Best tours to do in 2016

The standard guided tour option have been reinvented – pencil these options into your 2016 itinerary.

Seeing the world from the window of a coach has come a long way since the ‘15 cities in 10 days’ stereotype was first established in the 1960s and ’70s.

Back then busing it was the preserve of the young and cash strapped – the first Contiki journey came about when the company’s founder John Anderson arrived in London from New Zealand in 1962, put a deposit on a beat up VW combi and gathered a group of young people together to share the costs of travelling around Europe.

But today’s offerings, whether by coach by car by plane or by train, are a much more sophisticated affair, with itineraries that focus on authentic, experiential journeys rather than ticking destinations off a generic ‘must do’ list. Oh, and don’t call them ‘tours’: operators like Trafalgar, who have 70 years’ experience in the travel market, are now conducting ‘guided holidays’, while Globus prefer the moniker ‘escorted vacations’.

Rather than being a case of ‘you say potato, I say potato’, the differences between today’s touring journeys and those of the past has a lot to do with our changing needs and desires as travellers.

As a society we are journeying further than we ever used to and, in the case of Australians, are often staying in places for longer; in the past the logistics of getting to, say, Europe ate up a big chunk of your vacation, leaving little time for immersion in the places visited.

As a result, today’s tour providers have developed itineraries that can be added to and customised – everything from private excursions to river boat cruises to independent travel packages can be slotted in.

And while all these new approaches are proving ever more popular with travellers, the fundamentals of why people chose this mode of travel in the first place have stayed resolutely the same: touring allows us to tap into tried and tested journeys, conducted by experts in the field, at a predetermined cost and with much of the guess work (where will we stay, where will we eat, what will we eat, how will we get from A to B…) taken out of the equation.

World-class itineraries to craft your next journey

  1. Globus has provided guided vacations for over 80 years, offering myriad itineraries based on countries as well as experiences: its nine-day Journey Through the Holy Land travels from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, taking in Roman amphitheatres and Crusader Fortresses, the Church of the Assumption in Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee.
    The journey culminates in a five-night stay in Jerusalem.
  2. Trafalgar Tours explores Europe, Britain, Asia and North and Central America, as well as offering specialised family, and food and drink itineraries.
    The nine-day Wild West, Cowboys and Buffalos tour mixes education and entertainment; watch the world-famous geyser Old Faithful blow while a naturalist explains why it exists, and stay in an historic ranch.
    Early Bird specials for 2016 are available until 17 December.
  3. Wendy Wu Tours’ 26-day Grand Tour of China combines air travel and cruising, taking in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, sites such as the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors and experiences, from getting up close to Giant Pandas to voyaging the Yangtze River to see the mesmerising Three Gorges.
  4. Insight Vacations’ 18-day Treasures of Spain, Portugal and Morocco itinerary promises to show its guests the art of touring in style.
    It commences in the Spanish capital of Madrid before making its way to Portugal, taking in breathtaking churches and fortresses and cities such as Lisbon and Seville.
    Then it is on to the ever evocative Morocco with its ancient medinas and culture steeped in history.
  5. Albatross has 20 years’ experience in touring, catering to Australian and New Zealand travellers.
    Its German and Austrian Christmas Markets Tour is a relaxed 10-day itinerary that takes in the Christmas markets in Frankfurt, Bamberg, Rothenburg, Würzburg, Nuremberg, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Münich, staying for two to three nights in places, and visiting the remarkable Neuschwanstein Castle.


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This article appeared in issue 20


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