Bus tours and vacation packages
September 10, 2007 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Bus Tours in U.S.A. I am looking for vacation packages (for destinations like grand canyon, yellowstone park) from sanfrancisco/bayarea similar to this one http://www.gotobus.com/vacation/ http://www.lassentours.com/ Can people share their experience if they had gone through such tours. Are they worth for the money paid for ? Do we get to see these places well ? Can we say that the experience will be enjoyable Are there any other tour operators apart from above which are good ? The main reason, i am prefering such tours, is the convenience... The price seems to be quite reasonable too... Thanks for your time.
posted by mot123 to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
I can't speak for tours going from California to the Grand Canyon, but I took one from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon (West Rim) last week over Labor Day. I was satisfied with everything, no problems. Only a few minor caveats about these types of bus tours:

1.) The bus driver is on a schedule; if he gets delayed for whatever reason, including the tour company's fault, you pay for it in time lost visiting your destination.
2.) Because they are on a schedule, you have to be proactive in planning out your time so that you get to see what you want to see.
3.) A lot of times their add-ons can be purchased cheaper at your destination or through the actual rafting/hiking/helicopter/etc. company itself. My friend and I paid for the cheapest Grand Canyon West Rim bus tour so we could go on the Skywalk. The tour company's Skywalk Adventure was $40 extra, and the day of they told us our package didn't allow the Skywalk as an add-on on our package. We arrived at the West Rim and were able to purchase tickets at the Skywalk itself for $27 each.

All in all, these types of tours bundle convenience at a decent price at a bit of a sacrifice for time and bargains. Good luck and have fun.
posted by lychee at 4:05 PM on September 10, 2007

With bus tours in general, some people like them and some people don't. You won't get much time at each attraction. For example look at this:
Day 6 Kanab - Grand Canyon - Zion National Park - Las Vegas:
For me that seems like a lot for one day. Each of these parks easily warrants a multi-day trip on its own.

I did a weekend trip to Yosemite once (not bus). There is a famous lookout called Tunnel Point or something like that; it gives a breathtaking view of the valley with Half Dome in the middle. Me and my friends were hanging out there when a tour bus pulled up. 30-odd people spilled out. A tour guide shouted, "OK, TWO MINUTES!" Three-deep at the lookout railing, they stood around vacantly, many snapping photos. Five minutes later they all vanished, and the lookout was empty and peaceful again.

My bias is showing through. Oh well. Before signing up for any kind of bus tour I would think carefully about how much time I want at each attraction and make sure the tour met those needs. I would hate to feel rushed when I'm watching the sunset over the grand canyon or somethign like that.
posted by PercussivePaul at 4:14 PM on September 10, 2007

Bus tours aren't totally evil. They're good to see a lot of places quickly, so you can come back to the ones you like. You can't stay longer at the places you like, but you don't stay long in the places you hate. So, ok.

They are best if you go with people you know you travel well with, because they're no fun at all if you don't like the group. And one irritating person can make your vacation suck.

A good bus tour has multi-day stays, because they're a lot more hectic if you have to pack every morning, and drive to somewhere every night. The optional activities are where they make their money... if you ever see "free afternoon at the Grand Canyon to see the sights", that's code for "$50 donkey rides". And everyone on the tour does them, because of peer/tour guide pressure and "I'll only be here once" syndrome. You can easily spend 50% on top of the tour price on extras.

Anyways, another option is something like Trek America. They are more of a camping trek outfit, but they do have hotel tours. For instance. It's a slower schedule. And it's only a 13 person van, instead of a 50 person bus, which means you don't overwhelm every place you visit. And smaller groups can stay in better hotels. (The camping tours are awesome too, but that's a different sort of thing.)
posted by smackfu at 4:44 PM on September 10, 2007

If you do not like or don't have a lot of patience for elderly people, you will not enjoy a bus tour. Many of the patrons will be retired people.

I used to work in a hotel that catered to bus tours. The tourists were about 80% 65+, 15% 40-65 and 5% under 40. Some of the younger people were traveling with their 60+ parents and enjoyed it. People who were younger than middle-aged and traveling with friends or significant others either took their elders in stride and had a blast or were totally miserable. Ask yourself honestly if this is for you. If it is, it's a relatively inexpensive and easy way to see a region.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:49 PM on September 10, 2007

Contiki. 18-35 age limit. Because Mayor Curley is right.

Of course, 18 year olds are no fun either... at least on the US tours it's a little harder for them get smashed every night.
posted by smackfu at 4:57 PM on September 10, 2007

« Older unpaid rental fee   |   Help me find a haircut! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.