Subject: Bus Tours
I'm jumping in at the end of this discusssion because I just got home from two bus tours. The first was a Tauck Tour of Yellowstone and Grand Tetons and was first class in every way: outstanding guide, wonderful accomodations and fabulous food (you order from the menu). We've done this area before independently but this time we wanted to stay at the famous inns and lodges. We were not disappointed and felt that the trip was also a good value. One dinner and two lunches were not included but we actually needed a break from the fabulous eating we had been doing.

The second tour was a Gababout of Central California. The guide was okay, the driver excellent, the accomodations were topnotch but the food was either served to everyone or on our own.

We have also taken Rick Steves' tours of Europe. The accomodations are two and three star (some quite funky but lots of fun) and all centrally located. The breakfasts are all included, lunches are frequently picnics and excellent, dinners are okay. The guides and bus drivers are outstanding and the literature provided prior to the trip is wonderful. We are planning another Rick Steves' trip in 2000 in conjunction with some independent travel.

Pretrip planning for bus tours should be just as rigorous as independent travel. Make sure the tour goes where you want to go and does what you want to do. In almost everycase, you can leave the group and do something you prefer as long as you notify the guide and return to the bus in a timely matter.

In my opinion, bus tours are more efficient time- wise but both types of travel have their advantages.

Barbara in Connecticut