This is the second half of a post on touring Ireland. To Drive – should we rent a car and brave the roads? Or Be Driven – take a bus tour? Part 1 looked at the pros and cons of renting a car and driving. (https://geanieroake.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/to-drive-or-be-driven-touring-southern-ireland/) Today we talk about bus tours.
Pros Of Bus Tours
1. For those who haven’t the time or the confidence to plan a complicated overseas vacation, a bus tour may be the perfect solution. Simply browse through a catalog, or travel company website, choose your preferred itinerary, and sign on the dotted line. From that point on, everything from food and lodging, to entertainment, is taken care of. All accommodations are carefully researched and of excellent quality. All you have to do is appear at the appropriate departure point, and get on the bus.
2. Your guide is well versed in the history and details of the area, and it’s fun to have someone along who knows all the answers. The tour directors also know where to stop for lunch, where to find the best shopping deals, and who to steer you away from when it comes to scam artists and hucksters.
3. If you’re a people person, traveling with a group is ideal. There are many new faces to get acquainted with, and a variety of opinions and insights to enjoy. As your trip begins, you are traveling with strangers, but if you’re lucky, by the time it’s over you have evolved into a group of friends.
4. You can sleep. If you’re suffering from jet lag and can’t stay awake for another minute, you don’t have to. You can doze off without risking anyone’s life, and you still arrive promptly at your intended destination.
To Be Driven, Cons:
1. Your tour itinerary is planned to please the majority. If one of the stops doesn’t interest you, you get to participate anyway. Initially of course you have many different itineraries to choose from, but nothing is ever going to be “perfect” unless you plan it yourself.
2. Because of the convenience, guided tours tend to be more expensive. Traveling in the off-season, and comparison-shopping will help keep the cost down, though you never want to choose a company simply because they’re the least expensive. As with any decision of this nature, do your homework and be sure the group you pick is reputable.
3. On bus tours the schedule is important. The concept of 40 people traveling together works only if everyone cooperates. Toss a couple of non-conformists into the pot and the carefully laid plans began to unravel. If you are one who becomes so absorbed that you lose track of time, or who simply doesn’t care that 39 people are sitting on the bus waiting for you to finish shopping, you will not be the most popular person on your tour. With this in mind, you may want to think about other forms of transportation.
At last, after careful consideration of all the pros and cons, My mother and I were able to make a decision. We did not like the idea of traveling on someone else’s timetable, and there were places we wanted to see which were not included in the guided tours, but . . . we ultimately chose to go that route anyway.
The deciding factor – fear. I am not known for my driving skills on a good day. As far as I was concerned, the combination of jet lag, and driving on the left, added up to a recipe for certain for disaster. To the great relief of the people of Ireland, and their livestock, I decided to leave the driving to someone else. It was a good decision. Who knows what kind of experience, good or bad, we might have had on our own, but the bus trip turned out to be great fun.
We signed on with CIE International, for their 10-day “Irish Welcome” tour. We traveled with a group of 40 people, ranging in age from 15 to 80, whom we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know. Everyone was on their good behavior and there were no obvious incidents, aside from one case of car sickness, which happily occurred just as we were pulling into the hotel parking lot.
Our driver/guide, Tom Keane was charming, did not have an incomprehensible accent, and was very good at the logistics of moving 40 people around the countryside. The schedule was well-organized, with plenty of free time, and we saw some fascinating places that we would never have known about on our own. Best of all, when the trip was over we felt rested and relaxed, and ready to start planning our next adventure.
- GUIDED TOURS: Picking The Right Company (jeannetteroams.wordpress.com)