Perhaps most people's perception of coach holidays involves a group of elderly and sometimes immobile travelers visiting a seaside resort on an old bus style coach. While there is certainly a diverse range of demographics in the coach travel sector, this archaic image simply does not hold true anymore.
Other forms of coach travel may include students on the cheap or hoards of school children. This again may be the case but coach travel no longer belongs just to these exclusive groups.
Nowadays coach tourism comes in many shapes and sizes – in Britain and around the globe. Coaches don't just do day excursions, short breaks or longer holidays. Sports superstars, pop music fans, theatre goers, conference delegates, cruise passengers – all often choose to travel by coaches. Even our Royals use coaches when there aren't enough carriages and horses to go round!
Cary Grant has been quoted as saying "beats flying, doesn't it". In Spain companies such as Alsa carry business people between cities. Coach travel there is "cool and acceptable" according to Mr Bowker (National Express chief executive).
Groups of lads on Stag dos may often use a coach to get themselves to that weekend trip or indeed a hen party for the same reason. It offers a convenient and easy way of traveling without the added hassle and expense of flying. Coaches are also increasingly being used to operate your normal package holiday's targeted at families or young professionals. It is often an alternative and cheaper method of getting to the Alps for a skiing holiday in Tignes or Alp d'huez.
You may be surprised that the UK coach travel sector has around 8 million customers annually with a turnover of £2.5 billion. Coach travel now offers many benefits over other forms of transport such as car and plane. A gallon of fuel will on pro-rata, take two people traveling by coach six times further than by car. A 300 mile trip on a coach carrying 85 passengers would generate 194 kg in CO2 emissions. This would be 2.3 kg per person. Compare that to a Boeing 737 doing the same journey, which would generate 6,930 kg CO2 emissions or 36 kg per person. 2.3 kg CO2 Emissions vs. 36 kg CO2 emissions shows there is a significant environmental advantage in using coach travel.
Coaches have come a long way since their conception it terms of comfort, style and their luxuries. This encourages different demographics to use coach travel as a means of getting to their holiday. Coaches range in size to cater for a variety of groups in the travel sector with everything from 19 to 85 seat coaches. This helps and encourages groups such as stag does and hen parties to use a smaller coach were as previously they may have used a number of cars. The concept of the executive coach has perhaps encouraged corporate group travel. It is now possible to get climate control, airline style folding seat back tables, WC, glazed glass for privacy and hot and cold drinks facilities.
The only limitation with coaches is distance and their ability to cross continents. As such most coach holidays departing from the UK will have destinations of Europe or inbound for weekends away in the UK. This will be true across all demographics. If looking for ideas on where to visit you could try looking at 'Trip Adviser or other smaller European destination guides such as 'In Europe'.
Coach tours come in a variety of forms. There are a good selection of package holidays to places such as Spain including the Costa Brava, Calella, and Cantabria. Younger and family holiday makers are also visiting events such as the German Christmas markets or Edinburgh at tattoo time. You can find holidays from many companies.
By Robert Meldrum