Definition of 'coach trip'

Coach trip in british english.

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coach tour meaning

Why coach travel is the safest way to tour


Recently updated on November 27th, 2023 at 03:35 pm

Planning your next travel adventure? You’ve probably chosen your destination, your activities, or even your packing list… But have you thought about how to get around? From cars and trains to planes, boats and buses, you’ve got plenty of options. So what’s the safest and most responsible way to go? Trafalgar’s custom luxury coaches are not only super comfortable, spacious and reliable – they’re also the best way to travel, for you and the planet. Read on to find out why you should choose a guided coach travel experience on your next trip.

Is coach travel safe?

We’re all thinking about how to prioritise our health and wellbeing on our future trips – and that includes how to stay safe on coach travel experiences. At Trafalgar, we’ve introduced enhanced hygiene practices and physical distancing* measures on all our coaches to ensure the wellbeing of guests and team members. Here are all the ways we’re making Trafalgar’s coaches safer for our guests:

Sanitised coaches

We’ve always sanitised our custom luxury coaches before the start of your trip. Now, our coach hygiene practices are even stricter, following guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and government regulations. We’ve trained our drivers on the latest hygiene protocols and they clean and disinfect the coaches every day. That includes all surfaces in the coach, like seats, handrails, door handles, tables, overhead lockers and air-conditioning filters.

Trafalgar staff sanitising the coach

Physical distancing* procedures

We’ve changed our group sizes in accordance with government distancing requirements. So, you’re guaranteed to have your own personal space on Trafalgar’s luxury coaches during your trip. 

RELATED CONTENT: All the important hygiene practices you can expect to see on a Trafalgar trip

Hygiene equipment for guests

Along with keeping our coaches sanitised, we also have sanitiser freely available onboard all our coaches for guests to use. While we ask that you bring your own face masks and hygiene products, we also have additional face masks, antiviral wipes and spray, and rubber gloves available for guests on all trips.

Trafalgar staff with hygiene equipment on board the coach

Expertly trained drivers and Travel Directors

All our drivers and Travel Directors are highly trained in our strict hygienic travel and physical distancing procedures. You’ll see them advising and ensuring that high standards of hygiene are maintained during your trip. We’ve also trained our teams to follow procedures if any unexpected situations arise. 

RELATED CONTENT: 7 reasons why touring is the most responsible way to travel

Is coach travel green and responsible?

Coach travel isn’t just better for you – it’s also better for the environment. As the effects of climate change continue to impact our lives, more people are considering environmentally friendly travel. We know that increasing greenhouse gas emissions are linked to climate change and that transport like aeroplanes and cars have a large carbon footprint. 

RELATED CONTENT: 7 ways to reduce your environmental impact when you travel with Trafalgar

So what is the most eco-friendly way to travel and reduce your carbon footprint? The answer is guided coach tours; where a larger group of people travel on one greener vehicle, as opposed to many vehicles. The average coach journey produces 0.04 tonnes per 1,000 miles, compared to the average car which would produce 0.29 tonnes of CO2 per 1,000 miles. Travelling with a group coach tour can also be greener than trains when travelling domestically, as national rail services create 0.07 tonnes of CO2 per 1,000 miles per passenger.

RELATED CONTENT: Car vs coach – you can reduce CO2 emissions by travelling with Trafalgar

Trafalgar’s commitment to low-emission coaches

This all means that the most eco-friendly way to travel is by coach. And it gets even greener when you travel on Trafalgar’s guided coach tours, as we’re investing in low-emission coaches as part of our commitment to the five-year How We Tread Right (HWTR) sustainability strategy . The strategy was developed by our parent company, The Travel Corporation, and is dedicated to leaving a positive impact on the planet, people and wildlife through 11 goals that are tied to the UN Sustainable Development Goals . The 11 goals relate to issues such as climate change, sustainable food production, responsible consumption, overtourism, diversity and inclusion, and animal welfare. 

RELATED CONTENT: Introducing our 5 year strategy for How We Tread Right

We’re already taking action on these goals, including Goal 1 – to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 or sooner. As part of this goal, Trafalgar is committed to offsetting all business travel by 2022. And as part of the UN Climate Neutral Now Initiative, Trafalgar is also working to achieve carbon neutrality across all trips by 2030 or earlier. We’re also no longer selling plastic water bottles on Trafalgar coaches in North America and Europe and aiming to be completely single-use plastic-free by 2022.

Our guided coach tours are not only safer for you, but they’re also the most environmentally responsible way to travel. So next time you’re planning a trip, do yourself and the planet a favour and go by coach with Trafalgar. 

*Excludes trips currently operating throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Tell us what you love about Trafalgar’s luxury coaches in the comments below…


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coach tour noun

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What does the noun coach tour mean?

There is one meaning in OED's entry for the noun coach tour . See ‘Meaning & use’ for definition, usage, and quotation evidence.

How common is the noun coach tour ?

Where does the noun coach tour come from.

Earliest known use

The earliest known use of the noun coach tour is in the 1920s.

OED's earliest evidence for coach tour is from 1921, in Courier (Dundee) .

coach tour is formed within English, by compounding.

Etymons: coach n. , tour n.

Nearby entries

  • coach party, n. 1778–
  • coach pole, n. 1688–
  • coach pot, n. 1789–
  • coach road, n. 1710–
  • coach screw, n. 1808–
  • coach-screw, v. 1874–
  • coach smith, n. 1746–
  • coach smithing, n. 1824–
  • coach stand, n. 1721–
  • coach station, n. 1827–
  • coach tour, n. 1921–
  • coach trade, n. 1717–
  • coach treats, n. 1607
  • coach trimmer, n. 1777–
  • coach wagon, n. 1619–
  • coachway, n. 1614–
  • coach wheel, n. 1594–
  • coach-wheeler, n. 1686–
  • coachwhip, n. 1654–
  • coach-wise, adv. 1795–
  • coachwoman, n. 1786–

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Meaning & use

Entry history for coach tour, n..

Originally published as part of the entry for coach, n. & adv.

coach, n. & adv. was revised in September 2022. is a living text, updated every three months. Modifications may include:

  • further revisions to definitions, pronunciation, etymology, headwords, variant spellings, quotations, and dates;
  • new senses, phrases, and quotations.

Earlier versions of this entry were published in:

OED First Edition (1891)

  • Find out more

OED Second Edition (1989)

  • View coach, n. in OED Second Edition

Please submit your feedback for coach tour, n.

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Citation details

Factsheet for coach tour, n., browse entry.

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10 Things You Need to Know Before Booking a Touring Holiday

Melanie, The Professional Traveller

  • 24 February 2024

Are you thinking of taking a touring holiday?

Want to know a bit more before you decide what to book?

I’ve taken over 9500 guests on coach tours all over the world.

This list is based on that experience and it’s here to help you know what to think about and ask before you book.

Check it out now.

Links You Might Find Helpful: Lots of Touring & Escorted Holidays from TourRadar 9 Reasons to Book a Coach Holiday Coach Holidays – All You Need to Know

Touring Holiday

Table of Contents

touring holiday

1. Know Exactly What Is Included Before You Book

There is nothing worse than guests being frustrated or disappointed by issues such as these when on coach trips and it can make it hard for the Tour Manager to get over such issues. Arranging the contracts with suppliers is not something that Tour Managers have any control over usually.

This can sometimes be because it isn’t entirely clear, or because there have been assumptions made about the itinerary. If guests have travelled on coach trips previously they may have assumed that what they experienced on another holiday will be similar to their current one as this is not always the case.

A quick example is whether wine is included with dinner. Whilst it is clear from the itinerary that meals are included there is often no mention of drinks. Many people assume that wine will be included with meals.

This can vary from company to company and also from country to country. Wine is very cheap in Spain for example so it is often included in meals on coach trips, but wine is much more expensive in the UK so is therefore not generally included.

Over the years I constantly meet passengers who haven’t considered these things in detail before booking their coach trips – sometimes making assumptions, and sometimes thinking it would be the same as last time. This can be very frustrating and disappointing for them when they experience something different.

To avoid this issue double-check in advance exactly what is included in the itinerary.

Other examples of things to check in relation to coach trips;

  • Are transfers included and if so are they individual or shared? (Shared transfers may mean waiting at the airport or a longer journey if in a car from home.)
  • What meals are included? Is there a choice of menu, is it fixed or a buffet, and what drinks are included?
  • If breakfast is included is this continental or a full buffet? Also, bear in mind that some tours don’t have breakfast in the hotel but are out on the road which can mean some very early starts.
  • If lunch/dinner is included is there a choice of menu or is it a set menu?
  • Does the tour use a tour coach and driver or a local coach and driver?
  • Are tea and coffee facilities included in hotels? Most hotels in Europe do not provide this but often those catering to British guests do. Again checking can avoid disappointment.
  • Are drinks included? (This varies from country to country, not just company to company).
  • Is luggage handling included or do porters take your luggage up to your rooms at hotels or do you have to do this yourself?
  • What trips or activities are included and which ones are optional? (There are more details on both later on)
  • Are tips included for everyone or just for some people? Again this varies from company to company and country to country and of course, cruise companies have different policies too. Be clear about what the extra payments are and the budget for them – the people receiving them are counting on them!

Touring holiday tour manager

2. Is it a UK Tour Manager, a Local Tour Manager or Local Guide?

One of the plus points of taking coach trips is that there are generally included tours. So it’s important to understand more about these before you book.

Is there a UK Tour Manager that will be travelling with you from the UK and back again at the end of the tour or is there a local Tour Manager that will meet you when you arrive in the country you are visiting?

If there is a local Tour Manager meeting you when you arrive what support do you have in case of any problems with flights? Are there airport representatives or is there a number to phone?

Who does the guiding? The Tour Manager or local guides? (There is more information on this further on.)

A great tour manager can make a good tour a really great and memorable experience. It’s what we love to do and why we do the job. Likewise, a poor tour manager can make a good tour poor and a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons.

As a general rule Tour Managers/Tour Directors are self-employed and they could be working for several companies at once. They may not have visited the destination you are going to before.

This is generally not a problem if the tour uses local guides because the local guides are the experts in each local area or attraction.

However, in recent years more and more companies have been cutting back on the use of local guides and using Tour Managers to guide instead. This requires a great deal of knowledge to do successfully.

I know Tour Managers who have fantastically detailed knowledge of the places they visit and are mines of useful information.

Equally, I know of Tour Managers that have little knowledge and fill in the gaps by talking in general terms, or talking about other places they visit.

I am not saying that all local guides are fantastic – goodness knows I have worked with some ones that were memorable for all the wrong reasons over the years.

However, on the whole, local guides can often give a real insight into a place that a Tour Manager can’t and it also means that there is someone else leading a part of the tour, another perspective, another approach and another voice to listen to. This variety can be welcome on a tour.

The other issue to consider is that if the Tour Manager is doing all the guiding for the tour as well this can put them under quite a lot of pressure, particularly if something goes wrong. This may change the level of support that is available to you as a traveller if something happens.

There is no right or wrong answer to whether it should be a Tour Manager with Local Guides or a Tour Manager on their own, again it is just something to consider and be aware of in advance.

Perhaps asking if the Tour Manager has taken coach tours to the area you are visiting before would also be a helpful question to ask in conjunction with this section as well. Knowing the answer to both will give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Just so you know a Tour Manager or Tour Director (a different term for the same role) is generally responsible for running the coach tour holiday. This means they operate the itinerary according to the brief/outline given to them by the holiday company.

They generally liaise with all the suppliers such as hotels, tour companies, guides, coach companies, drivers, porters and local agents. They are responsible for dealing with all the problems on tour whether that be travel disruption or illness and they are also responsible for the on-tour paperwork and accounting.

A tour guide is responsible for guiding groups around a particular area or attraction. They should have a detailed knowledge of the area being visited but also the themes/background. For example, if visiting Pompeii a tour guide would be expected to have a great knowledge of Roman history, society etc.

Whoever is doing the guiding, excursions are a very important part of coach trips so it is important to fully understand what you are buying when you book.

terminology coach tour

3. Know Your Touring Holiday Terminology

What I am referring to here is the terminology used to describe what is included in the coach trips programme. For example, are you going to ‘visit’ or ‘view’ a particular place?

One well-known holiday company uses ‘view’ because you view the attraction from the inside of the coach and don’t visit i.e. you just pass by it. Not ideal if it is something you want to see!

Other examples include enjoy vs. experience and discover vs. explore. There are plenty of variations.

When you read a coach holiday itinerary it is not always obvious what is included and this can often be the case when looking at activities and excursion programs. Having a clear understanding of what things you are going to spend time at, and whether you will have free time, which things you are going to see (but not stop) will avoid frustrations on holiday.

One of the most common problems I see guests experience is that they read mention of a particular place in a coach trips program and assume that it is going to be a big feature of the itinerary. They then arrive on tour and find out that because of the amount of travelling that needs to be done on that day they will only get an hour or so to visit and they are disappointed.

This can also be the case with pictures. There may be pictures on the coach holiday company website that feature places or attractions that the tour doesn’t necessarily visit, or perhaps they are optional at additional cost.

Being clear about coach trip terminology, in combination with what is included as mentioned in Tip 1 will help you have a much better idea of your tour itinerary. There is no law or restriction on asking plenty of questions before you book!

(Check out my post on Coach Trip Terminology – What Does an Orientation Tour Mean?)

group size

4. What Size is the Group?

Group size can cause issues both ways. The group can be bigger than expected or it can be smaller than expected. Differences in expectation can cause issues on coach trips.

One guest I travelled with booked a coach tour holiday to India. It was a guaranteed departure tour for a small group and he was told there would be another 3 people on the tour. When he arrived he found a driver and a guide waiting just for him. Fortunately, finding out he was the only guest and that he had a driver and a guide to himself was not a problem and he promptly tore up the itinerary and headed off the beaten track. However, for some people, such an experience would be quite intimidating.

I have had the experience of a very small group too. I once led a week-long coach holiday in Italy with just 4 guests. There was myself, the coach driver and a trainee guide that I was teaching so 4 guests and 3 staff. It worked out OK but it was not what the guests expected and it certainly felt odd taking a full-size coach out on tour with such a small group.

A large group can also cause problems for those not expecting it or used to it. I often work with groups of 47 guests on a 49-seat coach. This can mean that it takes a long time for everyone to get off the coach, even using both doors. If travellers have been used to smaller groups this can cause frustration for them. It also means check-in takes longer, getting onboard the coach in the morning takes longer and so on.

The other issue with a larger group is that there is still only 1 Tour Manager. Guests who have been used to travelling on smaller coach trips and decide to take a coach holiday with a bigger group can sometimes feel disappointed that the Tour Manager does not have the same amount of time to spend with them.

Knowing the group size in advance can help with aligning expectations of your coach tour holiday.

5. Are There Any Groups booked on your Touring Holiday?

It is not uncommon for a group of people to book together on coach trips. This could be a social club, group of friends, family members, alumni etc.

The problem with this on a coach tour holiday is that you can have an ‘us’ and ‘them’ type situation with the members of the group within the group sticking together. This can often be for the simple reason that they do not see each other that often so travelling together allows them to really reconnect.

Whilst that is great for them it can cause issues for the travellers in the wider group who perhaps feel left out or feel that there is a large part of the group they are unable to interact with.

The other issue I have experienced is that the group within a group wants to do something different to the itinerary and feels they should have precedence because of the number of people in their party. There can be other issues such as these guests wanting to sit together for meals i.e. not allowing other guests from the main group to join them.

Only once have I seen this work in the sense that you could not tell who were members of the group within the tour group and it only worked then because they spent time preparing their guests for travelling before the holiday, including encouraging them to mix together. I have heard lots of travellers’ tales of groups being split when there has been a group within a group and how it has affected the overall coach holiday experience.

Guests have often told me that if they had known there was going to be a big private group travelling on their coach trips they would have chosen to travel on a different date so asking this question in advance can be useful particularly if you like this type of travel as a way to meet lots of new people.


6. What Nationalities Will Travel Together?

Some companies (and cruises) take bookings from different nationalities. This can sometimes lead to groups within groups but it can also cause some cultural clashes. If you have ever had to calm a British group who have queued neatly only to be overrun by guests with a more laid-back approach to queuing you will know what I mean.

This can also be especially important if the groups don’t speak the same language as translation may be required.

I did a river cruise with 140 British guests and the crew loved the fact that everyone was one nationality telling me that they often have to have each part of the welcome meeting translated into 6 or 7 languages which made it a long and painful experience for everyone. This was also the case with lots of their activities and some of their tours when groups from different countries were allocated to one coach.

For most coach tour holiday companies in the UK, the chances are that you will be travelling with people from the UK but it might be worth double-checking this in advance of your holiday rather than assuming.

7. What Is Included with Tours/Excursions/Activities?

To avoid any disappointment or confusion with included activities, and to understand what you are paying for on your coach holiday you need to know exactly what is included. Guests often tell me of being frustrated that lunch is not included in a day tour for example when they had thought that it was, or perhaps entrance fees not being included during a visit to an attraction.

Things to consider include;

  • The duration of the tour or is it a half day, which means it is unlikely to include any meals, a 3/4 day or a full day? If it is a full-day tour does it involve any particularly early starts or late returns?
  • The travelling involved in the tour. How much time are you going to spend on your coach? Is there any other travelling for example on ferries as part of your excursion?
  • What additional costs are involved i.e entrance fees, meals etc. knowing this in advance can ensure that you have the budget to cover these things which can add up over the course of a tour.
  • Are there optional elements to included excursions? For example, you might visit a certain destination and then have the opportunity to pay extra for an activity in that destination, perhaps a boat trip, train ride, entry to a museum, etc.
  • What the alternative is if the optional tour can’t run? This could be due to weather conditions or local conditions.


8. What Are The Options with Optional Excursions?

Optional tours are often where some of the profit comes from coach trips. Optional tours are just that, optional. You may have the chance to book them in advance of your holiday too.

Here is what you need to know about them;

  • Is the optional tour being operated by your tour coach and Tour Manager? I often find that guests assume an optional tour will be led by a local guide but this isn’t always the case so if in doubt it is best to double-check.
  • Is it being operated by a local company on behalf of the holiday company? If this is the case it may mean that you are part of a larger group which can include other nationalities, and there may well be several pick-up and drop-off points around the area before the tour starts.
  • Minimum numbers are important to the overall group number too. I mentioned previously that I once did a tour with 4 people, as such even though they all booked each optional excursion we still never met the minimum number. The company did not want the tours to run but I explained the fact there were only 4 in a group wasn’t the fault of the travellers and that they shouldn’t miss out as a result.
  • A final point to consider is sometimes payments for optional tours can only be made in the local currency and cash, this can often catch guests out if they don’t realise in advance. I have seen guests unable to book tours because they don’t have enough local currency, assuming that they could pay with a credit card.

Some companies offer the opportunity to book optional tours in advance of the holiday for a discount – again I would advise checking what happens in the event of numbers being too low and cancellations. It is important to know when cancellations and calls offs will be advised. Is it the day before or 48 hours ahead? The more notice you have of these things the more opportunity you have to make use of your time to do something else.

Excursions are important parts of coach trips so it’s key to understand more about them!

Can you do the optional tour cheaper another way? I would always advise comparing the holiday company’s price to a local company. Sometimes the holiday company will simply be booking the tour with a local operator in which case you might get a good deal going direct.

However, the decision is not just about the cost. If you book a tour with a local operator and you are due to make a connection or move to another destination on your touring holiday you will be liable for any costs if you miss that connection and have to catch the main tour up. If you book the optional tour through your holiday company and there are any delays it is up to them to sort this out at no extra cost to you. This is especially relevant for cruise ships, or where there are onward transport connections such as ferries, trains etc.


9. What Is The Seating Policy?

Different coach tour holiday companies have different approaches to seating on coaches. Some will charge a premium for the front seats, some allocate to whoever books first and some operate seat rotation to ensure everyone gets their turn.

This can often cause quite a lot of angst for people who were unaware beforehand. Some people feel disappointed that they missed out on the front seats and this can often lead to conversations amongst guests about who booked first.

Some guests do not like the idea of seat rotation, while others think that it is a fair way to ensure as many people get a turn in the front seats as possible.

One of the most common concerns I hear about is from guests who, like me, experience coach or motion sickness.

Whatever the seating policy, guests who experience motion or travel experience can generally request a fixed seat. Often the compromise is that they will not get the front seat and I would recommend a seat ahead of the front wheels of the coach to reduce problems. Another good seat to avoid  travel sickness  can be the seat that is directly behind the middle door. However, this can sometimes have slightly less legroom and if the onboard toilet is being used it can mean there is a danger of experiencing a smell from the toilet which isn’t very nice.

As with seating on coaches different coach tour holiday companies have different approaches to room allocations. Some companies give repeat customers the best rooms, some allocate in booking order ie. those that booked first get the best rooms, some offer room upgrades – it can vary greatly.

room policy

10. Hotel Room Allocation Policy

Coach trips will generally have an allocation of rooms at a hotel. This can be in a particular part of the hotel or a particular room type. Room requests are generally for double/twin-bedded rooms with twin-bedded rooms being the most common.

If you have particular room requirements it is best to advise these at the time of booking and then again when you meet your Tour Manager. This could be low floor rooms, high floor rooms, accessible rooms, double bedded rooms, rooms close to others in the party etc.

You may also want to ask in advance if there is the option to upgrade your rooms and of course, ask what the allocation policy is.

I cannot tell you how many times I have had guests upset that they have been given ‘lesser’ rooms than other travellers. This can be due to the allocation policy of the travel company as detailed above or it can simply be that the hotel has allocated rooms to guests in no particular order.

I have had first-time travellers given suites and repeat customers given standard rooms, as well as different single travellers in the same group being given a mix of single and double rooms (for single use) at the same hotel.

As with all the other tips knowing this policy in advance can help avoid any frustration or disappointment on tour and it can also ensure that you know exactly what type of room you should expect.

Touring Holiday Conclusion

  • As with anything spending a bit of time researching things is worth the effort. It helps you find the right coach holiday for you.
  • Don’t assume when you read coach holiday itineraries. Start from the beginning and go through everything from what time the flights or pick-ups are all the way through.
  • Get in touch with the holiday company to ask any questions – better to double-check than to misunderstand something.
  • Coach holidays are great holidays and there is a coach holiday for everyone. A bit of research will help you find your perfect coach holiday.

Itinerary Review Service

  • I’ve spent 36 years working as a coach holiday Tour Manager for Travelsphere, Titan, Saga and Newmarket Holidays
  • Let me do a review of the holiday you are interested in, giving you much more detail on what to expect alongwith things you might want to check before booking
  • Don’t risk spending all that money on a holiday that might not be right for you.
  • Want to see an example? Check out my review of a Douro River Cruise , Lake Garda Holiday , Highlands of Scotland Railway Tour , Azores Holiday

itinerary review

Further Reading

If you liked my 10 Things to Know About Coach Trips you might also like;

9 Reasons to Choose a Coach Holiday – based on feedback from my guests over the years

Coach Holidays for Single Travellers – what you need to know

You can also find plenty more resources on my Coach Holidays page

Other Articles

touring holidays to italy post

Intrepid Travel Blog

Small group travel vs coach tours: which is better?

coach tour meaning

Because group travel is so much more than the inside of a bus…

Whether you’re exploring your home country or taking an international adventure, the idea of booking a tour can be overwhelming… especially if you’re torn between taking a coach and small group travel. The main difference between the two styles comes down to the size of the group; coach tours use huge motor coaches that hold up to 60 people, while small groups are (plot twist)… small, averaging about 10 travellers per group.

Over the past 30 years, Intrepid has figured out what travellers really want on a group tour: the ease and peace of mind of travelling with others plus a mix of local secrets and authentic experiences that help you experience the pulse of a destination… and not just see it. Just because you’ve handed over the planning and logistics to someone else shouldn’t mean you need to sacrifice comfort or settle for mediocre experiences.

We’ve weighed up the biggest factors to consider when booking a trip, so whether you’re in your 20s and embarking on your first trip to Europe or you’re a senior who’s always dreamed of seeing the Grand Canyon , you’ll be able to decide which style of travel is right for you. We may be biased, but the winner is pretty clear…

coach tour meaning

So you’ve made all the important decisions, like where you want to travel and when. But when you’re daydreaming about your perfect trip, how many people are travelling alongside you? Do you picture blending in with a crowd of 50 from your home country? Or getting to know an intimate group of travellers from all over the world?

Four travellers pose for a selfie on a street where the walls are painted various shades of blue.

If your answer leans more toward the latter, small-group travel is definitely for you. While group size can vary depending on the destination and type of trip, Intrepid averages about 10 people per tour — the perfect number to hop on a local bus, squeeze into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and get to know people on a deeper level.

Intrepid travellers are folks of all ages and backgrounds, so you could spend your time with a combo of solo singles in their 20s, couples in their 40s, seniors, retirees and beyond. If travelling en masse and zoning out with a prerecorded headset is how you envision your holiday, a coach tour might be more your vibe, but for those looking for a unique adventure, more isn’t always merrier.

As the name implies, coach tours are just that: tours that utilize massive coach buses for long-distance travel. All fun and games until you’re filing off to grab lunch, right? Getting off a coach bus takes much longer than you’d think (especially if you do it multiple times a day), and don’t even get us started on the headache of choosing seats.

The benefit of travelling with small groups is you can explore as the locals do; think small 4WDs on a South African safari , tuk-tuks in Thailand and overnight trains in India . Travelling with a tight-knit crew will give you all the benefits and authentic experiences you’ll get if you go solo, minus all the stressful logistics and safety concerns.

We realised pretty quickly that when exploring a new destination, you need more than a guide … you need a local. Intrepid’s leaders aren’t just tour guides; they’re teachers and friends who know their country inside and out. They’ll be by your side for the major highlights, of course, but they’ll also happily provide recommendations for the best street food, help you learn the local language and steer you away from any experiences that don’t feel so… Intrepid. Unfortunately, not all coach tours can say the same, so it’s essential to work with a company that supports local economies, respects local cultures and protects the places we love to visit.

Two people sit across from each other at a table in a colorful coffee shop. Each holds a cup of coffee ready to cheers.

The small group sizes of Intrepid trips provide the perfect guide-to-traveller ratios, and you’ll never have to worry about not getting 1-1 time. Have a question about a local custom or want to chat about a football rivalry over dinner? It’s not so easy with a group of 50, but it’s all part of the experience when your travel crew is small.


We’ve all been there… you’re stressing about needing a bathroom or a snack break but don’t want to be  that  person making the entire group stop. When you travel on a small group tour, bathroom breaks, snack stops and photo ops can be as frequent as you’d like. Plus, with fewer people to keep track of, you’ll never have to worry about your driver leaving you behind (does everyone have this recurring nightmare, or is it just me?). Strict timelines and feeling like you’re being herded around just aren’t Intrepid’s speed.

An Intrepid guide and traveller smile with a local woman wearing a large straw hat.

The speed is more like this: hitting the major highlights like the Acropolis, the Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu while also including some out-of-the-ordinary experiences in unexpected places. Think: sampling your way through a family-owned Greek pistachio farm, learning the art of Chinese cuisine at a homestay in Beijing and sipping pisco sours with Peruvian locals. We speak from experience when we say these moments, the ones you never even knew existed, leave the longest-lasting memories.

A traveller wearing a striped shirt and hat embroidered with "Rome" looks lovingly at a cone of gelato in her hand.

Although most Intrepid trips have a base itinerary, there’s always time set aside for your own exploration or downtime. When dealing with a smaller group of people, itineraries can be reasonably customisable, allowing your guide to make appropriate, impromptu changes based on the group’s preference. For example, if you’re in Italy and half of your group is feeling museum-ed out… no problem! With guidance and tips from your expert local leaders, you’ll have the freedom to embark on a tour de pizza or a gelato crawl instead.

coach tour meaning


One of Intrepid’s favourite ways to get to know a place is through its people… which is why we employ local guides, eat at family-run restaurants and incorporate community homestays into most trips. On coach tours, hotels usually have to accommodate 50+ people at once, so you could end up at a chain hotel that feels far from the centre of the action.

Two travellers unpack bags from a van that is parked in front of a colourful house on stilts. The house is painted red, green and blue and surrounded by palm trees.

That might be cool if you simply want to scratch the surface, but Intrepid does things a little differently. A community-based tourism approach allows you to get to know a place through a local’s lens and ensures that you’ll be travelling in a way that positively impacts the communities you visit.

Some of the best experiences are the ones that won’t show up on Google Maps or get reviewed on Tripadvisor; we’re talking about playing volleyball with indigenous locals on an overnight in Lake Titicaca, sharing a homecooked meal with a family during a rural Cambodian homestay or getting a lesson on local traditions on a Varanasi homestay in India. Imagine trying to organise this with 50 people? Impossible.

The choice seems pretty clear. Small group travel is not only more comfortable and enjoyable, but it’s just an all-around better way to see the world. As the world’s largest travel  B Corporation , Intrepid wants to change the way we all see the world by creating positive change through the joy of travel. We want you to leave your trip with more cultural understanding and the knowledge that your trip benefits local people, communities and the planet. 

With a range of trip styles and themes catering to a diverse group of travellers, we’re confident there’s a small group adventure for you. Feeling inspired? Let’s go!

Explore top small group trips

coach tour meaning

Will travel for food. From al pastor in Mexico to camel burgers in Morocco, khao soi in Thailand to perfect tomatoes in Greece, I've traveled far and wide for a tasty meal. When I'm not abroad searching for the perfect bite, I'm enjoying some good ol' home cooking in my tiny Seattle kitchen.

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Coach Holidays, Escorted Tours & Events

0330 440 3999, monday - friday 9am to 5pm, why travel by coach.

Why Travel By Coach? Rickety old buses with clashing velvet seats and no air con are just some of the common misconceptions surrounding coach holidays. Modern coaches are worth around £250,000 and coach holidays have come on leaps and bounds in terms of facilities and choice. In fact, coach travel is the perfect method of transport in these current economic times, providing a cheaper alternative to travelling by car, air, boat or train. If you've never considered travelling by coach before, make this the year that you do. Here are just a few of the advantages for taking a holiday by coach:

  • The old image of bus trips to run-down seaside resorts and tatty hotels is long gone. Nowadays coach operators carefully plan their itineraries to include picturesque locations such as Lake Garda, The Peak District, The Alps and much more. 
  • Modern coach travel means that you will be taken to your holiday destination in comfort and style. Most coaches will have comfortable reclining seats fitted with seatbelts, plenty of legroom, on-board facilities such as TV, DVD player, tea and coffee making facilities as well as a WC.  
  • Some companies offer the option to upgrade to luxury coach travel where you can experience facilities like; a spacious rear lounge, climate-controlled deluxe coach travel, free personal headphones, entertainment such as reading material, cards and board games, a washroom and a server, a selection of refreshments, personal flip-down tables, extra included excursions, specialist drivers and on-board satellite navigation so you can track your journey. 
  • Coach holidays are not specifically for the older generation. They cater for all ages including packages to concerts, theatre breaks, sporting events, spa treatments and special interest breaks. 
  • Travelling by coach is hassle-free avoiding the inevitable challenges such as where to park the car or standing in lengthy queues for check in and security. 
  • Coaches are no longer the cramped vehicles that they used to be - most modern coaches actually have more legroom than planes or trains. Some companies will use coaches that have fewer seats to further increase legroom. 
  • Coach holidays can be wonderful social occasions where you can meet new people, enjoy a tea or coffee and relax as you enjoy the view. 
  • Contrary to popular belief, you are not stuck on-board the coach for hours on end. Most coach journeys will include comfort stops every 2 to 3 hours.  
  • Journeys by coach are anything but boring. Being seated higher up, you will have good views over the hedgerow to admire the local scenery as you make your way to your final destination. 
  • The standard of accommodation used in itineraries is off a much better standard than what it used to be with many coach operators choosing to feature 3 or 4 star hotels for their customers . There's also a great deal of choice for holidaymakers covering destinations in the UK, Ireland, across Europe and Worldwide. 
  • There are no hidden extras when travelling by coach – all travel, hotel accommodation and entrance tickets are generally included in the price. • Modern coach travel is seven times safer than travelling by car and is also much kinder to the environment being more than six times greener than driving by car or air and twice as 'clean' as going by train.
  • There is the reassurance of being taken care of as the majority of the escorted tours tend to have a tour manager or representative on-board to make sure that everything runs smoothly.  
  • When you arrive at the hotel, you needn't worry about your luggage as most tours include porterage so the next time you see your bags, they will be in your hotel room. 
  • All coach holidays offer local pick-up points that are within easy reach of your home
  • Many tour operators offer a 'home pick-up service' where they will arrange for a taxi or minibus to collect you from your front door and return you home at the end of your holiday 

Did you know? A recent survey has shown that at least a third of Brits who have flown claim that their experience at the airport is far more stressful compared to the average working week. At least 10% of those people who own a car believe that they will make fewer journeys by car because the price of fuel is too expensive. If this is you, it's definitely time to consider coach holidays!

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Values Bus Tour

What Is A Tour Bus? Definition, Features, and Benefits Explained

By: Author Values Bus Tour

Posted on Last updated: April 16, 2024

If you’re passionate about travel and love the idea of exploring new places without the hassle of organizing accommodations, a tour bus might be your best bet. But what exactly is a tour bus, you ask? Imagine a hotel on wheels that not only takes you to exciting destinations but also provides you with comfort and convenience each step of the journey. Stick with us as we delve into the world of tour buses, highlighting key features and revealing why they complete your puzzle for a perfect vacation!

A tour bus is a type of bus that is designed to transport groups, typically for sightseeing or long-distance travel. It often features luxurious accommodations such as reclining seats, WiFi, TVs, and ample storage space for luggage. Tour buses are commonly used by holiday tour operators, entertainers, and other groups traveling long distances. They offer comfortable and convenient transportation options for both leisure and professional purposes.

what is a tour bus

Table of Contents

Understanding What Constitutes a Tour Bus

In its simplest sense, a tour bus is a motor vehicle designed to transport passengers on extended trips for recreational or commercial purposes. When it comes to defining what constitutes a tour bus, however, the answer becomes more complicated due to the many types and variations available.

In general, though, tour buses are typically chartered for long-distance travel with overnight stays. They come equipped with seating and accommodations that far exceed what you might find in standard passenger vehicles.

Seating and Accommodation Features

Tour buses are designed to offer both comfort and practicality, providing amenities that make lengthy road trips more manageable.

For instance, seating features may range from traditional benches to recliners with ample legroom, and some even have tables for working or playing games. Additionally, most tour buses include features like air conditioning, heat and ventilation systems to keep passengers comfortable in any weather conditions.

But what sets tour buses apart is also their accommodation space which can feature bunk beds, a master suite, a full bathroom(s). Many luxury offers lounge areas complete with kitchens where travelers can cook meals on the go without having to stop at expensive restaurants. GPS and other technological driving aids make navigating unfamiliar roads much easier, while onboard Wifi keeps guests connected online during long trips.

Furthermore, since bands and performers often use these vehicles as mobile homes while touring around the country on concert tours, they may have additional rooms or compartments for equipment and musical instruments. In summary, tour buses offer luxury features that make long-distance travel comfortable and convenient.

Purposes and Clients of Tour Buses

Tour buses are not your everyday mode of transport, given their specialized nature. They are primarily used for sightseeing, holiday tours, events transportation, and even by celebrities or sports teams on long-distance travel. These vehicles have specific features that cater to the unique needs of their clients, such as comfortable seating arrangements, storage compartments, entertainment features like WIFI connectivity, televisions screens, refrigerators and kitchenettes. Charter bus companies can customize the interior features to meet the needs of their clientele.

  • Tour buses are specialized vehicles that cater to the unique needs of sightseers, holiday tours, event transportation, and even celebrities or sports teams. They offer features like comfortable seating, storage compartments, entertainment options, and customizable interiors to meet client demands.

City Tours and Sightseeing Services

City tours and sightseeing are some of the most popular uses for tour buses. These services are widely available in most major cities around the world because they offer a convenient way to see all the sights without having to worry about finding parking or navigating narrow streets. Tourists can relax in comfortable seats while being taken through famous tourist attractions while listening to an experienced guide. The vehicles feature wide windows that allow tourists to enjoy panoramic views with ample space for storage, meaning they need not worry about carrying luggage around on a city exploration trip.

For instance, a Berlin tour bus may enable visitors to explore historic landmarks such as the Berlin Wall or Brandenburg Gate while appreciating scenic views overlooking the city’s beautiful skyline. The tourists’ experience is often enhanced by a knowledgeable tour guide who offers commentary on historical sites and other cultural points of interest.

Tour buses also offer a convenient way for groups attending events to move along designated event routes quickly. Whether it’s picking up participants from several locations or transporting them between different venues during an event day, travel logistics become much easier.

Some examples of clients renting tour buses include:

  • Tourists visiting new places
  • Bridal parties or wedding guests
  • Sporting teams traveling for tournaments
  • Entertainment acts going from one show to another
  • Large families traveling together
  • Corporate groups attending conferences and meetings

While it’s evident that tour buses have their advantages, they also come with a few disadvantages. For instance, while they can accommodate large groups, customized arrangements may be quite expensive for smaller groups without budgeting for customizations. There’s also limited flexibility on the part of tourists to deviate from pre-planned routes or visit out-of-the-way places.

Overall, however, tour buses remain an excellent option for people who want to explore new destinations conveniently and in comfort while enjoying picturesque views and having fun.

  • According to the American Bus Association, in 2019, there were approximately 36,000 motorcoaches (which include tour buses) operating in the United States.
  • A research conducted by Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development in 2019 found that buses, particularly tour buses and charter buses, are one of the safest modes of transportation with an accident rate of only 0.05 accidents per million passenger miles.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that as of 2023, modern tour buses may see up to 15% improvements in fuel efficiency due to technological advancements.

Events and Group Transportation Services

Tour buses are a popular mode of transportation for events and group transportation services. They offer comfort, amenities, and convenience that make it easy to transport groups of people in comfort and style. This is particularly beneficial when organizing large events such as school trips, weddings, sports competitions, professional conferences or even family holidays. By providing ample seats and onboard entertainment, tour buses are becoming increasingly popular in today’s world.

Imagine a wedding planner needing to transport guests from the ceremony to the reception site. A tour bus would be the ideal choice for guest travel because it allows for easy navigation around unfamiliar areas, plentiful storage space for luggage, and comfortable seating allowing guests to relax en route.

See Related: The Purpose of Bus Tours: Exploring the Benefits and Advantages

Differentiating Types of Tour Buses

Tour buses come in different shapes and sizes depending on their specific use. It’s important to distinguish between commercial tour buses used by sightseeing companies and private tour buses used for traveling purposes.

Think of it like selecting a car based on its intended use: An SUV versus a sedan – one suits off-road activities while the other is designed for road trips.

Commercial tour buses typically have larger seating capacity ranging from 30-60 passengers, highlighting the importance of efficient loading and offloading at every stop during city tours. They also tend to focus on panoramic perspectives with large windows across both sides, an onboard guide/interpreter service, public address systems, sound systems, air-conditioning units and TV screens to enhance sightseeing experiences.

On the other hand, private tour buses commonly feature fewer seats (20-40), designed mainly for long-duration trips with overnight stays. Accommodations may include bunk beds or master suites with full bathrooms – features essential for bands/music groups who must spend extended time periods traveling between gigs or clients.

Features such as GPS systems and Wi-Fi connectivity ensure uninterrupted work productivity while smaller storage compartments are available in private tour buses since bulky equipment is not required.

Commercial Tour Buses

Understanding the primary differences between commercial tour buses and luxury tour buses is essential in deciding which one would be a good fit for your specific needs.

Luxury Tour Buses

Commercial tour buses are the standard vehicles used for long-haul trips, such as those between different cities or states. These kinds of buses generally have basic amenities like reclining seats, air conditioning, and a restroom. Often utilized by schools and universities for field trips or companies organizing day tours, these buses are more concerned with efficiency than luxury.

However, despite being bare-boned in appearance, commercial tour buses are actually quite reliable, powerful machines that can provide comfort and safety to passengers. With a large storage area under the bus perfect for luggage and equipment, it’s suitable to accommodate any adventure you set out on.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Tour Bus Use

If you want to enjoy a first-rate traveling experience, then luxury tour buses might just be what you need. These vehicles offer high-end amenities often reserved only for expensive hotels or resorts – king-sized bunk beds, fully-equipped kitchens, Wi-Fi hotspots, multiple televisions with state-of-the-art audio systems – the works!

Luxury tour buses cater to many needs. It’s not just private concerts or exclusive events that they’re utilized for. In fact, luxury tour buses have become increasingly popular for family vacations or couples traveling in style.

While it might seem over-the-top to some travelers, renting a luxury tour bus is cost-effective if you consider how many people will be traveling together and the number of luxurious inclusions that come with it.

For a side-by-side comparison between commercial and luxury tour buses, see the table below:

As you can see, there’s a significant contrast between the two vehicle types. While luxury tour buses offer travelers unparalleled amenities and comfort, choosing a commercial tour bus might be more feasible for those looking for an economical option.

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What is a Coach Bus And How Many Seats Does it Have?

Despite the increasing variations in coach buses and their interior designs, most will be able to seat between 36 and 60 passengers. This will be largely dependent on the comfort and luxury levels offered as well as on-board amenities to facilitate smoother travel. 

If you are planning a long-distance group trip and you want to know how many seats a charter bus offers, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading below to find out everything you need to know about the seating on a charter or coach bus.

Definition of a coach bus

A coach bus or a charter bus, is by definition, a bus that is used for large group travel over long distances. These buses generally have a smaller seating capacity than standard public transportation buses and they do not cover circular routes with many stops along the way but instead, they cover predetermined routes with a fixed pick-up and drop-off point for the passengers. 

Designed with comfort and luxury in mind, charter bus sizes tend to be similar in size to public buses. However, in terms of design, they have an elevated floor, meaning that there is luggage space in the undercarriage compartment. This is something that standard public buses do not have. 

In addition, charter buses generally have amenities on board such as a private restroom, wider and more comfortable reclining seats, USB ports and other facilities for the use and enjoyment of electronic devices, monitors and screens, PA systems, radios, CD and DVD players, an AC and central air heating system, among others.

Standard seating capacity of a coach bus

The typical charter bus seating or coach bus capacity with Bus Connection’s full-size motor coach is up to 56 passengers. Although charter bus sizes will vary from one service provider to the next, the general answer to the question how many seats are on a charter bus will range from 36 to 60 seats.

Are there variations in seating capacity?

Wondering how many people fit on a bus ? The answer is that it depends on the type of bus that you choose. A public transportation bus will normally be able to fit in a larger number of passengers due to both seating arrangements and the poles built into the bus for passengers that stand. 

In contrast to this, charter bus seats are generally fewer in number because they tend to be larger in size and more comfortable for passengers, giving them enough legroom and sufficient space to reclien their chair, should they wish to do so. These latter options are not available on public buses.

Seating configurations

Despite the variety in seats on a public bus vs. a coach bus, seating configurations are quite similar. In the case of coach buses, the seating consists of rows of two seats on either side of an aisle. 

Factors influencing the number of seats

When it comes to how many seats are on a coach bus as well as what is the tour bus capacity , it is important to note that every provider’s spacing and seat numbers will vary. 

This differentiation is due to the luxury and comfort levels that a coach or charter bus company offers, onboard amenities such as a private restroom, as well as the fact that it is mandatory to have wheelchair-accessible space for individuals with disabilities. 

The number of wheelchair-accessible spaces will also depend on the service provider although in most cases, it is necessary to allocate at least one spot on the bus for a wheelchair.

Where is the safest place to sit on a Coach bus?

Coach buses are designed with safety in mind throughout the vehicle. Statistically, there’s no definitive “safest” seat. However, some safety experts suggest that sitting towards the middle of the bus, away from the front and rear, might offer added protection in case of frontal or rear-end collisions. It’s also advisable to always use the provided seat belts, if available, regardless of where you’re seated.

What are the best seats on a coach bus?

The “best” seats often depend on personal preference. Some passengers prefer front seats for a better view and quicker boarding and disembarking, while others might choose rear seats for proximity to the restroom. Middle seats can offer a smoother ride, as they’re centrally located and less affected by the bus’s motion. For those looking for extra legroom, seats located just behind the exit or access doors or those behind a bulkhead can be preferable. It’s always a good idea to reserve your seat in advance if the bus company allows it, especially during peak travel times.

Do all Coach buses have toilets?

While many modern coach buses are equipped with on-board restrooms, especially those designed for long-distance travel, it’s not a universal feature. The inclusion of toilets depends on the bus operator, the specific service being offered, and the intended travel distance. Before booking a trip, it’s always a good idea to check with the bus company or look at the bus specifications to ensure it meets your needs.

Does a coach bus have a TV?

Many coach buses come equipped with entertainment systems that can include centralized monitors or individual screens for each seat. These are often used to play movies or other entertainment during long journeys. The type and quality of the entertainment system, again, vary depending on the bus operator and the service level. Some high-end luxury coaches even offer on-demand video services, similar to what you might find on an airplane.

Do Coach toilets flush?

Yes, toilets on coach buses are designed to flush, but they’re different from your standard household toilet. Most coach toilets use a chemical sanitation system, which breaks down waste and reduces odor without using a lot of water. Instead of a traditional flushing mechanism, they might have a button or pedal to dispose of waste. Passengers are often advised to use the toilet only for liquid waste, and many buses provide waste bins for other types of waste to prevent clogs.

Can you use the bathroom while the bus is moving?

Generally, yes, you can use the restroom while the bus is moving. In fact, on-board toilets are a key feature for long-distance travel to ensure passenger comfort. However, for safety reasons, passengers are usually advised to use the restroom only when the bus is traveling on smooth, straight roads and to avoid using it during stops, sharp turns, or rough patches.

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What Is A Travel Coach And How Are They Different From Travel Agents?

Travel agent giving presentation

When you think about getting some help with your vacation, the first person to come to mind might be a travel agent . A travel agent presents you with some travel options, helps plan your itinerary, and makes the proper arrangements, such as booking accommodation, while trying to earn a commission. You know, typical travel agent stuff.

A travel coach, on the other hand, is more of a life coach but for travel. While a life coach helps you navigate your life and career to hit your goals, a travel coach focuses on your travels. While travel agents zoom in on the details, a travel coach will guide you to have a bird's-eye view of your travel plans. In other words, travel agents deal with the whats and the hows while a travel coach deals with the whys.

And, while travel agents might go to a destination to experience what it offers travelers, a travel coach has traveled to or lived in the area for years. They most probably have been in your shoes before too. So, travel coaches know a destination — and your situation — better than travel agents typically would.

How a travel coach can help you

Travel coaches go beyond providing advice on destinations and booking travel arrangements, straddling the line between travel advisor and life coach. Most travel coaches are travelers with extensive experience and expert knowledge in a certain destination or way of traveling, such as cruising or backpacking. Some even specialize in a niche that you would be hard-pressed to find, such as traveling with food allergies or a disability, relocating, gap years, or volunteering.

They bring this subject matter expertise to the table to help you achieve your travel goals. And that's also a big reason they exist. "Travel coaches help people set intentions for their trips," Travel Coach Network founder Sahara Rose De Vore told The Washington Post . "When you can identify the 'why' for your trip, you can better decide where to go. You can also decide when to go, who to go with, how long to go for and what you need to do during your trip. That will help you gain the outcome, transformations and experiences you desire."

So, a travel coach can help you uncover the forces that are driving you to travel, whether that's for adventure, relaxation, family bonding, or other reasons. Another big part of these transformative travel experiences includes overcoming your fears — the fear of traveling, fear of being alone, or fear of the unknown. They guide you to process your fears and other travel issues and provide the tools necessary for you to overcome or solve them.

Finding a travel coach

Similar to travel agents, travel coaches can have certifications too. The Travel Coach Network issues such certifications and its database is a good place to start. Or, go to the International Coaching Federation (ICF) website to find or verify a coach. If you travel to know yourself more, improve, or grow, the Transformational Travel Council offers a list of travel coaches who can lead you down this path. And, if you enjoy crossing the pond to quench your travel thirst, the family-run Euro Travel Coach offers custom itineraries and travel coaching.

You can also ask for referrals from friends or acquaintances who travel frequently. Or go on Google and try searching for [destination] coach tour [minus] bus [minus] tours or similar keywords to find more relevant results. As always, your first find doesn't mean the final one. Do your due diligence: Ask for references, do an interview, and research their reputation. Try typing [name] + review or [name] + complaints on Google and see if anything comes up.

Expect to be asked many questions but also inquire about their travels and experiences. Once you find a travel coach you like, be prepared to shell out about $100 or more per hour. Their services don't come cheap, but remember you're paying for their time, knowledge, expertise, and tools. You could do it all yourself, but having a travel coach can eliminate the stress of travel planning and that might be invaluable to you.

National Charter Bus

What’s the Difference Between a Bus and a Coach?

So you’ve heard the words coach, motorcoach, and charter bus thrown around, but how exactly are they different from a plain bus? There are actually quite a few differences between coaches and buses, including purpose, design, history, and amenities.

History of Buses and Coaches

Buses and coaches have similar origins starting in Europe during the 1600s as horse-drawn vehicles.

A black and white photo from 1890 of a horse drawn carriage in Paris

The term “bus” comes from the word “omnibus,” which originally referred to a horse-drawn carriage that served as a public bus line. One of the earliest iterations of an omnibus was launched in Paris in 1662, but they eventually spread throughout France and soon Great Britain, where the first bus line opened in 1824. Early motor buses were developed in the late 1890s but were not produced and used on a mass scale until 1910.

Modern coaches started with stagecoaches, also sometimes referred to as carriages. Horse-drawn stagecoaches often traveled pre-scheduled routes but could be hired for long-distance travel with a small number of passengers with light luggage. Great Britain was home to the first recorded stagecoach in 1610 that traveled between Edinburgh and Leith. Longer distance routes were developed between cities like London and Liverpool with coaching inns along the way for travelers to rest. Once railways were introduced in the 19th century, horse-drawn coaches became all but obsolete.

The earliest motorized coach was the charabanc, which was introduced in the 1920s and quickly became the preferred vehicle for companies that previously operated horse-drawn coaches.

Different Uses for Buses and Coaches

To keep it simple: All modern coaches are technically buses but not all buses are coaches. Both types of vehicles are used to transport a large number of passengers across different distances.

A bus usually refers to public transport or pre-scheduled transportation like transit (city) buses and school buses. Buses are usually built for efficiency and not necessarily comfort. They serve the public and travel along predetermined routes, making several stops along the way. The main purpose of a transit bus is to offer cost-effective transportation for as many passengers as possible within metro areas. Bus services can often be split into different categories like standard buses, which service normal routes and express buses, which often service fewer stops for faster rides.

A coach may also be called a motorcoach, coach bus, or charter bus. Smaller models may be considered minicoaches or minibuses. Unlike normal buses, coaches are primarily used for private transportation and are often used for long-distance travel where convenience and comfort are key. Coaches are usually private modes of transportation and travel on routes determined by the riders or trip organizers. Some intercity coach services like Greyhound travel along fixed routes and are open to the public via a ticketing system. Although the schedules of coach buses vary, most coaches don’t make more stops than necessary since many are traveling long distances.

A fleet of coach buses

Designs of Buses and Coaches

Vehicles like standard city buses are oftentimes a similar length and overall body style to coaches. However, buses that service public sectors can also come in modified designs like the articulated bus. These extended vehicles shave multiple cabins and optimize the number of passengers that can be transported along any given route. Transit buses also include standing areas and railings that can be used when seats fill with passengers. Most transit buses can accommodate anywhere from 40 to 60 passengers, depending on the model.

Other notable design choices may include :

  • Multiple entry doors
  • Straphangers for standing passengers
  • Dedicated seats at the front of the bus for passengers with mobility concerns
  • Ramps for passengers with mobility aids on ADA-accessible buses

Coaches have a raised floor that creates space underneath the bus for luggage storage, making it taller than your average transit bus. This gives the interior of coach buses a platform-like appearance compared to normal buses, and passengers have a raised view of the street. Coach buses usually have anywhere between 18 and  56 seats. Buses on the lower end of that range usually qualify as minibuses or minicoaches.

Here are a few coach design differences from transit buses :

  • One entry door at the front of the vehicle
  • Storage compartments beneath the bus for at least one piece of luggage per passenger
  • Uniform rows of seating throughout the bus
  • Ramp at entry or wheelchair lift in the rear of the vehicle on ADA-accessible coaches

A group of young people on a coach bus including someone using a laptop and headphones

Amenities of Buses and Coaches

Bus amenities.

Transit buses aren’t known for being the most comfortable rides and don’t always include amenities to improve rider satisfaction. Of course, there are newer models of buses that may have updated features for riders, but this will vary depending on the transit service and city.

Some transit bus amenities may include :

  • Free public wifi
  • Covered bus stops and bus shelters

Coach Amenities

Since coach buses are primarily built for comfort across long distances, they often include additional amenities not found on transit buses.

Amenities on coach buses may include :

  • Plush reclining seats made of cloth, leather, faux leather, or a combination of materials
  • USB and electric outlets
  • Dropdown TVs
  • Overhead storage compartments
  • Reading lights and personal climate controls

Bus and Coach Services Today

Today, many private group transportation companies in the U.S.A. operate a fleet of minibuses and charter buses. Charter bus rental services like those provided by National Charter Bus are often used as alternatives to rideshares, carpools, or public transportation for short- and long-distance trips. Private charter buses are often used for business travel , sporting event transportation , wedding shuttles , and personal events like group tours . The National Charter Bus rental team can be contacted at 1-844-755-0510 to organize transportation services across the United States.

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Definition of coach

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Illustration of coach

Definition of coach  (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

transitive verb

Examples of coach in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coach.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Noun and Verb

Middle English coche , from Middle French, from German Kutsche , from Hungarian kocsi ( szekér ), literally, wagon from Kocs , Hungary

1556, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

1608, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Phrases Containing coach

  • hackney coach

Dictionary Entries Near coach


Cite this Entry

“Coach.” Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of coach.

Kids Definition of coach  (Entry 2 of 2)

More from Merriam-Webster on coach

Nglish: Translation of coach for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of coach for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about coach

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Travel Tips

What is the differences between sic tour & private tour.

sic tours and private tours

Years of working in tourism, We have received a lot of questions from our guests about the differences of SIC (Sit in Coach) tours and private tours. Therefore, this article is made to answer your question and help you make the right decision for your Vietnam tour. Vietnam tour companies will provide information in this article.

We understand that you may be worried about the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus in China. Bhutan, Myanmar, and Laos, in contrast, are still safe and sound from this global pandemic. 

What is SIC (Sit in Coach) Tour?

SIC tours stand for Seat-in-Coach Basis Tours, which means you will share an air-conditioned coach or van with other tourists and you will have (maybe not) an English-speaking tour guide to take you to all the scenic spots listed in the itinerary that day.

SIC tour in vietnam

Usually we only apply the SIC tours for Halong Bay Cruise tours or Mekong River cruises, the driver (some time with tour guide) will pick you up from your hotel in Hanoi (for Halong Bay Cruise) or Ho Chi Minh City (for Mekong River Cruise) your tour guide (or our tour operator) will contact you the night before to inform you about the next day’s departure time, and the next day our coach (bus or van) and guide will go from hotel to hotel to pick up guests (pick up time also stated in your tour itinerary).

What is a Private Tour?

Typical Vietnam (Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar) private tours are fully escorted tour packages, which means in each city or each area (North, Center, South of Vietnam). In Indochina countries (or Myanmar), you will have your own professional tour guide speaking your language and a private air-conditioned car/van/coach with your private driver at your service during your staying there, from meeting you at the airport (or train station) upon your arrival, showing you around, until seeing you off at the airport (or train station) for your next destination. If you take our private tour package, you will not be mixed with other tourists when sightseeing and transferring except that you take the Halong Bay Cruise and Mekong River Cruise (you still can choose the charter options and you will have a private cruise in Halong or Mekong River).

differences between sic tours and private tours

The Differences between Private Tours & SIC Tours

Compared with Private tours, SIC tours are usually less expensive than Private tours, but Private tours are more flexible. In general, with private tours, you will have own services as true meaning of word “private”, while SIC tours require you to share services.

Note: If you have 5 or more people in the group, we recommend you take our private tour package as the price gets very close to that of SIC.

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Cambridge Dictionary

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meanings of tour and bus

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(Definition of tour and bus from the Cambridge English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

  • Examples of tour bus


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Word of the Day

to fasten the belt that keeps you in your seat in a car or a plane

Searching out and tracking down: talking about finding or discovering things

Searching out and tracking down: talking about finding or discovering things

coach tour meaning

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  • Definition of tour
  • Definition of bus
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  1. Top benefits of travelling by Coach Tours

    coach tour meaning

  2. Coach Tours

    coach tour meaning

  3. Ten reasons why a coach tour is a good idea

    coach tour meaning

  4. Coach Holidays to Europe

    coach tour meaning

  5. McCarter Coach & Tour

    coach tour meaning

  6. Coach tours: A surprisingly luxurious way to travel

    coach tour meaning


  1. What Is a Coach Tour?

    In the strictest dictionary terms, a coach tour is defined as "a guided bus tour for a group of holidaymakers that follows a scheduled itinerary.". Whilst this summary is factually correct, we thought it would be worth answering the question of what a coach tour is in a little more detail. Indeed, as coach tour specialists, we think the ...

  2. COACH TRIP definition and meaning

    Any tour, journey, or voyage made by bus.... Click for English pronunciations, examples sentences, video.

  3. Why coach travel is the safest way to tour

    The answer is guided coach tours; where a larger group of people travel on one greener vehicle, as opposed to many vehicles. The average coach journey produces 0.04 tonnes per 1,000 miles, compared to the average car which would produce 0.29 tonnes of CO2 per 1,000 miles. Travelling with a group coach tour can also be greener than trains when ...

  4. What Is An Orientation Tour? Coach Holiday Terminology

    Orientation Tour. 3. Orientation Tour - Conclusion. As with many other things, a bit of research pays dividends when it comes to coach holidays. It's always worth double-checking the meaning of the coach trip terminology you see in your itinerary.

  5. coach tour, n. meanings, etymology and more

    What does the noun coach tour mean? There is one meaning in OED's entry for the noun coach tour. See 'Meaning & use' for definition, usage, and quotation evidence. See meaning & use. How common is the noun coach tour? About 0.03 occurrences per million words in modern written English . 1950: 0.025: 1960: 0.027: 1970: 0.026: 1980: 0.026: ...

  6. What Is a Travel Coach? Is It Different Than a Travel Agent?

    Travel coaches focus on helping clients sustain a travel lifestyle and plan extended vacations and sabbaticals rather than just individual trips, she continues. They have highly specialized niches ...

  7. 10 Things You Need to Know Before Booking a Touring Holiday

    For example, if visiting Pompeii a tour guide would be expected to have a great knowledge of Roman history, society etc. Whoever is doing the guiding, excursions are a very important part of coach trips so it is important to fully understand what you are buying when you book. Touring Holiday. 3.

  8. Small group travel vs coach tours: which is better?

    The main difference between the two styles comes down to the size of the group; coach tours use huge motor coaches that hold up to 60 people, while small groups are (plot twist)… small, averaging about 10 travellers per group and often utilising custom vans and local means of transportation. Over the past 30 years, Intrepid has figured out ...

  9. Tour bus service

    A tour bus service is an escorted tour (sometimes a package holiday) or bus service that takes visitors sightseeing, with routes around tourist attractions. Information. It has been suggested that this section be split out into another article titled City tourist bus service.

  10. Why Travel By Coach?

    Coach holidays can be wonderful social occasions where you can meet new people, enjoy a tea or coffee and relax as you enjoy the view. Contrary to popular belief, you are not stuck on-board the coach for hours on end. Most coach journeys will include comfort stops every 2 to 3 hours. Journeys by coach are anything but boring.

  11. What Is A Tour Bus? Definition, Features, and Benefits Explained

    A tour bus is a type of bus that is designed to transport groups, typically for sightseeing or long-distance travel. It often features luxurious accommodations such as reclining seats, WiFi, TVs, and ample storage space for luggage. Tour buses are commonly used by holiday tour operators, entertainers, and other groups traveling long distances.

  12. Escorted tour

    Escorted tours (in US English) are also known as guided tours . Escorted tours are normally conducted by a tour director who takes care of all services from the beginning to the end of the tour. Escorted tours normally include accommodation, transport, meals and some sightseeing. Escorted tours are often conducted by motor coach and usually no ...

  13. Coach tourism in 2021: What does the industry think?

    Taking the temperature of the coach tourism industry in 2021 is as difficult as it has ever been. Many operators involved are looking ahead with optimism, yet the extent of that positivity varies. Domestic bookings are strong, but there are two elephants in the room: Social distancing and the medium-term viability of.

  14. What is a Coach Bus And How Many Seats Does it Have?

    Definition of a coach bus. A coach bus or a charter bus, is by definition, a bus that is used for large group travel over long distances. These buses generally have a smaller seating capacity than standard public transportation buses and they do not cover circular routes with many stops along the way but instead, they cover predetermined routes ...

  15. 42

    In Douglas Adam's book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the number 42 is revealed as being the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. In Westbury, Wiltshire, the number 42 is proving to be a very satisfying way to provide enjoyable coach holiday experiences. In 2014, Nigel and Kim Westbrook set up their eponymous ...

  16. COACH

    COACH definition: 1. someone whose job is to teach people to improve at a sport, skill, or school subject: 2…. Learn more.

  17. What Is A Travel Coach And How Are They Different From Travel ...

    While travel agents zoom in on the details, a travel coach will guide you to have a bird's-eye view of your travel plans. In other words, travel agents deal with the whats and the hows while a travel coach deals with the whys. And, while travel agents might go to a destination to experience what it offers travelers, a travel coach has traveled ...

  18. What's the Difference Between a Bus and a Coach?

    Coaches. Coaches have a raised floor that creates space underneath the bus for luggage storage, making it taller than your average transit bus. This gives the interior of coach buses a platform-like appearance compared to normal buses, and passengers have a raised view of the street. Coach buses usually have anywhere between 18 and 56 seats.

  19. Coach (bus)

    Coach (bus) A coach (also known as a coach bus, motorcoach, or parlor coach) is a type of bus built for longer-distance service, in contrast to transit buses that are typically used within a single metropolitan region. Often used for touring, intercity, and international bus service, coaches are also used for private charter for various purposes.

  20. Coach Definition & Meaning

    coach: [noun] a large usually closed four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage having doors in the sides and an elevated seat in front for the driver. a railroad passenger car intended primarily for day travel. bus 1a. trailer 1b. a 2-door enclosed automobile. a class of passenger air transportation at a lower fare than first class.

  21. What is The Differences Between SIC Tour & Private Tour?

    Compared with Private tours, SIC tours are usually less expensive than Private tours, but Private tours are more flexible. In general, with private tours, you will have own services as true meaning of word "private", while SIC tours require you to share services. Note: If you have 5 or more people in the group, we recommend you take our ...

  22. tour bus

    Examples of how to use "tour bus" in a sentence from Cambridge Dictionary.

  23. coach tour

    transport services, including those sold as part of. [...] a package , on behalf of a bus an d/or coach unde rtaking or a tour oper ator. o de un operador turístico, servicios de transporte. [...] en aut obús o autocar, inclu idos los que se venden como parte de un paquete.