BY: NICOLE DEFOREST
Now that we’re coming into spring I’m getting more and more inquiries for Europe. I was a flight attendant before becoming a travel agent so I’ve been very fortunate to travel to a lot of European cities. I always get asked, “what’s the best was to see Europe: tour bus, backpacking or cruise?” My response takes a bit more than a one-word answer. It depends on the budget, how many countries you would like to visit, how long are you traveling for, and who is going with you.
Let’s start first by talking about escorted tours by bus.
The best thing about an escorted European bus tour is the convenience. All the planning, hotels, sightseeing, guided tours, transportation, and most of all the meals are already included. Forget about all the hassle and headaches trying to plan it yourself. In a lot of European countries, you have to consider they speak a different language than us, they may drive on the opposite side of the road then what we’re used to, and most cars are standard. How nice would it be to have a local guide who knows the country in and out and for you to have a personal driver every day and you just get to relax and take in all the sites?! Most buses have an average of thirty-eight guests on board taking the same tour as you, and you can choose from hundreds of options, whether it’s doing one or two countries in a week or up to ten countries over twenty-one days. You can also choose from moderate and fast–paced tours, as well as cost saving or first class tours. A lot of people think touring is a fast-guided trip in and out of each city and onto the next spot. That used to be how the tours were back in the day, but these days you usually drive to an area or two take a tour and have the afternoon or evening with free time to do what you’d like.
If you’ve never done a cruise I would think again. Cruising is great for everyone as it offers great food, entertainment, relaxation and variety. If you love food you’re going to enjoy the food varieties onboard a cruise. Not only do you get breakfast, lunch, and dinner but you also get to choose from afternoon snacks, midnight buffets, 24-hour room service and more. You have the choice to eat with just yourself, or with a large group to make friends. You can dress casual or go formal – you decide. Cruises also offer the best entertainment. They offer production shows, live bands, movie theaters, casinos, some even have basketball courts, rock climbing wall, ice rinks, dress up characters for the kids. You can decide how busy or relaxed you’d like to be. A cruise is a great way to see a lot of countries in a short amount of time. Imagine going to sleep every night and waking up the next morning in a new country to venture off to for the day. Like tours, you can also find a cruise line in your budget with the option of upgrading your cabin and services.
Backpacking is a lot of fun, it does take a bit more time planning, but you will immerse yourself in the customs and cultures of the countries you visit. You decide how many days you’d like to spend in each country and if you decide while you’re in that country that you need more time, no problem, you stay longer. Accommodation will be staying in mostly hostels, B&Bs or lower hotel chains but it’s a great way to save your dollars. This style of travel is a great way to meet new friends and tag along to become travel buddies to the next city or country together, as well as hear from others where they’ve just been and what they did, to see if you should go there as well or cross it off your list and try something else instead. You’re seeing the tourist sites on your own and being your own guide, so I recommend you have a book on the area to reference top attractions. You’ll be eating at a lot of local vendors off the streets or what we like to call “hole in the wall restaurants” but it’s some of the best places I’ve ever eaten.
No matter which way you decide to travel Europe, make sure Europe is on your travel list.