The new generation of guided tours: it's time to think outside the bus

Many people hear the words “escorted travel” and immediately think “tour bus” or “motorcoach.” While there’s nothing wrong with either form of travel, they’re certainly not the only options available when you take an escorted or guided tour. A host of other options deliver all the benefits of escorted travel without relying on traditional motorcoach transportation.

For example, although the guided tour company Tauck has been offering award-winning, premium quality motorcoach tours since 1925, the company has continued to innovate and is constantly redefining the meaning of “guided travel” in exciting new ways, including:

European river cruises. No travel segment is growing faster right now than European river cruises, and Tauck’s river cruises are among the best. The company was recently named “The World’s Best River Cruise Line” by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, and it’s launching two new ships and four new cruises next year. Like traditional tours, river cruises offer the rich cultural experience of exploring a variety of historic European cities and towns, but with the added convenience of unpacking just once.

Special city-centric events. You can also travel on events that each explore a particular theme, and are based in a single city (again, with unpack-just-once convenience). Tauck events highlight Rome and London, while others celebrate the Kentucky Derby and Rose Parade. And the company offers a rotating series of events featuring the filmmaker Ken Burns that explore the topics of his documentaries, including jazz in New Orleans and baseball at the sport’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

Active, small group travel. “Culturious” journeys are active explorations for small groups of culturally inquisitive travelers. Culturious trips provide an up-close, hands-on, immersive experience in focused destinations (think Tuscany or Provence). Transportation is provided by nimble mini-coaches that go where larger motorcoaches can’t, such as the narrow, cobbled streets of small European villages.

Guided trips for families. Guided trips especially designed for families are always popular, like the Tauck Bridges portfolio. While some trips incorporate motorcoaches, others employ expedition ships (in the Galapagos), open-top safari vehicles (in Tanzania) and elegant riverboats (along the Rhone and Danube).

With any form of guided travel, the benefits are many. Before your trip, the planning is done for you, and upon arrival, there are no worries about navigating in a strange destination. During your trip, you’ll enjoy special access to places and experiences you’d never find on your own. And because the better packages are virtually all-inclusive, your trip is essentially paid for in advance. But perhaps the best advantage is the presence of an expert, professional tour guide who brings each destination to life by sharing his or her knowledge of the sights and scenes you’re experiencing.

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