Travel

Why You Should Hire a Tourist Bus

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When Vera Russo decided to visit Italy this summer, she didn’t go online to book a plane ticket or call a travel agency. Instead, like a growing number of Americans, she got involved with a tour bus.

“I didn’t want to be in Rome or Milan or Florence,” says Russo, a former real estate broker from Verona, New Jersey. — I wanted to meet the locals. I wanted to feel like I live there.”

So Rousseau turned to Francesca Elisabetta Owens, a travel coach and moderator for the private Facebook group Travel From the Inside Out, for help. Owens, who has lived in Italy for about 15 years, plans trips to Italy for women over 50. (Yes, this is how specialized tour buses can get there.)

Tour buses are gaining popularity now that interest in travel is growing again. There is no reliable data on the number of tour buses, but anecdotal evidence suggests that this is a growing area. But what is a tour bus, and should you hire one?

Owens and Russo spent hours planning every detail of the nearly three-month trip. This included the logistics of transportation and access to medical care.

“Francesca encouraged me that I could experience the sweet life of idleness, as she calls it,” Russo says. “Relax in street cafes and restaurants while sitting and watching tourists and locals in everyday life.”

Most tour buses are seasoned travelers who want to share the knowledge they’ve gained along the way. They are not travel agents and generally do not book tickets for you. Instead, they are closer to life coaches who provide advice and guidance. But instead of trying to improve your quality of life, a travel coach works to improve your vacation by recommending an itinerary that matches your goals.

“Tour buses help people plan their trip,” says Sahara Rose De Vore, founder of the Tour Bus Network, which accredits tour buses. “When you can determine 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 and what you need to do during your trip. This will help you achieve the outcome, transformation and experience you want.”

A travel coach can help you choose the right destination and plan every aspect of your trip. Betsy Ball, co-founder of Euro Travel Coach, says she tries to take the hassle out of travel planning so her clients can focus on what matters most: “the food, wine, culture, history and people of Europe,” she says.

Some travel coaches develop areas of expertise that you probably won’t find anywhere else. For example, Allie Bahn trains people who travel with food allergies. Ban draws on his experiences growing up with food allergies and living in Italy for three years.

“I work with anyone who has a life-threatening food allergy or who has children and who wants to learn how to travel as safely as possible,” says Ban. “Many people have never traveled abroad before and…

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