(It’s a lengthy one – so grab a coffee or six)
Not to pat myself on the back, but every trip I’ve organised myself has run a whole lot smoother than the trips I’ve been on with certain national tour companies.
It all started back in 2014, being Harry Potter fans myself and my grandma decided to book the Harry Potter studio tour weekend for her birthday. Priced at £99 each we thought it was good value as we’d get to go to the studios, get some time in London and get an evening meal, bed and breakfast, all without having to worry about getting lost by driving ourselves there. The first thing I remember is spending 2.5 hours in a shopping centre, because our tour for the studios hadn’t been scheduled until the evening (fair enough they have to plan in case there was any traffic delays, but if I wanted to go to a shopping centre, I’d go to one a lot nearer!) We finally got to the tour, and had been allocated 2.5 hours to go in, do the tour and get back to the coach. It really spoilt the experience as we were forever clock watching. Following that, we ended up at the hotel, scheduled to sit down at 8pm for items off of a set menu (Given I have severe allergies to a number of foods, I opted for the garlic bread starter only) an hour and half after our scheduled meal time we finally received our food.
One. At. A. Time.
My garlic bread was burnt and had hair on it. So I ended up with a twix from the vending machine for my tea as the “kitchen was closed, and they couldn’t offer any more food” The following day we went down for breakfast, and as it was self-service, it ran a lot smoother, though there was hair on clean plates.
I put it all down to experience, and gave it the benefit of the doubt. So booked another trip the following year with my friend to do the London Freedom Weekend – 48 hours in London.
Granted, I understood that we wouldn’t have a full 48 hours due to travel and sleeping but still should be a decent amount of time. The offer was to be dropped off in central London on the Saturday to enjoy free time in the capital, then have the chance to explore Covent Garden on the Sunday before returning home. Neither happened. We were dropped off the far side of the West End and had to take a lengthy Tube journey to the London Eye, which we’d booked tickets for. We only just had the chance to have a go on there before having to run back to the tube station and make it back in time for the coach to the hotel. We got to the hotel, and given the keys to the room. We had been given a double instead of a twin, so I requested a room swap, luckily the hotel were nice enough about it and could do so. The following day, we were supposed to go to Covent Garden but we were dropped off at the London eye! Well if we’d have known this yesterday we’d have saved the rush and the stress. As we’d brought a 2-4-1 attraction ticket we decided to use it on the Dungeons. We were given 3 hours free time before needing to be back on the coach to pick up the other coach party from Buckingham Palace, again everything was rushed causing great stress. Out of the 48 hours, I think we spent about 7 hours in London altogether!
Which brings me on to my third and final package coach trip, this time I went with a different company, it was a weekend in Manchester to see the Lion King Musical. I’ve always wanted to go and it’s such an expense and bind to get to London to see it, so we opted for a coach trip. The alarm bells already started ringing when I asked the coach driver where we’d be staying, and that I’d search it on trip advisor. Yeah, the reviews were generous.
Everyone had been told tea was at 5pm so we could leave for the theatre at 6. Following previous experience, I packed food to take with us and ate in our room– thank God I did. When me and my mum went to go for the coach at 530, we left the room for the door handle to fall off in my hand. When we made it to reception, another coach driver was practically over the desk, yelling at the receptionist because dinner hadn’t been served to the coach parties.
Since the hotel stank of stale smoke and vomit, so we chose to wait outside. In which we witnessed a drug deal. I was so happy to be on that coach. The show was amazing, but unfortunately we had to go back for the night to sleep. The following morning, we went down for breakfast to be followed in by some very scruffy looking folk, who proceeded to pick up food with their bare hands and then put it back down, and touch themselves a lot…. *shudders* we weren’t supposed to leave until 09:30 but everyone was on the coach for 09:00.
So there’s my experience with organised coach travel, don’t get me wrong I’ve been on day trips with a local coach company and they’ve always been fantastic!
But please, go cautiously if you’re wanting to use a company that offers national trips.
As a follow up to that, if the hotel name is stated use trip advisor and read through the reviews. You can usually tell if someone is being pinickity about something – I once read a one-star review of a place because the peas were too hard…. And the newspaper hadn’t been folded correctly. So use your judgement to go figure. Also, if it’s offered as a select hotel – be very wary, as 3 out of 3 of my experiences had all been listed as a select hotel.
Admittedly, from this I obsess over planning everything down to the last detail. I’m a self-admitted hotel snob and I need to have a plan A, B, C all the way through to Z, to everyone’s annoyance. But hey, they’ll be thanking me when you have a problem free trip in terms of accommodation and activities.
Have you any holiday horrors you wish to share?
What would be the worst thing to happen to you on holiday?
Until next time….
Let’s connect 🙂