you can do plenty of things on your own…bring a good guidebook.
  • You don’t have to take all the optional tours…go to the web before you leave and see if you’re really interested in visiting another castle or cathedral...

    I often prefer to watch the locals from a sidewalk terrace with a coffee or glass of wine…

  • Be careful with “shopping stops”…guides and drivers get a commission on everything you buy…
  • Before you book any tour make sure of the cancellation policy…how late can you cancel without a penalty if you can’t go?
  • And finally is the tour definite or can the company cancel the trip if they don’t have enough…be sure not to get stuck with non-refundable airline tickets.

What are the major European tour operators?
What is the category of the trip they offer?

  • Budget tours…are fine if you wish to have a good basic introduction to traveling in Europe, but also wish to have the option of doing sightseeing on your own.

    Budget tours include basic sightseeing and offer lots of optional trips.

    Budget tours stay at tourist or superior tourist class hotels with rooms that offer a private bath or shower…often on the outskirts of a city.

    Cosmos and Trafalgar Cost Savers are major operators in this group.

  • First Class tours…are for you if you want to have more activities and sightseeing opportunities included in the price.

    The first class hotels are often large chain hotels with all the modern features.

    For each program check the number of nights in a city, if you don’t want too many one-night stops.

    Globus and Trafalgar Tours are major operators. Insight Vacations is a more upscale version.

  • Luxury escorted tours…offer inclusive sightseeing, and other features that are not available are on first class tours.

    These programs include entertainment - folklore shows, concerts and special events.

    Accommodation is in specially selected hotels, inns, castles, palaces…and they’re all deluxe.

    Tauck Tours is a major deluxe tour operator.

    Abercrombie & Kent and Travcoa are two companies that offer ultra-deluxe programs…smaller groups, more upscale accommodations…and more expensive.

Your four major types of escorted programs

  1. Fully escorted European programs as listed above.
  2. Student and young adult escorted tours…for those between 18 and 35. Contiki Travel is the best known operator.
  3. Small Group touring.
  4. Short multi-day trips operated in individual European countries.

So...what is the best way to choose your escorted European tour?

  • Decide the countries you want to visit on an escorted tour.
  • Decide if you want to be with a small, a large, special interest or a young adult group.
  • Look at the web sites of the operators listed in this section and make your final decision.

I strongly recommend going to a good travel consultant for more information on the companies. They have the latest details. Remember, not all tours listed in the brochures materialize!

A consultant will receive a commission and should not charge you an extra booking fee…if they do charge…take their recommendation and go online or call the company directly to book.

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