Just how long is a 'too long' bus trip?
In various forms, that question comes up a lot during the vacation-planning process. A two-hour bus ride from the airport is far too long. A three-and-a-half-hour bus ride from the tip of Iceland to Reykjavik is not usually a problem.
Three or four hours of bus touring is fine in many parts of the world, but travelers of the mature variety are often thinking about just how many rest stops are built into the touring program. It is something we often have to address.
The bottom line is that few travelers come home and brag to their friends that "I spent a total of four full days on a bus." Buses are seen as a necessary component of touring, but they are never the focal point.
We've talked before about how the consultant plays a major role in travel planning and booking. A majority of our clients know where they want to go, at least in a general sense, but they don't know about the wonderful options they may have to explore their preferred destination.
Let's be honest: Most of our clients are interested in spending as little time as possible confined to a tour bus. That is why I was intrigued to learn that this month the Expedition company Adventures Overland is launching the World's Longest Bus Journey, an odyssey that will begin in Istanbul and end in London. The 30 passengers will travel on a luxurious motorcoach to 22 countries on a "bus trip" lasting 56 days. Yes, you heard that right -- 56 days on a bus!
Of course, accommodations are included along with many meals. Sightseeing stops are included, and no time is wasted flying at 33,000 feet while seeing absolutely nothing. This is a full immersion trip, and the 30 guests will travel through the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and portions of Western Europe. The 7,456-mile route takes in the northernmost point in Europe and a short cruise along Norway's jaw-dropping fjords.
The route for this massive effort will not require bus riding every day of the tour. In fact, the bus will average about 275 miles per day, and most weeks follow a day driving/day off routine.
The package includes accommodations, breakfast and 30 additional meals and, of course, transportation.
The total cost for all of this is $24,300, double occupancy. That works out to $434 per day, inclusive of nearly everything. And you get a "state of the art" contemporary onboard emergency toilet.
It is easy to satirize a bus tour of this type, but as I started thinking about the concept it occurred to me that there have been points in my life where this might have been a wonderful opportunity. Most of us are of generations that prefer looking out a window to peering down at a smartphone while passing through some of our world's most scenic and engaging areas.
Fifty-six days of solid scenery on a true journey with a few compatible fellow travelers and a chance to break bread each evening while hooked up with USB ports and some of the most comfortable seating I've ever seen on a bus. This is not an option for very many of our guests, but it might be an option we want to carry in our back pocket for the small percentage of those who may find the world's longest bus trip attractive, in a "stay seated" kind of way.
Forgive me if I will not be personally reporting on this experience.