The popularity of bus travel was highlighted this week when National Express announced that bookings by people 65 and older had increased 185 percent in the last 14 days year over year
Holidays in Charabanc began in the early 20th century when horse-drawn carriages were fitted with benches for group travel, usually to the sea.
When simple motorized versions were introduced in the 1920s, charabancs – from the French char a bancs (wagons with benches) – disappeared and the bus trips we know began.
Bus breaks have obviously come a long way, but their continued popularity was highlighted this week when National Express announced that bookings for people 65 and older were up 185 percent – and more than half – in the last 14 days year over year of which all reservations were made by those over 50.
With the rise of “vaccine confidence” and the introduction of social measures – including reduced passenger capacity – confidence in group travel appears to have been restored.
“The introduction of vaccines is a very welcome development for our passengers,” said Robert Shaw, chairman of the Coach Tourism Association.
“We know that loyal customers of bus tour operators across the UK are keen to travel again and we can’t wait to take them with us.”
Modern coaches typically cost £ 300,000 and have 48 seats, air conditioning and high-tech entertainment systems. So it’s all a long way from these charabanc days.
CORKER IN YORKSHIRE
Scarborough is the base for a Yorkshire bus tour that stops in Bridlington, Beverley and the depicted county capital, York
This tour heads north to Scarborough in North Yorkshire, where your five day break at the Grand Hotel takes place.
Trips are organized to the elegant seaside resort of Bridlington, the delightful market town of Beverley, and the district capital of York to visit the Minster and the National Railway Museum.
How it goes: From £ 240 half board with hotel and excursions (harryshaw.co.uk).
Wander the quaint port town of Tenby on a five-day bus adventure through West Wales
FOGGING SYSTEMS AND REDUCED CAPACITY …
Reduced capacity: buses that normally take 48 passengers are now carrying 29-34 instead.
More distance: seating for two people on one side of the aisle and on the other.
Solo travelers: always sit alone.
Maintained bubbles: People only sit together when they are in the same household.
Mandatory face masks: Passengers must wear masks.
Fogging systems: antiviral sprays that are used daily for “super clean”.
Temperature: checked on boarding (max. 37.5 c).
Hand sanitizer: available on the doors.
Rule of six: or similar, to be observed on trips.
Test and traceability: strict systems in place.
Stroll the candy-colored, winding streets of the port town of Tenby on this five-day adventure through West Wales. The trip begins with a visit to the National Botanical Gardens of Wales and ends in the charming walled town of Pembroke, dominated by its castle. There is an optional excursion to St. Davids, Britain’s smallest town.
How it goes: From £ 379pp half board including hotels and excursions (Shearings.com).
Take a five-day tour of the Highlands with multiple pick-up points in Scotland and visit the Victorian spa town of Strathpeffer, Inverness Castle and Drumnadrochit to visit the Loch Ness Center. On the last day there is a trip to the market town of Dingwall.
How it goes: From £ 349pp all inclusive including hotels and excursions (www.maynesholidays.co.uk).
Embark on a week-long tour starting in North Norfolk before heading south to Norwich and the Norfolk Broads, visiting the museum and gardens at Sandringham. You stay at the Hotel de Paris in the lively coastal town of Cromer.
How it goes: From £ 339 half board including hotels, tours and pick-ups (alfatravel.co.uk).
CASTLES AND COAST
See charming, castle-topped villages and a number of historic towns on this five-day trip across the Northumberland coast. Highlights include a visit to Craster’s fishing port, known as the home of the dump trucks, and the magnificent Bamburgh Castle.
How it goes: From £ 399pp half board including hotels and excursions (Shearings.com).
Start in Bournemouth and enjoy a five-day adventure along the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. Make stops at Studland Bay, Corfe Castle, Sherborne Castle (where Sir Walter Raleigh once lived) and Beaulieu Motor Museum in the New Forest, Hampshire. A traditional steam train and a boat trip from Poole to Swanage are organized between Swanage and Corfe.
How it goes: From £ 799pp half board including hotels and excursions and a pick-up / drop-off service (titantravel.co.uk).
There are wonderful five day bus tours of the Lake District visiting Keswick, Glenridding and Lake Bassenthwaite
Home pickups can be arranged for wonderful five day tours of the Lake District in Keswick, alongside Derwent Water, Glenridding (for a cruise with Ullswater Steamers) and Lake Bassenthwaite, where whiskey tasting is organized.
How it goes: From £ 629 half board with hotels and excursions (johnsonscoaches.co.uk).
Fun for singles
Stop at Harewood House in West Yorkshire to tour the magnificent gardens designed by Capability Brown and view the art collection, including works by Turner and El Greco, as you stay in the spa town of Harrogate on a four-day tour of southern England. It is aimed at single travelers over Easter.
How it goes: From £ 449pp half board including hotel, excursions and Easter meal (nationalexpress.com/de/holidays).
A five-day bus tour that starts and ends in Oxford (pictured) offers excursions to Blenheim Palace and Bletchley Park
SOMEONE FOR LONG HAUL?
Saga Holidays, the travel specialist over 50, reports a 90 percent growth in long haul bookings made a year in advance.
Bookings for 2022 are skyrocketing, with India / Indian Ocean, Australasia and Africa being the top choices.
The length of the booked trip has also increased from an average of 13 days to 18 days. The booking incentives include savings of up to 24 percent.
70 percent of people who book winter sun breaks now opt for 21 days or more for the travel period from November to January 2022.
A spokeswoman for Saga believes people are diving in their pockets for once in a lifetime after being stuck at home for so long. Visit travel.saga.co.uk.
Enjoy a five-day tour that begins and ends in Oxford, the “City of Dreaming Towers,” with trips to Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill’s birthplace, and Bletchley Park, where code breakers helped win World War II. A city tour of Oxford is included.
How it goes: From £ 899pp half board with hotels, excursions and a pick-up / drop-off service (titantravel.co.uk).
THE HIGH LIFE
Explore the serene lakes and high mountains of Snowdonia National Park on this five-day tour of North Wales. Highlights include a 25-mile scenic journey through the foothills of Snowdon aboard the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway and a trip to Portmeirion Village, known for its colorful Italian buildings.
How it goes: From £ 349 half board including hotels and excursions (edwardscoaches.co.uk).
See also: nationalexpress.com and welovecoaches.com.
. . . And further away
See the Northern Lights on a four-day bus tour in Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park
Four days of geysers, expansive plains and snow-capped mountain ranges in Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park with the opportunity to see the Northern Lights.
How it goes: From £ 689pp B&B including hotels, tours and flights (sunspottours.com).
BREAK FOR BULGARIA
Bulgaria is a country that will be full of new experiences for most of us. And this eight day trip takes you to a Roman amphitheater, old churches, tombs, a medieval rock relief, and some wonderful beaches.
How it goes: From £ 1,159 per person B&B including hotels, some other meals and excursions (travelsphere.co.uk).
If you’re dying to see the French capital, book a four-day bus tour that passes the city’s most famous landmarks
Explore the French capital on a four-day tour that includes the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and the Champs Elysees. Plus an evening in the Latin Quarter or a visit to the Palace of Versailles.
How it goes: From £ 299pp B&B including hotels and some excursions (leger.co.uk).
Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech are destinations that stand for wanderlust. Visit these Moroccan cities as well as Rabat, the Roman city of Volubulis, and more on this ten-day trip.
How it goes: From £ 1,499 per person on half board basis including hotels, excursions, flights and home pick-up / drop-off (titantravel.co.uk).
Q&A: Have a look before you book!
Starting at 4 a.m. on Monday, travelers coming to the UK must provide evidence of a negative Covid test. The test must be carried out up to 72 hours before departure
I’m not sure if I’ll be dealing with a foreign vacation this year. Don’t we have to do Covid tests before returning to the UK from overseas now?
From Monday at 4 a.m., yes. And the Prime Minister announced yesterday that all travel corridors will be closed at the same time. But don’t let that put you off. We may not be able to go anywhere right now because it is locked, but if it wears off the new system should be almost bearable.
It all sounds terribly complicated. How does it work?
You have to do a Covid test up to 72 hours before departure and prove the negative result in the documentation. Your tour operator or accommodation provider should let you know where they can be tested.
OK, but what kind of test is acceptable? I want to be sure.
The government has published guidelines on gov.uk, which types are exactly approved for “Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tests for people traveling to England”. See also Wales (gov.wales) and Scotland (gov.scot). For England, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests are acceptable.
How much do these cost?
In the UK they cost around £ 120 so expect to pay around the same abroad.
So if I do a test before I fly to my destination and when I come back, it’ll cost me £ 240?
Yes, unless tests get cheaper, which is likely.
What if I test positive abroad?
You are not allowed to travel and must follow local coronavirus rules.
Do I still need to do these tests if I have been vaccinated?
I miss traveling abroad and can’t wait to visit Cuba so I’m ready to jump through these hoops – what advice do you have when booking a trip?
When booking a trip to Cuba, you should book a package tour as this is included in the package tour regulations
Buy a package tour. Packages are covered by the Package Travel Policy, which requires businesses to provide a refund within 14 days if a vacation needs to be canceled.
Do some operators allow customers to rebook for other destinations in the event of a cancellation?
Yes, but check your company’s policies. For example, TUI allows free changes to bookings made from October to February 28 for trips this year.
I prefer to book my own flight and hotel. Is that okay for sure?
Yes, but if the flight is canceled or the border closes, for example, your accommodation provider may refuse to refund. Also, if the airline continues to fly while a border is closed to non-essential travel, it can be difficult to get a refund.
Any other tips?
Book with a company that is bound by ATOL (Air Travel Organizer’s License). When it goes bust, a government-backed fund offers compensation
Book with a company that is bound by ATOL (Air Travel Organizer’s License). When it goes bust, a government-backed fund offers compensation. And book with a credit card as if there are problems getting compensation. They fall under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
What about travel insurance?
Take it out as soon as you book a break.
Will European health insurance cards work after Brexit?
Yes, until your card expires. Then apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) at nhs.uk. Both offer mutual medical care in EU countries.
Gosh, that’s a lot to do – is it safe to travel?
Yes. Follow the rules of the destination (see gov.uk), book a package, and everything should be fine.