When people think of traveling within Europe the first thing to come to mind is the all-train EuroRail pass. Heralded as the best and most affordable way to see Europe, the rail systems have been a favorite of student and budget conscious travelers for years. But there's another way to see Europe that may be even less expensive. Touring by bus or luxury motor coach makes for scenic traveling and a more flexible and mobile experience that doesn't limit your view of Europe to major train stations and the neighborhoods surrounding them.
Trafalgar Tours (tel. 866/544-4434; www.trafalgartours.com) offers several winter specials to many of the European countries. Their luxury motor coach tours of the United Kingdom and Italy are first class ways to see the beautiful countryside. An eight-day tour of Rome, Florence and Capri starts at $1,195 with a July 2005 departure date and goes to $1,375 for an April 2005 date. These prices are land-inclusive. The air-land deal starts at $2,250 for the July week and goes to $2,490 for a June week. Travel around the Italian countryside is in a first-class luxury motor coach equipped with long-reclining seats and a working washroom. Included in the price are a licensed tour guide and professional local guides to take you through the Italian cities and point out interesting sites along the driving route. Hotel service charges and taxes are included in the price of the package, as are a daily buffet breakfast.
Trafalgar also offers a London-Paris countryside jaunt lasting 10 days and starting at a land-only price of $890 with air/land packages starting at $1,530 depending on departure city. Departure dates for this European winter special go through the March into very early April. The package includes continental breakfast in London and buffet breakfast in Paris, first class hotel accommodations, all hotel service charges and tips, baggage handling fees and local taxes, and a professional, multi-lingual tour guide. Oh yeah, and of course you'll get an insignia-filled travel bag and wallet with comprehensive tour documents.
Globus Tours (tel. 866/755-8581; www.globustours.com) has the mother of all European luxury motor coach tours. Called "Europe in Depth," this 27-day extravaganza covers ten countries and includes two high-speed train rides as well as your luxury motor-coach tour with professional guides and first class accommodations. Drive through the Black Forest of Germany, Belgium's verdant countryside, the rolling hills of Salzburg, the olive farms of Italy, and the Basque countryside in Spain. This tour leaves in early March and early April, and then picks up again in November and December. The air-land inclusive trip starts at only $3,605 and goes up to $4,244 for the April departure. Also included are ten dinners, 23 buffet breakfasts including cereals, fruit and juices and two full English breakfasts fit for a king. Air taxes and hotel taxes are not included.
For backpackers, independent travelers or independent serious budget-minded travelers who don't mind roughing it on the road, Busabout Europe (tel. 011-44 + 0 207-950-1661; www.busabout.com) offers incredible discount prices on their own network of motor coaches that go to 26 of Europe's biggest destinations and run on their own efficient schedule. Their excellent web site goes over types of pass, prices of passes and the easy to meet bus schedules with pick up points, drop off points and local hostel information. To give you an example of how little Busabout costs to get you all over Europe, a unlimited four-week pass for someone over the age of 26 costs $739 with a $40 discount if you book early enough in advance. You can also qualify for a reduced ticket if you are a teacher, student, or nurse. See the site for detailed maps of Busabout's routes. Something to remember about Busabout, you will be traveling with people just like you -- seasoned budget travelers from all over the world.
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