By far, the costliest expense of any large group travel is the means of transportation to, during, and returning from the destination. For most student trips, there are two options to move large groups from one destination to another. So, whether flying by airplane, taking motor coaches over the road, or a combination of both, there are vital aspects to consider when evaluating group transportation options.
Traveling by airplane, in many scenarios, extends the reach of destinations you might consider and may provide more time for your group to enjoy them once there. If you’ve booked your own flights for vacation or business travel, you know the price depends on when and how you arrive. Inconvenient times, multiple stops, or travel distance from the airport to the final destination are all factors that must be considered in the total trip cost.
When choosing a flight schedule for student trips, always opt for early morning flights to the destination and late afternoon or early evening return flights to gain maximum time at your destination. You may lose up to a full day of touring with other less expensive flight time options or itineraries with long layovers.
When comparing costs, ensure the price per passenger your tour company provides in the proposal or quote includes airfare or at least an estimated cost. Tour operators often default trip proposals to only include bus travel to far away destinations and include a disclaimer in the small print that airfare will be extra. This could add hundreds of dollars to the price of the trip if you opt for airfare later on.
Motorcoach or Tour Bus
Bus travel is less expensive than airfare in most scenarios. But with the right motorcoach provider, it can be just as comfortable and provide a fun way to travel together. However, you’ll want to ensure your travel plans include only your school or group. Some tour operators maximize available space and reduce expenses by combining one or more tour groups on the same coach. Although this may allow the tour operator to charge less per passenger, consider the risk associated with sharing the content, accountability, and oversight of traveling with a group other than your own, even if only for a short city or sightseeing tour within your destination city. If this type of arrangement causes concern, confirm the exclusivity of your motorcoach experience with your tour operator.
Another factor to consider in motorcoach travel is how the total number of passengers affects the trip cost for each participant. Most newer coaches seat anywhere between 54-56 passengers. If your group is larger than 56 people, including chaperones and tour guides, adding another motorcoach costs the same whether you have two people on board or another 54-56 passengers. Therefore, the cost to accommodate the additional passengers would be split amongst the remaining passengers. To prevent unexpected cost increases as you get closer to the trip, you may consider creating a maximum participation limit and then using a waiting list to replace those who cancel or when you can mostly or entirely fill another motorcoach.
When you depart for your destination, nothing interrupts a trip and frustrates a tour guide more than a bus (or multiple buses) breaking down. To reduce the risk of this happening, inquire about the age and seating capacity of the charter buses or motorcoaches utilized on the trip. Late-model coaches typically have more seating and updated safety features and are less prone to breakdowns or malfunctions. You can always ask for the motorcoach specifications (year/make/model) to be included in your proposal and travel contract.
As always, it is important to understand your full itinerary with the guidance of your travel advisor. Ensure all expectations are aligned, and you are aware of the risks and rewards of the choices you make for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!